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Waking and Dream States
Michael: James, thanks so much for your reply. I wish more teachers could be as thorough as you pertaining to Vedanta. Granted, I know you don’t consider yourself a “teacher” in the literal context. I think you are and your book proves it.
James: The statement that I am not a teacher is meant to make people understand that I do not identify with the teacher role. This is why teaching works.
Michael: I have one last question based on an experience that happened two nights ago which I initially disregarded but figured I’d ask you now while I have a chance.
When I was sleeping two nights ago I was dreaming and in the dream I developed a very bad stomach ache, and actually woke up shortly after with a stomach ache having to go to the bathroom. The point being if the senses are closed “externally” during the dream state and the mind is focused “inward” on the vasanas that make up the “dream world” then how is it that something as external as the actual physical body can affect a dream, so to speak, and get involved? I’m sure people have had the experience of “urinating” in their dream and then waking up actually having to urinate, meaning that the urge to urinate affected the dream. Sorry to sound graphic. I was hoping you can clear up this one last bit of confusion.
James: Good question, Michael. If there is a loud noise in the room when you are in the dreaming aspect of the sleep state you wake up because the sense organs, temporarily detached from the sense instruments, register the sound and extrovert the organ. It is not that the sense instrument, which is in the physical body, does not receive stimuli from the world when you are dreaming. It is part and parcel of the world. But for the stimuli to reach the mind the sense organ, which is in the subtle body, needs to be extroverted. When you are dreaming the sense organ is introverted, turned toward the causal body, and so it experiences the momentum of its past actions (prarabdha karma) as the dream world. It does not experience external sense stimuli. But it can experience sense stimuli as vasanas. You can smell, taste, touch, etc. in the dream state. As long as the body’s environment is relatively quiet the mind stays introverted but when, as mentioned, a persistent or dramatic stimulus takes place in the external environment the sense organ extroverts and you wake up. The process of waking, however, is gradual although it may not seem obvious. The sense organ does not just turn around instantly unless the stimuli is very dramatic – someone kicks you or the alarm goes off – but as a stimuli from the body begins to demand more attention the dream mechanism incorporates it into the dream as a kind of signal for the dreamer entity to extrovert and become a waker entity. The physical body does not get involved. It is inert. Isvara knows that the body needs attending to and generates the idea of urinating in the dream. Remember, this whole drama is taking place in Isvara which permeates and governs the changes from state to state and every change in every state.
You need to remember that the self-body-mind-sense complex is one seamless entity. There are no actual divisions in it. Everything affects everything all the time. We use the three-states teaching not to describe the three bodies, states and experiencing entities but to eliminate them as self and reveal the fact that the self is free of all three. The teaching eliminates them by the rule of variable/invariable factors. Variable factors – the three states and their respective experiencing entities – can be dismissed as not-self, leaving the invariable factor – awareness (me) standing alone.
Michael: Thank you again. Your explanation once again makes a ton of sense for me and completely answers my question. I have no doubt anymore about my identity. I don’t know how it can be any other way. It’s really funny how ignorance can really “mask” what we have always been. It’s literally right in front of our eyes. I just want to get a better understanding of the “sleep” and “dream” states. I’ve always thought of sleep as either “dream sleep” or “deep sleep” (dreamless sleep).
So in conclusion, if I may… basically, the waking state and the dream state essentially are the same except the sense organs are extroverted in picking up the “external world” for the “waking state” and introverted into the “dream world” for the dream state… meaning there is mind activity still going on for both. There’s only the “appearance” of a “world” when there is some sort of mind activity. That means in deep sleep there is literally no mind activity at all which is why there is no experience of either an “appeared” external world or a dream world whatsoever.
Can you let me know if I’m on the right track here with this?
James: Perfect! Very clearly stated. I couldn’t have done better myself. This is a good satsang and we will post it at the website.