There is something present which is experiencing
the current situation. We do not know what that
something is, yet we know for certain that it
is present, that it is conscious.
We know that it is not the mind, the body or
the world, because the mind, the body and the
world are part of the current situation that
is being experienced.
The mind, the body and the world appear to this
witnessing presence of Consciousness.
If we try to find this Consciousness, if we
turn our attention towards it, we are unable
to see it or find it, because it does not have
any objective qualities.
If it had objective qualities, these qualities
would themselves be part of the current situation
that is being experienced. They would be experienced by this
witnessing presence of Consciousness. They would
appear to it, along with all other objects.
At the same time, it is our direct experience
that this witnessing presence of Consciousness
is undeniably present. It is our most intimate
It is what we know ourselves to be. It is what
we call ‘I.’
The current situation is changing all the time.
Even if the changes are minute, nevertheless
from moment to moment we are presented with a
different configuration of mind, body and/or
However, this conscious witnessing Presence,
this ‘I,’ never changes. It is always
simply present, open, available, aware.
Due to the inadvertent and exclusive association
of Consciousness with the body and the mind,
we tend to think that any change in the body
and the mind implies a change in Consciousness.
However, if we look closely at our experience,
we see clearly that we have never experienced
any change in Consciousness itself.
If we look back over our lives we see that
this conscious Presence has always been exactly
as it is now. It has never changed, moved, appeared
The very first experience we ever had as a
newborn baby was experienced by this witnessing
presence of Consciousness. Consciousness was
present to witness this first experience, but
did we ever experience the appearance of
If the appearance of Consciousness
was an experience there would have to have been
another Consciousness present to witness this
appearance. And if the appearance of Consciousness
has never been experienced, what validity is
there to the claim that Consciousness appears,
that it has a beginning, that it was born?
Likewise have we ever experienced an end to
Consciousness? If we experienced the disappearance
of Consciousness, there would have to be another
Consciousness present to witness this disappearance.
And this ‘new’ Consciousness, which
witnessed the disappearance of the ‘old’ Consciousness,
would have to be present during and after
its disappearance, in order to make the claim
legitimately that it witnessed its disappearance.
Therefore we cannot claim that we ever have
the experience of the disappearance of Consciousness
and so what validity is there to our conviction
that we, as Consciousness, die?
We experience a beginning and an end to all
objects, but we never experience a beginning
or an end to Consciousness, to our Self.
We may think that Consciousness disappears
when we fall asleep and reappears on waking,
but this is in fact not our experience. It is
an uninvestigated belief.
However, it is a belief that has taken hold
so deeply and become so much a part of the accepted
norm, that we actually think that we
experience the disappearance of Consciousness
when we fall asleep.
As we fall asleep we first experience the withdrawal
of sense perceptions or, more accurately, the
faculties of perceiving and sensing. With the
disappearance of perceiving, the world vanishes
from our experience and with the disappearance
of sensing, the body vanishes from our experience,
leaving only thinking and imagining. This is
the dream state.
The thinking and imagining functions are in
turn withdrawn and, as a result, the dream state
gives way to deep sleep.
In deep sleep Consciousness simply remains
as it always is, open and aware, only there are
no objects present within it.
Consciousness projects the appearance of the
mind, body and world by taking the shape of thinking,
sensing and perceiving.
The process of falling asleep is not one of
a separate entity transitioning through states.
It is simply the withdrawal of this projection.
Due to the fact that we have so closely and
exclusively identified Consciousness with the
body and the mind, we presume that the absence
of the mind and body during the experience of
deep sleep implies an absence of Consciousness.
However, that is simply the mind’s interpretation
of an experience during which it was not present.
It is a presumption based on a presumption.
It is a presumption that Consciousness is in
Reality exclusively identified with the body
and the mind, and this in turn gives rise to
another presumption that Consciousness disappears
when the body and mind disappear on falling asleep
and, by implication, when the body dies.
This is not our experience in the first case
and there is no evidence to suggest that it will
be our experience in the second.
There is evidence that sentience disappears
on death, but not that Consciousness disappears.
After a period of deep sleep, the Consciousness
that was present there takes the shape of thinking
and imagining and, as a result, the dream state
And in turn, after a period of dreaming, Consciousness
takes the shape of sensing and perceiving and,
as a result, the body and the world are recreated,
that is, the waking state reappears.
If we look at deep sleep from the point of
view of the waking state, it appears to have
lasted a certain length of time, in the same
way that the objects that appear in the dream
and waking states appear to last for a certain
length of time.
Time is the imagined duration between one appearance
and another. There are no appearances during
deep sleep and therefore time is not present
In fact time is not even present in the dreaming
and waking states but at least the illusion of
time is present in these states. In deep sleep
not even the illusion of time is present.
Time, in the waking and dreaming states, is
an illusion. In deep sleep, it is a presumption.
The language of the waking state is based on
objects and time, and therefore, when we view
dreamless sleep from the point of view of the
waking state, we think that it must have lasted
for a certain duration, because the mind cannot
The mind construes that the time it imagines to
be real is an actual experience. It
imagines that time is present in the absence
of mind, in the absence of itself, and therefore
imagines that deep sleep has duration. Deep sleep
is therefore considered to be a state.
However, divested of duration, deep sleep is
in fact the timeless presence of Consciousness
that is beyond, behind and within all states
and, although it gives birth to the appearance of
time, it is not itself in time.
Our experience is that deep sleep is simply
the timeless presence of Consciousness that does
not appear or disappear.
Does that which is present during deep sleep
or rather, that which is present as deep
sleep, disappear when the dreaming world appears?
No! The dreaming world simply emerges within deep
sleep, that is, within this timeless Consciousness.
Does that which is present as deep
sleep disappear when the world of the waking
No! The waking world simply emerges within deep
sleep, within this timeless Consciousness.
The transition from deep sleep to dreaming
to waking is seamless. In fact it is not a transition
at all. It is presumed to be a transition only
from the point of view of the waking state where
a separate entity seems to transition from one
state to another.
However, from the point of view of Consciousness
there is no transition, there is simply a flow
of changing appearances, and sometimes no appearances
at all, in its own ever-present Reality.
That which is deep sleep, timeless
Presence, does not disappear in order for the
dreaming and waking worlds to appear. It simply
remains as it always is and, at the same time,
takes the shape of the dreaming and waking worlds.
At no point in this process does a separate
entity fall asleep or transition from one state
Nobody falls asleep and nobody wakes up.
When viewed from the perspective of the waking
state, deep sleep is a state. When viewed from
its own perspective, it is timeless Presence.
Return to list of topics in Discourses by Teachers and Writers .
See the list sorted by Topic.
See the list sorted by Author.