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Phenomenal Memory

Updated : June 29, 2019

  • Mingun Sayadaw U Vicittasarabhivamsa (GBNF) was listed in the “Guinness Book of World Records” for his phenomenal memory.
  • When Burma hosted the Sixth Buddhist Council at Kaba Aye Pagoda in 1954 – 56 to commemorate the 2500th year of the “Sasana Calendar”, Sayadaw acted as the “Reciter” of the Tipitaka (Triple Basket : Vinaya, Sutta, and Abhidhamma) and the “selected” Commentaries. According to the Kaba Aye Edition, the Tipitaka covers 8000+ pages.
  • To prepare for the Buddhist Council, Sir U Thwin requested Mingun Sayadaw to take the Tipitaka examination.
  • Sayadaw passed the Oral and Written tests for the Three Baskets with Distinction.
  • Oral tests will fail a candidate if he needs five (or six) prompts. Sayadaw did not need a single prompt. The Written tests cover in-depth topics. During the recitation, Sayadaw amazed the examiners by pointing out the variations of the text and highlighted the preferred version.
  • He was the first Sayadaw to be conferred “Bearer of the Tipitaka & Treasurer of the Dhamma”.
  • Sayadaw received requisites. He distributed them to the monks (mostly in the town where he received them).
  • To help ease the monks trying to pass one or more Baskets in the later Tipitaka examinations, Sayadaw set up a monastery in Mingun and accepted monks who had finished their Dhammacariya.

Types of Memory

  • We have a short term memory and a long term memory.
  • When people age, most retain their long term memory, but they often experience decline of their short term memory.
  • My young cousin approached us and then uttered, “I forgot what I was about to say”.
  • My high school classmate would abruptly stop in the middle of our walk and pondered, “Did I lock the door?”
  • U Tun Aung’s uncle (GBNF) could recall his primary classmates but could not recognize his beloved grand kid.
  • There are books and courses about memory.
  • According to some authors, we could use “chunking”, “association”, “reinforced (non-blind) repetition”, … to move important and worthwhile items in the short term memory into long term memory.
  • Memory is not static. It is “elastic”. There is restructuring (reorganizing, indexing, …) every time we use it.
  • There are techniques (“mnemonics”, “visualization”, …) to “train” and “improve” our memory.
  • Thanks to the sayas and colleagues who complimented for having a good memory.
  • I was a mini-dictionary, a micro-encyclopedia, and a reliable proof-reader & spelling checker.
  • May be it was partly because I was born before the pervasive use of Internet and on-line tools, and there was not too much diversion.
  • There are a few who want to down play the importance of memory.
  • They say, “I can Google”.

Categories: Uncategorized

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