Vemuri Ramesam, Thursday, August 20, 2015 8:14 am

The Enigma of Deep Sleep – 11

Deep Sleep Happens in Eternal “Now” (Contd.):

The points that have so far emerged from a careful study of our actual experience of the deep sleep and a critical assessment of the various other factors related to deep sleep can be summarized as follows (vide Part 10 of this Series):

1.  Our experience happens always in the “Now,” and we never experience a past or future;

2.  We can never experience or realistically measure lapse of ‘time’;

3.  The idea that deep sleep takes place in ‘time’ is a post hoc confabulation, a concocted concept, of the awake state mind which arises after the event;

4.  Deep sleep, like the “Knowledge” of who truly I am, is unbroken and ever existing.  The mind is actually the one which appears for a time and then disappears and hence is discontinuous;

The above conclusions have given rise to a new question as to “why am I not ‘aware’ of Awareness during deep sleep?”  Language, being a tool of the mind, operates efficiently as a medium of communication in the awake state for transactional purposes within the realm of the mind. But the question we are concerned with here is about a situation where mind is absent. Therefore, we are up against certain inherent inadequacies of the language in formulating our answer. We have also found that our thinking process is considerably influenced by the language we use. Consequently, our ability to visualize an unknown process and verbally express it also depends on our language.

The syntax of our time-based agentative language demands that a sentence, in order to be meaningful, should have the following three components.

i)   A subject (the agent of action);

ii)  A predicate (the verb which tells about the action); and,

iii) An object (the entity upon which/whom the action of the verb is carried out).

We are so much habituated to this structure, that the absence of any one of the components makes the sentence unintelligible to us.

When we are asked about our awareness in the awake state, we formulate our reply satisfying the above conditions as follows:

I am aware of “X” where X can be a thing, an animal or a person.

In the above sentence:

i)  ‘I’ is the subject. ‘I’ stands for our ‘sense of self’ (a creature of the mind);

ii)  ‘am aware of’ is the predicate. The phrase describes the process of perception; and

iii)  ‘object’ is the perceived thing which is identified by a name.

Now how do we map the experience of our Awareness during deep sleep onto this sentence structure?

First and foremost, we should be wary of the fact that it is the mind in the awake state that is raising the question about awareness in deep sleep.  The Deep sleep itself is not asking!  The mind wants to know the answer.  So deep sleep cannot be the ‘subject’ for the sentence we construct as our answer.

Secondly, the mind knows a thing by actually experiencing it as a percept (whether it be a thought or sensation or perception).  But the mind is an entity that has arisen after the event had already occurred. The crucial question then is, “Can the mind experience a condition which prevailed prior to its own arising so that it can know it?” Simply stated, it cannot!

Obviously then, the wakeful state mind can never experience the deep sleep and hence there is no way for it to directly know whether ‘awareness’ was present during deep sleep or not. Mind would also have no information about the entity which could possibly be aware.

Thus we are in a very queer situation.  Ignoring these facts, one may, however, take an easy and lazy route of formulating the reply as follows:

I am aware of ‘ignorance’ during deep sleep.”

In this formulation, the sentence is constructed as if the awake state mind is making the statement based on its own experientially gained knowledge. But it is not legitimate to make the mind as the ‘subject’ as we reasoned out above.

Introducing an entity called ‘ignorance’ as the object clause – the thing perceived – compounds the error further. It would imply that the entity “ignorance” has a positive existence during deep sleep as a second component in addition to “whatever that constitutes deep sleep”.

It is clearly a case of double jeopardy!

If ignorance were to be really present as an object during deep sleep in addition to ‘whatever-Deep Sleep-IS’, it would have been noticed and recorded in our memory. But we have no such record in the memory.

[The Knowers of Truth, therefore, make amendments to their postulation describing the imagined ‘ignorance’ as a tentative device which is said to have been introduced merely to provide an answer that satisfies the inquisitive mind. The assumed ‘ignorance’ is later on described to be either ‘an illusion’ or non-different from brahman. (It is beyond the scope of our present essay to go into the details of the arguments).]

A more reasonable approach to formulate a reply to the question about awareness in deep sleep would be to make ‘deep sleep’ as the ‘subject,’ as if deep sleep is itself answering the question. To be able to do so, we have to consider deep sleepnot as a concept conceived from the awake state by the mind, but from the position of deep sleep itself, as an experience before thinking, sensing and perceiving have arisen,” (borrowing the words of a well-known Non-dual teacher).

If Deep Sleep were to speak to us, It would have simply said: “I aware Awareness.”

The subject “I” in the above sentence stands for  “Who I truly am.”

“Who I truly am” refers to our fundamental nature and that is “to be aware or Knowing.” Why is it so?  Because “I am not a collection of thoughts and feelings. I am the one who is aware of them.”

In other words, “I” is Awareness. And because there is no ‘thing’ in Deep Sleep other than Awareness, we can reframe the sentence as “Awareness awares Awareness.”

Unlike the mind which is aware of things, Awareness knows everything intimately by Itself.  It means that Awareness is too close to Itself and does not know another ‘Awareness’ as a distinct and separate object. So Awareness knows Itself by simply being Itself. In other words, Awareness simply awares. We do not need to add the suffix ‘of.’ But our language has no such convention of using ‘aware’ as a verb!’

Awareness is ‘Knowing’; ‘aware’  as the verb is knowing; and what is known (Awareness) is Knowing. Therefore, as lyrically expressed by a teacher, it is a case of “Knowing knowing Knowing” during Deep Sleep!

Let me sum up the argument, once again for clarity:

When we make a simple statement, like “I am aware of the tree”, in the normal usage of our language and expression in the awake state, what we mean is to say that “I as the subject know an object which is at a distance, separated from me.” In order to be able to perceive an object, I have to not only keep myself aloof from the object, but also I have to be different from it. But “I”, Awareness, being Alone, Awareness cannot during deep sleep know Itself as a separate object. Awareness knows Itself by being Itself. And that is what deep sleep is, the native quality, the fundamental nature of what “I am.”


Deep Sleep is like the formless and transparent breath, according to one teaching. Just as the formless exhaled breath gives raise to all forms of speech and music, Deep Sleep (or more correctly whatever that constitutes the substance of Deep Sleep), is the one which takes the forms of dream and awake states.

Fig. 1:  Modulation of Deep Sleep (D.S.)

It is not that an awake or dream state comes from somewhere outside of Deep Sleep. It is also not that Deep Sleep happens to be the seed from which the awake and dream worlds germinate.  Deep Sleep modulates Itself, in Its Infinite Freedom, as awake and dream worlds as shown in the Fig. 1, a figure with which we are already familiar.

Because of the absence of time as a factor, deep sleep happens forever in the “Now” which is another name for Eternity.

What ends in Deep Sleep, what disappears during Deep Sleep, is the collection of thoughts — acquired knowledge, your sensations and the perceptions, all that extra burden you carry around — in one word your ID that symbolizes your personality equivalent to the costume of Antonio and its memorized ‘story.’ Without that superimposed load in Deep Sleep, ‘You’ are the natural Peace, the True Knowledge that You are, the Knowing quality, which is never absent, the Real You. That is why you look forward to deep sleep.

We will next discuss the Fourth Quadrant along with some clear examples of living in it from our day to day life.

(To Continue … Part 12)

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