getting out of deep sleep - theory of re-birth

Gummuluru Murthy gmurthy at MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA
Mon Feb 9 09:10:15 CST 1998


There is one question which repeatedly comes to my mind. Recently,
I think I got an answer as well. I would like to put the question and
the explanation below. I would appreciate some feedback so that I can
clarify my thoughts.

When a human wakes up from deep sleep, why do the past flow of thoughts
and past memory (from before going to sleep) continue ? Why does not the
old memory disappear and why does not the human wake up entirely fresh ?
I am not looking for a scientific explanation but a philosophical one.
The basic background for the human is prajnAna, the consciousness
(awareness). That is the only continuity. That is the same Atman that
pervades everything.

I think I recently thought of an explanation for this and find a
similarity to the theory of re-birth. The re-birth theory says that when
this gross body is discarded (for an unrealized jeeva), the soul enters
another gross body. At that time, the sUkshma sarIra is carried forward
with all its vAsanAs. While the memory may not be continued, the effects
of previous karma are carried forward.

It seems to me that re-birth is nothing but getting out of deep sleep but
on a much larger scale. Just as we carry past thoughts and past memories
when we go from day to day (after deep sleep when the mind and the sense
organs are folded inward), after "death" also, the past vAsanAs are
carried forward from life to life until the "journey" of the jeeva is
complete. Or in other words, for doubters of theory of re-birth, can this
memory-carrying-forward-mechanism from deep sleep to deep sleep be
pointed out as a mini-scale rebirth-to-rebirth ?

Comments, clarifications and any reference to literature on the topic
are most appreciated.

Gummuluru Murthy
Yadaa sarve pramucyante kaamaa ye'sya hr^di shritaah
atha martyo'mr^to bhavatyatra brahma samashnute   Katha Upanishhad II.3.14

When all the desires that dwell in the heart fall away, then the mortal
becomes immortal, and attains Brahman even here.

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list