In my Talk on “Inquiry in Science and Vedanta “, the slides numbered 50 and 51 are about the three states of consciousness — Awake, Dream and Deep Sleep. (The full PowerPoint Presentation can be viewed at : http://beyond-advaita.blogspot.in/ ). The three worlds are represented by the three distinct circles I, II and III and a ‘Me’ is shown by the circle IV in the Slide 50 (Fig. 1 below). In our normal understanding, we think that “I am a separate ‘self’ (individual) and I pass through three distinct worlds viz. the Wakeful world, the Dream world and the Deep Sleep world.” We also take that the worlds to be external to ‘me.’
Such a worldview is obviously beset with the problems and concerns regarding ‘my’ security and safety, my protection and perpetuation etc. as against a world out there. The positing of a ‘me’ here and a ‘world’ out there is an ideal situation to breed unending competition for resources and unresolvable conflicts of interests with no guarantees of success. Obviously not a happy position to be in.
Some great thinkers and Seers found on deep inquiry that this division of a contracted ‘me’ confined to a limiting body-mind here and a world out there to be merely an imagination. They could realize that the entirety of the world including ‘me’ is just one unfragmented Whole (true not only in the wakeful world but also in the dream and deep sleep worlds). Suddenly, on experientially understanding this, there is no “other out there” from which I have to run away or save myself from. “I” am myself the eternal everlasting Whole irrespective of any form I may appear to take from moment to moment. At one stroke myself being that Oneness, I conquered not only fear but also death, disease and decay!
But how does one convey this message? In fact, if all ‘there is’ is taken to be ONE, can a ‘message’ exist separate from that ONE? And to whom the message needs to be imparted when there is no ‘other’ than myself? Pretty awkward situation here.
To the indignation of many of my friends, I may stick my neck out and say that many of the so called traditional teaching methods steeped in rigorous restrictive eligibility conditions and secretiveness, designed and developed in the distant past specifcally addressed to certain strata of society, are not of much help to the present cosmopolitan clientele or to the modern analytical mindset. Luckily, courageous changes were affected from time to time in imparting this valuable message of Oneness for the redemption of misery in the world. The so called Direct Path is perhaps one of the most contemporary approaches suited to a questioning mind trained in introspective thinking and is capable of logical deduction.
But I hold no brief for nor am I wedded to this or any other method, for I am not trained in any of these systems!
In fact it is only after I read Dennis’s comment of Oct 21, 2012 at the Post On Q: 324, I explored a bit more to know about the Direct Path, for I know he does not say things lightly and there must have been a strong reason for what he said. I found a large treasure of writings on Direct Path at Dennis’s site. There were intense discussions led by Dr. Ananda Wood, Dr. Greg Goode, Dr. K. Sadananda and many other stalwarts in their own right ably edited and presented by Dennis. They go back to 2002 – 2004. Some of the Links are:
I came to know that Shri Atmananda Krishna Menon who spearheaded the Direct Path did not refer to the other path as “traditional.” He gave a name to it too. He called it the “Cosmological path.” Dr. Wood clarifies that “In the ‘cosmological’ approach, an ‘individual person’ or ‘jiva’ is considered as an incomplete part of an encompassing universe. Hence that approach is described as one ‘of bringing the individual under the universal’. It requires an expansion of consideration to a universal functioning — which is ruled by an all-powerful ‘God’ called ‘Ishvara’, or which expresses an all-comprehensive reality called ‘Brahman’. In contrast, the Direct Path is an “an approach which brings ‘the universal under the individual’.”
Dennis said in his comment of Oct 21, 2012: “The ‘Direct Path’ explanation of deep sleep did not tally with that of traditional Advaita. As KR pointed out, the ‘experiencer’ of the deep sleep state cannot be brahman. Apart from the fact that brahman cannot experience (since there are not two things from the pAramArthika standpoint), the praj~nA or causal body of each person has to be different. If it weren’t, we could not guarantee to wake up as the same person who went to sleep.”
What Dennis points out to can be boiled down to two questions:
1. Does traditional Upanishadic teaching conform to the understanding of Deep Sleep as explained by Direct Path approach?, and
2. How does one wake up as the same person that went to sleep?
Before taking up these two questions specifically, I would like to first explain my understanding of Advaitic position on deep sleep state.
Isavasa, Brihadaranyaka, Chandogya and Mandukya tell us that “what is now, as is, all is Brahman only” by their statements IsA vAsyam idagum sarvam, nehanAnAsti kincana, sarvam khalvidam brahma, sarvaM hyetad brahma.
