This book studies the diverse array of Species of Memory which are discussed in Buddhist theoretical discourse, and which are thought to function in Religious practice. Included are discussions of Buddhist meditation, visualization, prayer, commemoration of the Buddha, dharani practice, the use of mnemonic lists to condense lengthy scriptures, and the purported recollection of infinite previous Lives that immediately preceded Sakyamuni's attainment of buddhahood. Even enlightened awareness itself is said by some Buddhist School to consist in a 'mnemic engagement' with reality as such.
The authors also explore Buddhist Views on mundane acts of memory such as recognizing, reminding, memorizing, and storing data. One of the most striking discoveries is that Perception is said to be intimately related to certain types of memory. Such a relation is cultivated in Buddhist practices yet, even in the ordinary act of perception, memory is recognized as having an important role. Several Essays investigate if, and if so, how, meditative mindfulness and recollection of the past-both of which can be designated by the term smrti-are connected within the Buddhist tradition. The question of whether recollection of the past can be explained without violating the foundational Buddhist notions of radical impermanence and no-self is addressed by several of the contributing scholars.
Among the primary sources for the studies in this volume are the Northern and Southern Abhidharma literature, the matrkas, Pali and Mahayana sutras, works of the Buddhist logicians, Yogacara materials, the Tibetan Great perfection (Rdzogs-chen) tradition, and Indian and Tibetan commentarial works. Affinities of Buddhist views on memory with those found in Western phenomenology, semiology, psychology, and History of Religions are considered as well.