Who Slept Well – Part 4

This is the final part of the series from AchArya Sadananda, (only edited by myself).

Deep-Sleep State

When we go into the deep sleep state, we start withdrawing each of the kosha-s, one by one, with the desire or thought of going to sleep. The ‘I want to sleep’ thought forms the contents of the vij~nAnamaya kosha or the intellect, when it goes to sleep or when it goes into an unmanifested state.  In the process of sleeping, there is a withdrawal of each of the grosser kosha-s into the subtler ones: annamayakosha to prANamayakosha, prANamaya to manomaya, manomaya to vij~nAnamaya.  At the time of sleep, the vij~nAnamaya or intellectual sheath becomes unmanifested with all the kosha-s as part of its ingredients, but in undifferentiated form. That unmanifested state of the intellectual sheath with all its constituent kosha-s is now called Anandamayakosha, since there is absence of any discriminative thoughts and associated relationships, other than the homogeneous thought of ignorance or avidya. This is referred to as avidya vRitti.  It is, in a sense, an experience involving the knowledge of the absence of anything and everything.  Hence the Mandukya (mantra 5) says – na ki~nchana kAmam kAmayate – there is absence of desire for any object, since there is no perception or recognition of any particular object of any kind in that unmanifested state. Continue reading

Who Slept Well – part 3

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAExperiencer of the Deep-Sleep-State

As noted in Part 2, we have three experiences in the deep-sleep state: 1. I exist, since I say I slept well; 2. I have the knowledge of homogeneous ignorance, since I say I did not know anything; 3. I was happy or I did not experience the pains of BMI, since I am not conscious of the BMI or any duality. The question remains: if the mind is not there, then who experiences these and who recollects these experiences on waking up, since the experiencer and the recollector have to be one and the same? These appear to be puzzling questions that need to be addressed. Who is going to provide the answer to this – a sleeper or a waker? For this, scripture alone becomes a pramAna, or means of knowledge, since the mind that uses logic cannot provide the answers. No objective tools can be used or would be valid to analyze the deep sleep state, since all objective entities (apart from ignorance) are absent in that state. Hence, objective scientists also have no tools available for investigation. These aspects have to be clear even when we are studying the opinions of other philosophers such as Shree Atmananda-ji , unless these opinions are shruti based. Continue reading

How Vedanta Works

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow words work in Vedanta
(based on essays from Sw. Dayananda and Ramji)

by Tan

Vedanta is a means of self knowledge through words called shabda pramANa.

It is able to give you direct knowledge of your eternal nature through words. In spiritual circles this will be generally criticized with the argument that the eternal self, enlightenment, the absolute, Brahman, the Tao or whatever you want to call it, is beyond words and indescribable. Therefore the conclusion is that it is impossible to get direct knowledge and know your “real” self through words. Continue reading

Who Slept Well – part 2

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the second of a four-part article by Acharya Sadananda of Chinmaya Mission Washington (edited by myself) clarifying the nature of the deep-sleep state and addressing a number of problems which frequently cause confusion in seekers.

When I enter into a pitch dark room I cannot see the presence of any object there as it is too dark. I need a light to illumine the objects. In a pitch dark room, the existence or non-existence of any object cannot be established; they may be there or they may not. In essence, their existence becomes indeterminate or anirvachanIyam. On the other hand, I can see that the room is pitch dark and understand that it is because of this that I do not see the presence or absence of any object. Darkness envelops both the known and the unknown.  However, I do not need a light to see the darkness.  In addition, I know that I am there even when the room is pitch dark.  I do not need a light to know that I am there. I am a self existent entity and therefore a self revealing entity, and hence I do not need any pramANa to know that I am present in the dark room. It is similar to saying that I do not need a light in order to see another light.  Being a conscious-existent entity, I am also a self-revealing entity or self-luminous entity or I am aprameyam, not an object of knowledge for which a pramANa is required. In addition, my presence as a self-luminous or self-conscious entity is required to illumine any other object – tasya bhAsA sarvam idam vibhUti; it is by that light of consciousness alone that all objects get revealed. Therefore, the light of consciousness that I am can illumine the darkness as well as the light that opposes the darkness.  Thus I am the light of lights, since I light the lights and darkness too – jyotir jyotiH. Therefore, I say that I see it is pitch dark which is covering the existence as well the absence of all objects. Continue reading

Who Slept Well?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the first of a four-part article by Acharya Sadananda of Chinmaya Mission Washington (edited by myself) clarifying the nature of the deep-sleep state and addressing a number of problems which frequently cause confusion in seekers.

I wish to express my appreciation to Pujya Sastriji and Shree Subbuji for directing me to the Panchadashi Ch.11, where the deep-sleep aspects are discussed extensively by Shree Vidyaranya.  This article is in response to a question posed by a sincere seeker in a private mail. His question focused on the following:  Who is the experiencer, knower, and the recollector of the deep-sleep state, when the mind is not there? In essence, who slept well and knows that he slept well and is now recollecting that information when he is awake.  This response to the question is based on my understanding of the 11th Chapter, together with a private communication from Shree Sastriji the post to Advaitin by Shree Subbuji.