These statements of the Upanishads are obviously made and are valid in our wakeful world. But they have to be equally valid in the dream and deep sleep states too. That means, obviously, the dream world as well as the deep sleep world have got to be Brahman. In other words, just as Brahman has the freedom to appear as the wakeful world, Brahman has also the freedom to appear as the dream world and as well as the deep sleep world. That is what I tried to present in the next slide of the PPt I referred to at the beginning of this essay.
Fig,2 shows that (i) the model of an individuated “me” passing through the three states is incorrect, and (ii) the three states are manifestations of the Turiya, the True “I”.
The easiest way to conceptualize it is through the example of the computer screen, as Rupert, Peter and a few others are so fond of giving this analogy. The computer screen is ever there whether something appears on it or not. Even if a document appears at some pixel positions, the screen has not disappeared at those pixels. The screen itself has taken the shape of the document at those pixel positions. Moreover, the screen exists pervading the picture, in the gaps of the picture and surrounding the picture. If we focus our attention on the picture, we miss to see the screen in that position. In such a case, it can be described that the picture veils the screen at that place.
Just as the computer screen is always there irrespective of and in spite of the picture, “I” am eternally there appearing as the wakeful world or deep sleep world or dream world from time to time.
But how does the traditional approach explain this?
I am unable to realize the Oneness in the wakeful state because I mistake myself by my identification with a limited body. So there is a ‘me’ with a physical body and a jagRit world separate from me.
The usual teaching reinforces the separation of a ‘me’ and the world by extending the mis-identification that happens in the wakeful world to the dream and deep sleep states too. So it postulates the existence of a subtle body for ‘me’ in the dream state and a subtle world separate from me, all made up of mindstuff. Correspondingly, it postulates a causal body for ‘me’ in the deep sleep state and a causal world separate from me. It builds a whole structure of conceptual worlds and forms at both individual level and at the composite level and even comes up with fascinating names for all these things.
In my short note of 26th Oct 2012, I referred to the work of Swami Iswarananda and said there: “The Swami’s book quotes many references from Chandogya, Taittiriya, Parsna, Brihadaranyaka Upanishads and Sankara’s commentary there on and also from Brahma Sutra Bhashya in support to say that we “attain to pure existence in deep sleep.” The prajnya and Turiya as expounded in Mandukya are explained to be the same.” The Swami Ji does not use the name of “Direct Path.” He calls it to be rational Vedanta. I gave a short review with extensive extracts from Part I of his book at:
I give below some of the references from Chandogya and others that Swami Iswarananda cites in Part II. I hope to continue with more Upanishadic references in a continuation Post.
PART II opens with the declaration of the Argument thus:
sushuptikAle ca pareNa brahmaNA jIva ekatAm gacchati, parasmAt ca brahmaNah prANAdikam jagaj-jAyata iti vedAnta maryAdA.
tasmAd yatrA ‘ sya jIvasya nihsambodhatAsvacchatArUpah svApa upAdhijanita viseshavijnAna rahitam svarUpam, yatas tadbrahmsarUpam Agamanam, so ‘ tra paramAtmA veditavyatayA srAvita iti gamyate.
It is the general Vedanta doctrine that at the time of deep sleep the jIva becomes one with the highest Brahman, and that from the highest Brahman the whole world proceeds, inclusive of prAna and so on. When the scripture, therefore, represents as the object of knowledge that in which there takes place the deep sleep of the jIva characterized by the absence of empirical consciousness and utter tranquility, that is, a state devoid of all those specific cognitions which are produced by the limiting adjuncts of the jIva, and from which the jIva returns when the sleep is broken, we understand that the highest Self is meant — BSB, I.iv.18
In order that the [reader] may feel assured that the position taken up herein though a bit out of the beaten track is the orthodox position as propounded by the Upanishads and Sankara’s commentaries thereon, the following references are appended with short observations thereon.
Quoting Sankrara from Ch Up. bhAshya, VI.viii.1:
na hy anyatra sushuptAt svam apItim jIvasya icchanti brahmavidah.
Tatra ……. mana-Ady uparame caitanya pratibimba rUpenNa jIvenA ‘ tmanA manasi pravishTa nAmarUpavyAkaraNAya parA devatA sA svam evA ‘ tmAnam pratipadyate jIvarUpatAm mana AkhyAm hitva.
