Sunday, 21 June 2020

How do we remember being asleep?

A friend wrote to me today asking, ‘In the deep sleep state, it is said that there is no mind. In that case, what is it that carries through the information back to the waking state that one has experienced deep sleep? Is the mind present but it is dormant (thereby registering experience and creating memory)? In other words, is there anything other than the true I (I-I) in the deep sleep state?’, in reply to which I wrote:

Regarding your first question, ‘what is it that carries through the information back to the waking state that one has experienced deep sleep?’, what exists and shines in sleep is what alone is real, namely sat-cit, our fundamental awareness of our own existence, ‘I am’. Though ego as such did not exist in sleep, what ego is is just this same fundamental awareness of our own existence conflated with adjuncts, namely the body consisting of five sheaths, so when we rise and stand as ego in waking or dream we are clearly aware of the continuity of our existence in sleep. In other words, though we did not exist as ego (the false adjunct-mixed awareness ‘I am this body’) in sleep, we did exist there as sat-cit (the pure unadulterated awareness ‘I am’), which is the essence and reality of ego, so now as ego we are aware that we did exist in sleep, and if we consider our experience in sleep carefully enough, we can also recognise that we were clearly aware of our existence in sleep, even though we were aware of nothing else whatsoever.

That is, we could not be aware now of having existed in sleep if we were not aware of our existence while we were sleeping. The fact that we now clearly remember ‘I slept’ means not only that we did exist in sleep, which is a state in which we were not aware of anything other than ourself, but also that we were aware of being in such a state, because we could not remember anything that we had not actually experienced. If we had not been aware of our existence in sleep, we would not be aware now that we were ever in such a state in which we were not aware of any phenomena.

We were aware of our existence in sleep because awareness is our very nature, so we could never be not aware. In other words, our existence (sat) and our awareness of our existence (sat-cit) are one and the same thing, as Bhagavan pointed out in verse 23 of Upadēśa Undiyār:

உள்ள துணர வுணர்வுவே றின்மையி
னுள்ள துணர்வாகு முந்தீபற
      வுணர்வேநா மாயுள முந்தீபற.

uḷḷa duṇara vuṇarvuvē ṟiṉmaiyi
ṉuḷḷa duṇarvāhu mundīpaṟa
      vuṇarvēnā māyuḷa mundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: உள்ளது உணர உணர்வு வேறு இன்மையின், உள்ளது உணர்வு ஆகும். உணர்வே நாமாய் உளம்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uḷḷadu uṇara uṇarvu vēṟu iṉmaiyiṉ, uḷḷadu uṇarvu āhum. uṇarvē nām-āy uḷam.

அன்வயம்: உள்ளது உணர வேறு உணர்வு இன்மையின், உள்ளது உணர்வு ஆகும். உணர்வே நாமாய் உளம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): uḷḷadu uṇara vēṟu uṇarvu iṉmaiyiṉ, uḷḷadu uṇarvu āhum. uṇarvē nām-āy uḷam.

English translation: Because of the non-existence of other awareness to be aware of what exists, what exists is awareness. Awareness alone exists as we.

Explanatory paraphrase: Because of the non-existence of [any] awareness other [than what exists] to be aware of what exists, what exists (uḷḷadu) is awareness (uṇarvu). Awareness alone exists as we [that is, the awareness that actually exists, namely pure awareness, which is awareness that is aware of nothing other than itself, is what we actually are].
Regarding your second question, ‘Is the mind present but it is dormant (thereby registering experience and creating memory)?’, mind or ego is present in sleep, but only as pure awareness, not as mind or ego. Our ‘memory’ of our existence in sleep is not a memory like any of our other memories, which are relatively superficial, because all our other memories are memories of phenomena that we experienced in waking or dream, so they are registered in our mind (specifically in the manōmaya kōśa) and can easily be forgotten, whereas our ‘memory’ of the continuity of our existence in sleep is a much deeper memory, which is not registered in the mind but in (and as) our very existence, so it can never be forgotten. That is, though we can seemingly forget what I am or what I was, as we do whenever we rise and stand as ego, we can never forget that I am or that I was, because ever-uninterrupted awareness of our own existence is our very nature.

Regarding your third question, ‘is there anything other than the true I (I-I) in the deep sleep state?’, no, in sleep there is nothing other than pure awareness, which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa) or ‘true I’.

