Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

The Three States
- A Fresh Perspective
Madathil Nair

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(This material was posted to the Advaitin Email Group, Sep 2007 )

Waking is waking...  until it is proved dreaming, hallucination etc.

A dream is a set of objectifications that is always acknowledged by remembering in the waking as having occurred in the past. Only when the objectifications are remembered and acknowledged in waking do they constitute a dream. Otherwise, they are only waking with reference to the actual temporal context of their occurrence. It is not possible to conceive the actual temporal context of their occurrence (i.e. a present tense for dreaming) because no one is able to make statements like "I am dreaming now" or "I am not awake now". It is always "I dreamt" or "I was dreaming" etc. – in the past tense – after waking. Dreams have no validity if we do not awake.

Sleep is an experience of not experiencing anything, always acknowledged by remembering in the waking as having occurred in the past. Since there are no active objectifications in it, it cannot be termed waking (like dream above) in the temporal context of its actual occurrence. While asleep, no one says "I am sleeping now" or "I am not awake now". It is always "I slept" meaning "I didn't know anything" after waking, where the absence of objectifications is clearly remembered in waking. Sleep has no validity if we do not awake.

Although we can have experiences of fainting, hallucinations, psychedelic episodes, deep inebriation etc., Vedanta considers only waking, dream and deep sleep because these are the three incidents common to all and happening to us in our daily life.

As a rule, therefore, from paragraphs 1 to 3 above, it is derived that dreams and sleep need waking to validate them. Without waking, they are not validated.

From the language point of view, we can argue that waking also cannot exist without dream or sleep because one can awake to wakefulness only from a dream or deep sleep. But, that argument cannot stand closer scrutiny if we understand wakefulness as a state of being aware, i.e. of active objectifications. In that sense, at least theoretically, one can be awake all the time without the incidents of dream and deep sleep.

What is unravelling in front of our eyes, therefore, is a magnificent collage of wakefulness drawn on a canvas of infiniteness that changes in detail every micro-micro-second. In fact, the elements of the collage are the fabric of the canvas itself and not external to it. Mountainous, rocky objectifications of the `waking', resonating and vibrant with life, are there interspersed with glittering `dream' lakes of immense beauty. Amidst all the colour, brightness and cacophony, there are ominously motionless dark patches of `deep slumber' that do not show any details.

Yet, observe the shifting scenery closely – the infinite canvas cannot be missed. Its fabric is very much visible on the rocky peaks as well as in the sheen of the lakes and, lo! even across the blackness of slumber. The canvas exists through every bit of the collage and, therefore, the collage is.

I am wakeful to every bit of the collage. I am aware of the collage. I am collage-Awareness. I am the Witness of the collage. Without me, the collage cannot be. I am, therefore, the canvas of infiniteness that is every bit of the collage. I exist through and through infiniteness because I am very much infiniteness. I am the Witness of the collage as well as the soul of it.

If that is the Truth, then I am always awake. I am awake in waking, I am awake in dreams and I am equally awake in sleep. I am always wakeful to myself. Wakefulness is my nature.

So, where is the one who thought he dreamt, snored and awoke in a seemingly unending circle? He has never been.

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012