Traditional Teaching and Deep Sleep – II. Dreams

[The topic of Dreams is something I have not originally planned to include here in this series which was primarily designed to address the issue of Upanishadic support for considering deep sleep itself as Liberation (moksha).]

Part I

Please allow me here to take a short digression to discuss dreams because of a few questions raised by our esteemed readers.

Secrets of Sleeping Brain - Architecture of Sleep - Prof. M Walker, 2009

Fig. 1. Sleep Hypnogram (After M. Walker, 2009) – Click on the figure for enlarged view.

First of all, I would like to correct the misconception that some of us have that the moment we hit the pillow and get lost in sleep, we just flow through one continuous phase of dreaming, then deep sleep and, lo  behold, we get up refreshed in the morning. So, to this extent, the sequence of Awake state (A), Dream state (U), and  Deep sleep (M) corresponding to AUM as presented by Mandukya  Upanishad is awfully way out. ***  The Upanishad says that these three states arise in an everlasting turIya which is compared to the ‘silence’ at the end of AUM. ***  Several experimental studies carried out over a period of more than half a century demonstrate that the architecture of our sleep pattern is vastly different as experienced by us every night. A typical hypnogram (the nightly sleep cycle) we go through each night is shown in Fig. 1. (Please click on the figure for an enlarged view).

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Short questions and answers No. 2

Here are a few more short Q & A’s which do not merit a separate post of their own: (Dennis’ answers, so don’t blame any of the other bloggers!)

Q: Nisargadatta says : Delve deeply into the sense ‘I am’ and you surely discover that the perceiving centre is universal, as universal as the light that illumines the world. All that happens in the universe happens to you, the silent witness. On the other hand, whatever is done, is done by you, the universal and inexhaustible energy.

My question in two parts:

 1. If my awareness is the absolute one and there is no other – then yours does not exist?

 2. If they both exist as the Absolute but are separately perceived by two minds why am I not aware of your experience as well as my own?

 So far as I can see, without reliance on solipsism, non-duality/Vedanta must posit a reality where the Absolute is being “dipped into” by separate minds? Continue reading

Can you accept that the world is mithyā? – 1/2

As long as I believe in the absolute reality of the things around me, as long as I believe in the absolute reality of the body-mind amalgam, and further, as long as I believe that the body-mind amalgam is Me, I will be insecure and unhappy. Why? Because, if the world is real and this body-mind amalgam is real then threat and danger surround me: the treat may be to my life and wellbeing but, more often than not, my fragile ego is vulnerable to outside events and circumstances.

There is always someone richer or cleverer or wiser or more beautiful or more influential than me. In their presence I am unworthy and powerless. Poor unworthy me could lose all my friends to more attractive people, to cleverer people or to richer or more powerful people. I live my life dreading the moment that I will be found out to be a fraud or lose my job. Deep down I believe I am unlovable and that I will end my days sad and lonely. My fragile body-mind amalgam is not really up to the onslaught from the more powerful forces of the universe. I am not good enough to gain all the security I need to cushion myself from ‘the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ (as Shakespeare’s Hamlet puts it). My life (or the life of loved ones) can be wiped out in an instant by a monster wave or powerful wind or fire or earthquake, or a drunk behind the wheel of a car or a mugger or a mentally deranged person or by a tiny bug invisible to the naked eye. And even if the threat doesn’t come from outside, my very own biology can suddenly conspire to pack up: cancer, dementia, palsy, blindness, deafness, a blockage in the artery, stroke. Continue reading

Inception: Dream or Not?

Here are two (related) book reviews which may be of particular interest to readers of our new serialization of ‘The Dream Problem’.

Nearly 2 years ago, the film of the moment was ‘Inception’, directed by Christopher Nolan. And this justifiably went on to win four Academy Awards. Friends told me how good this film was but, as is quite normal regarding films, I did not actually get to see it until some time after it came out on DVD. Since I have been a fan of science fiction ever since my childhood, I realized fairly quickly what this film was about in a general sense. Nevertheless, it was obvious that the story was quite complex and that all of the nuances could never be fully appreciated with one viewing. Accordingly, even at the time, I wondered whether anyone would write a book about it. (Of course, I realized that there would be a deluge of blogs on the subject but there is the slight problem of not having sufficient time to look, as well as not knowing which ones would be worth reading.) Continue reading