Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

The Dream Problem
Part 17

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


flower picture


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

Read Part 16

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



(Not included in the 3 dialogues of the Dreamer and Vasishta)

DREAMER: The analogy is excellent to give one an idea of the underlying cause of the objective world and as I have often been to these moving picture-shows and have seen the cinematograph and its mechanism, I quite understand the importance of this illustration. But here the question arises, how are the images or impressions made in the brain cells (which represent the film) producing the reflection on the screen outside? In the case of the cinematographic films, they are made or painted by the artist or photographed from the actual outside scenes of the objective world.

SAGE: Just as the pictures on the film are photographed by the artist and are imitations of the objective scenes, so are impressions in the brain cells formed from the outside world and retained by the mind. And here lies the paradox hard to be comprehended by men of ordinary understanding. The Creator and Creation react upon each other. The impressions upon the brain cells are made by the reflected images from the outside world and the outside world is a reflection of the images in the brain cells. In this way, the circle of creation, or samsara chakra, goes on and you cannot say which is the cause and which the effect unless you, the seer of the show, establish yourself in the center which is unmoving and is at rest, and round which the circle of samsara chakra moves. This center lies in you and establishing yourself into the center means awakening into the Ultimate Reality.

DREAMER: Pray tell me the best method suitable for me to establish myself in the center and thus be awakened into the Ultimate Reality.

SAGE: The method that will suit you best is laya chintana, which consists in first knowing by analysis or discrimination, the process which has brought you into existence as a separate personality and then absorbing or taking back this personality into its origin or source, the universal self, by means of meditation and contemplation on the reverse process. But in the present state of your intellect, clouded with many doubts, you cannot practice laya chintana successfully. Let us, therefore, now take up the 14 Points in the Dream Problem, which you have so well arranged. The satisfactory solution of these will remove all your doubts and thereby render your mind capable of practicing laya chintana.


Point 1. Your first question is: ‘Who is it that sleeps, who is it that dreams, and who is it that wakes up?’

This is the most important of all the 14 Points in your questions and a thorough and complete answer to this will cover the solution of all others. I will first answer this question to your entire satisfaction and if you experience any difficulty in understanding me anywhere, you may further question me on that point. After you have thoroughly understood this, you will solve other questions yourself.

If you catch hold of any number of persons indiscriminately from a crowded street of a city, and put this question to them or circulate it among the selected wise men of the civilized world, the answer of each and every one will be: ‘It is I that sleeps, I that dreams, and I that wakes up.’ But if you ask them, what is it in them which they call, ‘I’, their answers will widely differ from each other. They will vary in accordance with what each of them is trained or accustomed to thinking of as his ’I’. To one group of men, the material or visible body is their ‘I’ and they will tell you that it is the body that sleeps when the brain is tired or exhausted, it dreams when the brain is disturbed, and it wakes up when the brain is refreshed. These are called materialists who believe in matter as the only thing existing. Of the mind, they think that it is the function of the brain or a by-product or result of changes occurring in the matter. They do not care to bother their heads more about it and are perfectly satisfied with this explanation.

Others, who have made a special study of the mind, the psychologists, call the mind their ‘I’ having its abode in the brain. Some of them, the material psychologists, the realists or positivists, believe that mind is inseparable from the brain and that, with death or disintegration of the physical body, the mind also disappears with the result that all sense and feeling of the ‘I’ is lost. Others of this class, the metaphysicians and spiritualists, hold that somehow their mind continues to exist somewhere after the death of the body. But this is their mere belief in the words of others. It is not their own experience or personal knowledge nor do they offer any scientific explanation or proof of their previous or future existence.

Another class of men pin their faith in a spiritual entity or soul which they call their ‘I’ and declare that this spirit is quite independent of the mind and remains either eternally a separate being after death of the body or enters another body in accordance with the law of karma. To this class belong the theologists and followers of some religions. According to them, it is this spirit or soul that sleeps, dreams, and wakes up.

Lastly, there are the Vedantists, who assert that neither the body nor the mind nor even the soul is entitled to be called your ‘I’. What can be really called ‘I’ is the common self of all, the atman, and this ‘I’ never sleeps, dreams, or wakes up. It is always a seer (sakshi) or knower of the 3 states of sleeping, dreaming, and waking, which are merely the different phases or states of consciousness. It is the false or relative ‘I’ called Ahankara or ego, that dreams, sleeps, and wakes up.

DREAMER: How am I to know which of the above answers is correct:

SAGE: The surest and the best way to know the truth is one’s own personal experience of it which as I have already told you, lies only in awakening your own self into the Ultimate Reality. But then there will be an end to all, as in that state, I, you, and others, will vanish, and who would tell whom?

The next best way of knowing the Truth while living in the world of relativity or dream is through discrimination or viveka, by means of intellect, which consists in first analyzing the apparent or relative Truth, and then proving its correctness or otherwise by the reverse process of synthesis. This is the most scientific method and is acceptable to all, even to philosophers and scientists. For instance, in finding out the constituents or elements of water, the chemist first breaks it into its elementary parts by analysis and notes that it is made up of two gases, hydrogen and oxygen, in the proportion of two to one. To confirm the truth of his analysis, the chemist employs the reverse process of synthesis, which consists in mixing up the 2 gases in the same proportion and by passing an electric spark through the mixture. This combines the gases resulting in the formation of the same amount of water that was taken for analysis. The chemist is thus convinced that water is made of 2 gases kept combined by means of a force, the electricity or heat. The scientist has likewise analyzed the human body and found all the material elements of which it is composed, but he has not yet succeeded in making a human body by the reverse process of synthesis, because he knows not what keeps the various elements in the body combined and in working order. And he will never succeed in this attempt unless he knows the power that creates the human bodies and can use it at will. That power is in you and you are using it, though unconsciously. While asleep, you create the dream world. In the waking state, also you procreate other beings like yourself, but you do not know the power in you that does this work.


Read Part 18

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