Shri Datta Swami

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'I' IN DEEP SLEEP

Posted on: 20 Mar 2006
O Learned and Devoted Servants of God,

Lakshman asked about the existence of ‘I’ [I-thought] in deep sleep as referred to by Shri. Ramana Maharshi.

The existence of ‘I’ requires the existence of awareness, which is nervous energy. In deep sleep there is no existence of the nervous energy and therefore there is no question of the existence of I in that state. The I requires the awareness of itself. This awareness or nervous energy is only a special form of inert energy. The inert energy produced by the chemicals in the brain and flowing through the nervous system becomes awareness or nervous energy. The rain water fallen in the River Ganga is called as the sacred Ganga. The same rain water fallen in a tank is called as tank-water.

In deep sleep the energy existing in other systems is called as the heat of the body. Thus, there is no difference between the heat energy and nervous energy in the fundamental essence. When the nervous energy is absent, the feelings, which are called vasanas or samskaras, are also absent. But the same feelings exist in the form of Gunas (subtle qualities), which are the pulses stored by the inert energy existing in the brain. The qualities exist like a computer chip in the computer. Then, the computer is not in the state of working because in that state, electricity is not flowing in the computer. This electricity can be treated as the nervous energy, which is absent in the deep sleep. The chip in the computer is in the form of material like the brain matter. The pulses are in the form of inert energy. This inert energy can be even considered as matter from the angle of a scientist [since mass and energy are interconvertible]. The scientist does not distinguish between matter and energy at this level of inert energy. Thus, the Jeeva [subtle body of the individual], which is a bundle of qualities, exists as a bundle of pulses called as ‘Sphotas’ by the Hindu scriptures (Shastras). These pulses are stored by the inert energy called as chittam. You are not aware of any information stored by the chittam. These pulses are the waves of inert energy. Thus, the very material of pulse is the inert energy. Therefore, the material of these pulses is chittam. You can call chittam as matter in the micro state [considering equivalence of matter and energy] as per the terminology of a scientist.

Chittam—Storage and Receiving Medium

When the same chittam or inert energy flows in the nervous system, the same chittam is called as nervous energy or awareness. Thus, basically there is no difference between the awareness and inert energy.

[The human subtle or inner instrument, which is generally called mind, contains four faculties or Antahkaranas:

  • Manas—the thinking or fluctuating faculty; also called as mind
  • Buddhi—the intelligence or deciding faculty
  • Ahankara—the ego
  • Chittam—the storage faculty.]

The same inert energy, when it flows in a superior part of the brain in doing decisions is called as intelligence (buddhi). The same inert energy, when it flows through the nervous system becomes aware of itself, is called as ego (Ahankara). The same inert energy flowing in the nervous system, aware of other objects or other information is called as mind (Manas). The mind, intelligence and ego can be treated as awareness or nervous energy because in these three faculties the awareness of other objects (as in the case of mind and intelligence) or the awareness of itself (as in the case of ego) exists. But in the case of the faculty of chittam, the state of inert energy exist, awareness does not exist. Therefore, you are not aware of the information stored by chittam.

Whenever, a particular part of the information is required by the other three faculties, that part of information is supplied by chittam to these three faculties. Such supply of part of information is called as memory (Smranam). When the part of information is supplied by chittam, the part of information is transferred from the inert energy to the awareness or nervous energy. Once the part of information is caught by the awareness, the part of information is memorised. Here you have to carefully analyse the concept. The points in this concept are:

A part of information is stored in the inert energy as a pulse and during the time of storage the part of information is not remembered because the energy that stores the part of information is only the inert energy [Chittam] and not awareness.

When the part of information is stored in the inert energy, you are not aware of the information either in the deep sleep or in the waking state.

When you are recollecting that information, the awareness is bringing it out from the tank of inert energy called as Chittam.

  1. While bringing that information, the awareness not only carries it but also stores the information in itself for sometime and during this time the awareness can also be treated as secondary store of information and can be called as Chittam temporarily.

