Adventures in Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy and science of spirit. We are one you and I; are you curious why?..


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Some Kind of Bliss

Hari OM

'Text-days' are for delving into the words and theory of Advaita Vedanta.

[You are reminded that reviewing the previous week's posts will become essential as the meanings of the Sanskrit terms may not be repeated. There may come additional or alternative meanings, but all should be noted. As study progresses, the technical terms must necessarily become 'second nature' to the student. When the Sanskrit is used, the translation will fall easily into place - or likewise, if the English is used, the Sanskrit term must easily come forwards.]

Please revisit THIS post and chant the mangala-charana. Please use the TattvabodaH label to access all posts relevant to this text.

Remember that all analysis undertaken in Vedanta, such as currently on the waker, dreamer, sleeper, is for the purpose of rediscovering our True Nature, The Self. In establishing that these states are 'adoptions' of the Self with which it has become identified, that there is a part of us which is watching the process as we go, then we must find that we can begin to negate; '"I" am not this waker, "I" am not this dreamer…' The entirety of Vedantic exploration is to peel back all the illusions and delusions of our current state, seeking the core our existence.  The "I" which is doing the negating is unattached to all that is being explored. In the same way that the one who observes an accident is independent of events and yet still an observer to it all is said to be 'the witness', so it is that the "I" who is questioning and seeking is the witness Self, called as साक्षि  /saakshi. Our first major shift from our current state is to become fully the witness. By virtue of still being connected to happenings in 'the world', it can be said that saakshi is still not the Ultimate Truth, that which is called Brahman, but it is certainly the closest level that the individualised Self (jiva) comes to Brahman. Really speaking, when it is said in these stanzas that the Self is known as vishva or taijasa etc, it is the sakshii which is being addressed.

तरी-अवस्थाः /tri-avasthaaH - THE THREE STATES
सुषुप्त्यवस्था /sushuptyavasthaa - the deep sleep state.
Having established, then, that the Self can identify with the gross body as vishva, also with the subtle body as taijasa, can it be said that the sakshii Self can also be identified in the deep sleep state? After all, in that state, we are not actually conscious of being conscious!  Let us see what the Guru provides us at this point in learning. The shishya again picks up questioning;

अथ सुषुप्त्यवस्था का
अहं किमपि न् जानामि सुख़ेन
मया निद्राऽनुभूयते इति सुषुप्त्यवस्था।
कारणशरीरभिमानी आत्मा प्राज्ञ इत्युच्यते।

atha suSuptyavasthaa kaa
ahaM kimapi n jaanaami suKena
mayaa nidraa.anubhuuyate iti suSuptyavasthaa.
kaaraNashariirabhimaanii aatmaa praaGYa ityucyate.

"Then what is the deep sleep state   ?
That state about which one says that, 'I did not know anything, I enjoyed good sleep', is the deep sleep state. The slef identified with the causal body is called praajna."

When one gives up identification with the gross and subtle bodies and identifies only with the causal body, one is said to be in the deep sleep state. In that state, one experiences the absence of all objects, emotions and thoughts. When one wakes from it one says, 'I did not know anything...I slept well.'  This is important to note. In deep sleep itself, we know nothing. It is only in rousing from the deep sleep that we know we were there. The memory of having slept well or otherwise proves the presence of "I" the experiencer, even in the absence of the world. This "I" is actually reflecting on the past experience of the deep sleep. Whilst there, nothing is known, but that "I" (which is saakshi) is able to assess the condition by returning to vishva state. The happiness, or 'bliss' (anubhuuyate) of that state can only be remembered due to there not being an active consciousness actually in the state. That condition of happiness is the closest we can come to our True Nature in regular life, but it is lost when we arise. The memory of the experience of nothing, though, which we consider as a joyous thing, is something that every one desires; nothing beats a sound sleep!

In the waking state we identify with the gross body and become the 'doer' and the 'enjoyer'. In the dream state we identify with the subtle body and become the enjoyer of the dream world. In the deep sleep state there is neither 'doer' of actions, nor the 'enjoyer' of the world. In the absence of thoughts, there is no concept of time, space or duality. Hence, we cannot say how long we slept or where "I" was in that state. How to say that the "I" is present when no awareness is there? It is important to recall that the "I" spoken of here is the little ego-self, the individualised aatmaa called jiiva. Think about a time when you were so very engrossed and concentrated on a task that when it is finished you come to realise that in the execution and engrossment, any sense of yourself as the individual was absent - you hear of artists and musicians 'becoming one' with their work. The temporary absence of the ego permits a level of beauty, excellence and absolute joy in the execution. This same engrossment is what is present in deep sleep. The "I" has managed to drop off the world and the dreams for a while and become single-pointed in absence.

In the waking and dream states we know we exist, but do not know our True Nature. We take ourselves to be the gross and the subtle bodies in the waking and dream states. In sushupti, though we are closest to that Nature, we still are ignorant of it at the same time we are ignorant of the world for its duration. It is because consciousness (thought) itself is absent in deep sleep, that in ingnorance we rise from it back into the world. This ignorance of the ultimate "I" beyond a sense of existence, is referred to here as 'praajna' (a conjunct word from praayena ajnaH - one who is more or less ignorant).

The waking and dream state of each of us may differ, but the deep sleep state is the same for all. The king, the beggar, the ignorant, the wise... In all, the experience of deep sleep equates to bliss. There are no degrees to this bliss. It is homogeneous, partless and complete. Therefore, one does not want to come out of it. It is refreshing and rejuvenating for the "I" which will again wake. The deep sleep state is such a desirable thing, that there are whole clinics and multiple pills and potions offered to help induce this state. Lack of 'good' sleep can result in stress and disorder of the individual. The state is so desirable because that sense of "I" knew nothing gives a break from trials and tribulations. Even if life is generally good, this state is still sought.

The prajna, though, cannot remain in 'nothingness'; it is after all, the causative self. Thus the causes, the unmanifest impressions (vaasanas) from the waking experience exert a pull and the "I" is drawn back through the dream state and out into the world once more. The 'nothingness' has not exerted sufficient influence - there has been also an absence of awareness of the condition - in order for the "I" to wish to remain there continually. Yet that saakshi "I" was present even in the absent state, for the memory is retained.

The three states come and go. Each negates the experience and 'reality' of the other two. The "I" remains only as the witness of all and cannot be negated by the states. "I" may act like a beggar in a play, but "I" do not become the beggar. Similarly, "I" am not the roles "I" take up in the tri avasthaaH.

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Hari OM
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