How to enrich our creative talents and memory?

Yam medham devaganah pitarashcopasate |Taya mamadya medhayagne medhavinam kuru svaha | | -Yajurveda 32/14

O Fire – God incarnate! Bestow on me the brilliance (of intellect), which is prayed for by the gods and the spirits of the ancestors through devout adoration. Everyone is interested to find some sure – shot formula to increase memory power. The student community, in particular, feels its need more acutely. How to memorize a lesson fast? How to retain and not forget what has been learnt? Such questions keep cropping up in the minds of students. In search of their answers, they indulge in all sorts of tactics, including recourse to some medicines/drugs.
The drug companies, too, on their part exploit this vulnerability of the students. Through attractive and high – power advertisements and false promises of miracles they are ever eager to make a fast buck. It is not known whether the really needy ever derive any benefit or not from the advertised drugs.
This much, however, is certain that the so-called recipe of strong memory remains a much sought after mirage. In this connection, we should know and for certain that such wishful miracles do not happen anywhere in the universe. Every action, every event is defined and regulated by set rules of cosmic order, be they in the realer of physical laws or the spiritual.
The same principle operates with respect to memory.
This has a science of its own, it own techniques. Those who know and understand it are able to derive benefit easily, while the ignorant ones waste their time in futile ventures and feel disappointed on crucial occasions. SO it is better that one should thoroughly understand the correct techniques of firmly committing some thing to memory and use them properly. Those who suffer from memory problems have some standard complaints: What can I do, I just cannot memorize; I had indeed memorized this, but forgot it; I can recollect but only piecemeal, and so on and so forth.
There are contrary claims too – of committing a thing to memory in just one reading, or recollecting exactly every detail of what had been read, or memories of long bygone times being still vivid in the mind etc. There is an instructive anecdote, which will help in understanding these diametrically opposite statements relating to memory function. This anecdote is from the life of Vivekanand. Those days Swami ji was in pravrajya (ascetical wanderings) within India. He had a gurubhai (brother disciple of a common teacher) as companion.
A continuous routine of swadhyaya (self-study), satsang (company of the truth seekers) and rigorous tapa (austerities) was being followed. Whenever he could lay his hand upon a good book, Vivekanand would not miss reading it. In every new place, his first search was a good library, and when he came across one he would make full utilization of its treasures. At one place, in course of this pravrajya, a library impressed him much and he decided to stay at the place for an extended period. His gurubhai would fetch for him a variety of books is Sanskrit and English, which the Swamiji would return the next day after reading them. This routine of issuing fresh books daily  and quite voluminous ones at that- and receiving the same the very next day perplexed the librarian.
He enquired of the gurubhai: ” Do you take all these books daily only to took over them cursorily? If so, I will show them to you here itself, why carry so much weight all the way to your place of stay? Hearing this remark of the librarian, the gurubhai replied in all seriousness: “It is not as you think. My gurubhai does read these books seriously before returning them”. Surprised at this reply, the librarian said: “If it is so, I would very much like to meet the gentleman”. The next day, Swamiji met him and said: “Sir, do not be perplexed. I have not only gone through the books, but have also memorized their contents”. Having said so, he handed him back some previously issued books and repeated verbatim many important passages from them. For the librarian, this spectacle was nothing short of a miracle. Very humbly, he asked Swami ji the secret of his super-human memory. Swami ji laughed and said: “There is no miracle or mystery in this. It is simply a technique of mental concentration”.
This technique has certain stages. The first stage is that whatever is read or listened that should be with a calm, composed and concentrated mind. Indeed, the sense organs are mere doors through which messages are sent to the mind. It is the mind which is the real thing. The more the holding power or capability of the mind, the more the information which can be imprinted on it. In fact, memorizing something or recollecting it is but a mere process, which is called memory (smriti). But the storehouse of memory is talent or intelligence (medha). In each individual, this talent exists in direct proportion to his mental composure, tranquility and concentration. For this very reason, things read, heard or seen in a hurry, or in state of instability, or casually and perfunctorily do not register in the mind.
The more clearly and deeply a thing is imprinted on the substratum of mind, the more vivid and detailed its recollection will be. If for some reason, this imprint is not clear in one attempt, the process should be repeated. It will be helpful if the important points are jotted down, since the process of writing, by itself, generates steadiness and concentration.
The third important point in connection with memory power is that one should be conceptually clear about the subject or points which are sought to be memorized, because it is easy to retain in memory those facts or events which touch our inner chord. Interest in and aptitude for the subject matter is another important consideration; again concentration comes as a matter of course when the topic is of interest to us. In addition to all these, an essential requisite is that our nervous system be stable and strong.
Those who lead a regulated and disciplined life are found to have a sharp memory and they can also absorb information very fast. One cannot lay too much emphasize on the distinct correlation between an orderly and disciplined life style and highly developed and sharpened memory as well as creative abilities.