However, regarding what you put in brackets after ‘true I’, namely ‘I-I’, if we consider it carefully this phrase ‘I-I’ is in itself meaningless, or at least it has no clear meaning other than whatever arbitrary meaning anyone may choose to attribute to it. Though it is a phrase used in many English books about his teachings, it is actually a mistranslation of the term ‘நான் நான்’ (nāṉ nāṉ), which Bhagavan frequently used (such as in Āṉma-Viddai verse 2, Upadēśa Undiyār verse 20 and Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 30), and whose correct meaning is not ‘I-I’ but ‘I am I’. He used this term to distinguish our real adjunct-free self-awareness from our false adjunct-mixed self-awareness, namely ego, which he referred to as ‘நான் இது’ (nāṉ idu), ‘I am this’, because ‘நான் இது’ (nāṉ idu), ‘I am this’, denotes a false identity, since it is an identification of ourself with something other than ourself, namely a body consisting of five sheaths, whereas ‘நான் நான்’ (nāṉ nāṉ), ‘I am I’, denotes our real identity, since it is an identification of ourself with ourself alone.

That is, since we cannot be anything other than ourself, our real identity can be correctly expressed only by the term ‘நான் நான்’ (nāṉ nāṉ), ‘I am I’, and not by any other term such as ‘நான் இது’ (nāṉ idu), ‘I am this’, or ‘நான் அது’ (nāṉ adu), ‘I am that’. Unfortunately the deep meaning and significance of this important phrase has been entirely lost in most English books, in which it has almost invariably been misinterpreted as ‘I-I’, whatever that is supposed to mean.

If you would like to understand more about what Bhagavan taught us about sleep, you may find it useful to read verses 455 to 462 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai, and also to watch my two most recent videos, 2020-06-14b Sri Ramana Center, Houston: Michael James discusses the five sheaths and three bodies and 2020-06-16 Michael and Murthy discuss the non-existence of ego and its five sheaths in sleep, and to read my latest article, What exists and shines in sleep is nothing other than pure awareness. I have also discussed what he taught us about sleep in many other articles, such as the ones listed here, of which the one that is perhaps most relevant to the questions you have asked here is In what sense and to what extent do we remember what we were aware of in sleep?, in which I have discussed this subject in more detail.

22 comments:

Asun said...

Thank you for publishing this, Michael. They are good questions.

I find very helpful what you say that:
“Our ‘memory’ of our existence in sleep is not a memory like any of our other memories, which are relatively superficial, because all our other memories are memories of phenomena that we experienced in waking or dream, so they are registered in our mind (specifically in the manōmaya kōśa) and can easily be forgotten, whereas our ‘memory’ of the continuity of our existence in sleep is a much deeper memory, which is not registered in the mind but in (and as) our very existence, so it can never be forgotten.”
What leads to section 7 of your article “In what sense and to what extent do we remember what we were aware of in sleep?” where what is questioned is our memory of phenomena which implies questioning the reality of our whole life, and death, as ego or “(I am) this body” and therefore of time and space as ego´s framework which can be pretty shocking at first, though this shock is diminished by the fact that, by practicing self-investigation, as you point in section 5 of this article, now it seems to us more clear our awareness of our own existence than our present awareness of phenomena.

I wonder, is it this what Bhagavan means in the first mangalam verse of Ulladu Narpadu by experiencing death or dissolution of the finite self?

Asun said...

Second one mangalam verse, I think, sorry.

anadi-ananta said...

Asun,
as a little help to answer your question a copy of the mentioned
Maṅgalam verse 2 is inserted: by surrendering to God, who is devoid of death and birth, the ego, who fears death, will die, and what will remain is deathless

English translation: Pure-hearted people who have intense fear of death will take refuge at the feet of God, who is devoid of death and birth, as a fortress. By their refuge, they undergo death. Will those who are deathless be associated with the thought of death?

Explanatory paraphrase: Pure-hearted people who have intense fear of death will take refuge at [or surrender to] the feet of Mahēśaṉ [the Great Lord, Śiva or God], who is devoid of death and birth, [depending upon him] as [their protective] fortress. By their [taking] refuge [or as soon as they take refuge], their ego dies [and what remains is only their real nature, which is immortal awareness]. Will those who are [thereby] deathless be associated [ever again] with the thought of death?

Asun said...