Meaning: [In discussing the meaning of svapnAntam and determining it as dreamless sleep], in no other state than deep sleep do the Knowers of Brahman find the attainment of one’s own Self……. Because there in the self gives up its reflector mind and jIvatva (embodiedness) and attains its own form as the Supreme Deity.
sushuptau eva svam devatArUpam jIvatvavinirmuktam darsayisyAmI ‘ thAha.
Meaning: [Sankara says that UddAlaka tells his son that] in deep sleep itself he would show his divinity which is free from individuality.
satA sampanno bhavati = ekIbhUto bhavati
Meaning: In deep sleep one is said to have become one with Absolute Existence —
manasi prvishTam mana-Adi-samsrgakRtam jIvarUpam, parityajya svam sadrUpam yat paramArthasatyam apIto apigato bhavati
Meaning: Embodiedness is given up in deep sleep and the self is said to attain the Absolute Reality.
From BSB I.iii.8:
paramAtmai ‘ ve ‘ ha bhUmA bhavitum arhati, na prAnah – kasmAt? samprasAdAd adhyupadesAt-samprasAda iti sushuptam sthAnam ucyate; samyak prasIdati asmin iti nirvacanAt.
Meaning: It is the paramAtman that is to be known by bhUman, not prANa, because it has reference to samprasAda, samprasAda is the Self of dreamless sleep, because in this state is attained the greatest serenity.
In UpadesasAhasrI, Part I-93, the disciple asks:
na hi kadacid bhagavan, sushupte mayA caitanyam anyad vA kincid dRShTam?
To this Sankara gives a long reply. The gist of it is: The Consciousness owing to whose presence you deny (the existence of things in deep sleep) by saying “I was conscious of nothing” is the Knowledge, the Consciousness which is your Self……
tarhi sarvatra avyabhicArAt kUTasthanityatvam siddham svata eva, na pramANApeksham. svatah siddhasya hi pramAtuh anyasya prameyasya paricchittim prati pramANApekshA.
Its eternal existence is self-evident. Only an object of knowledge different from the self-evident Knower depends on an evidence in order to be known.
Sankara in his commentary on mantra VIII.iii.3 (DaharavidyA) says:
yathA jAnan ajAnamsca sarvo jantuh sadbrahmaiva tathA ‘ pi tat tvam asI ‘ ti pratibhodhito vidvAn avisvAmsca sushupte yadyapi sat sampadyate tathA api evamvideva svargam lokam etI ‘tyucyate.
Meaning: Even though all beings attain to Brahman during sleep, the one who knows this fact even during the waking state can alone said to have attained to It.
In the commentary on mantra 4, Sankara explains:
sushuptakAle svenA ‘ tmanA satA smapannah san samyak prasIdatI ‘ ti jAgrat svapnayor vishayendriyasamyogajAtam kAlushyam jahAtI ‘ ti samprasAdasabdo yadyapi sarvajantUnAm sAdhAraNastathA ‘ pye ‘ vamvit svargam lokam etI ‘ ti.
The meaning of the word samprasAda is the Self free from the impurities and worries of the waking and dream states, which is attained in deep sleep when all beings attain to Pure Existence.
Further, VIII.vi.3 teaches that:
tad, yatrai ‘ tat suptah samastah samprasannah svapnam na vijAnAtyAsu tadA nADIshu sRpto bhavati tam na kascana pApmA spRsati tejasA hi tadA smapannobhavati.
When asleep, the Atman, having become completely serene, does not see any dream. In that state no sin touches it, because in that state it has become one with its own effulgence.
The reason for not being touched by sin is said to be that the Atman remains in its own nature.
In the section VIII.xi.1. dealing with samprasAdavidyA, PrajApati imparts his final teaching to Indra in the following words:
tad yatrai ‘ tat suptah samastah samprasannah svapnam na vijAnAtyesha ‘ it ho ‘ vAcai ‘ tad amRtam abhayam etad brahme ‘ ti.
Here where the jIva goes into deep sleep, completely serene all round, and where no dream is seen, that is Atman, that is immortal, that is the fearless, that is Brahman.
Further on it is asserted:
yadyapi sushupte tad uktam muktasyApi sarvaikatavAt samAno dvitIyAbhAvah.
The absence of second entity by the side of the Atman in sleep is said to be equally applicable to the liberated jIva as well.
Thus throughout the ChAndogya Upanishad, brahmavidyA has been taught by pointing to the experience of deep sleep. smaprasAdavidya is verily brahmavidyA.