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The Need To Forget Quotes And Teachings

A few teachings and quotes on the need to forget from Hindu saints and scriptures.

The gift of memory includes not only the ability to remember but also the ability to forget what needs to be forgotten. We have, along with good memories, many bad memories too. What to do with them? We wish to forget those memories. Someone hurt or cheated us; spoke or behaved unkindly with us and so on. And we wish to forget it for that is the best way to deal with those experiences. How to do it?

Says one of the eminent monks of the Ramakrishna Order, suggesting a powerful solution to handle painful memories:

The more you try to forget something, the more you remember it. You cannot forget anything. Any conscious attempt to forget strengthens the thought, you remember it all the more. To forget any thought, do not think about it, think about something else. That is, put your mind somewhere else, then the mind goes away from the unwanted thought. If certain memories are not pleasant, get away from them by putting the mind on something more sublime. That is why in spiritual life you are asked to think of God, repeat God’s name even when you are disturbed by some memory. To blot out a memory, think of something which is closer to your heart and soul. . . . Simply telling the mind not to entertain a thought does not stop it, give it something better, something more divine, something more precious, and the mind holds on to that.

Keeping the mind on some divine thought, divine name, is of great spiritual significance; psychologically it helps us a lot; you can avoid many problems, many difficult situations. Even without an effort on your part, thoughts come up at different times according to the different suggestions outside or inside. The only way you can avoid them is to put the mind elsewhere – the thought that you give the mind must be stronger that the one you want to avoid, it must draw your entire mind.’ (Meditation and its Culmination by Swami Sarvagatananda, volume one p.158)

Sri Krishna says in the Gita (15.15) that ‘forgetfulness too arises from Him!’ Forgetting what needs to be forgotten is important in using this gift of remembrance or else it becomes an instrument of misery and constant pain.