Reply To: Post on Five Aggregates – Introduction


It seems that he is trying to explain memory in terms of stored in the brain.

Here are some relevant time-stamps, and their corresponding quotes, from the late, Venerable Bhikkhu Samāhita’s talk, Dhamma on Air #5:

Question 1: 1:04:

Where is the knowledge of past lives stored in a being? How to see these past lives? And these past life memories, does it first come when the “fruit of the tree” ripens?


There’s not much in the text—in the Tipitaka texts—about this issue. The only thing it says actually is that it’s stored in something called hadaya vatthu, but there’s scholastic disagreement what hadaya vatthu actually means. Vatthu means element and… or base, or source …and hadaya means heart… so it’s a heart element… but doesn’t say where it sits, whether it sits in the brain or in the heart or somewhere else in the body… doesn’t say… the text doesn’t say.


So first we’ll try to… …cover the subject of the so-called {indecipherable}. In modern neurology—contemporary brain science—what does it say? Where is the information stored? Is there some material, molecular basis that we can find for the phenomenon of remembrance? And the short answer is actually, no.


So it seems… from this point of view (Emphasis added.)… that the memory is localized to certain places in the brain. Then there’s another issue that goes against this.


So it means that information that was somehow localized in a certain part of the brain is regenerated from somewhere else apparently.


So this means that consciousness is not only inside the brain. It is basically everywhere.


Information could, in principle, be stored everywhere in space, so this redefines brain as more like an antenna or, I would say, a transceiver. A transceiver is something that can receive—in this case electromagnetic radiation, radio waves—and send out radio waves, so it receives and sends out… and this is a transceiver… so the brain may work in similar… in a similar way, to process information that is coming or is everywhere present. You could say holographically stored in the entire universe, actually.


It means that the brain could be a transceiver that sends out information and receives information from everywhere and that we are going around in a field of information—and that’s why you can remember prior lives.


So, again, there’s three places where the information is stored: in the short-term memory—the RAM-like memory—in the brain, that’s local; in the hard-disc areas in the brain, that’s also local; and then it’s stored everywhere, in space, that’s non-local. And the non-local information is the basis of remembering past lives.

The answer to Question 1 ends by 20:49.

Ajahn Samāhita’s response to the question is worth listening to in its entirety. In addition to the detail, there’s helpful context and apt analogies that could aid someone in better understanding the topic of mind and memory, at least from this perspective.

More importantly, all of the above, from Ajahn Samāhita’s talk, seems to align—remarkably closely!—with the concepts of gati, gandhabba, hadaya vatthu, and nāma-lōka presented in the various, related posts on those subjects here on this site, of which the following seem particularly germane:

Autobiographical Memory – Preserved in Nāma Loka

Memory Recall for Gandhabba in a Human Body

Memory, Brain, Mind, Nama Loka, Kamma Bhava, Kamma Vipāka

Nāma Loka and Rupa Loka – Two Parts of Our World

Our Two Worlds: Material and Immaterial