These points give you the conclusion that chittam, which is the storing energy (like a capacitor) is in the form of inert energy permanently as well as awareness temporarily. During deep sleep, the chittam is no doubt inert energy only. But even during the waking state, when you are not recollecting the information, the information lies in the inert energy alone. Therefore, the inert energy-form of chittam is constant during deep sleep as well as during the waking state. The hard drive [with the information stored in it] in the computer is always present whether the computer is working or not. But during the waking state, at the time of recollecting the information, the awareness also acts like a temporary memory storage (RAM), while registering the information on the screen. During this time the awareness can be also called as chittam. Therefore, the characteristic of chittam is storage, whether the chittam is in the form of inert energy or awareness. The awareness-form of chittam is temporary as it is limited to the waking state or dream state. In the state of meditation, there is no question of storage of information by awareness because the awareness is not aware of any other thing but is aware only of itself.

It is stated that the chittam has another function apart from storage (Smaranam). The other function is receiving the information (Samjnanam). As the awareness (chittam) receives the information from the tank of inert energy containing all the information, it also receives information from the external world. Thus, the awareness working to receive information from the internal store of inert energy or from external world is called chittam.

Awareness is a Type of Work

Actually, the energy is always inert because it has no independence and is working as per the direction of God. Work is a form of energy according to science. According to science, matter is also a form of energy. Therefore, energy, work and matter are all inert items. Energy performs different types of work according to the different systems or machines in through which the energy acts. Electric current is the same and it does the work of cutting through an electric cutting machine and does work of printing though a printing machine. Therefore, the same inert energy flowing through the nervous system does a specific type of work and this specific work is called as awareness. Thus, awareness is a special type of work of the same inert energy, which flows through the nervous system. The same inert energy flowing through lungs does mechanical work by contractions and expansions. When the awareness is aware of itself (Ahankara), such awareness is like the self-spin of the energy, which is also work. Thus, ego (Ahankara) is work. When this same inert energy is vibrating with discussions (Sankalpa and Vikalpa), such vibrational work is called as mind (Manas). Finally, when the energy is revolving in a constant direction, it is the work of determination and such work is called as intelligence (Buddhi). [The above description is an analogy. Different types of work of the awareness are compared to the different types of energies of a particle such as an electron—spin, vibration, revolution and translation].

When the same inert energy stores the information by itself by revolutions, such work is called as chittam, which is out of the nervous system. But the inert energy in this state still exists in a part of the brain. As seen earlier, the same inert energy, while flowing through nervous system may also store the information temporarily and is also called as chittam. Here the same awareness (inert energy through nervous system), while receiving the information from its inert form or from the external world is also called as chittam. Thus, chittam is in two forms. One form is inert energy, which is constant, and another form is awareness, which does not exist, in deep sleep. Chittam also does two types of work. One type of work is storing information and the other type of work is receiving information. Chittam does the storage type of work in both its forms (inert and awareness). Chittam does the work of receiving the information in its awareness-form only. As long as the inert energy flows in the nervous system, chittam is in the form of awareness. But when the nervous system is shut down, chittam remains in its basic form of inert energy in a specific part of the brain. When the inert energy is flowing in the nervous system it does other types of work like mind, intelligence and ego. Therefore, awareness is a specific form of work of the inert energy, when it flows in a specific machine called as the nervous system. This awareness is in the form of the four Antahkaranams called mind, intelligence, ego and chittam. Thus, awareness is a specific type of work of the inert energy and the various types of specific work are the four Antahkaranams.

Here the scientist includes brain also in the nervous system. I have made a temporary sub-division of brain and nervous system to distinguish between the two forms of Chittam for the sake of convenience. Again a scientist understands the various types of work of awareness in the view of interaction between energy and matter. The matter here is the various types of biological cells. This is the view of a biologist. For a physicist the matter and energy are one and the same at a deeper level. I have represented the works in terms of energy neglecting the difference between matter and energy at this deeper level of physics.

