Now there is a tremendous difference between a mental image whilst it is in our memory and after we have forgotten it. So let us imagine a mental picture we have formed of an external impression, and now have in our consciousness. Then let us see with our soul’s eye how it gradually disappears and is forgotten. It is there nevertheless, and remains within the whole spiritual organism. What does it do there? What does this so-called forgotten image do? It has a very important function. From the moment of being forgotten it begins to work in the right way on the free part of the etheric body we have been speaking about, and make it serviceable for man. It is as though it were not digested until then. As long as the human being uses it for acquiring knowledge it does not yet work inwardly to bring life into the free etheric organ. The moment it sinks into oblivion it begins to work. So it can be said that work is continually in progress in and upon the free part of the etheric body. And what is it that does the work? It is the forgotten ideas! That is the great blessing of forgetting! As long as a mental image remains in your memory you connect it with an object. If you observe a rose and carry the mental image of it in your memory, you connect the image of the rose with the outer object. The image is thus chained to the external object and has to send it its inner force. The moment you forget the image, however, you set it free.
Then it begins to develop germinal forces which work inwardly on man’s etheric body. So our forgotten memories have great significance for us.