The Omniscience of Memory
Now that we have viewed “memory” from a negative standpoint, let’s get back to our original purpose, that is, to discover why it is also referred to as “the omniscient.”
But let’s first discuss what we mean by “to know” in its simple sense. Of course, again we’ve got to look up the meaning of the word in a dictionary.
According to the Random House Webster’s, a basic dictionary of American English, the word “know” as a verb means 1)to understand clearly and with certainty, 2)to have fixed in mind or memory, 3) to be acquainted or familiar with, 4) to recognize, 5) to have skill or experience with, and 6) to have direct experience of.
Certainly all these definitions are applicable more to living creatures, particularly human beings.
To help you shorten the time that you may need for contemplation, we have here an example, which you can try yourself. Put a piece of black checker, one that is circular and flat, on a piece of white paper, then move it with the tip of your finger from left to right. What do you see? Certainly the checker is by now already on your right. What then is it that makes it possible for you to say that you “know” very well that the checker was on your left? It’s your memory, isn’t it? No arguing about that! As for the checker itself, all it knows about its very being is that it is “always present,” for the only reason that no matter where it moves to, its “feeling of existence” goes with it. To put it in simpler terms: When you move the checker from your left to your right, or to whichever direction you wish, you will at that very instant feel that you are constantly in “the present condition,” because you are then not in a state of recalling things.
If, however, you are then attempting to recall things, you will undoubtedly feel that the checker was, just moments ago, on your left, subsequently leading you to believe that “the past condition” does exist. To some extent, we can perhaps think of our memory as a video recorder recording the various events. Recalling could then be analogized to the act of rewinding a video cassette in search of a certain previous recording. Thus, even after the checker is already on your right, you will still see the photograph of the checker when it was still on your left, and you are therefore apt to say it was on your left just now.
However, as you will see yourself, to whichever direction you may move the checker, it is “always present” in its very entity as a checker. The checker itself knows no such things as the three conditions. It is very much like when we are not in a state of recalling things: We feel that we are “always present,” or always in “the present condition”—or, to put it in simpler terms: We feel that we are always at “the present time.”
Checkers, like the one exemplified here, can perhaps be analogized to those sub-atomic particles that are “always present” and fill the entire universe in eternity. For the whole content of the universe, including man’s physique, there are no such things as “the past condition,” “the present condition,” and “the future condition.” Man, however, from the human angle, considers these three conditions to be present only because he has memory.
Why doesn’t the physical condition of man ever recognize these three conditions, despite the fact that his memory can feel them? The answer to this has already been given in the article above, but we still find it necessary to discuss it over and over again so as to ease understanding.
That man should have such physical condition must by now be well understood. Viewed from outside his physical self, all that man in a state of recalling perceives is no more than a mere “change of position” or “change of condition” or “change of configuration” of the sub-atomic particles in his brain.
Nonetheless, being an entity having “the feeling of existence,” he can, with the memory he has, feel the presence of the “past condition.” This ability of his is, of course, inseparable from the life process he has and by which he is endowed with the energy he needs to conduct the process of recalling.
Though whatever change that occurs in this universe is virtually a mere change of condition or a change of position of the “always-present” sub-atomic particles, man, however, has the ability to retrieve the “past” of any such change—an ability that can be attributed to the fact that he is able to store impressions of “the past condition” and recover them by his act of recalling.
With this knowledge of “our past condition” we are able to know about the history of our country and of mankind. We are also able to know how this world, the other planets, and the sun have evolved. We are also able to build assumptions as to how this universe first came into being. Thus, it is our memory that enables us to know what is going on in the universe today. What’s more, we are also endowed with the ability to make predictions concerning what is to come a few hours later, a few days later, a few months later, a few years later, or even millions of years later.
It is quite possible that man is not the only creature that has memory in this universe. Of course, other creatures from outer space too, if they do possess memory, must have such ability that, in relative terms, equals man’s.
It is astonishing though that man is, by his possession of memory, able to know about things that “are not what they manifest themselves to be” in this universe.
In reality there is definitely no such thing as “the past condition.” It is only because man possesses memory, which only he himself feels, that he is able to know the “past position” or “the past configuration” of the entire universe. What even astonishes us more is the fact that the universe had “once before” indeed been in that very position or in that very configuration.
Seen from the viewpoint of man’s outer self, the universe, including the elementary particles in man’s physique, absolutely knows no such things as “the past condition,” “the present condition,” and “future condition,” which consequently gives us warrant to say that memory is by nature deceptive.
Seen from the viewpoint of man’s inner self, however, memory enables man to identify his “past condition,” know his “present condition,” and predict his “future condition.” He is able to know about things that “manifest themselves not the way they really are in this universe,” i.e. though he never knows about such a thing as “the past condition,” yet by his possession of memory he is able to know about the past condition of the universe. Amazing, isn’t it? None of the other entities in this universe have so vast a knowledge of the journey of this universe as does “memory.” Obviously then nothing can go wrong if we should, from the positive viewpoint, call memory “the omniscient.” That is why this book is entitled “The Omniscience of Memory.”
What is “Man” actually???
By Reinarto Hadipriono