I have a different translation, anadi-ananta, from “Sri Ramanopadesa Noomalai”:

“Those mature people who have intense inner fear
of death will take refuge at the feet of God, who is
devoid of death and birth, [depending upon him]
as [their protective] fortress. By their surrender,
they experience death [the death or dissolution of
their finite self]. Will those who are deathless [having
died to their mortal self, and having thereby
become one with the immortal spirit] approach
the death-thought [or thought of death] [ever again]?”

In his explanation Michael talks on the fear of body´s death but it seems to me that it is rather about fear of mind´s death and that it is death of mind what is experienced, though it includes the body which according to Bhagavan is only a thought as well as its birth and death.

Asun said...

Since S. Ramana was caught by fear of the body´s death, we think that we have to undergo it too but I don´t think it has to be necessarily so because we have come across his teachings and are following his path. What remains in any case is the necessity of clinging to our fundamental awareness of our own existence and mind, ego, or the finite self, will progressively dissolve with us as the detached witness, due to the practice. But who knows?

anadi-ananta said...

Asun,
you mean Śrī Ramaṇōpadēśa Nūṉmālai or Sri Ramanopadesa Noonmalai.

By the way you can find also a Spanish Translation of Sri Ramanopadesa Noonmalai – Spanish PDF from which I copied and pasted the lines which could perhaps represent the mentioned mangalam verse:

SRI RAMANOPADESA NOONMALAI - ULLADU NARPADU
Por lo tanto, ¿cómo va uno a meditar en ella (esa Realidad) el corazón? Permanecer en el Corazón como él es, es meditación (dhyana) en la Realidad (sat-vastu)Las almas maduras que tienen intenso miedo interno de la muerte, se aferran a los Pies del Gran Señor sin muerte y sin nacimiento como (su) refugio. Por este aferrarse (así a Sus Pies), ellos han muerto como individuos y con ello han devenido uno con ese Señor sin muerte. (Por lo tanto) ¿Pueden (tales) gentes sin muerte tener el pensamiento de la muerte (de nuevo)? (Ellos son) eternos.Nota: Mientras que los versos anteriores describen la vía de la Auto-indagación, este versodescribe la vía de la auto-entrega. Pero puesto que el Gran Señor (Mahesan) men-cionado en este verso es descrito como «sin muerte y sin nacimiento»(marana-bhavam-illa), debe comprenderse que Él no es un mero nombre y forma—puesto que todo nombre y formatiene un comienzo (nacimiento) y un final (muerte)—,sino que es solo
SRI RAMANOPADESA NOONMALAI42la Realidad sin nombre y sin forma «yo soy»mencionada en el verso anterior. Por lo tanto, aferrarse a Sus Pies debe comprenderse que significa aferrarse o prestar atención a la existencia-consciencia «yo soy». Como Sri Bhagavan Mismo dijo una vez:«Los Pies del Gurú(o Dios) no están fuera de usted. Ellos brillan dentro de usted como «yo». Por lo tanto, solo si se aferra a «yo»,está aferrándose verdaderamente a Sus Pies». Por este aferrarse a «yo», el ego morirá, y uno permanecerá como el Sí mismo sin muerte y eterno. Solo tal Auto-permanencia es verdadera auto-entrega.Así pues, por estos dos versos de bendicióndebemos comprender que aunque las vías de la Auto-indagación y la Auto-entregason descritas como si fueran dos vías dife-rentes, en la práctica son una y la misma.

anadi-ananta said...

Asun,
in Michael's English version of Śrī Ramaṇōpadēśa Nūṉmālai,
உள்ளது நாற்பது (Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu) we read:

"In the second verse of the maṅgalam Sri Ramana says that mature people who have an intense inner fear of death will take refuge at the feet of God, who is devoid of death and birth, depending upon him as their sole protection, and that by their surrender they will experience death (the death or dissolution of their finite self). He then ends the verse by asking a rhetorical question that implies that having died to their mortal self and thereby become one with the immortal spirit, they will never be troubled again by any thought of death.

In this verse the words மரணபவமில்லா மகேசன் சரணமே சார்வர் (maraṇa-bhavam-illā mahēśaṉ caraṇamē sārvar), which literally mean ‘they will take refuge at [depend upon or surrender to] the feet of the great lord, who is devoid of death and birth’, are a graphic description of the state of complete self-surrender — that is, the state in which we surrender our false finite self in the clear light of our true infinite self.

