Deep Sleep in Direct Path

  Four years, four weeks and a fortnight ago exactly to this day, we discussed Deep sleep in these columns. As we know, the traditional Vedanta (TV) following mANDUkya upanishad and Gaudapada’s kAkrikA, considers Deep sleep as one of the three states that plays on the substratum of turIya (the Fourth). Even amongst the TV people, there are schools that hold that prAjnya is no different from turIya. Swami Ishwarananda of RK Mission, Kerala produced a short monograph expounding this theory supported by Upanishadic quotes. I presented those arguments in a three part series of posts here, here and here.   The followers of Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati of Holenarsapur too support this contention. Atmananda Krishna Menon (1883 – 1959) who propagated the “Direct Path” (DP) approach of Self-Inquiry too taught that Deep sleep itself was Pure Consciousness knowing Itself as Itself. The actual experience of Consciousness experiencing Itself in Deep sleep cannot be known or conceptualized by the awake state mind. The Consciousness knows Itself by being Itself and another name for that is Happiness. Happiness here does not mean any state of excitement or arousal. It is simply the absence of ‘unhappiness.’ In other words there exists during Deep sleep neither a sense of lack nor any desire. It is not a state triggered by or obtained through the contact of the sensory systems. It is acausal.

In the normal parlance, Deep sleep is described as an experience of dark, blank nothingness. It is anything but that. In the words of Rupert Spira, “Deep sleep is simply the presence of Consciousness without the appearance of mind (taking mind here to include all thinking, imagining, sensing and perceiving). It is Consciousness ‘experiencing’ itself, which means there is only the presence of Itself. This is neither deep, nor dark, nor blank nor asleep. It is dimensionless, present, luminous, alive and awake.”

The DP school utilizes the Deep sleep as a metaphor in the preliminary stage of teaching in order to negate the presumption of the seeker that s/he exists as a finite entity having a gross body-mind which she thinks herself to be during her awake state. The metaphor breaks this stranglehold and separates the “knowing element” (i.e. the “I” principle) from that which is seen. From the example of the Deep sleep, a realization dawns that * “I” shine as my true nature* even in the absence of a body-mind. Once this understanding gets stabilized, the seeker learns to identify herself with the ‘knowing element’ and NOT with what is known (the body-mind). She will also learn that this self-effulgent “shining” nature of “I” does NOT stop at any time, whether it is awake or dream states and also whether a form is present or not.

Then the teacher tells her that this formless true “I”, can shine in any form It chooses because there are no limiting conditions restraining Its freedom. In Deep sleep the “I” stays as Itself, being Itself and knowing Itself and shining as the Deep sleep. The same “I” shines and knows Itself as the dream world. The same “I” shines and knows Itself as the awake world. It never stops shining ( = knowing) and takes on the forms of Deep sleep, dream and awake worlds. Thus what one considers as dream world or awake world are only Its luster like the sunlight that spreads all around beyond the Sun disc.

Once the above understanding is ingested, it will be also clear that it is not that the three forms of deep sleep, dream and awake worlds are events that happen along an irreversible arrow of time. All happening is in a timeless NOW (which is not a point in time) and a placeless HERE (which is not a point in space). It is not that the shining “I” travels through the three worlds of deep sleep, dream and awake worlds. They are forms of “I” Itself passing through “I” Itself and are known by “I” Itself. Thus, the self-luminous “I” never stops shining and manifests as Itself by being Itself (as Deep sleep), or in a subtle from (as the dream world) or in a gross form (as the awake world).

An example from Yogavasishta will help drive home the idea.  Sage Vasishta asks you to think of Gold. Think of just Pure Gold without a form or color or luster and of no particular size or shape. It will be impossible for the mind to conceive of “pristine pure Gold without  a form.” The mind cannot imagine anything having no objective qualities. That’s what the Deep sleep is like. It is the Pure Gold.  “Deep sleep” is just a name we give in our awake state to ‘something’ that the awake mind has no access to.  It only conjectures what Deep sleep could be.  But honestly speaking, “this awake you” were NOT there in deep sleep and you never have a chance to know what Deep sleep IS. It is simply a confabulation of the mind when it describes Deep sleep. The mind will know Deep sleep only when the Deep sleep takes on a subtle or gross form. Continuing the analogy of Sage Vasishta, if you think of Gold in the form of a nugget or a necklace chain, the nugget can be said to be the dream world and the chain is the awake world. The formless unimaginable true “I” is the unknown Deep sleep.