Integration of Science and Spirituality

Imbalance or disharmony in any system, any action, generates problems of one kind or the other. Narrow-minded approach or lack of comprehensive considerations eventually leads to inadequate and problematic consequences, even though it might seem to offer some immediate success.
This is because of the incomplete comprehension or negligence of some of the crucial aspects of a situation. In order to achieve an orderly, well-organized, balanced and fulfilling human life, we need to pay due attention and give proper importance to the necessities of its interwoven physical, intellectual, mental and spiritual realms in the individual and social domains. A human being consists of a marvellous amalgam of matter and consciousness force.
The physical or the gross body is made up of the basic elements and their evolved reactions and results, so its healthy sustenance and vigorous functioning largely depend upon the balanced concentrations and activities of these vital constituents.
The subtle or the conscious body, mind and the inner self, which also lies at the base of the living existence of the physical body, receives the transmitting energy from enlightened thinking and virtuous sentiments. The vedic philosophy emphasizes the harmonious growth of both -the gross and the subtle realms. This comprehensive and integral approach lays the foundation of personal, familial, social and global development in an ideal way. Discrepancies, imbalances or disorder in any sphere of life causes different kinds of complications and difficulties of varied nature, which directly or indirectly hinder, retard and even reverse the graph of healthy soul growth and ascent.
A thorough understanding of human life becomes feasible by a comprehensive study of the interrelationship between the human mind, Nature and the Omnipresent Consciousness Force.
The major schools of thought and branches of knowledge that have emanated from the quest for fathoming this relationship have had entirely different approaches. While the material based modern science has designed sophisticated tools and technologies to shape the gross materialistic facets and external structure of progress, the inner foundation of this outer structure is embedded in the indwelling spirit in the individual and the collectively. Science contributes to the civilization and advancement of materialistic resources and spirituality holds the key to the harmonious and virtuous development of personality.
Science reveals the mysteries of Nature in the manifested world, while spirituality unfolds the secrets and objectives of its subtle existence. Analysis of the structure and perceivable properties of things is the subject matter of the different branches of material science. Decipheration and study of the origin and deepest purpose of life pertains to the fields of spirituality. Thus, broadly speaking, the former deals with answering “What and How?” and the latter with “Why and What for?” Both search for truth in their own fields of inquiry. Like the two banks of a river or two invisible edges of the horizon, both are perennially connected with each other but seem to stand far apart. Mutual cooperation and integration of the two is most desired for their relevance and necessity in human life. Unfortunately, these two gigantic streams of search for truth have, because of the way they have been followed and practiced, largely remained compartmentalized and mutually exclusive. Modern science has exhaustively excavated, extracted and exploited the natural resources and gained enormous mastery in the physical world.
However, for want of the guiding light of spirituality, it couldn’t really make a positively constructive, viable and righteous use of its mammoth wealth of knowledge of the principles underlying the physical phenomena. Matter and the visible world became the prominent foci of its advancement and so the objectives of life and its prime purpose got sidetracked and almost lost from sight. What was really needed was, to also search for solutions to the riddles of human psychology and the complexities that entangle the basic aims of life. Scientific research of the physical world enabled man to understand laws of the material world. But the infinite power of the inner self, the consciousness-force of pure sentiments of love and compassion, noble thoughts, etc remained unknown and ignored. As a result, materialistic civilization overtook the charge of life and the key role of sublime consciousness and associated faculties got neglected in the mist of illusions and ignorance.
It was bound to happen. When extrovert hunt for prosperity in terms of materialistic resources and comforts and their possession became the sole objective of life, why would one bother to understand the importance and utility of noble thinking, virtuous character, and altruistic sentiments? The generous attitude of benevolence, selfless cooperation and adoption of ethical conduct emanate from and expand with the support of spiritually evolved emotions. If one is not even aware of the importance of emotions and intrinsic tendencies in human life, why would he care for their refinement?
The mad rush of self-obsession, rat-race for possessions, power and blind progress driven by the ego and selfishness seen everywhere within and around us today reflect the bankruptcy of the human heart (emotional core) and sheer disregard of the inner self. This is the major cause of the ever- increasing agonies, fears and problems the world is facing despite the dazzling scientific advancement, technological development and enormous materialistic strength and wealth today. The grains of scientific research will serve the real purpose and will be beneficial in the true sense only if it opens its barriers and goes beyond “What and How?” to see “Why and What for?” – to encompass the search for the dignity of humanity and ultimate aim of human life. Revered thinkers and philosophers from different parts of the world have been expressing these views on scientific progress ever since its advent. Eminent talents like Leo Tolstoy and Theodore Roosevelt have commented that scientific quest revolves around “what is it?” of every thing, or “why something happens like the way it does in the physical world”. But it does not quite try to find “for what purpose the thing is existing?”, or “for what objective is something happening the way it is?”, etc. Tolstoy further writes at one place that the childhood of modern science has begun with the quest for “what and how?”; the stage of its maturity will be reached when it also begins answering “why and for what purpose?”.
