On Mind and Deep Sleep

Most of us think quite a bit about being awake. We think of work. Of home. Of friends and family. Identity. What others think of us. We think of what we call real life. Reality.

Most of us do not think much about dreaming and sleeping. In fact, most of us do not think of these at all.

But in order to understand reality, we must think of the dreaming state and deep sleep. The waking state comprises only two thirds of our lives. Dreaming and deep sleep (the dreamless kind) comprise the rest. This amount is significant. It is 33% of our real life, our reality. We would not casually disregard one third of our money, our family, our friends. A third is a lot.

We experience the waking state, there is no question of this. And we don’t question our experience of dreams, we know that we have them. But we rarely question our experience of dreamless sleep. If we were to question this state, one question that would arise is simply, why? Why do I seem to have no experience of dreamless sleep? Where do I go? What happens to ‘me’?

The key to these questions lies in understanding mind.

Mind is active in the waking state. Mind is the ‘active’ activity of consciousness (as opposed to perception, which is its passive activity). Mind makes thoughts of work, home, friends, family, real life, reality, possible. Mind is thought. Thought is mind. As Papaji said, ‘thought arises from mind, and mind is only a bundle of thought.’

Mind is also active in the dream state. In fact, only mind is active in the dream state. Dreams occur in mind alone, whereas in the waking state mind co-occurs with sense perception. Dreams are mind unencumbered by sense perception. Dreams are mind exploring its own content without interference. Most of us do not control our dreams, just as most of us do not control any other activity of mind, of thought, or of sense perception. Thought is the churning of mind. We stand as witness to it, just as we stand as witness to dreams. Thought simply arises, as do dreams. Thought arises in mind, which is an activity of consciousness. Thought and dream are words that describe this activity.

Mind is active in the waking state and in the dream state. Mind is inactive in dreamless sleep. It is at rest. We might say that dreamless sleep is consciousness itself at rest. And because consciousness is at rest in dreamless sleep, mind is not active, thought does not occur. Because thought, or mind, is not active, no trace or residue of its activity remains. These traces, the residue of activity, are what we call memory. We have no memory of deep sleep because we have no trace of activity, no residue remaining, of mind’s activity. Therefore, mind itself, when it becomes active again, disregards this state of dreamless sleep by saying that nothing happened. Mind disregards this state because, in essence, it was not present.

So to say that nothing happens in deep sleep, or that ‘we’ are not present or that we ‘go away’ in deep sleep, is only true from the perspective of mind, or in so far as we identify our self with our mind. In other words, if we understand that what we call ‘me’ is not the same as what we call ‘mind,’ it is no longer accurate to say that we are not present in deep sleep, or that we go away. We do not need to ask the question why. We only need to understand what mind is, and that ‘we’ are not mind. We are that which stands as witness to mind.

In other words, we are that which knows mind, and that which recognizes its activity, or lack thereof. And therefore we cannot rely solely on mind, or thought, to give us an accurate picture of reality. It is a tool we can use, but it is not who we are.



One thought on “On Mind and Deep Sleep

Chime in:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s