The ‘happy-feel’ factor felt in the awake state is neither an experience nor a memory of what was actually there in that timeless and spaceless Deep sleep. What is experienced by the awake mind is the after-glow of the Deep sleep. The Happiness that was the Deep sleep leaves  Its footprint in the form of a totally  relaxed body-organism and this relaxation is stored in the form of tension-free muscles etc. On awaking from sleep, the mind senses this relaxed state and expresses it as “I had a sound sleep; I feel relaxed.”  The  after-glow  gets stored in the brain cells too. That is expressed by the awake mind as “I am refreshed.” As the day progresses, the body muscles accumulate tension and the brain cells accumulate toxins. Thus the awake mind does not any more sense that relaxed and refreshed feeling as the day goes on.

Atmananda explains Deep sleep in both his works,  Atma Darshan and Atma Nivritti. Below are a few of the verses from those texts translated into Englsih:

Atma Darshan:

  1. The True “I”

In the Deep sleep state and whenever a desire is accomplished, “I” alone shine as the undisturbed Peace and Happiness. “I” am the inmost principle which is sat-chit-Ananda Itself. I am That which transcends all.

Atma nivritti:
Verse 4: It is that Atma again that shines as bliss in Deep sleep and also when a desired object is attained.

Verse 16. In between thoughts and in Deep sleep state, shines the principle to which the word “I” points. There the mind has dissolved and cannot therefore perceive it.

Verse 17. No one sees anything, no one hears anything, and no one thinks anything, because objects and sense-activities have no existence.Thus all are in Deep sleep state, where there is no ignorance (non-Knowingness).

16 thoughts on “Deep Sleep in Direct Path

  1. A very well-constructed and argued article, Ramesam!

    I think what most struck me on reading it is that the problem (i.e. failure of TV to agree with DP) may come down to the perennial problem of mixing of levels. So much of what you say seems to be pronouncement of actual reality, whereas 1) we tend to regard deep sleep as part of transactional reality and 2) we can never say anything about absolute reality.

    For example, you quote Rupert: “Deep sleep is simply the presence of Consciousness without the appearance of mind (taking mind here to include all thinking, imagining, sensing and perceiving). It is Consciousness ‘experiencing’ itself, which means there is only the presence of Itself. This is neither deep, nor dark, nor blank nor asleep. It is dimensionless, present, luminous, alive and awake.”

    Since you acknowledge that the waking mind can never know anything about deep sleep, how can anyone make such statements? It can only be a rationalisation based upon the premises of a teaching methodology. As we know, ALL such statements have to be ‘apavAda’d’ in the end – they are simply not true from an absoute standpoint.

    As I have almost certainly said before (many times?), it does not make sense to talk of Consciousness ‘knowing’ itself. The word ‘know’ implicitly involves a mind/brain so only makes sense in vyavahAra. The same goes (even more) for the concept of ‘experiencing’. This is a dualistic concept and can have no meaning in a non-dual context.

    A final point I have also made before relates to Gaudapada’s reference to deep-sleep as the third (dualistic) state of consciousness. TV does not deny that the deep-sleep state is one of bliss. It is non-dual because there is no subject-object division. But it is the bliss of ignorance, not of knowledge. It is a temporary state only, because it also contains the dream-world and waking world in potential, unmanifest form. It is a state because it comes to an end as one or other is manifested.

    The distinction between the deep-sleep state and turIya is made clear by the following:

    Waking state…………………Associated with ignorance and error
    Dream state………………….Associated with ignorance and error
    Deep-sleep state……………Associated with ignorance only
    turIya…………………………….Associated with neither

    Best wishes,

    • Hi Dennis,

      If turIya is non-experiential, then what is the point of it for Self-realisation? If it is non-experiential, it would seem to have no practical relevance; it would just be mind-based intellectual theorising? Why does it matter if it is associated with neither ignorance (as you define it) nor error if this absence of ignorance and error can never actually be experienced?

      Say we provisionally let go of TV concept of turIya, as per DP:

      Deep sleep = Consciousness being itself (and thereby ‘knowing’ itself, but not through the means of a mind/ brain (which is not present); it is effectively being-knowing) without any objects of experience. It is like a blank TV Screen that is not turned on.

