Tag Archives: Paul Revere’s Ride

37 practices: a note on memorization

Memorization is a tried and true method of internalizing important information, both in Tibetan monasteries and in our own culture in the days of yore. My eighth-grade English class was assigned to memorize 135 lines of poetry over the course of the school year, and I memorized Paul Revere’s Ride just to get the assignment out of the way — not really the intention of my teacher, Mrs. Roberts. She hoped that by memorizing a series of poems that resonated with us, we would end the year with an indelible love of poetry. I disappointed her in the moment, but decades later, I can still recite parts of it: “…On the 18th of April in ’75: / Hardly a man is still alive / Who remembers that famous day and year…” (Reminders of impermanence are not exclusive to Buddhism.)

Some of us aspire to memorize all 37 verses of Togme Zangpo’s instructions, so we can have them at hand till death do us part. That doesn’t have to be everyone’s aspiration, but even if it’s beyond your scope to commit them all to memory forever, memorizing each verse as we study it (or at least chanting it a few times every day) is a very effective way to contemplate it.

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