VB : Memory

Video Broadcast : # 004

Text Update : January 12, 2021


There are several types of memory

  • Long term memory
  • Short term memory
  • Photographic memory
  • Associative memory
  • False memory


The study of memory transcends medical research, sociology, linguistics, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence.

It is often done by a team of multi-disciplinary experts.

Aging contributes loss of short term memory or the decline in the ability to retain short term memory. My younger cousin sister said, “I forgot what I wanted to say”.

One elderly could recall names of his primary school classmates, but could not recognize his youngest grand son that grew up in his hands.

Ko Tin Oo (M87) temporarily forgot his name, but uttered “I pledged my donation for the YTU library, but I have not made the donation.” The memory lapse was attributed to a fall that hurt his back.

Memory Feats

Dale Carnegie wrote that Harry S. Truman won the presidency because his campaign manager could address 50,000+ voters by their first name. I thought that I should try for 500 or 5000 names.

Mingun Tipitaka Sayadaw U Vicittasarabhivamsa was recorded in the Guinness Book of World Record for his phenomenal memory that he displayed in the Sixth Buddhist Council held at Kaba Aye (World Peace) Pagoda from 1954 – 1956. Sayadaw not only remembered 8000+ pages of the Scriptures, but he could also point out the variants of some Suttas while he took the Oral examination. Sayadaw passed the Oral and Written examinations for Vinaya (Monastic rules of conduct), Sutta (Discourses) and Abhidhamma (Ultimate reality) with Distinction. Sayadaw became the Grand Custodian of the Tipitaka (Three Baskets) and was the key player in the Sixth Buddhist Council.

My Memory

When I was in Middle School, Chauk Htutt Kyee Sayadaw came to our house to give a dhamma talk. After Sayadaw returned, I supposedly recounted the main points of the talk.

I have a built-in recorder and a reasonably good memory, but the use of association, chunking, mnemonics, and “learning how to learn” helped to make my memory better.

Not everyone appreciated my memory. One person thought that I was dyslexic when I wrote English words and sentences backwards and upside down. I also wrote a few in mirror image. Another said, “What’s the big deal? You just have to remember 26 patterns.”

I often start a talk –tongue in cheek — by saying, “My brain is damaged. It’s easy to remember, but it’s hard to forget.”

Categories: Broadcasts, Notes

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