      Waking + Dreaming = Consciousness is still being itself (as per deep sleep, meaning there is ‘cross over of levels’) but now with objects of experience. It is like the TV is turned on, and all kinds of forms (people, environments, etc.) appear on the Screen. But the Screen is still the underlying reality; all these forms only appear to veil it (until Self/ Screen realisation occurs).

      Now, let’s re-consider turIya. Where does it fit into this?:

      Could it be that it is like the TV Screen that is turned on, but without any forms appearing on it? With this turning on giving rise to Self-knowledge? But if it is, this would be an experience that no-one has ever had? And such an experience would not even seem to be possible; it would seem self-contradictory to say that can have an experience when there is nothing to be experienced…… In addition, if this is turIya, it could not be said that this Self-knowledge remains once the TV is turned off (to deep sleep) as the ‘power’ for this Self-knowledge is off. In other words, how can turIya and deep sleep co-exist simultaneously? If they cannot, it makes sense to equate turIya with deep sleep, or let go of the concept of turIya due to its redundancy.

      Or perhaps it is the other way around, with turIya as the blank TV Screen, and deep sleep as the turned on TV but with no forms appearing? In effect, the turning on of the TV turns on ignorance, and forms appearing (in dreaming/ waking) turns on error.

      But this would still leave the problem of the seeming impossibility of having an experience with neither ignorance nor error. And, if this is impossible, we revert back to the beginning of this post – what is the point of turIya if it is non-experiential?

      • Hi Christopher,

        The concept of ‘point’ does not apply to turIya. turIya or brahman or Consciousness is all there is. Every ‘seeming’ thing ‘else’ is turIya. Waking, dream and deep-sleep states are all turIya. It cannot be experienced because there is neither experiencer nor any thing to be experienced – there is only turIya. As soon as you move away from this absolute, non-dual reality into the apparent duality of name and form, you can start to talk meaningfully about experience, even though experiencer and experienced are both mithyA.

        Of course, turIya is itself a concept which we are discussing in vyavahAra. You have to make the (mental) intuitive leap to grasp the significance.

        • Hi Dennis,

          Thank you for the response.

          From the way you are describing turIya (Consciousness), it seems like it is the Screen, the absolute non-dual reality. The TV turned on, but in sleep mode (meaning no forms appear) is the deep sleep state. The TV turned on and with forms appearing on it (and thereby seeming to veil the Screen, the absolute non-dual reality) are the waking and dream states.

          But if turIya/ Consciousness/ the Screen cannot itself be experienced (without the means of one of the 3 ‘states’), then on what basis do you call it being associated with neither ignorance nor error? What exactly are we even calling being associated with neither ignorance nor error if it is not an experiential state? Why do you use words to describe something that is beyond words? Why do you ascribe characteristics to something that is supposed to be beyond characteristics?

          Why do you ask for a ‘(mental) intuitive’ leap to grasp the significance? A mental leap is just jumping from one cluster of thoughts to another, when thoughts themselves are just forms of experience. By contrast, DP gets to the heart of experiencing itself.

          • Hi Chris,

            I appreciate your concerns, which are well expressed. If you accept that reality is non-dual, then the problems you indicate are ultimately insurmountable (by TV or DP). ‘You’ cannot describe ‘X’ if there are no separate you and X.

            Ignorance and error are both associated with duality, so neither can exist in reality; there is no need even to bring in the concept of ‘experiential state’.

            So, given that we cannot experience or know turIya/brahman/Consciousness, the best that we can do is to give ‘pointers’ or notional attrbutes. We can say, for example, that it is ‘eternal’, ‘changeless’, ‘all knowledge-existence-bliss’ etc. There is always a danger that these may give the wrong impression but this is where the value of scriptures comes in.

            The scriptures present this knowledge in so many different ways that, over time, any seeming inconsistencies or misunderstandings are ‘ironed out’ and eventually we realize the truth.

            If you want to teach this, you have to use words. Exercises and mind games remain firmly within the bounds of duality. I agree that they may provide some insight if well-managed but, in order to talk meaningfully about such insights, you are again forced to resort to words. And, in order finally to understand, you have to make a leap beyond the words. By all means call the final understanding another ‘thought’. But it is not a thought that can be put into words as such. TV calls it a ‘thought in the form of the formless, or undivided’.

  2. Thanks Ramesam and Dennis for the thought-provoking article and comments.

    Dennis, I think the three states analysis actually boils down to two ‘states’. There is the absolute non-dual consciousness that we are (in which no separate body-mind-world exists), and the illusion, of waking or dream, that arises on this substratum of consciousness. Gaudapada, by equating waking and dream states, is basically doing just this. Turiya then is when the knowledge is carried into the waking/dream state that we are the substratum, and not separate body-mind entities.

