DIALOGUE BETWEEN SAGE VASISHTA AND THE DREAMER
(Compiled from the Dreamer’s notebook and elucidated by the editor)
36. DREAMER: Now sir, I have no doubt as regards this being a dream world. I am also convinced that there is no difference of any kind between the dream and waking state worlds. Both are mental creations and appear true only so long as they last and they will surely last as long as the effect of prarabdha continues, but as for myself, I have no desire that they should continue any longer. Tell me if after waking from this dream, I will see the other world as a jivanmukta or a jnani does. In other words, shall I be able to realize that world also as a mere dream after which no further dreams or births and deaths will occur?
SAGE: Not yet, as your knowledge is still in a lower bhumika (stage). Of course, you have overcome avidya so far that you know this and the waking world to be both unreal. When you will succeed in removing 2 other coverings of avidya and retain this knowledge even during sushupti avastha and beyond that, then you will see both the waking and dream world as a jivanmukta does. There are yet many stages for you to pass through before you reach the last or the highest bhumika.
DREAMER: Allow me to ask, then, how many are the bhumikas in all and in which one of them am I at present? Also tell me, my venerable guru, the easiest method by following which I may be able to reach the highest stage?
SAGE: There are, as I have already told you so many times before, many phases of mental development, the highest of which is anubhava (intuition), cosmic consciousness, super-consciousness, etc., and the lowest is instinct. The intermediate plane between those 2 extremes is buddhi, or intellectual mind. Now knowledge, in the lowest scale of mental development, or in other words, instinctive knowledge, is liable to be readily swept off. Intellectual knowledge is comparatively lasting. In animals and little children, knowledge is of an instinctive character that tends to disappear readily under the influence of fear and the least possible excitement. Children learn their lesson by heart without understanding and can repeat it whenever asked, but when they are forced to do so under fear, they generally forget it. Parrots are trained to repeat holy names and those of their master, but the moment a cat appears to them, they forget all and give out their natural cry of tain tain. Similarly, people learn holy mantras and repeat them day and night, but at the approach of death or bodily trouble, they utter nothing but hai hai. Thus knowledge in the instinctive mind is affected and lost by the influence of even slight causes. The knowledge in the higher or intellectual mind also vanishes during sleep or hypnotization. Try always to carry knowledge to your highest mind, the anubhava or intuition, which is the best and highest kind of knowledge that never decays and is never lost. First, understand the truth thoroughly by removing all your doubts, and then with the help of vichar (discrimination), carry this knowledge to the intellectual mind. After becoming thus convinced of the Truth by intellect, you have to realize it, or have a sakshatkara of it by anubhava (intuition). In order to accomplish this, you should begin by constantly contemplating on the formula, Brahmasatyam jagat mithya, Brahman is Real, and the World is Illusion. The process of argumentation and discrimination by which you have arrived at the truth in the above formula, you need not keep in mind.
The practice that you are now doing and which has so far been successful in making you a knower of your dream state will carry your knowledge still further to the sushupti state as well. Keep yourself working as a seer of your own mind both during the waking state and the dream. You need not try to stop it as the yogis do. It is an extremely difficult task and requires special yoga sadhanas that only a sannyasi, one who has renounced the world altogether, can perform. Go wherever the mind takes you but never lose the knowledge that you are not the mind but only a seer of it. Be sure that your seership is never slackened or disturbed. This, too, is not an easy task, as on every step, you are apt to become one with your mind and forget your real self. At times, the mind ceases to work when thus overseen like a boy stops working when his teacher is looking at his elbow. The stoppage of mind produces a peculiar sensation as if one is strangled and is about to die because breathing also has a tendency to stop with the stoppage of mind. This makes many a seeker desist making further progress in this practice. Pass over this stage by remembering that the self (atman) or soul never dies. By such a practice methodically performed, you will carry knowledge to the intuitional stage, and when the sushupti avastha, that stage of natural stoppage of your mind comes, either in sleep or after death, the knowledge of truth or gnana will intuitively shine by itself without any effort on your part. A man who knows swimming, if thrown into deep water, will come over the surface and swim automatically without the exercise of his memory as to the process or the principle of the art of swimming. It requires much time and practice to learn swimming, but once learnt, it is yours forever. Both memory (smriti) and intellect (buddhi) belong to the lower regions of the mind and are of great help in acquiring knowledge in the early stages, but when knowledge reaches the intuitive or the highest stage (anubhava), they are of no use and are to be thrown away as upadhis (obstacles). The process of carrying knowledge to the stage of intuition may be very long and tedious but once the knowledge enters anubhava, it is never lost.
