Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

The Dream Problem
Part 15

by Dr. R.V. Khedkar, edited by Ram Narayan


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The Dream Problem, by Dr. R. V. Khedgar, edited by Ram Narayan, published 1922 by Practical Medicine, Delhi.

Read Part 14

(Compiled from the Dreamer’s notebook and elucidated by the editor)



DREAMER: To remain conscious during deep sleep, which is a state of unconsciousness, appears to me impossible.

SAGE: It appears to you impossible because you do not know what the state of sushupti really is. It is that state of your sleep when your mind stops thinking and you do not see any creation. And as there is nothing in this state for you to be conscious of, you erroneously believe yourself to be unconscious. Deep sleep or shushupti is the state where the subject and object or ‘I’ and ‘not-I’ become one and your ‘I-ness’ or individuality acquires unlimited expansion. The yogis call it the sate of Samadhi and it is akin to the state of turiya, cosmic or spiritual consciousness. Call it by whatever name you like. When you are able to be conscious in this state, you will have an incomparable and unique sense of ecstasy. It is the goal for which all yogis aspire and try to reach it by various yoga practices. When you are in this state, you acquire great powers, in fact, you are as powerful as the great creator Brahma and can create or destroy a universe and do other wonders, but as I told you before, you cannot stay in this state of cosmic consciousness eternally unless you enter into it after destroying all vasnas (latent desires) and ahankara, the sense of a separate ‘I-ness’ or egoism.

The Indian yogis employ certain mental practices to reach the state of Samadhi or conscious sushupti by which they stop the functions of their mind. The underlying principle of all yoga practices is concentration of mind, which consists in focusing the attention or currents of self-consciousness upon a single object, either a material thing or a mental idea or thought. If practiced under the guidance and instructions of a competent master yogi, it will enable you to bring this state upon you at your will. Finally, you will be so accustomed to concentrate your attention and acquire such a control over it that by simply closing the eyes, even when awake, in any place and at any moment in the midst of a crowd or during a walk, you will be able to go into Samadhi.

The yogis, however, do not teach such practices indiscriminately to everyone, as the majority of people go in for them to acquire powers, and not with a view to acquire the knowledge of the Ultimate Reality. I am a yogi myself, and know all the various forms of yoga, but I do not teach it to my disciples, because I have found that the powers acquired in the course of its practice induce the beginners to misuse them, which results in their own fall. Then, there are many difficulties in learning yoga practices, especially in the observance of some preliminary vows without which you cannot succeed. To begin with, you will have to take as little food as possible, only so much as to keep your body alive and avoid the use of all intoxicants and narcotics. The next difficult step is to purify your mind by freeing it of all passions and emotions, especially of kama, krodha, lobha, and moha (desire, anger, greed, or delusion). Without these preliminaries, success is impossible.

DREAMER: I have heard of some new and easy methods of yoga practices recently devised by certain religious creeds which aresaid to be as good in reaching the goal as the difficult practices recommended by Patanjali and other ancient yogis.

SAGE: I would not advise you to go in for any of the so-called new and easy yoga practices with a view to acquire the knowledge of the Absolute Truth. They are mostly based on prarthana (prayers) and bhakti (love) of the teacher or guru and are nothing but self-hypnotization. They will, no doubt, create in you powers of healing the sick and attaining success in life. They are suitable for those who believe in the healing of the sick and earning money as the only works of practical utility in the world. The western world is full of such creeds and a good many Indian creeds are imitating them. As your object is the knowledge of the Absolute (Brahmavidya), you should continue the practice you have already adopted, viz., watching the mental processes of your own mind, both in the waking and dream states. Gradually, you will acquire the power of consciously observing the state of your sushupti. Your main efforts should be to prolong the period of your staying at the sandhi (borderland) between the two states.

Now, if you watch your return from the state of Samadhi, or conscious sushupti, you will have direct conscious experience of the manner in which first, the dream, and then the waking state creations originate. Just as an ordinary man or even an animal in the height of extreme pleasure, utters some sort of meaningless sound, like aum, so do you in the state of cosmic consciousness under the intoxication of ecstasy, think of ‘I am I’. This thought, in accordance with the law of Polarity (prityogi), automatically gives rise to its opposite, ‘I am not, not I’ meaning thereby, that ‘I am I’ and ‘others are others’. The thought of ‘not I’, or of others, makes you forget your exalted position of Ishwara (god), and awakens the latent memories of your previous states and the latent desires (vasanas) of seeing others. Thus overpowered by your own idea of negation (Maya), you lose consciousness of the state of blissful Samadhi and return to the state of sushupti where, under a further stronger grip of Maya, your awakened desire gets strong and your thinking power or mind, which was latent up to now, begins to act vigorously and creates first the dream world by thinking of others, such as ‘my wife, my children, my house, my money, etc., etc.’ Every idea thus thought of in your mind is materialized by the ignorance of your own self or Maya, and appears to you as real, and with the increase of ignorance, you call it the waking world and yourself a jiva. In reality there is no difference between the dream and waking states.

Thus the waking world evolves out of the dream and is the remotest from the Reality and therefore most illusory. The dream world is nearer to the Reality and is less illusory; the sushupti is in contact with, and the Samadhi is the state of union with, the Reality.

