Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

The Dream Problem
Part 2

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 1

Change In The Dreamer’s Dream

An important change in the dreamer’s dreams was brought about by certain suggestions contained in the reply received by the dreamer from Babu Bhagavan Das, M.A. of Benares (solution No. III). This set the dreamer thinking of his own place in the dream state. It changed his views and made him believe that his own was also a false personality or ego created along with the other dream creatures. It had all along been his false ego that addressed the assembly of dream creatures. His yoga practice had only helped to keep him cognizant of the nature of the dream world as a mental creation, but, his own personality (ahamkara), was still the chief obstacle to complete disillusionment. Along with the above, the dreamer came across a pamphlet being the reprint of a lecture by Sister Devamata on ‘Sleep & Samadhi’ that put him on a different track altogether. The dreamer then commenced practicing along the lines recommended in the above-mentioned lecture, and having continued it for some time, there occurred a considerable change in his dreams. His dream creatures were no longer of the same type as before. They were now mostly sadhus and saints wrapped in long yellowish robes.

Dream Creature Addresses

 For several nights, he had such faces before him during his dreams and a few of them even gave addresses that the dreamer could recite very clearly and accurately the next morning. One of the addresses, which he had taken down in his notebook, was as follows:

‘Even presuming that we are all fictitious beings, a creation of your mind and having no independent existence of our own, we ask you the question why have you taken the trouble of giving birth to us? What earthly purpose could it serve to create such a large number of animate beings at night and to see them annihilated before the day breaks?’ The question was really an intelligent one and so puzzling to the mind of the dreamer that he felt himself entirely at a loss to reply. However, the wise sadhu of the dream, himself broke silence and uttered the following words:

‘As a matter of fact, dear friend, you have never created us by any act of your own free will. We are simply the result of your ignorance (agyan) during the sleep. While going to sleep, your object is not the creation of another world but only the enjoyment of comfort and repose that you expect to derive therefrom. We are, of course, the necessary consequence of your desire for comfort and your ignorance. A typical illustration of this is the phenomenon of the birth of your own children in the waking life. The offspring comes into existence exactly in the same manner as came the dream world. While indulging in the gratification of a sexual impulse, your aim is only the momentary pleasure derived from the act, but the result is the germination of the seed (of vasna & agyan) and the consequent birth of a child. So long as you are in your senses and the master of your own feelings and imaginations, you have a free will and an absolute control over your own mind and body. But, the moment you lose yourself in sleep or identify yourself with passion, you forfeit the right of controlling yourself and are thus compelled unintentionally to dream all kinds of dreams, in the one case, and, in the other, become instrumental for births of any kind of offspring. We are, dear sir, like your own children of the waking state, equally independent and self-subsisting.’

As soon as the venerable sadhu finished his address, another elderly figure from amongst the dream creatures rose from his seat and overawed the assembly with his long grey beard and his yogi’s staff. He began his oration in a curious and amusing manner, though, with an authoritative tone, his voice quivering with anger and gaunt index finger pointing towards the dreamer, ‘What reason have you to call us your dream creatures and yourself the creator of us all? If you are our creator we say equally emphatically that so are we the creator of yourself. We are all in the same boat and you can claim no sort of higher existence than ours. If, however, you want to be convinced of my statement, I can show you the Creator of us all, i.e., of yourself as well as ours.’ With these words, he struck the dreamer on his head with his heavy staff, who, in consequence, woke up and found himself lying in his bed with his mind extremely puzzled.

Next night, when he went to sleep again, he met a similar assembly of sadhus, one of a very advanced age and who appeared to be the sage Vasishta himself from his appearance and the paternal way in which he spoke, thus addressed the dreamer.

‘Yes, dear son, we are all creatures of your dream and so are you as long as you are dreaming. When you are so far cognizant that it is all a dream, why should you care to convince all the illusionary beings? It shows your ignorance. Read the story of Lila carefully in my book. The waking state body of yours that you have at this moment left laying on the bed is as unreal as the one you have here created. You know not how many bodies of yours are similarly acting at different planes which you have left behind.

The Dream Problem, which you have caused to be circulated among your waking state creatures, cannot be solved by them. It is like the blind man leading the blind. Nor can you arrive at a solution during your waking state. You are nearer the Truth here than in the physical world (bhutakasha).

I advise you to continue the abhyas that has been the means of keeping you conscious of your dream state. When you will carry this consciousness to your next avastha of sushupti, you will find the problem solved. But you will have to return to your waking and dream states again and again so long as the seed of desire (vasna) in you is not altogether destroyed. The vasna is the cause of both the dream and the waking worlds. In your waking world, the vasna manifests in 5 phases, sex desire (kama), anger (krodha), money desire (lobha), attachment (moh), and, egotism (ahamkara). It remains suppressed when you are sleeping and creates the dream world. It becomes latent (saman) like the seed in the deep sleep state but is never killed. Practice control over the 5 above-mentioned phases or manifestations of vasana during your waking state and then kill the vasna, the root cause (mul-karan) of all creation (rachna). Vasna is killed by complete renunciation (sarvatyaga), and when that is attained, all mental operations will stop and the mind itself will cease to exist and you will find your real Self in Sat-chit-ananda.