The term மரணபவமில்லா மகேசன் (maraṇa-bhavam-illā mahēśaṉ), ‘the great lord [or God], who is devoid of death and birth’, is a poetic description of our eternal self, and his சரணம் (caranam) or ‘feet’ is our natural state of absolutely clear non-dual self-consciousness, ‘I am’. The verb சார்வர் (sārvar), ‘they will take refuge at [depend upon or surrender to]’, denotes the state in which our mind turns towards and merges in this true self-consciousness. Thus these words denote the same state of thought-free self-conscious being that he described in the previous verse as உள்ளத்தே உள்ளபடி உள்ளதே (uḷḷattē uḷḷapaḍi uḷḷadē) or ‘only being in [our] heart as it is [or as we are]’."

Asun said...

Yes, anadi-ananta, I understand that. If we go into this issue of sleep and understand and accept that sleep we fall into every night is pure awareness which is the only real and from where we rise as ego every morning which is unreal or just a dream that we take as to be awake and consists in I´m this body-person who was born X years ago and has gone through this and that, etc., all our beliefs on what we have been taking as real, including time and space which are the limits where the dream unfolds as a seeming continuity, break down and therefore, only refuge left for attention is ourself. My question is if this beliefs breaking down is itself the very dissolution of the finite self, ego or mind Bhagavan refers to in these verses.

Asun said...

"these beliefs"

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
"...whereas our ‘memory’ of the continuity of our existence in sleep is a much deeper memory, which is not registered in the mind but in (and as) our very existence, so it can never be forgotten. That is, though we can seemingly forget what I am or what I was, as we do whenever we rise and stand as ego, we can never forget that I am or that I was, because ever-uninterrupted awareness of our own existence is our very nature."

Yes, we say after rising refreshed and contented in the morning that we have slept well.
But to be honest, the content of that everyday memory of having slept well and with that of my ever-uninterrupted awareness of my own existence which is said to be my very nature does not exactly kindle my boundless enthusiasm because it is quite normal, usual, customary and ordinary, nothing to write home about:
Being untainted by ego and thereby remaining in pure self-awareness I somehow imagine and expect to go into boundless ecstasies. Presumably that expectation stems from a former experience of an ecstatic flash/short insight in the blissful/heavenly state of something what I would call a higher consciousness. (That experience happened only a few seconds during standing in an overcrowded public bus).
Somehow I always think that unlimited awareness must be experienced as an absolutely overwhelming or overpowering occurrence.

Michael James said...

Asun, the breaking down of the beliefs your refer to in your comment of 22 June 2020 at 14:30 is part of the process leading up to the eventual dissolution of ego, but the dissolution of ego is not merely the breaking down of beliefs (or the letting go of concepts, as some other people express it) but the complete eradication of the believer (the one who holds or cherishes any beliefs or concepts).

Beliefs, concepts, desires, attachments and so on are all just branches and leaves, whereas our aim is to cut the very root of them all, namely ourself as ego. If we are in the process of cutting this root by means of self-investigation and self-surrender, the branches and leaves will begin to wither and die, but our sole concern and focus should be on investigating and thereby surrendering ourself, the root. Nothing else need concern us.

Asun said...

Ah, ok. That´s what I was missing and made me feel confused. Great.

Thank you very much, Michael.

Michael James said...

Anadi-ananta, regarding your comment of 22 June 2020 at 15:52, when we eventually see what we always actually are, that experience of pure awareness will be overwhelming and overpowering in the sense that it will completely overwhelm and overpower us by swallowing us entirely in its infinite clarity, but it will not overwhelm us by being anything extraordinary but by its very ordinariness and complete familiarity, because it is what is always shining clearly within us as ‘I am’, our fundamental awareness of our own existence, in a perfectly pure condition in sleep and in a seemingly adjunct-contaminated condition in waking and dream. This is why ātma-jñāna is described as a nirviśēṣa anubhava, an experience devoid of any kind of viśēṣa, distinguishing feature, distinction, peculiarity or specialness, just as sleep or the bare awareness ‘I am’ is.

anadi-ananta said...

