To remember is to try to store in the mind what we have heard, seen, read, been told by others, and has happened to us, etc.
Teachers want their students to store in their memory—all with periods and commas—their words, their phrases, what is written in schoolbooks, entire chapters, heavy homework, etc.
To pass tests means to remember what we have been told, what we have mechanically read, that is, to verbalize the memory, to repeat like parrots, cockatoos, or parakeets all that we have stored in our memory.
It is necessary for the new generations to comprehend that to repeat—like an audio disc recorder—all of the recordings made within the memory does not signify the acquisition of deep comprehension. To remember does not mean to comprehend, thus, it is worthless to remember, if one has not comprehended. Thus, remembrance belongs to the past; it is something dead, something no longer alive.
It is indispensable, it is essential, and a topic of actuality and palpitating meaning, for all the students of schools, colleges, and universities to truly comprehend the deep significance of profound comprehension.
To comprehend is something immediate and direct, something that is vivid and intense, something that we experience very profoundly, and which inevitably becomes the true intimate source of conscious action.
To remember or to recollect is something dead, something that belongs to the past, that unfortunately becomes an ideal, a motto, an idea, an idealism that we want to mechanically imitate and unconsciously follow.
In true comprehension, in profound comprehension, in intimate in-depth comprehension, there exists only the intimate pressure of the consciousness, a persistent pressure born from the Essence that we carry within, and that is all.
Authentic comprehension is manifested as a spontaneous, natural, and simple action, free from the depressing process of selection; it is pure, without any type of indecision.
When comprehension is transformed into the secret source of action, it is formidable, marvelous, it becomes edifying and essentially dignifying.
When action is based upon the remembrance of what we have read, or upon the ideal that we long for, or upon the norms of conduct that we have learned, or upon the experiences that we have accumulated within the memory, etc., it becomes calculative, that is, it becomes an action that depends upon the depressing process of selecting options, it is dualistic, it is based on conceptual options that inevitably lead only to error and pain.
The idea of adapting action to memory, trying to modify action so that it coincides with the recollections accumulated within our memory, is something artificial, absurd, without spontaneity, that inevitably leads only to error and pain.
Passing tests or passing a school year can be accomplished by any dim-wit who has a good dose of astuteness and memory. However, to comprehend the subjects that have been studied, and that one is going to be examined on, is something very different: this has nothing to do with memory, it belongs to true intelligence, which must not be mistaken for intellectualism.
Those individuals who want to base all the actions of their life on ideals, theories, and all that various recollections accumulated in the warehouses of their memory, always go around from comparison to comparison, and where comparison exists, envy also exists. They compare themselves with their neighbors; they compare their children and relatives with the children and relatives of their neighbors. They compare their house, furniture, clothes, and all their possessions with the possessions of their neighbors. They compare their ideas, the intelligence of their children with the ideas and intelligence of other people, and so on and so forth; thus, this is how envy appears, which then is transformed into the hidden, twisted source of action.
For the disgrace of this world, the whole mechanism of society is based on envy and the spirit of acquisition. Everyone envies everyone else. We envy ideas, things, people, and we want to acquire more and more money, new theories, new ideas that we accumulate in our memory, new things in order to dazzle our neighbors, etc.
In true, legitimate, and authentic comprehension exists true love, not mere verbalization of the memory.
The things that we remember, those things that are confined to our memory, soon fall into oblivion because our memory is unfaithful. Students store—within the warehouses of their memory—ideals, theories, and complete texts that are useless in the practicality of life, because in the end they disappear from their memory without leaving a single trace.
People who live only reading and reading mechanically, who enjoy storing theories within the storerooms of their memory, destroy their mind, they miserably damage it.
We do not pronounce ourselves against true, profound, and cognizant study based on in-depth comprehension. We only condemn the antiquated methods of obsolete pedagogy; we condemn all mechanical systems of studying, any memorization, etc., because where true comprehension exists, remembrance is irrelevant.
We need to study, we need useful books; thus, teachers of school, colleges, and universities are necessary. Likewise, gurus, spiritual guides, mahatmas, etc., are necessary. Nevertheless, it is necessary to comprehend the teachings in an integral manner, and not merely stuff them into the storerooms of our unfaithful memory.
We cannot become truly free as long as we commit the mistake of comparing ourselves with the stored recollections of our memory and with the ideal of what we have the ambition of becoming or not becoming.
When we truly comprehend the teachings we attend, then we do not need to memorize them nor transform them into ideals.
True love cannot exist where there is comparison of what we are here and now with what we want to become later, where there is comparison of our practical life with the ideal or model to which we want to adapt.
Any comparison is abominable; any comparison brings fear, envy, pride, etc., i.e. fear of not attaining what we want, envy because of the progress of our neighbor, pride because we believe we are superior to others.
What is important in the practicality of the life that we live—whether we are ugly, envious, selfish, covetous, etc.—is to not boast about being saints, but to start from absolute zero, and to profoundly comprehend ourselves as we are, not as we want to become or as we pretentiously consider to be.
It is impossible to dissolve the “I,” the myself, if we do not learn to observe ourselves, if we do not learn how to perceive, in order to comprehend in an efficient and absolutely practical manner what we really are, here and now.
If we really want to comprehend, we must listen to our masters, gurus, priests, preceptors, and true spiritual guides.
Youngsters of this new generation have lost the sense of respect and veneration towards their parents, masters, gurus, mahatmas, and true spiritual guides, etc.
It is impossible to comprehend the teachings when we do not know how to venerate and respect our parents, masters, preceptors, or true spiritual guides.
The simple, mechanical remembrance of what we have learnt by memory—without in-depth comprehension—mutilates the mind and heart, and engenders envy, fear, pride, etc.
When we truly know how to listen in a profound and cognitive manner, then a wonderful power—free from all mechanical processes, free from all reasoning, free from any remembrance—an extraordinary, natural, and simple comprehension, emerges within us.
If the brains of students are relieved from the enormous effort of memory that they have to exert, then it would be totally possible to teach the structure of the nucleus and the periodic table of elements to secondary students, as well as for a college student to comprehend the law of relativity and quantum physics.
Based on the talks that we have had with some teachers of secondary schools, we comprehend that they are attached with true fanaticism to the old, antiquated, and obsolete pedagogy. Thus, they want the students to learn everything by memory, even if they do not comprehend it. Sometimes they accept that it is better to comprehend than to memorize, but they insist that the formulae of physics, chemistry, mathematics, etc., must be recorded in the memory.
It is clear that such a concept is false, because when a formula of physics, chemistry, mathematics, etc., is wisely comprehended—not only in the intellectual level but also within the other levels of the mind, namely: unconscious, subconscious, infraconscious levels, etc.—then, it is not necessary to record it in the memory since it becomes part of our psyche and can manifest as immediate instinctual knowledge when the circumstances of life demand it. This integral knowledge grants us a certain type of omniscience that is a kind of objective, cognizant manifestation.
In-depth comprehension within all the levels of the mind is only possible by means of introspective, profound meditation.
This chapter is from Fundamentals of Gnostic Education (1970) by Samael Aun Weor. The print and ebook editions by Glorian Publishing (a non-profit organization) are illustrated to aid your understanding, and include features like a glossary and index. Buy the book, and you benefit yourself and others.