We rightly recognise that memory is not the same as a living experience. Yet, the power of memory holds a key for those who wish to undertake spiritual development. We see this in the context of religious and spiritual pursuits that rely on the power of memory in some form to renew and actualise experiences. The simplest process is to recall and reflect on the peak spiritual experiences that one has had. It may help to visualise the circumstances as one recalls the memory. It may help to recreate the surroundings or the environment within which the event occurred, although this is frequently not possible. But, for instance, if one had a special opening in a forest grove, or on a hill, or in an isolated meditation cave, returning to that locale can trigger, in many cases, a renewal of the feeling, the awareness and even the experience itself, or a similar one at the very least. Many times an individual will follow a practiced routine to enter into a state of meditation, and this routine may include a specific scent of incense, specific triggering sounds such as a tingsha or bell being rung, a specific piece of music, or a recitation. In other cases, an individual may simply remember the circumstances and call up the memory. For instance, if one had a particularly intense experience in a temple or ashram, without physically visiting, the evocation of the memory may suffice to recreate the mood, feeling and receptivity needed for a new spiritual experience to emerge. Note that chasing past spiritual experiences and expecting them to reoccur is not often fruitful. The important point is to create the mood of readiness and receptivity and the turning of the awareness toward the spiritual reality that occurs when one does so.
Once one has focused on the spiritual experience, the next step is to understand the implications of that experience, find out what it is providing as guidance for one’s life and actions and direction, and then work to bring those things to life.
The Mother notes: “These experiences come to you suddenly in a flash, for a second, a moment in your life, you don’t know why or how…. There are other ways, other experiences — they are innumerable, they vary according to people; but with this, with one minute, one second of such an existence, one catches the tail of the thing. So one must remember that, try to relive it, go to the depths of the experience, recall it, aspire, concentrate. This is the starting-point, the end of the guiding thread, the clue. For all those who are destined to find their inner being, the truth of their being, there is always at least one moment in life when they were no longer the same, perhaps just like a lightning-flash — but that is enough. It indicates the road one should take, it is the door that opens on this path. And so you must pass through the door, and with perseverance and an unfailing steadfastness seek to renew the state which will lead you to something more real and more total.”
Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter II Awakening of Consciousness, pg. 25