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

On waking up, the dreamer pondered a great upon his last night’s dream experience and subsequently he recorded in his notebook the conversation he had had with sage Vasishta in his dream. The sage appeared to have impressed the dreamer so profoundly that the latter began to look upon him as a real guru who alone could be depended upon to unravel the mystery of the dream world.

Now the dreamer longed to see the sage once more. But this time he did not wait for the usual hour of repose. He read over the story of Lila that the sage had recommended him and forthwith retired to his bedroom, locking the door from inside to prevent interruption. And then, having seated himself cross-legged and with a firm determination to see the sage, he went to sleep. His wish was fulfilled and the dream repeated itself. He encountered the same assembly of sadhus with sage Vasishta among them. On recognizing the latter, the dreamer went to him and humbly requested him to take the dreamer as his disciple. On being addressed in this manner, the sage stood up, and, holding the dreamer by the arm, took him to a secluded place and spoke thus; ‘Don’t make a fool of yourself by putting your questions before such a large assembly. Tell me now what you want to know and I will remove all your doubts regarding this world.’

The dialogue that now took place between the sage and the dreamer, as recorded in the dreamer’s notebook, is given in the following pages, which the reader will thoroughly appreciate if he only bears in mind, first, that the scene of the dreamer’s interview with the sage is laid in the world of dream and, secondly, that the dreamer’s waking state consciousness is intact throughout the discourse. He is further requested to study it with an unbiased mind, holding all his preconceived theories and beliefs in abeyance, till he has read the entire series of questions and answers in this dialogue.

In writing this discourse, no attempt has been made at an elegant literary style. The writer has only endeavored to express it as clearly as possible in language that would best convey the dreamer’s meaning.

1. DREAMER: First of all, tell me if the scene now before me is real or unreal?

SAGE: It is both real and unreal. From the standpoint of your waking world, it is unreal, a dream, an illusion, but, in itself, it is as real as your waking state world. It is a new and independent creation. Nothing has been brought here from the other world. Even time (kal), space (desh), and, substance (vastu), here is newly created.

2. DREAMER: If it is a new and independent creation, then my body and senses in this state must also be different from those of the waking world and I ought to be able to see my own waking state body this time sleeping in bed. In a previous dream in which I saw my own house and the members of my family, I saw everything in my room except my own body.

SAGE: You can see your own house, your people, and, even your own body, but they will all be new creations exactly like the original one but not the same, for even when you return to your waking state, they are not the same. When you had your previous dream, your practice (abhyas) was not sufficiently advanced to make you see your own body. Very seldom a person can see his own body as a thing separate from him in dream except yogis at a certain stage of their abhyas. Some people, especially women, who are fond of using looking glasses, do sometimes see their own faces in dreams.

3. DREAMER: That the dream world is a constantly changing phenomenon, I admit, but, the waking world is not so, as one sees the same faces and things and meets the same people when one returns to the waking state. But the contents of a dream are different each time one comes to the dream world.

SAGE: There is no difference between the dream and the waking worlds. Both are constantly changing. Every moment, the creation changes, but, as the thing that replaces the previous one is also of the same model and appearance, you do not recognize it. You go to bathe in a river daily and say that it is the same river today as it was yesterday, but, you know that not a single drop of the water of the river of yesterday is there, and, yet you call it the same river. This illusion (bhranti) arises from the fact that the river is one continuous flow, and, the water of today is like that of yesterday. The whole creation is continually changing and as there is no break, you believe that things of yesterday are the same as of today. Even your physical science has proved that the whole of the human body undergoes a complete change in a few years, but as the thing replaced is exactly of the same type, you cannot make out the difference.

In the Ultimate Reality, however, there is no creation. Both the dream and waking worlds exist in your mind as long as it is in motion. Stop this mental activity as you do unconsciously in sushupti, and, you will know that there never was, nor is now, nor will ever be, any creation. Creation exists only in the creator, not separately. When its creator is dreaming, the waking world disappears, and when awake, the dream world disappears.

  1. Yoga Vasishta
  2. The story Lila is described in Yoga Vasishta Maharamanaya, an English translation of which is published by Babu Vihari Lal Mitra of Calcutta, in 4 volumes. Another translation of this work has recently been published by Mr. K. Narayanaswamy Aiyar, the writer of Solution No. X, at the Theosophical Society, Madras. The former is a comprehensive work while the latter is laghu, the smaller or abridged version.


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Page last updated: 21-Aug-2012