It is a given that, being human, we are forgetful. In the humdrum of daily life, there are many things we can forget: doing the laundry, calling a friend, taking a break. On average, I forget to do about thirty things every day. We live in a culture, however, that has somehow become fearful of forgetting. There’s a new ‘productivity-enhancing’ app out every week. Post-It notes line our walls, multicolored hints and tidbits of chores, duties and schedules. We set alarms, we make lists, we write things down wherever we can, even on our bodies sometimes. We put so much effort into staving off forgetfulness, we forget why we even started acting this way in the first place.
Studies have shown the importance of location in improving memory, the way our minds create associations in a given place. Students tend to perform better when tested in the same classroom in which they are taught. Taxi drivers have markedly larger brain development than most other humans, needing every neuron to create a mental road map for the dense city grid. We have all experienced this in our lives, driving around familiar haunts, old neighborhoods, reminiscing on old friends, youthful pastimes, connecting ourselves to a place with feeling. But the minute we leave a familiar environment, a place to which we’re attached, our emotions related to it begin to diminish. Even if we focus on our memories, put up a valiant struggle with forgetfulness, we will eventually begin to forget.
It is the same for devotion as it is in the world. You wouldn’t practice meditation on the playground where you first learned how to swing, and as a result you lose that memory fairly quickly. In prayer, you seek to hold on to whatever feelings of the Divine you can, to create a lasting connection to Radha Krishn. But when you leave the ashram and people are talking and you fall into conversation with them, what do you think happens to your remembrance? Without active practice, without constant mental sadhana, our connection to God rapidly becomes tenuous.
So, we practice. Being a devotee isn’t something you do at the ashram, in front of older relatives, when other people expect it of you. Being a devotee is something you carry with you, in the back of your mind, and it is a relationship that does not diminish. The truths that you learn, the love that you have for Radha Krishn, are something you cannot ever forget. You are not of two minds, after all. The same brain holds onto God and worldly attachments. Without even knowing it, you carry the thought with you.
At work, in school, with friends and family, it can be very difficult to try and think of God, but think of God we must. The feelings in our heart are already there, trying to make room for the beloved. It only takes a little more conscious effort on our part. Piece by piece, bit by bit, we have to try to carry the philosophy of Divine love with us, wherever we go. These are the things we carry: the image of God, bhakti, a staunch promise to never forget, no matter what, no matter where.