Remember that between instinct and intuition, there are many intermediate grades. These are only the ends of a long scale. Now, instinct and intuition, being the extreme poles of the same substance, look alike but they are different from each other in the same way as light differs from darkness, as knowledge from ignorance. A newborn infant and puran gnani are apparently the same, but in the one, ignorance, and in the other, knowledge predominates. Both are in a state of bliss (ananda), fearless (nirbha), desireless (nirvasic), and so forth, but in the case of the infant, the instinct has to undergo a change or evolution into higher states, while the puran gnani remains ever the same. The infant knows not that he is happy and blissful, while the gnani knows that he is absolute bliss incarnate. 
Now, let me tell you the various bhumikas or stages in the path of gnana through which your knowledge of self (atman) has to passbefore it reaches the highest stage. Understand them well, it will help you in knowing how far you’ve made progress towards attaining the Ultimate Reality or final awakening. These bhumikas are 16 in number, named after the 4 principal familiar avasthas, or phases of consciousness, jagrat, swapna, sushupti and turiya, in between which every being is forever oscillating consciously or unconsciously. When passing through all of them unconsciously, he is called jar, ajiva or matter. When passing through one or two of them consciously, he is called a jiva or living creature. But, when he is conscious in all the avasthas, he is called a jivanmukta or gnani.
1. The first of these bhumikas is called jagrat-jagrat. It is the first dawn of consciousness. Those in this stage cannot discriminate between any two states of existence. Such is the case with newly born babies and lower animals. They can make no distinction between their waking and dreaming states and do not know when they pass from one to another avastha. To them, all are alike.
2. As the child grows older, he begins to acquire the knowledge during his waking state that he was dreaming when asleep. This is the second bhumika of knowledge, jagrat-swapna. Those in this stage do not remember the full particulars of their dreams, but they only know that there does exist a dream state apart from their waking state. They have, however, the knowledge of the other states of their existence such as sushupti and turya.
3. As the knowledge of these people advances with the evolution of consciousness, they not only remember their dream experience when they wake up, but also retain the memory of their dreamless sleep state and say that while in that state, they saw nothing and were practically unconscious but perfectly comfortable and free from all pain and anxieties. This is the third bhumika called jagrat-sushupti. People in this bhumika when they wake up, remember the minutest details of their dream and the proximate extent of the dreamless sleep. Almost all human beings as a matter of evolutionary course reach up to this stage. It requires no particular practice to attain it.
4. The fourth bhumika or jagrat-turya is that state when a person remembers in his waking state his experience of the turya avastha also. Those who devote themselves exclusively to the study of religion and philosophy and posses highly developed intellectual power do attain this stage. Also many a bhakti (devotees in the path of devotion) and many a yogi very often acquire this bhumika. Not only do such people know that they had dream and dreamless sleep states, but over and above this, when they wake up, they remember the experience of their turya state and say that immediately before awakening, they felt an ecstatic pleasure which they are unable to explain in ordinary language. 
Remember that although the knowledge of these experiences in the waking state is an acquired one, being the result of suggestions received from the outside world or of special practice (yoga), yet the experience itself is one’s own. The suggestions simply act as reminders to what one had directly experienced during sleep but had forgotten when awake. What I am teaching you now is nothing new. I am only reviving your memory of your past experience, and when through my suggestions, you are reminded of your real self, or in other words, you wake up in the Ultimate Reality, you will say to yourself, ‘I was I always,’ and simply laugh over your kalpit (illusionary) ignorance.
5. Now, in the above mentioned 4 bhumikas, a person acquires the memory or knowledge of his one, two, or all three avasthas of swapna, sushupti, and turya in his waking state only, but he does not recognize his swapna or sushupti state to be such at the time of dreaming or while in the state of dreamless sleep. A man in the fourth bhumika who remembers also his experience of turya state is further convinced when awake that his real and blissful state of existence is turya and that all other avasthas are unreal, transitory, and changing, but when he goes to sleep again he loses this conviction and believes during his dream that that is the real state of existence. When, however, such a person is so far advanced in knowledge as to recognize during his dream that it is not his waking state, though very much like it, he is said to have entered the 5th bhumika, namely swapna-jagrat.
6. Later on, when he not only knows while dreaming that he is dreaming, but also recognizes that the dream world will disappear when he wakes up, he passes into the 6th bhumika of swapna-swapna. In this state, he has no control over his dream because he still believes it to be a creation of another creator and himself a created personality separate from all other creatures of the dream world. You are at present in this bhumika and there are 10 more stages for you to pass through before you reach your goal.