    There is a lovely quote from Atmananda:
    ““Thou art that”. “Thou”: you are first told you are not the body, senses or mind. “That”: you know you are there in deep sleep, without a body, senses or mind. That which you are in deep sleep is shown to you to be the meaning and goal of “that”. Thus you are made to visualize – not merely to understand – what you really are.”

    Ramesam, Ramana Maharshi would also concur with your thesis. In the opening paragraph of Nan War he writes:
    “Since all living beings desire to be always happy without what is called misery, since for everyone the greatest love is only for oneself, and since happiness alone is the cause of love, [in order] to attain that happiness, which is one’s own [true] nature that is experienced daily in [dreamless] sleep, which is devoid of the mind, oneself knowing oneself is necessary.”

    And in Talks, the following is recorded:
    “Sleep is not ignorance, it is one’s pure state; wakefulness is not knowledge, it is ignorance. There is full awareness in sleep and total ignorance in waking. Your real nature covers both and extends beyond.”

    Best wishes,

  3. Dear Dennis and Venkat,

    Thank you for your time and the kind words.

    Let me at the outset say that the observations coming from both of you are incontestable.

    An apparent conflict between the TV and DP view of Deep sleep seems to arise only from the way one makes the initial null hypothesis.

    If one posits the two views as competing horses to win the trophy of the “more accurate descriptor” of the final Truth, conflict is inevitable. There can, perhaps, be no fool-proof criterion also to judge who is the winner or to rank them relative to each other in a pecking order.

    The DP and TV views CANNOT, IMHO, be considered as alternate descriptors of the ultimate Truth. They do not even complement each other in describing the Ultimate. To me they are like two powerful drugs, say ciprofloxacin and levoflaxacin. We cannot compare them like one cannot compare oranges and apples. The correct drug or the fruit is the one that works for the patient.

    If the TV view claims a pedigree from mANDUkya, DP view has the pedigree of muNDaka II – ii – 4.
    Both are upAya-s that help the seeker. Both use the praNava, Aum. The former leads by upAsana mArga, while the latter takes him by vicAra mArga.

    Briefly speaking,
    The vichAra mArga is said to be vastu-tantrAtmaka. The ‘Aum’ is considered as the bow; the chidAbhAsa jiva is considered as arrow; The target at which the arrow to be released is brahman. (This analogy is based on the muNDaka mantra cited). As explained by Venkat, the seeker is upfront made to realize the absence of a separate ‘me’ anywhere inside or outside the body, thus right away providing him/her a taste of the inexplicable IS-ness. This approach suits a mature and analytical mind who do not hesitate to examine through searching questions and do not like to take-for-granted a handed-down wisdom. The DP view requires one to “realize” one’s understanding in Now which is prior to time. This demands a bit challenging counter-intuition.

    In the upAsana mArga which is centered on a seeker in whom a sense of agency for action (doership) still exists, is said to be a kartRu tantra. The letter AUM is a prop (Alambanam) and a surrogate (pratIka) for Atma. The seeker meditates at the gross level where s/he thinks he is, then moves gradually to subtler and subtler levels, identifying himself/herself finally with the silence at the end of the sound Aum. This method is more easily adopted by seekers who are devotionally oriented or conservative in mind. It also provides an easy way to understand that the same ‘me’ is the one that wakes up next morning, as if there is an unbroken move forward in time.

    Thus I tend to believe that both the DP and TV models have the sanction of shruti and the choice or preference of one over the other depends on the proclivities of the seeker.

    Before closing, a clarification on the use of the word “know” when we say Consciousness ‘knows’ Itself. Here ‘know’ is not being used in the normal dualistic sense of a knower and a separate something to be known. Ir refers to something like apperception. It is therefore,explained to be just being Itself.


  4. A point that I thought would be the highlight of this post seemed not to have made even a dim glow! (:

    I did not find a logical explanation anywhere in the literature on how the awake mind could come to detect and speak feelingly about the happy experience of deep sleep, So I pondered over it and arrived at the ‘attenuated tensions in the body muscles and the removal of free radicals in the brain cells’ as the “after-glow effect” of Consciousness being Itself in Deep sleep, something like the Cosmic Microwave Background left by the Big Bang.

