Workshop on Spirituality - Part 2
The principal function of the
dream state is to give us a look behind the scenes, a view of illusion.
We gain an appreciation and an awe and an insight into the magnificent
illusion that holds us bound in a web of duality and separateness,
as long as it lasts. When the dream state recedes into the quiescent
state of deep sleep and is remembered as an experience, in other
words, when we return to the waking state, we see that from beginning
to end, it was only a play in the mind. Just as the dreamer, the
dream world and the dreamed self came in together and went out together,
so we can also infer that in the waking state, God, man and Nature
come in together and go out together. We cannot have the creator-God
without his creation; we cannot have man without God and the world.
They cannot be separated. Yet, inexplicably, through the power of
illusion, they appear to be different.
In a dream, we might have been taking a bath in
a bath tub. When we look back on this from the waking state we realize
that the bath tub was made up out of exactly the same stuff as we
were made out of. Everything in the dream was all just mind stuff.
All the happenings there took place in the mind. Although the dream
appeared so real there was no separate reality there. It was all
just a shadow-play on the screen of consciousness. The only substance
there, out of which everything was made, was consciousness. But
because of illusion, a dream reality appeared and held us in its
As I mentioned before, illusion is made up of
two very powerful forces. One is the veil which hides our truth;
it covers the light inside. The other is the projection of an illusory
world, a mirage, on top of that veil. In deep sleep this projection
disappears, but the veil remains. Because the projection has disappeared,
it feels so good when we wake up from deep sleep. There has been
no confusion, no agitation, no dream, no fear, no anticipation,
no concerns, no desire; and so we feel some measure of bliss. That,
you may remember, is related to our finest sheath which has to do
with the deep sleep state.
14 Universal 'I'
Immediately a question arises.
If the dream and waking are separate states of consciousness, each
emerging as a projection from the deep sleep state, then how is it
that we are able to see from one state into the other? In other words,
how do we manage to remember our dreams when we return to the waking
state, and how do we manage to play out some of the same life problems
and situations and characters from our waking state in the dream state?
There must be an observer common to both states, who persists through
deep sleep, as well.
Vedanta has us examine the 'I', the personal self
or ego. Its distinguishing feature is the possessive feeling, whereby
it associates itself with a body and mind and takes possession, calling
them 'my' body and 'my' mind. This feeling of I-ness and my-ness is
common to both dream and waking. Although the bodies and personalities
may be different for each state, although the worlds they play in
are usually different, although the individual selves and their desires
and interests may be different, and although there is no direct channel
of communication between the two states, there appears to be some
common thread, some strong relationship between them, centering on
the experienced 'I'.
According to Vedanta, they appear to be the same
because underneath there is only the one 'I'; both the waking and
the dream selves are just roles played by the one cosmic 'I', the
'I' who is also the dreamer and the God of this waking dream.
This one 'I' is the divine indweller, the universal spirit, Swami,
who through his illusory power plays in different garbs, posing as
the waking self or the dream self. And he plays these roles not just
in us, but in all the myriad of dreams that make up the wanderings
of these seemingly separate individual souls. There is only one 'I';
and he is omniscient and omnipresent and omnipotent. He is the true
subject in every object.
Every phenomenal object, whether in the waking or
in the dream states, if it could speak, would call itself 'I'. That
'I' is the one universal 'I', the unbroken field of consciousness
on which all worlds of names and forms rest. That universal 'I' with
its illusion is the indweller of deep sleep. It has emerged from the
absolute, the ultimate reality.
The three states we have been
considering, signified by the sound symbol AUM and related to the
five sheaths we have been discussing, all have to do with illusion.
They are not the true OM. The true OM is the basis of all these states,
the unchanging background on which the dark curtain of ignorance and
the illusion of separate selves and worlds, appear. This is the superconscious
state, the transcendental state, the absolute awareness, signified
by the silence.
So, when we do the OM we go through the waking,
the dream and the deep sleep states and end up in the silence. We
return home. Therefore, when we chant the OM, it is very important
that we be aware of the silence. After we have chanted the sound,
we must allow the silence to develop and dwell in that. That silence
is the real OM.
The OM is the most powerful of all mantras. It takes
us from the physical to the mental to the causal to that which is
the basis of all; or, it takes us from the grossest to the finest
and subtlest to the ultimate truth. It is the basic breath of the
universe. But, somehow, it just is not sufficiently satisfying to
us. We need more sound, so we prefer to do more involved mantras and
devotional songs. But the Om alone is enough.
Swami once said that forty years have gone by and
there has not been a major war. This has not happened for many centuries.
He said, "You know why? Because holy ones in temples and caves,
are chanting the OM and they are sending out that sacred vibration
into the world. That is the greatest service you can do for humanity."
So, there is the power of the OM.