Now suppose you met your friend and he told you that he would get married after one year. Now the awareness received this information as chittam (Samjnam). This information is not stored by the awareness itself. It is passed on to a specific part of the brain where the inert energy, which is also called as chittam, stores this information. Now the information has gone out of your awareness. Therefore, you do not remember the information either in the waking state, in the dream state or in the meditation state. Awareness exists in these three states only. In the state of deep sleep the awareness does not exist and in this state there is no question of remembering that information. After some days somebody asked you about the marriage of your friend. Now you will remember that information by recollection. Now what is happening? Your awareness is going to the specific part of the brain and is collecting back that information. During this stage of recollection (Smaranam), the awareness is also receiving the information (Samjnam). Thus, recollection is always followed by receiving. Receiving can be done even alone without recollection i.e., when you are receiving some new information it is not recollection but only collection of information (Samjnam).

Deep sleep is like shutting down the computer and only the chip exists in the computer. This means that the nervous system is shut down. Only the inert energy, which stores all the important information in the brain, remains. Since the nervous system is shut down the inert energy is not flowing in the nervous system and therefore the specific work of awareness is not produced. The concept of I is only a type of work in the state of awareness. When the awareness is absent, this special type of work cannot take place and therefore the concept of I cannot exist. However the concept of I is stored as a bit of information in the inert energy in the brain. Since such inert energy is not awareness, the concept of I is not experienced in deep sleep. When the person wakes up from deep sleep, the inert energy carrying on the pulse of the concept of I flows in the nervous system. Since the nervous system is functioning and since such functioning is awareness, the awareness of I is generated i.e., you feel the concept of yourself. When a mad man wakes up, the inert energy flows through the nervous system but this pulse of I is absent because it is not stored in the brain. Therefore, when a mad man wakes up, he does not experience or feel this concept of himself. Similarly, a small child also does not feel the concept of itself. Therefore, after waking up from a deep sleep, when the inert energy flows from the brain through the working nervous system, those pulses, which are stored in the brain, can be carried into the nervous system and such pulses can be experienced. Therefore, if you are not a madman or a child, the concept of I exists in the brain as a pulse (signal) but you cannot experience that pulse in deep sleep because the energy in your brain is inert and is not in the form of awareness since the nervous system is shut down. In the case of a madman or a child, the concept of I does not exist even in the waking state and the Advaita scholar is worried about the existence of the concept of I in the deep sleep!

Atman—Causal Body

What is the soul, Atman or causal body? Is it the awareness present in the nervous system? Or is it the inert energy present in the brain? The concept of I exists in both. The ego ‘I’ exists as a pulse in the brain in the inert energy and the same pulse exists in nervous system being experienced. If you say that the soul is awareness, it is born every day and it dies every day. This is the soul from one angle, which is mentioned by the Gita (Athachainam Nityajatam…). Please note that this view is mentioned as one angle and is never condemned by the Gita. From another angle, it is the inert energy present in the brain, which is eternal as mentioned in the Gita (Ajo Nityah…). Awareness in the nervous system is in the form of work. Inert energy in the brain is in the form of energy. From one angle, the soul is a special type of work and from another angle, the soul is inert energy. Energy and work are inter-convertible and both are the same entity in different forms. Therefore, essentially it does not matter, whether you take the soul as work or energy. According to science, even matter is a form of energy. Therefore, the gross body, which exists in deep sleep, is as good as the inert energy in the brain or the awareness in the nervous system, in the basic sense. The gross body made of matter, the subtle body made of pulses (whether in the state of inert energy or in the state of awareness) and the causal body which is the inert energy in the brain or awareness in the nervous system are one and the same, and come under one category called as creation. Condensed energy is matter. Work is another form of the same energy. A scientist does not distinguish between these three states. These three are the different forms of creation and creation is different from the Creator.