    Alas, the critical eye of the highly knowledgeable Commentators both, Dennis and Venkat, apparently missed to notice 🙂

    Or was it my ‘bhrama’ only that such an explanation was not offered so far?


  5. Hi Venkat,

    turIya is explicitly not a state. The Upanishad says that it is prapa~nchopashamaM. This negates (ama) the experience (pash) of all plurality of the universe (prapa~ncha). In fact, what you are doing here is effectively reinforcing what I suggested above, namely mixing the levels. The world and its (3) states of consciousness are mithyA or vyAvahArika, while turIya is satyam or pAramArthika.

    Also, Gaudapada does not equate waking and dream states. What he does is to use our experience of the dream state to convince us that the waking state is also mithyA.

    Finally, as I have pointed out before, you cannot use the (reported) words of Ramana or Atmananda to support arguments about what is said by traditional Advaita. Brilliant though both these teachers were, neither was a sampradAya teacher.

    Best wishes,

  6. Dear Ramesam,

    Apologies if I seemed to ignore your post. I was responding to Venkat’s comment which was still the latest post on my browser this morning. It was not until I had posted the response that your two latest posts ‘popped up’.

    I have to go out now but my intial thought on reading your ‘Mundaka’ post is: what has this verse got to do with equating the deep-sleep state with turIya? Could you ‘spell this out’ please – maybe I am just being obtuse!

    As regards the ‘after glow’, I just put it down to your tendency to mention latest scientific findings amongst your more traditional explanations! 🙂 I have always been happy that the belief that deep-sleep was associated with sattvika impressions was just an inference. If I remember dreams, I am likely to wake up feeling unrefreshed; if I don’t recall anything, I am likely to feel refreshed. Conclusion: deep sleep is peaceful.

    Have to go!

    Best wishes,

  7. This thread brought to mind a very central ‘concept’ that is often mentioned in both Tibetan and Zen Buddhism, ‘Shunyata’. The term is defined in English as ‘Emptiness’. It was elaborated on by Nagarjuna in the 2nd century AD and became associated with the Madhyamika teachings. Its original inspiration came from the Prajnaparamita Sutra, also known as the Heart Sutra, a very important teaching not from the Buddha, but from Sariputra, an Arhat, known for embodying prajna, in conversation with Avalokitesvara, known for embodying compassion and skillful means, both in the company of the Buddha. It is said that Avalokitesvara was enlightened immediately upon hearing Sariputra’s words, which became the Heart Sutra.

    Vedantins tend to dismiss Nagarjuna’s Madhyamika probably due to a misunderstanding of terminology and power politics in India at that time, along with the Islamic invasions. Buddhism was forced to migrate north into Nepal and Tibet and other regions of Pakistan like Swat and Kashmir. You know the history. Many Indian scholars know that Sankara was heavily influenced by Buddhism and to think that somehow Sankara ‘refuted’ it, is a misjudgement and probably disseminated by Modi’s nationalistic ancestors (just joking, but you get my drift).

    Chogyam Trungpa wrote a very accessible commentary on Nagarjuna’s Madhyamka school, which helps to explain the view of emptiness and form in light of the Heart Sutra. It is contained in the book ‘Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism’, and the chapter is called Shunyata. I think it would behoove anyone interested in this subject to read this and to understand that emptiness is not the same thing as Nihilism in any way. That in order to speak about true emptiness, you must also include form into the equation. One does not exist without the other and ultimately, form is the very same nature as emptiness. To elevate one or the other is to miss the point. To search for the formless apart from form is unnecessary. Reality is this very moment, as it is.

    You can find a free pdf version of the book online.

    An excerpt from the chapter ‘Shunyata’:

    There is a story that when the Buddha gave his first discourse on shunyata,
    some of the arhats had heart attacks and died from the impact of
    the teaching. In sitting meditation these arhats had experienced absorption
    in space, but they were still dwelling upon space. Inasmuch as they
    were still dwelling upon something, there was still an experience and an
    experiencer. The shunyata principle. involves not dwelling upon anything,
    not distinguishing between this and that, being suspended nowhere.
    If we see things as they are, then we do not have to interpret or
    analyze them further; we do not need to try to understand things by
    imposing spiritual experience or philosophical ideas upon them. As a
    famous Zen master said: “When I eat, I eat; when I sleep, I sleep.” just
    do what you do, completely, fully. To do so is to be a rishi, an honest,
    truthful person, a straightforward person who never distinguishes
    between this and that. He does things literally, directly, as they are. He
    eats whenever he wants to eat; he sleeps whenever he wants to sleep.
    Sometimes the Buddha is described as the Maharishi, the Great Rishi
    who was not trying to be truthful but simply was true in his open state.”