In searching for answers, I came across the article by Shree Ananda Wood on the topic of Shree Atmananda Krishna Menon’s understanding of the deep sleep state. Given the fact that all descriptions of the deep-sleep state are necessarily from the vantage point of the waking state, we can only rely for analysis on 1) shaastra pramANa and 2) those experiences that are universally common.  The problems with Shree Atmanandaji’s interpretation of the deep–sleep state are noted at the end, since there are many people that I see on Facebook, as well as elsewhere, who follow Atmanandaji writings relating to deep sleep state. Continue reading

Some Thoughts and Questions on Free Will

From: Peregrinus the Nihilist

I finished reading your five-part series on free will yesterday evening, after several sittings over dinner. It was an interesting and informative presentation indeed. The question of free will has occupied my mind for some years now. In fact, one of the things that drew me to Advaita Vedanta was its position on free will — it seems that more than a few of the arguments closely resemble my own.

Reading your case against free will in HOW TO MEET YOURSELF (pages 170-174), I was struck at how similar it was to the one made roughly 80 years ago by the 20th century English scholar Joseph McCabe. I think the passage is worth quoting in full, as you might find it interesting:

“When you say that you are free to choose—say, between the train and the surface car, or between the movies and the theater—you are using rather ambiguous language. All common speech for expressing mental experiences is loose and ambiguous. You have the two alternatives—movies or theater—in your mind. You hover between them. You do not feel any compulsion to choose one or the other. Then you deliberately say to yourself—not realizing that you have thereby proved the spirituality of the soul, which has made apologists perspire for centuries—‘I choose Norma Talmadge.’ Continue reading

The Book of Undoing

Details of a new book by Fred Davis (Awakening Clarity website)


This book has arisen from Direct Pointing sessions that I’ve had with clients around the world.  These deceptively simple inquiries and dialogues work.  Men and women who have studied Nonduality for decades, both in and out of structured traditions, without experiencing even the first authentic glimpse of themselves have come to recognize their true nature during these talks.  Some of them have been glimpses, and others remain ongoing.  Still others, who were confounded by oscillation when we began to talk, have moved from there into stable Nondual awareness.  And of course there are a few people who’ve reported no change at all; such is the way of it. Continue reading

Haldane Philosophy

Here is a short poem, contributed by Ananda Wood (a direct disciple of Sri Atmananda Krishna Menon) and inspired by the book Philosophy of a Biologist by J.S. Haldane.

Here is what he says to introduce the poem:

I recently came across a book by J.S. Haldane, called Philosophy of a Biologist. I found it interesting because of its approach through reflective enquiry. In particular, I was interested by Haldane’s account of Western Philosophy from Descartes and Spinoza onward.

In particular, Haldane discusses philosophical questions progressively: in relation to Physical Science (Ch. I), Biology (Ch. II), Psychology (Ch. III), Religion (Ch. IV). And he concludes with a short chapter called Retrospect, where he approaches God as the inmost spirit of a universal personality. This is done in much the same way as the purusha-prakriti duality is used by Shri Shankara to investigate beyond all “knower-known” or “subject-object” duality.

This led me to write a piece of verse called Scientific enquiry: which tries somehow to summarize Haldane’s line of investigation. Continue reading

Panchadasi part 1

A series of posts, presenting a new translation and commentary by James Swartz on the Panchadasi. This was presented by James as a week-long course during July 2012 and was very well received. It will be posted in around 35 parts at the rate of one part every 2 – 3 weeks. I will be editing and commenting on the material as we go and James may provide additional commentary if time allows. So there may be scope for readers to provide feedback. Please email me via the ‘Contact Form’ if you do not understand anything and wish to seek clarification.

Read Part 1 of the Panchadasi.


Am I awake yet? – Fred Davis

So, am I awake yet, or what?


Fred Davis


I edit Awakening Clarity, a Nondual blog, and as a result of that I get emails from the four corners of the worlds.  A fair number of them express confusion.  The writer has had some sort of spiritual experience.  And now they want to know where they are on the spiritual map.  One response that arises here when someone asks me something along the line of, “Hey, am I awake, or what?” is exactly this:

“If you’re concerned about whether you’re awake or not, then you’re not–at least not right now.”  Such a question simply would not occur to conscious awakeness. Generally, in fact, given the nature of the situation the person is writing in about, and their choice of language their letter contains convincing evidence that they are not awake right now–at least not in the way they are asking about.  In truth, everyone is always equally awake, so all we are ever talking about is whether or not we are consciously awake, knowingly awake–right now. If we can get clear on this we can see that there’s no room left for higher or lower, better or worse, more spiritual or less.  All of those things spring from beliefs, opinions, and positions (BOPs), which conscious awareness simply doesn’t have.  The apparently separate being it’s working through will certainly have a broad array of BOPs–that’s essentially what a separate being is–but not the awakeness behind it.  You will understand, of course, that language is failing us here; we do what we can. Continue reading