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Memorizing Texts

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  • dkotschessa
    I just wanted to pass on this wonderful article I found about a technique for memorizing texts verbatim. I am familiar with a lot of different memory
    Message 1 of 8 , Apr 14, 2008
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      I just wanted to pass on this wonderful article I found about a
      technique for memorizing texts verbatim. I am familiar with a lot of
      different memory techniques, some that I use for Pali. But so far
      none of them have really lent themselves to verbatim memorization.
      This looks promising.

      http://www.productivity501.com/how-to-memorize-verbatim-text/294/

      I think I will try it with pali devotionals, first by memorizing the
      english and then the pali. I also think I will use it with the text
      in the Gair course when I get back to it.

      -DaveK
    • P G Dave
      Hi DaveK, I tried the tool on that page. works well as long as that string of 1st letters is in front of you. After using the string to recall the original
      Message 2 of 8 , Apr 15, 2008
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        Hi DaveK,

        I tried the tool on that page. works well as long as that string of 1st
        letters is in front of you. After using the string to recall the original
        passage successfully 3-4 times, I tried remembering the passage without the
        string in front of me. my performance dropped to a poor 20% or so. so, the
        real problem and challange is to memorise the abstract and meaningless
        string that acts as a peg / trigger to the memory. How wud u do that...and
        preferably...is there a way to recall independent of the string once it's
        been used 2-3 times bcos that shud be the ultimate aim anyway?

        with metta
        PG
        ___________________________________________________

        On 4/14/08, dkotschessa <dkotschessa@...> wrote:
        >
        >
        > I just wanted to pass on this wonderful article I found about a
        > technique for memorizing texts verbatim. I am familiar with a lot of
        > different memory techniques, some that I use for Pali. But so far
        > none of them have really lent themselves to verbatim memorization.
        > This looks promising.
        >
        > http://www.productivity501.com/how-to-memorize-verbatim-text/294/
        >
        > I think I will try it with pali devotionals, first by memorizing the
        > english and then the pali. I also think I will use it with the text
        > in the Gair course when I get back to it.
        >
        > -DaveK
        >
        >
        >


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Jim Anderson
        Dear PG and Dave K. I think memorizing texts is very good training for the mind. Until the canonical texts were first written down in their entirety in the
        Message 3 of 8 , Apr 16, 2008
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          Dear PG and Dave K.

          I think memorizing texts is very good training for the mind. Until the
          canonical texts were first written down in their entirety in the first
          century B.C.E. in Sri Lanka, they had to be memorized and transmitted
          orally.

          Regarding mnemonics, instead of the first letter of each word, I would
          suggest counting the number of sentences in a paragraph and remembering the
          first word or phrase of each sentence. You could also include the last word
          or phrase if that is more helpful. As an example, let's take the first
          paragraph of the Brahmajaalasutta:

          1. Eva.m me suta.m - eka.m samaya.m bhagavaa antaraa ca raajagaha.m antaraa
          ca naa.landa.m addhaanamaggappa.tipanno hoti mahataa bhikkhusa"nghena
          saddhi.m pa~ncamattehi bhikkhusatehi. Suppiyopi kho paribbaajako antaraa ca
          raajagaha.m antaraa ca naa.landa.m addhaanamaggappa.tipanno hoti saddhi.m
          antevaasinaa brahmadattena maa.navena. Tatra suda.m suppiyo paribbaajako
          anekapariyaayena buddhassa ava.n.na.m bhaasati, dhammassa ava.n.na.m
          bhaasati, sa"nghassa ava.n.na.m bhaasati; suppiyassa pana paribbaajakassa
          antevaasii brahmadatto maa.navo anekapariyaayena buddhassa va.n.na.m
          bhaasati, dhammassa va.n.na.m bhaasati, sa"nghassa va.n.na.m bhaasati. Itiha
          te ubho aacariyantevaasii a~n~nama~n~nassa ujuvipaccaniikavaadaa
          bhagavanta.m pi.t.thito pi.t.thito anubandhaa [anubaddhaa (ka. sii. pii.)]
          honti bhikkhusa"ngha~nca.

