Wednesday, July 24, 2013

why can't i remember?

Verse 4.5: The Personality of Godhead said: Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy!

Many of us forget things from time to time. Whether it be where we left our keys, shut off the lights or checked the mail, there are plenty of things that fill up our head. It's no wonder that all kinds of apps and gadgets have been created to help us remember the long list of things that we hope to accomplish.

In the hustle and bustle of just trying to live our lives, it's easy to forget about the needs of the soul. After all, the majority of time tends to be spent on taking care of our body and things that are in relation to it. There's nothing wrong with taking care of the body, but just taking care of the body and totally neglecting the soul is counter-productive. That's because...

The soul is eternal whereas the body is temporary.

Most of us are well acquainted with the needs of the body, but what about the soul? In order to understand the soul's needs, one needs to learn about them from authorized sources. In this case, Arjuna has the perfect teacher, Krsna, to help him understand. To aid in that understanding, Krsna is explaining here that although the soul is eternal, it is limited.

Although eternal, the soul cannot remember the numerous bodies (i.e. births) it has taken.

Makes sense if you think about it. Many of us can't even remember what we wore yesterday, what to speak of trying to remember which body we wore in our last life or lifetimes prior! The question can be posed then - why is this important?

When we start to understand that we don't have the answers to everything because we are limited, it serves as a reminder that we are small. Sometimes the word small has a negative connotation, but in this case it just means we need some help. That help is available in the form of realized teachers who can help us understand who we really are.

When we try to sincerely learn and apply what the realized bhakti practitioners (and texts) teach us, we become empowered to understand their words. That knowledge becomes more than just theory; instead, we start to see their words manifest as reality in our lives.

So we don't remember our past lives or actions, big deal. If we stop and think about it - it might actually be a good thing! What's important is what we choose to do with our time now.


  1. Thanks for keeping up the verse-a-day fun!

    Just wanted to point out that there's a sub-faculty at the University of Virginia that has been examining past-life accounts for several decades now -

    I'm familiar with Dr. Stevenson's research on this and I find it compelling (it was also well reviewed by the AMA). I hear that Dr. Tucker (who has taken over the topic after Stevenson's passing away) has pushed it even further. It's nice to see that science is taking these things seriously!

    Another tidbit that can be added in to our understanding of reincarnation and the 'why don't I remember?' question, comes from Visnu-Gada dasa, a follower of Bhagavad Gita's philosophy who also happens to be a psychologist. He explains that there are varieties of memory (such as procedural, recognition, spatial, etc), and that it's certainly possible from the scientific point of view for humans to maintain memory on a more-or-less subconscious level. He comments that this can manifest as a deep-seated sense of exhaustion for material life... in other words, the hard-learned lessons from multiple lives can in fact carry over into the present one!

    Hope that adds something to the mix. :)

    1. Certainly adds lots to the mix Sam! Thanks for sharing. Yes, I was thinking of past-life accounts while writing this post (that there are several well documented and accurate recollections of people remembering their past life). In general, however, most of us don't (personally I think that's for the better!).

      Really like the information you provided from Visnu-Gada dasa. Very interesting that humans can maintain memory on a subconscious level. Definitely explains a lot of things! :D

      Thanks for sharing!