  8. Anon,

    Here is what I said in ‘A-U-M’ about shunya vAda:

    “Gaudapada has now refuted the philosophies of three of the four systems of Buddhism. He does not mention the shunya vAda of the Madhyamika. The Brahmasutra (II.2.26) points out that ‘Existence does not come from non-existence or non-entity’. The Madhyamika claims that the world has come out of nothing but this is quite contrary to our experience. Pots come from clay and yoghurt from milk. If what the Buddhist claims were true, anything could come from anything, since the non-existence of X is the same as the non-existence of Y.

    “Also, in his commentary on Brahmasutra II.2.32, Shankara is almost sarcastic in his denouncing of their position. He says that we need not bother too much about arguing against them since their own reasoning gives way on all sides like the walls of a well dug in sandy soil. There is a theory (of shunya vAda) and they – the Madhyamika Buddhists – are stating this theory. Shankara says: “O shunya vAdins! You must admit yourself to be a being and your reasoning also to be something and not nothing. This contradicts your theory that all is nothing.”

    But I do freely admit that I know virtually nothing about Buddhism (any branch). I also know that Greg Goode, for example, talks and writes about ‘Emptiness teachings’ – and I have considerably respect for him. Accordingly, I am prepared to accept that what you say is valid and that there is material there worthy of study.

    However, as I have said before, visitors come to this site to find out about Advaita so your advocacy of alternative teachings is unhelpful at least and potentially confusing.

    • Dennis,

      The chapter I referenced in ‘Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism’ deals with this very thing that you mention. Nagarjuna did not say that all is nothing or existence comes from non-existence. These are Nihilists views and not that of a proper understanding of what Madhyamika teaching is. Please refer to this if it interests you.

  9. Hello Anonymous (2),

    First, an apolpgy for the suffix (2).
    We have at this site one Gentleman who contributes to this column often under the ‘nom de plume’ Anonymous already. He shies away to tell us how his own parents christened him with all their love and affection. He preaches tirelessly the thoughts of UG and Dogzchen. Though he may desist me using the word “preach,” he does not realize that’s the eminently suitable word for what he does.

    Here with the same pseudonym of Anonymous, your post talks about Nagarjuna’s Madhyamika Buddhism. I hope and trust you are aware that Dennis Waite, the owner of this site, principally promotes here the “kevala Advaita” of Shankara’s school, though he does not hesitate to encourage a catholic view when it comes to a discussion of Non-duality.

    The suffix (2) is only a little ID tag I added to distinguish you from the other Anon.

    Sorry for that long caveat.

    With regard to your observations, I feel that the entire gamut of Non-duality gets captured in the phrase you used: “To search for the formless apart from form is unnecessary. Reality is this very moment, as it is.”

    As you must know, all schools of teaching aim at bringing that realization experientially to one who is in search of the Ultimate Truth. When the Upanishads declare vociferously that “You Are That,” (tat tvam asi – ch upa, VI – xviii – 7), “That” refers to “What-Is,” the simple Is-ness or the Beingness. Other Upanishads too echo the same message when they pronounce, for example:

    idaM sarvam yadayamAtmA (Bṛ.up.2.4.6)
    (All this is verily this ĀtmA)

    “neha nAnAsti kincana” — Br. Up. IV.4.19, kaTh Up. II.i.ii
    (There is no multiplicity here)

    “isAvAsyamidagm sarvam” — IsAvAsya Up. Mantra 1
    (All this is covered (permeated) by brahman).

    Even if it is said, as a part of the teaching that ‘brahman’ is formless, attributeless, dimensionless etc. etc., we have to understand that it does not imply that ‘brahman’ CANNOT take any form, CANNOT shine with any attribute, CANNOT be of the size of a subatomic particle or a humongous cluster of glaxies, etc etc. If one takes too literally and stops with the teaching that brahman cannot act, it means that a restriction is being imposed by the student and THE STUDENT IS limiting brahman in Its Infinite potentialities. So the statements that tend to indicate what brahman “IS” via negativa have also to be sublated in the final understanding. That leaves then the student with “Whatever-that-IS” at the moment and “That” is brahman.