          This could be reduced to:
          1) Eva.m me suta.m --
          2) eka.m samaya.m ... bhikkhusatehi.
          3) Suppiyopi kho ... maa.navena.
          4) Tatra suda.m ... bhaasati.
          5) Itiha te ubho ... bhikkhusa"ngha~nca.

          But you still have to do the work of memorizing the entire paragraph taking
          up one sentence at a time. If you can repeat a sentence three times in
          succession from memory without having to look at the text, then move on to
          the next sentence and do the same, then repeat the first and second sentence
          together three times, then move on to the third and so on until you can
          repeat the whole paragraph three times in succession from memory, then at
          least once daily until you're confident you have it well-memorized. Memory
          fades, so you will have to refresh it periodically.

          Best wishes,
          Jim

          > Hi DaveK,
          >
          > I tried the tool on that page. works well as long as that string of 1st
          > letters is in front of you. After using the string to recall the original
          > passage successfully 3-4 times, I tried remembering the passage without
          > the
          > string in front of me. my performance dropped to a poor 20% or so. so, the
          > real problem and challange is to memorise the abstract and meaningless
          > string that acts as a peg / trigger to the memory. How wud u do that...and
          > preferably...is there a way to recall independent of the string once it's
          > been used 2-3 times bcos that shud be the ultimate aim anyway?
          >
          > with metta
          > PG
        • dkotschessa
          ... of 1st ... original ... without the ... so, the ... meaningless ... that...and ... once it s ... If you ve used classic mnemonics before, you might be
          Message 4 of 8 , Apr 16, 2008
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            --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, "P G Dave" <pgd2507@...> wrote:
            >
            > Hi DaveK,
            >
            > I tried the tool on that page. works well as long as that string
            of 1st
            > letters is in front of you. After using the string to recall the
            original
            > passage successfully 3-4 times, I tried remembering the passage
            without the
            > string in front of me. my performance dropped to a poor 20% or so.
            so, the
            > real problem and challange is to memorise the abstract and
            meaningless
            > string that acts as a peg / trigger to the memory. How wud u do
            that...and
            > preferably...is there a way to recall independent of the string
            once it's
            > been used 2-3 times bcos that shud be the ultimate aim anyway?

            If you've used classic mnemonics before, you might be expecting the
            same kind of instant satisfaction they often to provide. But I
            would set my expectation for this technique a little lower. It's
            better than rote memorization - but not TOO much better.

            I would take what the article says about the preparatory work as
            gospel. Reading the text allowed, copying it by hand, outlining,
            hearing it read aloud by someone else, etc.

            That being said, I suppose you COULD use other memory devices for
            this part of it, such as picking out key words and stringing them
            together using typical mnemonics. This is what Harry Loryanne and
            Jerry Lucas teach in their classic "The Memory Book."

            I've never found this technique ultimately useful becuase it doesn't
            get the "in between" words that are to abstract for mnemonization.
            ("if," "too," "than.") But perhaps it would help for this
            preparatory stage?

            One of the comments I saw there proposed the idea of lumping the
            letters together, creating a word out of those and using mnemonics
            for that. I don't know how well that would work, because you'd be
            adding more letters in to form your actual word.

            Did you try this with a text that you were already pretty familiar
            with? My first attempt was with the middle part of the Kalama
            sutta, which is already fairly close to my heart in many ways. I
            have to admit I haven't worked at it that much yet so I can't really
            report on the results, but it seemed to be working. I know I
            couldn't say the same for a less familiar text.