The hidden depths of Nature and life can be plumbed by appropriate and meaningful research on “why and for what purpose?” This type of scientific research in the inner fields of consciousness force will mark the meeting point of science and spirituality. Plato has also observed that the completeness and ultimate progress of science lies in its entry into the spheres of spirituality. Why was this world created? Why the gamut of species of different creatures including human beings produced? Why is the perpetual cycle of Nature running the way it is? For what purpose is every component of the cosmos moving in its specific sphere and order? Who is governing this universal order? Where is the original cause of the manifestation of Nature and the genesis of this ever-expanding cosmic existence?
This basic quest of the existentialists is beyond the scope of the modern material sciences. Leaving aside these rather abstract puzzles, there still remains a plethora of questions concerning the origin, purpose and limitless expressions of human life and evolution of consciousness and the undeciphered layers of mental and emotional cores that are fundamental to the understanding of human life; but are not considered by the modern sciences.
Tolstoy expresses his heartiest appreciation for the constructive contributions of scientific developments to human civilization but he also deplores the near total neglect of moral aspects, value systems and deeper emotional effects, etc in the pursuit of scientific research. In his thorough review-essays in “Science is Not Enough”, the author scientist Vannevar Bush (1890-1974) writes that “the focus and scope of science has largely been confined to the analysis and synthesis of material substances and entities. It cannot claim absolute knowledge of anything with certainty. Its discovery of atom is an evidential example in this regard. It has still not been certain of the structure and functions of the subatomic units and their (further) sub-particulate constituents. Its continual research keeps annulling or deviating its own convictions and thus disapproving the sufficiency of its findings so far”. In the views of the thinkers like Theodore Roosevelt (1933 ) – “Science will be no better than a pool of artificial tools and techniques unless its search begins from metaphysical basis and incorporates the fields of consciousness”. Distinguished scientists like Warsen Beaver also opine that science will have to leave out its prejudices and adopt a broadened attitude for comprehensive research towards revealing the mysteries of Nature and resolving the problems of life. At present its approach is prejudiced in the sense that its search for truth is confined only to the perceivable realities of the world.
Dr. Beaver expresses his views on the reality of sublime consciousness as -” In the moments of deep sorrow, fear or helplessness, we do experience some inner inspiration that induces inexplicable hope and courage. It also gives us strength and light to counter the adversities or find discerning solutions to the acute hardships. This sublime power of inner consciousness is an expression of the Almighty. Each one of us does experience His presence in some form, some time in the course of life”. Science and spirituality have somehow been mutually contradicting in their approaches and have always regarded each other’s principles and objectives as superficial.
This negative competition has deprived both of their complementary roles towards holistic human growth. The convictions and practices of spirituality weaken their authenticity in absence of scientific spirit and openness. The philosophy and teachings of spirituality without having scientific approach lose their relevance and originality in the smog of blind faith and superstitions. Science also remains narrow and incomplete without incorporating spirituality, which is the base of enlightened evolution of the mental and emotional domains. Science without spirituality has no bonds of values and so there is an obvious danger of its becoming amoral and apathetic. This is what we are witnessing today. Science has undoubtedly made grand constructive contributions to the external development of human civilization, but it has unscrupulously invented dreaded products of mass destruction and global devastation. Its unchallenged might and reckless advancement appear to threaten the very existence of life on earth. It is high time the tyranny of this unbridled blind power is controlled and made accountable to humanity. The role of spirituality is self-evident in this regard. Science and technology can generate means of progress but not the means of peaceful co-existence and happiness; neither can these nurture moral values and inner strength. Science and technology may produce material wealth and prosperity but not the nectar of soothing emotions, spring of love and compassion or light of courage, wisdom and sagacity. Unless science is integrated with spirituality to fill-in this gap and both the complementary powers are encouraged to flourish within mutual cooperation, the present trends of progress would be inexorably hurtling towards the suicidal edge of global extinction.
Once a dacoit came to listen to a scholar- preacher’s sermon. The scholar was very eloquent about the virtues of forgiveness and non-violence. The sermon ended. The preacher took the offerings and walked towards his village. There was forest in-between. The dacoit bounced upon the preacher and asked for all the money he was carrying.
The preacher was a brave person and had a bamboo stick in his hands with which he threatened to hit the dacoit. The dacoit got scared and politely asked him that only a shot while ago he was preaching about the virtues of forgiveness and non-violence which he himself was not practicing. The scholar said that the sermon was for law abiding gentle people but for criminals like the dacoit the stick serves the sermon. Looking at the resolutely strong-willed scholar the dacoit took to his heels.