    Even a grieving lady’s “CRY” that she feels “separate” and has been unable to shed her “sense of separation” is brahman, as pointed out recently by Francis Lucille in a short Video.

    Yes, a Maharishi is one who is not “trying to be truthful but simply is true in his open state” in the NOW. But let us understand the teaching in the words of Advaita which precedes all the teachings — be it Nagarjuna, Buddha, Avalokiteswara … Sariputra et al.


    (I am aware I have to respond to Dennis’ question re: the muNDaka mantra. It will need a little time to develop a cogent essay and I will do it ASAP. I have now to attend to urgent things).

  10. A few points on deep sleep (DS): In my opinión Cristopher is right when he writes, ‘[Is] deep sleep as the turned on TV but with no forms appearing?… Deep sleep = Consciousness being itself and thereby ‘knowing’ itself, but not through the means of a mind/brain (which is not present); it is effectively being-knowing without any objects of experience’. But he ends (inadvertently?) with a contradiction: ‘It is like a blank TV screen that is not turned on’.

    “Knowing itself”. Dennis writes: ‘Deep-sleep state… Associated with ignorance only. (… But it is the bliss of ignorance, not of knowledge)’.

    On that term (and substance) – KNOWLEDGE – (and, is it only semantics?), for SSSS ignorance or avidya is unmanifest in deep sleep, and the issue of DS is irrelevant from paramArtha view (as everyone here will concur with). Another writer (in ‘Advaitic Mysticism of Shankara’ – A. Ramamurty, 2013) agrees with the above account concerning knowledge: ‘… according to Shankara, the absence of knowledge based on subject-object duality does not warrant the absence of knowledge as such in those [three] states. It is absent in deep sleep, because ignorance, the source of such knowledge, recedes back to is potencial state or unmanifested condition’ (same as SSSS).

    On a further, more subtle point, Ramamurty observes (opus cit.): ‘Therefore, the absence of such knowledge in deep sleep is not a sufficient reason to deny knowledge as such in that state, for the fact that one is aware of the absence of such knowledge in deep sleep, after it is over, clearly indicates the existence of knowledge then (Updeshasahasri, part l (prose) 93; Br. Up. lV.3.23; Ma Up. Vll)’. He continues, ‘If this pure awareness were to be really absent in deep sleep, none would be able to know the absence of knowledge based on subject-object duality also’.

    SSSS writes: ‘It is interesting to note the wide difference between the popular view of deep sleep and the Upanishadic view of that state. The common man with his natural partiality for the waking state which presents a world so useful to him for all his practical purposes, has the naive idea that sleep is merely a life of inevitable ignorance which one would gladly evade if he could. In perfect contrast with this, is the Sastraic view of this apparently mysterious state:

    “This is indeed his form beyond desire… fearless. Just as one firmly embraced by his dear wife knows nothing either without or within… “(Br. 4.3.21). One conclusion is that Atman’s inherent nature is ‘directly intuited in deep sleep’. Another conclusión is that ‘the self-revealing nature of Atman is not adventitious’ – ESSAYS ON VEDANTA, pp.106, ff (Cf. Atmananda: ‘“That”: you know you are there in deep sleep, without a body, senses or mind’).

    “That (Atman) does not know (anything) there, (is to be explained by the fact that) even while knowing, indeed, he does not know anything. For, there can be no absolute disappearance of the cognition of the knower, since it is indestructible. Only, there is nothing second to him which he could know.’ Br. 4.3.30. IOW, there is no conception whatever there.

    On Ramesam’s question ‘how the awake mind could come to detect and speak feelingly about the happy experience of deep sleep’, isn’t the answer obvious enough? We have RM’s utterance “… [for] happiness, which is one’s own [true] nature that is experienced daily in [dreamless] sleep, which is devoid of the mind, oneself knowing oneself is necessary.”

    I understand ANANDA not as a quality of Atman or the Self, but as Atman Itself, in the same way as EXISTENCE and CONSCIOUSNESS are so (sat-chit-ananda), while realizing that the supreme reality is above any description or words. As SSSS writes, Atman in sleep is anandamaya (full of bliss), anandabhuk (experiencer of bliss)… Atman is Bliss itself and there is nothing else… the limiting associations of the body, senses and mind being absent, and the sense-objects also being absent – all having been reduced to One as it were – Atman intuits His own blissful nature without any let or hindrance(pp.120-21).

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