            -DaveK
          • dkotschessa
            ... the ... first ... Thank you Jim, and Thanks for your suggestion. I agree about the mental training aspect of it and it s one of the things that motivates
            Message 5 of 8 , Apr 16, 2008
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              --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com, "Jim Anderson" <jimanderson.on@...> wrote:
              >
              > Dear PG and Dave K.
              >
              > I think memorizing texts is very good training for the mind. Until
              the
              > canonical texts were first written down in their entirety in the
              first
              > century B.C.E. in Sri Lanka, they had to be memorized and transmitted
              > orally.

              Thank you Jim, and Thanks for your suggestion. I agree about the
              mental training aspect of it and it's one of the things that motivates
              me to do it.

              I often wonder if the elders had any particular technique for
              memorizing/transmitting the texts for all those years. I suppose
              that, in addition to having incredible minds, they were part of a
              culture where this was not unusual. But even so, that is a LOT of
              text.

              I suppose this also accounts for a lot of the repetition in the texts,
              which sounds a lot more musical in Pali.

              Does anybody know of any standard course of material that monks may be
              required to memorize? Texts from the Khuddaka Nikaya maybe?

              -DaveK
            • P G Dave
              Thanks DaveK, I d tried an unfamiliar piece of text in english from that very page. with metta, PG ___________________________ ... [Non-text portions of this
              Message 6 of 8 , Apr 17, 2008
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                Thanks DaveK,

                I'd tried an unfamiliar piece of text in english from that very page.

                with metta,
                PG
                ___________________________

                On 4/16/08, dkotschessa <dkotschessa@...> wrote:
                >
                > --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com <Pali%40yahoogroups.com>, "P G Dave"
                > <pgd2507@...> wrote:
                > >
                > > Hi DaveK,
                > >
                > > I tried the tool on that page. works well as long as that string
                > of 1st
                > > letters is in front of you. After using the string to recall the
                > original
                > > passage successfully 3-4 times, I tried remembering the passage
                > without the
                > > string in front of me. my performance dropped to a poor 20% or so.
                > so, the
                > > real problem and challange is to memorise the abstract and
                > meaningless
                > > string that acts as a peg / trigger to the memory. How wud u do
                > that...and
                > > preferably...is there a way to recall independent of the string
                > once it's
                > > been used 2-3 times bcos that shud be the ultimate aim anyway?
                >
                > If you've used classic mnemonics before, you might be expecting the
                > same kind of instant satisfaction they often to provide. But I
                > would set my expectation for this technique a little lower. It's
                > better than rote memorization - but not TOO much better.
                >
                > I would take what the article says about the preparatory work as
                > gospel. Reading the text allowed, copying it by hand, outlining,
                > hearing it read aloud by someone else, etc.
                >
                > That being said, I suppose you COULD use other memory devices for
                > this part of it, such as picking out key words and stringing them
                > together using typical mnemonics. This is what Harry Loryanne and
                > Jerry Lucas teach in their classic "The Memory Book."
                >
                > I've never found this technique ultimately useful becuase it doesn't
                > get the "in between" words that are to abstract for mnemonization.
                > ("if," "too," "than.") But perhaps it would help for this
                > preparatory stage?
                >
                > One of the comments I saw there proposed the idea of lumping the
                > letters together, creating a word out of those and using mnemonics
                > for that. I don't know how well that would work, because you'd be
                > adding more letters in to form your actual word.
                >
                > Did you try this with a text that you were already pretty familiar
                > with? My first attempt was with the middle part of the Kalama
                > sutta, which is already fairly close to my heart in many ways. I
                > have to admit I haven't worked at it that much yet so I can't really
                > report on the results, but it seemed to be working. I know I
                > couldn't say the same for a less familiar text.
                >
                > -DaveK
                >
                >
                >


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • P G Dave
                Jim, DaveK. ...and that s what I wondered too, DaveK. all present day techniques are quite labourious and seem unequal to the task that the elders
                Message 7 of 8 , Apr 17, 2008
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                  Jim, DaveK.

