[Advaita-l] Waking & Dream - An objective outlook

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Thu Jul 22 06:29:26 CDT 2004

[Posting on behalf of Bhaskar who was unable to access the list.]

Humble praNAms
Hare Krishna

In shruti-s, one can see various methodologies have been adopted to teach
Atmaikatva vAda.  Our advaita sampradAya vidha-s have gracefully brought
out these methods & clealy explained the intrecacies of these
methodologies.  adhyArOpa apavAda is the principal method adopted by
shrutis, in that we can see subdivisions like avasthA traya prakriya
(analysation of our three states i.e.  waking, dream & sleep states),
kArya-kAraNa (cause & effect)  prakriya, pancha kOsha (five sheaths)
prakriya etc. etc. Since in this moth's main topic *Real & Unreal*,
avastha traya holds the key position, this is a humble attempt to analyse
our waking & dream states from an objective view point without any
subjective attachment to the waker.

Since our childhood we've been invariably experiencing waking, dream &
sleep states.  Despite occurrences of these three states at utmost
regularity, we are without our knowledge giving more reality to our waking
state when compared to the other two states!!  why this is so??  why this
special preference to waking state when we are equally experiencing all
the three states with the same degree of reality.  Having said this, I am
not denying the fact that the waking state is the one in which alone real
action is possible & all our practical interests lie.  But vedAnta
declares that life to be truly understood a consideration of the other two
states as well which are as indispensable to our life as waking.  Hence
waking state should not be permitted to dominate over the other states
which are entirely independent of it.

Interestingly, frankly speaking, we donot know which state has come first
to us!!  is it waking?? I dont think so, coz. in our childhood we've spent
most of our time in sleeping.  In our embryo state at mother's womb, we
obviously donot have any connection with our socalled waking world.  So,
the question to be asked to ourselves is which avastha we've encountered
first??  is it waking first then due to its vAsana-s dream?? or is it
first sleep then waking or dream??  how can sleep can lead us to
waking/dream state??  How all of a sudden this mind can take control of
waking world when it is conspicuous by its absence in sleep??  Or if we
say, it is waking state that has come first to jIva then naturally
question will arise, how can there be waker & his waking world taken
position in jIva?? which of those vAsana's can influence jIva's first
cognition of the waking world??  From where do they (vAsana-s) come in
Atman when it is in its true state??  questions keep on coming from each &
every inquisitive mind & it is never ending.

Since, we are the students of shankara's advaita siddhAnta, first we
should see what our parama guru offers in explaining avastha-s.  An
advaitin can easily say to all the above questions that these avastha-s
are mere superimposition on our sAkshi svarUpa.  Due to avidya, it appears
that we are undergoing these avastha-s in us.  But, this is not an
abstract answer to the complex problems, advaitin arrived to this
conclusion by closely scrutinising these avastha-s from sAkshi view point.
After objective analysation of three states, advaitin's intuitive
knowledge reveals the fact that there is no avastha whatsoever to
nirvikalpa parabrahman & it is mere appearance in Atman because of our
anAdi avidya.

Now, the question is, how can we say all these avastha-s are mere
appearance in Atman when we are clearly experiencing it??  For that
advaitin say, yes, no doubt, we do experience all the three states in day
in day out.  But to analyse the futility of these states & to know the
reality of our pure consciousness we should *stand out* of these states &
look at it objectively.  We cannot stand-in in any one state & give
arbitrary verdict on other two states.  In shAstra jignAsa, for paramArtha
nirNaya this is how we have to analyse it even though this objective
analysation is also from waking state (??!!) we should remember that our
constitutional position is something which transcends these avastha-s.

What we should remember here is, when we say this is an enquiry into the
avastha-s, it does not mean that we are simply analysing these avastha-s
'as it is'.  Our primary intention here is to realise the true nature of
our Atman who's notional experiences of avastha-s.

Waking, sleep & dream states are different from each other, this is in our
experience.  But these states donot have independent existence.  And if we
check the other two states (dream & sleep) from waker's (vyAvahArika)
point of view, it appears that waker controlling the other two & he has
intimate connection with other two.  But in reality there is absolutely no
relation between these states & these states are mere false appearance on
our ever existing nature.  A simple logic would suffice to prove that the
dream state is not dependent on waker & his world.  To say either the
difference or relation of these states, first & foremost thing is we
should have "common time & space"  for all these states.  But what is
there in our experience??  The time & space frames applicable to waking
state donot get entry into the dream, like that the time & space frames
applicable to the dream donot get entry into the waking world & no need to
mention in deep sleep state the notion of time & space of both waking &
dream states get ceased without any trace.  So, the idea of the succession
of the states is purely waking idea and cannot be logically be extended
beyond waking.  For instance, when I say, "after sending this mail to
advaitin group, I am going to attend revenue meeting at conference room"
the continuity of the waking consciousness warrants the sequence in which
I am programming the events i.e.  *my writing mail* say around 2 PM & then
*going for meeting* say around 2.30 PM .  But please note when I say " I
went to bed at 11 pm & slept till morning", in this I know that I was
awake only till eleven & then my waking is completely ceased, is it not??
All the events of my waking state are connected one with another as a
series in a continuous flow of time of my waking consciousness &
accompanies them as an invariable condition.  My forthcoming memory of
these events obviously assumes the presence of my consciousness during the
occurrences of these events.  When I speak on the contrary of my sleeping
subsequent to going to bed, if I am not biased against waking, I must
admit that my waking ceased before sleep began and that my waking
consciousness was absent during all the time I slept.  I express indeed my
exprience in terms of time and say that my sleep succeeded my waking.
But this sequence is not like of sequence of events of my writing mail &
attending meeting which are taking place in the waking state in which I am
aware of the continuous flow of time throughout which I feel in the form
of duration, my taking note of time or my feeling of time ceases with
waking, and I am not and cannot be conscious of when waking ends or sleep
begins, for sleep is just the condition in which our intellect ceases to
function. With this, we can easily conclude that to conceive sleep &
waking as occuring one after another in the same time series is completely
wrong & this is purely a biased view of waker.