DREAMER: Regarding the origin and the manner in which the dream and waking state creations come into manifestation, I have no question to ask because it is a matter of personal experience, but I do not understand you when you say that the waking state creation evolves out of the dream state. I’m under the impression that the dreams are the result of the thoughts of the waking state.

SAGE: Both views are correct. There is no beginning in a circle. From the seed comes out the tree, and from the tree, the seeds. You cannot say which is the cause and which is the effect. How has the idea come into your mind that dreams are the results of the thoughts of the waking state? Evidently, the creatures of the waking world have given you this idea. Supposing your dream creatures tell you during a dream that the impressions of what you do and think in the dream is the cause of your waking state. How would you refute them? Know that from the viewpoint of a yogi who has experienced the process of creation, the sushupti is a state of pure consciousness, the dream is a half or sub-conscious state, and the waking state is an unconscious state. From the viewpoint of an ordinary ignorant man, the waking is a conscious state, the dream a sub-conscious, and sushupti an unconscious state.

DREAMER: What occurs when an ordinary man who has not practiced concentration goes to sleep?

SAGE: The same as when a samadhist or yogi goes to sleep, with this difference: that an ordinary man goes into and returns from the states of dream and sleep, unconscious of the changes, while a yogi passes through them fully conscious.

DREAMER: What occurs when a knower of the Absolute Truth (gnani) goes to sleep?

SAGE: One who has known the Truth by intellect alone and has not destroyed his vasnas (latent desires) and still believes in his personality as separate from all others, sleeps and dreams like other human beings. A knower of Truth, who has realized the Reality by intuition and has destroyed all his vasnas and does not see himself as separate from the rest of the world, never sleeps, dreams, or wakes up. He is always awake and has lost all sense of ‘I-ness’ as a separate entity, that is, his self-consciousness has become one with the cosmic consciousness. He sees no difference between his own and other personalities. In short, he is all in all.

DREAMER: Such a state is inconceivable as no one in the world would care to lose his personality.

SAGE: You are perfectly right in saying that no one likes to lose his personality and that is the reason why the phenomenal universe continues to appear as real. So strong is the power of Maya over all her created beings that everyone from the lowest worm to the highest God loves his personality so passionately, that if he is asked to part with it, even in return for a highly exalted position, he would not accept it. Even the dream creatures would not like to lose their separate personalities to become one with their creator, the dreamer. The Vedanta philosophy has succeeded in removing many other illusions but this is the greatest and most obstinate of all and cannot be removed except by the knowledge of the Absolute.

There is a classical story of a great king, who in his old age was anxious to know all about his next birth. He consulted the astrologers of his time who found out from his horoscope that his next birth would be that of a sow (she-pig) with a white star mark on her forehead and that after the death of the pig body, he would be born again as a greater king. On hearing this, the king instructed all his sons and ministers that, after his death, they should keep a keen look out for such a sow and when found, kill it at once to release him from such a miserable and wretched life. When he died and reincarnated in the body of a sow with a star mark, the animal was found out by one of his sons who saw her lying on the ground with many pups playing about her. The king’s son, recognizing the animal he was in search of, raised his gun to kill her. When lo, the she pig’s memory was revived and she begged the boy not to kill her. She said that she was very happy in that body and if killed, who would care to look after her pups when she was no more? She also said that she was aware that in her next birth she would be a great king, but she did not want to lose her present body.

Such is the love, which every created being has for its own personality, and unless this illusion is removed, you cannot realize the oneness of all separate personalities.

The preachers of the doctrine of advaitism, or oneness, all have been, in all times and countries, ridiculed, abused, and even beheaded. Read the story of Dadhyang-atharvana Rishi, referred to in the Brahadaranyak Upanishad, and described in the Atma Purana. The sage while preaching the knowledge of the Absolute (Brahmvidya) to Indra, the king of gods, said that there was not one difference between the atman or self of a dog and that of Indra, and that the mate of the dog was as dear to the animal as his consort was to Indra, . This so incensed the God Indra, that he issued orders for beheading the sage so that he might not preach such doctrines to anyone in his kingdom.

In western countries also, many philosophers have been ridiculed, if not punished, for advocating the Advaita philosophy. Read a very interesting dialogue written by the German philosopher Schopenhauer, when discussing the question of after-death state, and you will know how he was treated. You too, will meet with the same fate if you would talk of these principles indiscriminately. I, therefore, advise you not to speak of them before all and everybody, especially in the presence of people belonging to creeds or sectarian religions, whose minds are, as a rule, biased and bigoted.

I now leave you and wish that you read and think over the two dialogues I have referred to above. I hope to find you wiser next time we meet again.

(Note: Thus ended the 2nd dialogue between the sage and the dreamer. The dreamer, after awakening, read both the discourses suggested by the sage. The discourse of the Upanishads is too long to be translated into English. The Indian readers will find it in detail in the Atma Purana of Shankerananda, which has been made accessible to Hindi readers by Swami Chidgnanananda. The other dialogue between a student and a philosopher, written by Schopenhauer, we reproduce here from the work of Mr. Henry Frank, ‘The Challenge Of War’ [1] —Editor)

1. Not included in the 3 dialogues of the Dreamer and Vasishta

Read Part 16

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