We lived pre-mortally as body-less spirits in the presence of God and chose our mortal incarnate lives on earth - that is, we chose to be born with bodies, live where we live, and we chose to die.
So, why can't we remember our pre-mortal existence - and why are we out-of-contact with Heaven?
The short answer is that we are not: we do remember that we had pre-mortal existence, and contact with Heaven does happen.
But the memories are imprecise and the contact imperfect.
Why? Why are memories unclear, why is contact unclear?
Because of the necessary qualitative difference between earth and heaven, and between spiritual beings and incarnate beings; necessary difference, due to the function of earth and incarnate life and mortal death.
If we are to have a chance (a chance; not certainty) of spiritual progression beyond what was possible in out pre-mortal life, discarnate, spirit-life; then we must be incarnate, and we must live here (and therefore not in Heaven), and we must die; and all of these were and are choices - for incarnate mortal earthly life to 'work' then we must continue to choose it.
(Even death. If we do not willingly choose to die when it is our time to die - and we will know this time - then by that failure to accept death as both necessary and good, we will be rejecting our destiny.)
But earthly, mortal, incarnate life is qualitatively different from Heavenly, spiritual life (whether pre- or post-mortal); and to communicate across this difference is necessarily imperfect.
It is (analogously) like the imperfect communication between an adult and a three-year-old child; or trying to understand a related but different language (like a modern American person listening to Old English/Anglo Saxon); or like trying to understand a tape recording slowed down a hundred-fold.
So, time runs differently for us, space has a different quality, and in our lives there is noise and distraction, and our bad choices, to contend-with.
So there are memories and there is communication; but these are necessarily difficult.
Necessary not because the difficulties are in and of themselves necessary (clearly, God wants us to remember and to communicate - and his revelations are full of reminders and advice on communications such as prayer); but necessary because of the necessary nature and quality of this earthly, mortal, incarnate life - which we chose - and the necessary difficulties of which we accepted.
If I understand you, you are saying that mortal existence and purely spiritual existence must occur in quite different modes, or else there would be no real need for a fully immersed mortal experience like we're having. But existing in quite different modes, we will find it difficult to recall or understand our spiritual existence while we are mortal. It's like trying to be in a dream state while waking, or trying to remember what its like to be hungry when you are full.
Here is one answer you will appreciate: we are constantly distracted. Think ADD/ADHD on a societal scale, perhaps on a cosmic scale.
@Adam - Yes, that's the idea.
Then I think you're probably right. We Mormons tend to conceptualize spirit life as just the same as mortal life, except on a different plane. But this isn't a dogma or revealed doctrine, and I'm pretty sure it's wrong. First, the need for embodiment suggests something pretty significantly different about having a body. Second, all the experience we have with experiences that don' involve are body--I'm thinking about dreams, visions, being lost in thought, and out-of-body experiences, show that they are full of symbolism and meaning, less limited than mortal experience, but therefore also less definite and defined.
@Adam - I'm glad you find it plausible.
(As you know) It is - for me - one of the trickiest problems of Christianity to explain why mortal life is both very significant and yet not everything.
Also, our explanation of mortal life has to cover a wider range of lives than usually considered - e.g. including lives when the only experience is to be incarnated then immediately die.
I find Christianity profoundly non-bimodal.
There is an amnesiac block, which is sometimes weak in young children who spontaneously remember heaven. For adults, sophisticated hypnotherapy techniques can sometimes allow recollection of the spirit world. See Dr. Michael Newton's Destiny of Souls, for example.
@pyrrhus - What would be your explanation for this amnesiac block?
The block is to ensure we fully experience this life without knowledge that would destroy the validity of the experience in developing our soul. In other words, when we experience loss of a child, for example, the pain is real and intense, which develops our empathy. That would not be true if we knew the child's soul was immortal and immediately returned to the spirit world.
@pyrr - The problem for that explanation, on its own, is that the amnesic block is not complete - and in some instances there is not a block. Indeed, the people without an amnesic block are often among the most devout. So I do not think it can be the correct (or full, or main) explanation.
Similar to what Adam said, I think memory is highly context dependent. I find it much easier to remember other dreams when I'm dreaming, and much easier to remember something in a dream when I happen to be thinking about a similar thing. If the soul leaves the body at night and returns in the morning there is no reason to think a similar process isn't at work with pre-mortal souls. If there are pre-mortal souls I think the best option for remembering pre-natal experience is to reorient yourself to the context in which they exist.
This makes me wonder what kind of context is necessary for remembering the future or events that have not happened.
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