There is one more problem in accepting waker & his waking world's
influence on dream.  See, the sequence as we think for dream is, from
waking state to sleep & in sleep there is dream.  But, as a student of
vEdAnta, we know that there is no waker's mind & his consciousness in
sleep.  If that is the case, how can this waker's conscious can get entry
without passing the state of sleep??  is it there in anyone's experience
of this big leap of waker's consciousness from waking world to direct
dream land??

Now, coming to our age old theory that dreams are the product of
impressions created in waking.  Though vyAvaharically we can accept this
theory, while determining our svarUpa this is not a proven fact always. We
often say, "y'day in my sleep I had a nightmare, the impact of that dream
was such that even after I awake, my body was sweating & shivering of
fear.  What does it mean??  is it not quite evident that in this case the
dream (nightmare)  is kAraNa & sweating & shivering of my waking body is
kArya??  What we have been holding sofar is that waking is kAraNa & dreams
are kArya of waking vAsana...but here this order got reversed is it not??
>From  this,  if  we  relook  into  the  sequence, it looks like from
(waking)  -kArya (dream) happened- then from kArya (nightmare) again kAraNa
(shivering  etc.  in  waking  body)  took place...is it logical to say like

Further, if we say, waking is kAraNa (cause) & it is true (sat) & dream is
the kArya (effect) & is false (asat), it is illogical to say true (sat /
waking)  has given birth to false (asat /dream).  Because we cannot say
true cause can give birth to false effect.  Unless this problem resolved
we cannot say true waking's vAsana-s causing false or asat dreams.  This
is the main objection rised by Sri gaudapAdAchArya in kArika against those
who upholding more reality of waker & his world.

Finally, all of this are not just dry logic.  This method assumes nothing
& does not call for belief in authenticity & seeks the aid of no special
intuition as such.  It is fundamentally based on human experience and
insists that all the three states should be investigated before we can
bank upon the ultimate reality.  It simply points out the basic error
involved in speculation which confine the application of reason to the
facts of waking state, while admiiting the practical utility of such
speculations so far as they go, it shows their utter futility and
helplessness in arriving a true science of reality.

This avastha traya has shruti reference also.  Out of 10 principal
upanishads, prashna, ItarEya, chAndOgya, bruhadAraNyaka have quotes about
avasthA traya.  But in mundaka shruti this prakriya (methodology) has been
discussed exclusively based on pure jnAna without any stint of injuctive
statements such as karma & upAsana. Since this mail already getting very
lengthy, I'd just say few words about this very very important upanishat.
Sri GaudapAdAchArya has written kArikA-s on this up.  & shankara has
written commentaries on both kArika & upanishads.  While commenting on
kArika, shankara says, *vEdAntArtha sArasangrahabhUtamidaM prakaraNa
chatushtayam* ( these four chapters are summary of the essence of all
vEdAntic teaching).  While discussing this fundamental issue shruti first
says from adhyArOpa drushti "soyamAtma chatushpAt" subsequently withdraws
this (apavAda)  by saying "nAntaH prajna na bahiprajnaM, what remains
finally is Atman & Atman alone.  Apart from this, while identifying Atman
in jAgrat & svapna shruti addresses both vishva & tejasa as saptAnga
yEkOnavimshati mukhaha ( 7 faces & 19 faces).  Please note there is an
equal treatment to both vishwa & taijasa here by shruti. Interestingly
shankara also in his commentary says samAnam na anyAt (both are same & not
different) about waker & dreamer.

The bottom line is this, the three states so called are really no states
of consciousness.  In the first place the witnessing principle (sAkshi)
in us which is no other than pure consciousness (shuddha chaitanya),
remains quite unaffected by the appearance or disappearance of these
states.  And in the second place, the three states admit neither of
concurrence in space nor of succession in time.  Strictly speaking, we
have to conclude that sleep is only pure consciousness which has no
relation whatever with its manifestation in shape of pramAtru-pramEya, &
this state of ours is neither waking nor dreaming nor sleeping at any
point of time.  It is therefore neither cause nor effect from this
absolute stand point.  It is this phase of sleep as identical with the
everchangeless Atman that is described as *the fourth* (turIya - chaturtha
manyanto sa Atma) relatively to the empirical egoes of the three states
and seves as the theme of ajAtivAda as propagated by bhagavadpAda's
paramaguru GaudapAda.

shree sadgurucharaNAravindArpaNamastu

Humble praNAms to all sincere truth seekers
Hari Hari Hari Bol!!!

References :
(a)  shankara  bhAshya  on mAndukya & kArika published by Adhyatma prakasha
(b) paramArtha chintAmaNi - An independent work in kannada by my guruji Sri
SachidAnandEndra sarasvati swamiji.
(c) gaudapAda hrudaya in kannada by the same author.
(d)  shankara  samsmaraNa  by  Devarao  kulakarni  (  direct desciple of my

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