SuttaCentral

Tips on sutta memorisation

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zGDLE98GxY

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Thanks a lot for this. I love memory methods, and have to sift through a lot of metivier’s stuff, but this was nice and to the point

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Have you read Lynne Kelly’s memory code? She talks about the memorization of oral cultures, and I wish the Buddhas memorization code was cracked. For instance maybe one day we’ll find a tree (or picture of one) with all the pieces of hidden info in the trunk, branches, twigs, leaves that store suttas and key principles. Along those lines, she says every little crack and crevice in Stonehenge was a visual space the druids could store and rehearse memories just by glancing at the space at a later date. I’m wondering if this could be tied in with monastics. Maybe the sanghati itself was or could be a space for holding info!

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I read a book a while back called Moonwalking with Einstein that discusses memory technique, mainly, the memory palace. Good stuff

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Effortlessly being mindful leads to memorization? I can’t remember what was said. Haha

I first saw this book at Bodhinyana, and only recently went through it in the last few months. Now this memory stuff takes up a lot of my time. Lol. If you’re interested in expanding your knowledge of this for practicality, Alex Mullen is an international champion with advice on language and medical school terminology which we can transfer into other interests, also Nelson Dellis is a good YouTuber in regards to the techniques

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That’s cool thanks. What about memorizing texts like suttas, in there anyone who has advice specifically for memorizing short to medium prose texts?

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Neither can I. The first time.

Listening repeatedly is the trick. Since Bhante Sujato uses consistent terminology throughout his translations, it’s actually a very powerful trick, since the suttas are built on repetitions across suttas. I listen to the same set of suttas for a week then go onto another set of suttas. When the whole list is done after several weeks, I restart the whole cycle.

With this practice, I find that:

  • memorization happens effortlessly (i.e., without intention)
  • repeated listening invariably reveals subtle nuances not previously noted
  • mindfulness itself leads to memorization (as the EBTs indicate)
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Check this website. This bhikkhu has managed to memorize the patimokkha.

I think this will be your best bet to gain access to a technique to memorize other Buddhist texts like suttas.

From this particular bhikkhu`s account, it was key to have someone else to help. This is aligned with what I have witnessed in forest hermitages in Thailand: usually two monks sit together in the evenings and as one of them recites what he has memorized the other corrects him.

This is probably similar to how Vedic Chant is still passed on to this date.

:anjal:

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Thankyou, friend. Pardon the late reply!

Yes, I found Lynne Kelly’s work quite encouraging also.

This is one way of interpreting the Buddha’s advice to develop intimate awareness with the body – ie as the basis of sati (aka reflection (aka memory (aka awareness)).

The Buddha’s lists also seem to operate as memory palaces, and are based on the same mnemonic principles, which are actually just principles of aural coding. Even back then, philosophers and deep thinkers were warning against the corrosive effects of dependence on the written word.

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