"I have a few hang-ups still about the NDE phenomenon and related issues (not the "survival hypothesis"......I've pretty much learned to take the leap of faith on that). But what about memory? When I came into the world, I obviously lost any memory I had of/from the spirit world. Back to the drawing board, as they say (maybe the frequent deja-vu I experience is a counter-example). But then, when it's my time to go back to spirit. . . do I regain all of the memory of all past experiences from past lives? Neurologists will say that memory is a function of neuron configurations. . . but the NDE experiencers almost universally seem to be able to remember life details during the experience as if they were in the body. Is my soul a repository of all the memories of all my past lives, the wisdom of which I can access if I am prayerful? Or is it more a matter of, in the spirit world, being able to revisit the life reviews of past lives when it is a good idea to do that, rather than instant recall?
"I totally respect an answer of 'I don't know,' since NDEs and religious teachings both probably don't offer very precise answers on this matter." …Andrew
Yes, what about memory? For those near-death experiencers who undergo a life review, there is no question that detailed and quite specific memories appear during that component of their episode. For the more radical experiencers, such as myself, we can get that double whammy in the sense that all our thoughts, all our words, as well as all our deeds and activities, all come flooding back, or, we are somehow shown them. Not all experiencers, however, are able to bring back this comprehensive type of memory once back in the body. We'll remember bits and pieces afterward, especially if anything really impressed itself upon us, or, perhaps certain scenes that touched off an emotional "buzzer" inside. But all the exact details withdraw once again to the back reaches of our minds. I have only had a few cases that involved past-life memories. The rest, the majority, do not.
Most of us, once on the Other Side, have this knowing that our soul knows just about (if not) everything, that our soul is quite powerful in that way. The soul, our soul, everybody's soul, is that more perfect part of us that is still connected to or somehow in line with God. We also gain the sense that the soul improves in knowledge and experience from the life we lived, just as the soul gained in knowledge from previous sojourns or incarnations or manifestations. The soul is us, our higher self. Spiritual activities and states of consciousness help us to align our personality with our soul. We can merge, and I see that happening with those people who have reached samadhi, peace, or higher states of consciousness, or becoming more loving and caring. I rather suspect that's the goal of the spiritual, of prayer, meditation, and service, "the blessed path," to merge all parts of ourselves together, to become one. Who can say what happens to memory when this occurs (enlarges) - certainly more than that seems likely too.
I used to be a hypnotist specializing in past-life regressions. Once under, individuals suddenly have sharper, sometimes full memory. All hypnotists report this. Once we get the conscious mind "out of the way," the subconscious aspect of the brain can "unload." The accuracy of recall is quite good with most people. That means our memory, yours and mine, exists together and rather complete on some level of our mind. Recall, at least, is certainly possible. Under hypnosis, a trained and experienced hypnotherapist can access levels of mind, levels of incarnations, levels of memory. All is there and reachable, if you know what you're doing.
Don't forget that our body and especially the muscular structure, remembers. Surely you've heard of muscle memory? Once you train certain muscles to move certain ways under certain conditions, they take right off and perform accordingly. This can become subconscious in the sense that you don't have to think about what you're about to do. You just see yourself doing it and you do. Or, you are able to do that given task automatically. You have the memory for it. Many times, the automatic function of certain body parts, the absolute knowing of what to do - comes from previous lives, not this one. So, even muscle memory and other types of body memories can move along with the soul irrespective of time.
Numerous levels of mind and memory are more accessible than most people think. It is ever surprising and sometimes amazing how much our memories improve during the dreamstate and we can "dream" our memories - even bring them back if absent.