Articles and Opinion
HOW TO IMPROVE MEMORY WITH A SIMPLE TECHNIQUE
Jose Antonio Cangco
One of the benefits from a seminar being offered to schools and offices in Manila, the Philippines by the Superior of Maitreya Ministry, Inc. called Karma and Employee Motivation is that it improves memory through association of events.
The seminar teaches the employee to become aware that his actions and behavior have consequences in his work environment and in his daily life – that whatever effort he puts into his job will be reflected on what kind of outcome he will get. In short, these consequences – good or bad - are better known as karma.
Interestingly, when the participant starts to understand the rules of karma, he is supposed to remember problems, situations and events better than when he first heard about it. The participant, besides becoming motivated, shall have also been armed with the technique practiced by ancient pundits on how to improve his memory when he shall leave the lecture hall.
Only a few minutes are devoted to the technique during the actual seminar, but this simple method of remembering things and events is very effective it will be dealt here with in more detail.
First, a brief background of what karma is. Karma is from the Sanskrit word kri, “to do”. It is defined as the consequence, repercussion or result arising from a past action or accumulated past actions. This comprises the three kinds of karma. Good karma arises from one’s proper and correct behavior in the past. Bad karma stems as the result from one’s wrongdoings committed in the past. White karma is the non-occurrence of a bad consequence resulting from bad behavior in the past. It means that in some rare cases, a bad consequence may be forgiven and will not occur at all. White karma is totally unpredictable and it is so much better not to rely on it. As one seminar participant aptly put it “Don’t play a game of chance with white karma.”
Karma is not religion. As Filipinos we should be proud that the permanent and universal law of karma is an Asian concept that could stand scrutiny from western influences. Unfortunately, there are two misconceptions that are associated with karma which act as a hindrance to an open mind leading to self-development. One of the misconceptions of karma originated from the western view of Asian religions. When the concept of karma was brought to the west, it was misinterpreted as those results that, arising from man’s action, will be experienced in the afterlife. It was even amusingly taught that it is a part of hell in the after life.
Another misconception that I observed is the Filipino’s perception of karma as punishment. In the Philippines we wrongly associate karma as punishment, retribution and payment. We have forgotten that we can experience blessings from our good karma and our transgressions be forgiven with white karma.
To digress, Karma and Employee Motivation teaches the employee to think positively: that his honest and sincere effort in relation to his work will not go unrewarded. On the other hand, if the employee does a sloppy job performance, then its effect will go back to him. It won’t land on somebody else’s desk or cubicle. Given the law of cause and effect, the wise employee will arrive at the conclusion that it is to his best interest to work seriously and diligently. And one of the benefits of being motivated by following the law of karma is it will improve one’s memory by association of events.
This particular technique to improve memory uses association or correlation of events. It is here that the law of karma being a cause and effect phenomenon Is used to find meaning, inter-connections, and draw parallels among the activities. This is primarily to relate the participant with the activities; otherwise, if he sees himself as a passive viewer or outsider, the activities will lose meaning and any significance for him. He will find no reason to even try to remember these.
Our memory is improved when we believe in the law of cause and effect. Don’t do this and don’t do that. Do this and do that. By believing in the law of karma, we learn and remember by what is called association of events.
For example, if we use a padlock to secure the gate, then we are very sure that the padlock will not open by itself without the key. There has to be a sequence or steps or different processes leading to the opening of the gate. We are aware that an event does not happen by itself.
Let us try to prove that this is so in a simpler, if not whimsical, way. The cause and effect are nicely illustrated in the nursery rhyme “For the Want of a Nail”.
For the want of a nail, the shoe was lost,
For the want of the shoe, the horse was lost,
For the want of the horse, the rider was lost,
For the want of the rider, the battle was lost,
For the want of the battle, the kingdom was lost,
And all because for the want of the lost shoe nail!
Any event, big or small, has a cause and it is related to other activities. It has a cause, origin, or history. And while it is happening it may be also related to other situations and conditions that may be prevailing around. These are all factors surrounding the particular event.
Knowing that no event happens alone by itself, that it must have had a cause and beginning, and then is related to some more other activities, what can we use this knowledge for?
We can use it to improve our memory. We need only to know about a very basic thing - that the mind is composed of the subconscious and the conscious.
The ancient technique of improving memory is just to consciously arrange things and events into their proper classifications and categories before filing them into the subconscious. Simple isnt it? Now, why haven’t more people thought of that before?
To illustrate this point during my lectures, I use an example of a fictitious person. Jenny is a graduating college student and, being aware of a technique or two of memory development, has managed to arrange the events in her short life and categorize them in an imaginary filing cabinet in her subconscious. She calls the first filing cabinet “The Personal Life of Jenny”. She files all the events which are related to her home life, relatives, friends and neighbors here.
She calls the second imaginary filing cabinet “The School Life of Jenny”. This is where she files all the events associated with her academic career – the honors she received, the school organizations she joined and activities she attended. Everything she considers pertinent to her education is filed in here.
Jenny labels the third imaginary filing cabinet which she formed in her subconscious as “The Love Life of Jenny”. Here, she shelves all her crushes, puppy love, infatuations, and what not relating to things of the heart. For our purposes as well as Jenny’s having only lived a short life, let us stop with three imaginary filing cabinets.
The story goes on that one night, Jenny attends the school party, and there while sipping root beer, she meets the most handsome guy in her life. Let us put in too that he is tall, dark and rich. And they hit it well together.
As the night deepens, the guy moves closer to Jenny and says : “I have something to tell you. After we shall have graduated, I promise you that I will help you find employment”. Jenny is very pleased and happy.
The following day, Jenny muses about the previous night’s events and starts to classify her experience. The question is: What category should Jenny classify her experience with the guy? What imaginary filing cabinet should she put it in?
Her experience should not be categorized under her personal files because the event does not involve relatives, friends and associates. Nor should it be put under the love file because there wasn’t love involved. There might have been interests and friendships forming but at that point it didn’t go beyond mutual attraction. Considering that this was first and foremost a school activity, and looking for employment is the next step forward after graduation, then it should be classified under the imaginary filing cabinet “The School Life of Jenny.”
This ancient technique of filing our experiences into subcategories or imaginary cabinets in our memory is common sense. It is similar to an office clerk filing her correspondences, memos, letters, etc. into the proper folders, drawers and cabinets. It is similar to a librarian who arranges books according to the subject matter. When it is time to retrieve them, it can be done easily.
Can you imagine if you were asking a customer service assistant in an office to look into your records and she tells you to come back after a day or two because her files are not arranged? Or if your secretary tells you to put your business associate on hold while she tries to remember where she filed that million peso contract? Like an efficient employee who can easily find a hard copy or an important document in a minute or two from the stock room, so should we be able to remember events which happened in the past without too much trouble.
The secret to the proper filing of our experiences is that we should be actively participating in the ordering process. We should be consciously evaluating and examining our experiences as to which mental filing cabinet is most appropriate. Instead of just letting our experiences be lost in the labyrinths of our minds and subconscious, we should take an active part. Anyway, the librarian just does not toss the books helter-skelter. He brings and puts the books one at a time in their proper shelves. It is extra work but with a bit of practice, it becomes second nature.
In my seminars when I explain the laws of karma to motivate people, I also teach this simple technique to improve their memory. In this way, they remember something and don’t leave empty handed.