Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Extracts from the Book (IV)
Do objects continue to exist while we are asleep?

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A discussion some time ago on the Advaitin E-list on the Internet revolved around the question of whether there were objects present in our deep-sleep state. The question was asked as to whether, when we woke up, the objects were instantly created by the mind or whether they had been there all the time. (We solve all of the really practical problems of the world!) My response to this was as follows:

"Isn't it effectively the same thing? The world is seen as something other than the Self only by the mind. Everything seen as something separate is only appearance, not reality. When in the deep-sleep state, the mind is inactive so there is no appearance. But the Self is still there, as it always is. When we awake, the mind becomes active and, again there is the appearance of something separate. But it is still only the Self, as it always was. Nothing has changed other than that the mind, now active again, is superimposing name and form upon the undivided reality. Whether we call this 'the mind creating the objects' or whether we say ' the mind wakes up to the objects' amounts to the same thing. There never were any objects and there still aren't any.

"There is only the Self - the background, turiya - on which the three states of consciousness, waking, dream and deep-sleep, together with objects and mind are all only appearances. The mind and objects are both absent in the deep-sleep state. In the dream and waking states, which can be regarded as equivalent for this discussion, the mind is present but is only a false identification - another subtle object. And, while objects appear to be present (thoughts, emotions, perceptions), these are only mistaken superimpositions of name and form upon the unchanging reality.

"How can it ever be meaningful to attempt to explain one illusion by another or to say that one illusion has more reality than another? All is illusion piled upon illusion, like a complex dream. It is surely beyond the abilities of the dreamer to unravel his own dream, at the time of the dream. Why should we assume that the waker could unravel his waking dream? Perhaps to do so would, indeed, bring realisation, but then the explanation would presumably be of no more interest than the unravelled dream is to the waker…

"Without the mind we could not be aware of objects. And it is only because of the mind that objects are assumed to exist in the first place, whether or not the mind actually 'creates' them."

Extracts from the Book
Summary and Endorsements
List of Contents
1. We are not the ego
2. Thinking
3. How can we be happy?
4. Do objects exist while we are asleep?
5. What is a realised man?
6. Direct Path teachings
Page last updated: 09-Jul-2012