Vemuri Ramesam, Thursday, August 20, 2015 8:18 am

The Enigma of Deep Sleep – 12

The Fourth Quadrant and jIvanmukti:

The Fourth Quadrant of the Four Outcomes Model represents the outcome wherein the body is active in its functions and working but the mind is at rest or inactive. Some of our readers may feel that the combination of active body with an inactive mind is unheard of and has never been present in their daily experience like the awake, dream and deep sleep are experienced. But the truth is you have never not experienced it! This weird situation raises up an interesting possibility.

We slide from one state to the other effortlessly and naturally. That is to say we shift from wakefulness to deep sleep or from deep sleep to dreams or dreams to wakefulness without any of our conscious effort. Can it be that the fourth quadrant too happens without any special effort consciously being made by us?

We shall try to explore this possibility and also unravel the paradox of the fourth quadrant being always with us but unknown to us. We will continue to adopt in our discussions the same conditions that we have set for ourselves right from the beginning, namely:   We shall not invoke fanciful theories and ethereal constructs; also, we shall not mechanically parrot the words of some authority, cite some obtuse quotation to buttress our argument or take recourse to unverifiable dicta in support of our point of view.

Now that you have begun reading this part of the essays shows that we have traveled together successfully thus far.  Let me say that we have already crossed the most enigmatic and counter-intuitive part of our joint investigation when we discussed the third quadrant.  So I trust you will find the remaining part of our probing is easy to follow, and it will also be convincing to you in the light of what we have learnt about deep sleep. A clear understanding of the fourth quadrant prepares us to live Life with a new perspective because such an understanding is the key for a truly divinely peaceful life!

As we proceed with the detailed examination of the 4th quadrant, we shall also try to cover the questions that have been raised at different points of time but have not been answered yet.  I recall that I have said in Part 3 that “the idea of a “next morning” is wrong.”  In Part 4 we said that we will take up later on a discussion on the relevance of the model more commonly used by the philosophers viz., the ‘three states of consciousness plus turIya.’  In addition, we have three questions posed by our esteemed readers:  One of the readers desired to know how space could be considered to be illusory and another asked about any studies done on the effect of meditation on the quality of sleep. The third and very provocative question was if Deep Sleep is the true Non-dual experience, why not take a sleeping pill and enjoy the bliss.  Please do let me know if any other questions are left out unanswered.


Mind being at rest or inactive suggests a position similar to the experience in deep sleep.  Body comprising the various organs (sensory and motor) being active suggests the position to be similar to awake state. The senses show a world in the wakeful state whereas the world or any object is not seen in deep sleep. In other words, we are aware of things during the awake state; we are aware of no ‘thing’ in deep sleep.  How do we understand the strange combination of these two conditions?

We know that the sensory organs (eye, ear, skin, nose and tongue) are mere peepholes to transmit signals and it is after all the mind that gives a sense of perceiving a thing. Mind is also the one that provides a meaning to what is perceived by each of the sensory organs. In the absence of the mind, the incoming signals received by the sensory organs go uninterpreted; consequently, no distinct objects are cognized. We also know that  no sense of a ‘me’ or ‘mine’ operate when the mind is not active. In the absence of the mind, the entire perception received through the five senses would look and feel like one mass of a painting with indistinguishable brush strokes seamlessly melding into one another, much like a water color painting that is painted on the external wall of a mud hut exposed to repeated washing by rains.

Scientists tell us that babies and infants do see a world but their sense of perception does not distinguish one form from another, one object from another. So the perception of the world, an awareness of something being present is available to them; but fragmenting the totality of the scene into separate things, assigning individual labels to each object is not learnt by them. It is, in fact, we the elders who teach them differentiation of their single scene of experience into toys, human faces etc. We point out to them the differences in colors, shapes, sizes and so on.  We teach them even that one single body they experience has distinct discernible parts like eyes, nose, ears etc.  A sense of separate self gradually gets installed in them and they begin to see themselves as separate from the totality around.

In the absence of the mind functioning actively, our experience of the so called world would be something like what is experienced by the infants.  In other words, each of the body organs (both sensory and motor) just carry on their functions naturally, like it happens in the baby, without a conscious agent of action (a ‘me’ sense) operating and no judgment with reference to a ‘me’ being exercised with respect to whatever may be happening . So there is an ‘awareness’ of something being present there, but there is no ‘one’ who is aware, nor are there specific and finite things which are identified as separate objects. Stated differently, the fourth quadrant will feel like being in deep sleep with awareness.

We normally think that mind is necessary as the motivator for any action to take place. We surmise that desire is the prime mover for all deeds. Even if we make a cup of tea, we think that “I wanted to drink a cup of tea.” But if you halt to critically examine the sequence of the things, you will know that a thought for drinking tea flashes in the mind (this is only a figurative expression – as already explained in the earlier parts of this series, there is no separate mind other than that particular thought at that moment). Then another thought claims ownership to it as ‘my thought.’ From that point onwards, a ‘me’ gets engendered. Therefore, even if the subsequent claim of ‘ownership’ for the agency of action is absent, the tea making would have any way happened. Thus all things keep on happening without a conscious you having to intervene in the role of an agent of action (a “doer”).  If you feel otherwise, just stop to consider how does the digestion go on in the stomach or the blood circulation in the body without your interference.

With no ‘me’ being present, whatever happenings come by, they are just experienced without any desire to change them or wanting them to be different. When there is no one to accept or reject a happening, there is equally no one to face any consequences of whatever happens. Thus the Awareness is just aware talking, walking, eating, breathing, sleeping, working as appropriate at the moment – never without a thought of a ‘me’ doing the things rising up.  So you, the quality or formless gossamer like Awareness, will not be subject to ‘reaping the just desserts or rewards of the actions’ that happen. You, as Awareness are merely aware of the actions without any attachment. That is complete freedom from any sort of binding to the effects of actions (or bondage). Such a position is total liberation from being vulnerable to the vacillating effects of past actions while the body is still alive.

Call it jIvanmukti or by any other fancy name, it would hardly make any difference to you, the Awareness.

You, as Awareness, will not identify yourself with one specific body as ‘my body.’ Any given single body will not get special attention or ownership claim. All bodies are run and maintained within the universe by one all pervading system. Each body keeps moving and doing things as appropriate to the situations arising without a conscious claimant of doership for the actions. The same universal forces pump the bellows in the body giving a capacity for it to move around within the totality of oneness, just as much as the very same universal forces make the rivers flow in their valley, move the sap along the xylem and phloem of the tree trunks on the bank of the river and by which universal principles the virtual particles appear and disappear in the nothingness of the atomic nuclei of which all things are apparently composed of.

(To Continue …… Part 13)

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