Asun,
your question was originally put to Michael.
However, if you ask me, in my opinion the breakdown of these beliefs is certainly "itself the very dissolution of the finite self, ego or mind Bhagavan refers to in these verses."
Because Michael referred at the end of his above explanation about Mangalam verse 2 saying "Thus these words denote the same state of thought-free self-conscious being that he described in the previous verse as உள்ளத்தே உள்ளபடி உள்ளதே (uḷḷattē uḷḷapaḍi uḷḷadē) or ‘only being in [our] heart as it is [or as we are]’." I quote what Michael wrote for instance about Maṅgalam verse 1:

Explanatory paraphrase: If uḷḷadu [what is or what exists] were not, would uḷḷa-v-uṇarvu [existing awareness, actual awareness or awareness of what is] exist? [Or: (1) Except as uḷḷadu, does uḷḷa-v-uṇarvu exist? (2) Other than uḷḷadu, is there awareness to think [of it, meditate on it or investigate it]?] Since uḷḷa-poruḷ [the existing substance or reality] exists in the heart without thought, how to [or who can] think of [meditate on or investigate] uḷḷa-poruḷ, which is called ‘uḷḷam’ [the heart]? Being in the heart as it is [that is, as pure thought-free self-awareness] alone is thinking [of it, meditating on it, contemplating it, investigating it or revering it]. Know [or be aware] [of it as it is].

Explanations and discussions:
2020-06-22: When Bhagavan says, ‘உள்ளத்தே உள்ளபடி உள்ளதே உள்ளல்’ (uḷḷattē uḷḷapaḍi uḷḷadē uḷḷal), ‘Being in the heart as it is alone is thinking [or meditating on it]’, he means that we should be in and as உள்ள பொருள் (uḷḷa-poruḷ), the existing substance, which is our real nature, pure awareness

2019-12-21: Bhagavan is not the body but pure awareness and infinite love, so he is always here and now, shining clearly in our heart as our fundamental awareness of our own existence, 'I am', and hence only by being in the heart as it is (uḷḷattē uḷḷapaḍi uḷḷadē) are we truly sitting in his presence

2019-11-08: The real substance always exists within us without a single thought as our real nature, so to know it we must be as we actually are, without thinking anything

2018-11-08: What alone exists is beyond the ability of ego or mind to conceive or comprehend as it actually is, so in order to be aware of it as it is we need to just be as it is, that is, as pure awareness devoid of any awareness of anything other than ourself

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
many thanks for your clarifying explanation that "ātma-jñāna is described as a nirviśēṣa anubhava, an experience devoid of any kind of viśēṣa, distinguishing feature, distinction, peculiarity or specialness, just as sleep or the bare awareness 'I am' is."

Sanjay Lohia said...

The experience of pure awareness will be overwhelming and overpowering

Michael wrote in his comment addressed to Anadi-ananta:

when we eventually see what we always actually are, that experience of pure awareness will be overwhelming and overpowering in the sense that it will completely overwhelm and overpower us by swallowing us entirely in its infinite clarity, but it will not overwhelm us by being anything extraordinary but by its very ordinariness and complete familiarity, because it is what is always shining clearly within us as ‘I am’, our fundamental awareness of our own existence, in a perfectly pure condition in sleep and in a seemingly adjunct-contaminated condition in waking and dream.

As Michael says further in this comment:

This is why ātma-jñāna is described as a nirviśēṣa anubhava, an experience devoid of any kind of viśēṣa, distinguishing feature, distinction, peculiarity or specialness, just as sleep or the bare awareness ‘I am’ is.

So we will be overpowered and overwhelmed by our own nirvisesa anubhava. We will not experience anything visesa, something special. What we will experience is our own ordinary and familiar experience of ourself. We will just experience this familiar experience with full clarity and complete distinctness.




Salazar said...

All the above can be simply directly experienced with vichara. No fancy terms like "viśēṣa" necessary. Clarity comes only from vichara, certainly not from the attempts of the mind to comprehend.

Salazar said...

But as long as we can talk about nirviśēṣa anubhavam one can at least pretend to do something even if that is just an imagination :-)

anadi-ananta said...

We have to thank our lucky stars that Salazar can always teach us a lesson.:-)

Salazar said...

And equally we have to thank our lucky stars that anadi-ananta is impressing us with his wit not to talk about the ability to copy and paste texts he's read :-)

Asun said...

Thank you for your response, anadi-ananta. Ego is that which witnesses or is aware of the breaking down of the beliefs, though we are so identified with them that it would seem that it is our own breaking down but something didn´t fit, that´s why asked. No wonder it is said that ego is the subtlest :)

anadi-ananta said...

Asun,
as we really are we never break down. :-)