                  ...and that's what I wondered too, DaveK. all present day techniques are
                  quite labourious and seem unequal to the task that the elders
                  accomplished. there has to be a much superior technique that the elders
                  followed (which perhaps included training of the mind in some way to grasp
                  and retain on one hearing) because that really is a huge amount of material
                  even to read in one lifetime much less memorise...

                  incidentally, I recall from my childhood how elders got a group of young
                  students to memorise sanskrit .slokas, stotras, vedic hymns, etc. -- the
                  elder would recite one line at a time and the class would follow in unison.
                  each line would be repeated 3 times before moving on to the next. then the
                  whole .sloka wud be recited together. the recitation was done in the poetic
                  metre (chanda) that applied so that the cadence also aided memory. the
                  elder, sometimes armed with a cane, walked between the ranks with his ear
                  strained to catch the faltering sound and responded "appropriately" whenever
                  he detected one. the next day a revision recitation of the complete text
                  learnt until the previous day was done -- a bright student led the
                  recitation this time and the rest of the class followed in unison.
                  Thereafter, a new piece of text was taken up for memorisation.

                  A similar method was used to memorise math tables including fraction tables:
                  1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 1-1/4 all the way upto 3-1/2
                  these were also recited in a simple tune / rhythm.

                  making it a group activity took boredom out of it.

                  with metta,
                  PG
                  __________________________________________


                  On 4/16/08, dkotschessa <dkotschessa@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > --- In Pali@yahoogroups.com <Pali%40yahoogroups.com>, "Jim Anderson"
                  > <jimanderson.on@...> wrote:
                  > >
                  > > Dear PG and Dave K.
                  > >
                  > > I think memorizing texts is very good training for the mind. Until
                  > the
                  > > canonical texts were first written down in their entirety in the
                  > first
                  > > century B.C.E. in Sri Lanka, they had to be memorized and transmitted
                  > > orally.
                  >
                  > Thank you Jim, and Thanks for your suggestion. I agree about the
                  > mental training aspect of it and it's one of the things that motivates
                  > me to do it.
                  >
                  > I often wonder if the elders had any particular technique for
                  > memorizing/transmitting the texts for all those years. I suppose
                  > that, in addition to having incredible minds, they were part of a
                  > culture where this was not unusual. But even so, that is a LOT of
                  > text.
                  >
                  > I suppose this also accounts for a lot of the repetition in the texts,
                  > which sounds a lot more musical in Pali.
                  >
                  > Does anybody know of any standard course of material that monks may be
                  > required to memorize? Texts from the Khuddaka Nikaya maybe?
                  >
                  > -DaveK
                  >
                  >
                  >


                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Nina van Gorkom
                  Dear Dave K, ... N: I think of the chanting of texts by the monks at specific occasions, such as in Thailand or Birma. For instance texts from the
                  Message 8 of 8 , Apr 17, 2008
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                    Dear Dave K,
                    Op 16-apr-2008, om 16:43 heeft dkotschessa het volgende geschreven:

                    > Does anybody know of any standard course of material that monks may be
                    > required to memorize? Texts from the Khuddaka Nikaya maybe?
                    --------
                    N: I think of the chanting of texts by the monks at specific
                    occasions, such as in Thailand or Birma. For instance texts from the
                    Dhammasangani, the first book of the Abhidhamma: kusala dhamma,
                    akusala dhamma, abhyakata dhamma (indeterminate dhamma, neither
                    kusala or akusala). This comprises all phenomena of our life.
                    Or at a funeral: how impressive to hear: sabbe sa.nkhaaraa aniccaa.
                    I heard that groups of lay people in Birma used to come together and
                    recite parts of the Patthanaa (book of the Abhidhamma on the
                    Conditions). Monks take several days to recite the whole Patthanaa.
                    There are still monks who know the whole of the Tipitaka by heart,
                    and Jim mentioned this to me.
                    Nina.




                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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