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Karen: Thank you for your last email in acknowledgment of my moksa story.
Since this event happened on August 21, I haven’t been able to sleep. In a week since this occurred I slept only one night and the other nights I’m only able to sleep for about three or four hours in the morning. I heard James say that too many helpful tamasic vasanas have been purified. If I meditate it reduces the fatigue but I’m probably reinforcing the problem because I’m practicing staying alert with my eyes closed. I nod off at inconvenient times during the day, especially in the car.
Has this happened to others? I exercise every other day and I started eating heavier, more tamasic foods. Any comments would be appreciated.
Sundari: This is quite a common problem, as purifying the mind releases a lot of blissful shakti. One can get hooked on this state of experiential bliss. Sattva is the nature of the mind and is experienced as such once it is purified of excessive rajas and tamas but it is still an object known to you, awareness, and needs to be transcended.
As the Sundari-person, I have the same problem with shakti-related insomnia at times. What has helped me immensely is the knowledge that sleep is merely a subtle vritti, or thought, in me, awareness. Thoughts are objects known to me, awareness, and are generated by Isvara, ignorance. I, awareness, do not think, so I never sleep.
Only the jiva apparently needs sleep, as it is essential that the mind gets a break from the pressure of the apparent reality by returning to the causal body, the sleep state. This is why deep sleep feels pretty blissful. Sleep deprivation is a kind of torture and seriously agitates the mind. Sleep belongs to Isvara because the subtle body belongs to Isvara. In order to find the sleep-thought, you need not try to sleep, because that is the doer, the jiva, trying to sleep and the doer never sleeps, because the jiva is not conscious. The jiva appears to be conscious because the light of awareness shines on it – and the doer appears to sleep. Sleep is simply Isvara withdrawing the subtle body back into the causal body. In other words, trying to sleep is what keeps you awake.
There are things that can be done to help but do them with the karma yoga attitude. Meditation is also good but stop trying to consciously stay alert; this is also the doer doing meditation. Exercise helps but I find that if I do vigorous exercise too late in the day, that also triggers a lot of shakti which is not helpful for sleep, whereas if I do vigorous exercise early in the day and tire the body, that helps. Yoga, t’ai chi and qigong are also helpful. So is a dark, quiet room. We have a protein in the blood which responds to light and dark, triggering certain hormones, which respectively either help us sleep, wake us up or keep us awake.
Tamasic foods also help.
James has mastered sleep, and says that in order to find the sleep-thought one must simply surrender to it. Relax into it. It is a state that is always present, just behind the mind. It is easier said than done but it is possible; it just takes karma yoga and practice.
You will find that as self-knowledge settles in and the ego gets on board with it, being awareness is the most normal experience. It is very restful, a kind of conscious sleep, which means that you won’t require as much sleep as you did when you didn’t know who you are. Moksa is no big deal, although it will forever change how you live as a jiva, because you will no longer need anything to complete you, not even sleep. You are the embodiment of fullness and satisfaction itself, purna.
~ Om tat sat, Sundari