The subconscious mind is termed "Chitta" in Vedanta. Much of your subconsciousness consists of submerged experiences, memories-thrown into the background but recoverable.
When you show symptoms of losing your memory, as you grow old, the first symptom is that you find it difficult to remember the names of persons. The reason is not far to seek. All the names are arbitrary. They are like labels. There are no associations along with the names. The mind generally remembers through associations, as the impressions become deep thereby. You can remember in old age some passages that you have read in schools and colleges. But you find it difficult to remember in the evening a passage you have read in the morning. The reason is that the mind has lost its Dharana-Sakti (power of grasping ideas). The cells have been degenerated. Those who overwork mentally, who do not observe the rules of Brahmacharya and who are afflicted with much cares, worries and anxieties, lose their power of memory soon. Even in old age you can remember old events as there are associations with events.
The mental processes are limited to the field of consciousness alone. The field of subconscious mentation is of a much greater extent than that of conscious mentation. Messages when ready, come out like a flash from the subconscious mind or Chitta of the Vedantins. Only ten per cent of mental activities come into the field of the consciousness. At least ninety per cent or our mental life is subconscious. We sit and try to solve a problem, and fail. We look around, try again and again but fail. Suddenly an idea dawns and leads to the solution of the problem. The subconscious processes were at work.
Sometimes you go to sleep at night with the thought "I must get up very early in the morning to catch a train". This message is taken up by the subconscious mind and it is this subconscious mind that wakes you up unfailingly at the exact hour. Subconscious mind is your constant companion and sincere friend. You repeatedly fail at night to get a solution for a problem in Arithmetic or Geometry. In the morning when you wake up you get a clear answer. This answer comes like a flash from the subconscious mind. Even in sleep it works incessantly without any rest. It arranges, classifies, compares, sorts all facts and works out a proper satisfactory solution. This is all due to subconscious mind.
With the help of the subconscious mind you can change your vicious nature by cultivating healthy, virtuous qualities that are opposed to the undesirable ones. If you want to overcome fear mentally deny that you have fear and concentrate your attention upon the opposite quality, the ideal of courage. When this is developed fear vanishes by itself. The positive always overpowers the negative. This is an infallible law of nature. This is Pratipaksha Bhavana of the Raja Yogins. You can acquire a liking for distasteful tasks and duties by cultivating a desire and taste for them. You can establish new habits, new ideals, new ideas and new tastes and new character in the subconscious mind by changing the old ones.
The functions of Chitta are Smriti or Smarana, Dharana (retention) and Anusandhana (inquiry or investigation). When you repeat a Mantra it is the Chitta that does the Smarana. It does a lot of work. It turns out better work than the mind or Buddhi.
All actions, enjoyments and experiences leave their impressions in the subconscious mind in the form of subtle impressions or residual potencies. The Samskaras are the root of causing again Jati, life and experiences of pleasure and pain. Revival of Samskaras induces memory. The Yogi dives deep inside and comes in direct contact with these Samskaras. He directly perceives them through the inner Yogic Vision. By Samyama (concentration, meditation and Samadhi) on these Samskaras, he acquires knowledge of previous lives. By doing Samyama on the Samskaras of others, the Yogi gets the knowledge of their past lives also.
When you desire to remember a thing you will have to make a psychic exertion. You will have to go up and down the depths of the different levels of the subconscious mind and then pick up the right thing from a curious mixture of multifarious irrelevant matter. Just as the mail sorter in the Railway Mail Service takes up the right letter by moving the hand up and down along the different pigeon-holes, so also the sorter in the subconscious mind goes up and down along the pigeon-holes in the subconscious mind and brings the right thing to the level of normal consciousness. The subconscious mind can pick the right thing out from a heap of various matters.
A Samskara of an experience is formed or developed in the Chitta the very moment the mind is experiencing something. There is no gap between the present experience and the formation of a Samskara in the subconscious mind.
Smriti of memory is the function of Chitta (subconscious mind). It is a separate faculty or category in Vedanta. Sometimes it is Antarangata (comes under the mind). In Sankhya philosophy it is included in Buddhi or Mahat Tattva. The Chitta of Patanjali Rishi's philosophy of Raja Yoga (Yogas Chittavritti-Nirodhah) corresponds to the Antahkarana of Vedanta.
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