Unimaginable Creator and Imaginable Creation

Your analysis of these three states is of no use because you are dancing only in the same medium of creation without touching the Creator. Creation itself is work. It is the work of God. The working material is energy or matter or both. Energy and matter are also different works of God. God is unimaginable but His work is imaginable. The link between God and His work is again unimaginable. The link between a person and his work is imaginable because both the person and his work are imaginable. Thus, there is no example in this world to imagine God or to imagine the link between Him and His work (creation). Only the work is imaginable through which you can be sure of the existence of God. Thus, this wonderful universe, which is the work of God, proves the existence of God but the analysis of the universe neither gives any information about God nor any information about the link between the universe and God. The universe indicates the existence of God but neither gives the information of God nor the experience of God. After realising the existence of God, you can experience God through some item of the creation into which God entered. The best item of the universe is the human being through which you can experience God and also clarify your doubts with God directly. If God exists in every human being, every human being should clarify your doubts. In fact since you are also a human being and if God is in you too, you should clarify your own doubts, which means that you should not get any doubt and nor should anyone else. This is clearly not the case and so God enters only into specific human beings like Krishna or Jesus etc., who alone can clarify all your doubts and through whom alone you can experience God.

In deep sleep, both matter and inert energy exist. The gross body as matter and the normal heat of the body as inert energy clearly exist in the deep sleep. In deep sleep the work of the inert energy and various systems like blood circulation, respiration etc., also exist. Even the nervous system exists but it does not function. Therefore, only the work-form of energy, which is expressed through nervous system called as awareness, does not exist. Due to this, the qualities (gunas) and the feelings (Vasanas and Samskaras) are not lost because they are stored as inert pulses in the inert energy of brain. The life energy, inert energy and the inert matter are inter-convertible forms. These are like three phases of the same substance e.g. ice, water and water vapour are the three phases of the same substance called the H2O compound. The creation is the substance, and matter, energy and work are the three phases of the same creation. All the three phases are inter-convertible.

The Veda says “Annat Purushah” which means that food is converted into life energy or awareness. The food is both inert matter and inert energy. The energy is always active and is a form of work. Even in matter, the rotations, vibrations and revolutions of particles are constantly taking place. Awareness is only a special type of work of the energy in a special design of matter called the nervous system. Therefore, the inter-conversion is easily acceptable. Of course, this inter-conversion of food into awareness is out of the control of man but that does not mean the inter conversion is incorrect. Therefore, for the generation of awareness, both matter and energy are required. In deep sleep, matter and energy exist but the matter (nervous system) is not functioning. At the time of death the inert energy along with matter in very subtle form comes out as a replica of this human body, which is called as Prana Shariram by the Veda (Manomayah Prana shareeraneta…). This body called as Prana Sharira contains inert energy (Tejas) and subtle matter in the form of all the systems. Therefore, the materialised nervous system in very subtle state also exists in the energetic body. Such a body is called as an energetic body because the part of matter is very very little and most part of the body is only energy. Since the nervous system is present, the awareness exists and therefore the mind exists.

In this state, due to the fear of death, the awareness is terribly vibrating and therefore most of the awareness is in the state of mind [fluctuating faculty; Manas]. When the body goes to hell, the proportion of matter in it is relatively more and it is called as a Yatana Sariram. When it goes to the moon (Pitru Loka), the proportion of energy is greater. When it goes to heaven, the proportion of energy is still greater. When it goes to other higher heavens, most of the body is made of energy. When it goes to Brahma Loka [highest heaven], the body is almost full of energy and is radiating. The body going to heaven is called as a Bhoga Sariram. The body going to Brahma Loka is a Divya Sariram. In all these bodies, since the portion of Tamas (matter) is very little, the state of sleep is absent. These bodies are mainly made of Rajas (energy) and awareness (sattvam). The angels have energetic bodies and do not have to sleep and therefore, they are said to have motionless eyelids (Animeshah). Thus, in the case of these bodies, the soul is eternal whether it is in the form of inert energy or awareness.

According to science when you analyse this entire universe, it consists of matter, energy and work. Space is a form of energy. Solid, liquid and gas are the three states of matter. Fire is energy. [According to the scriptures, creation is made of 5 elements: space, fire, solid, liquid and gas]. Light, heat, electricity, magnetism etc., are the various form of energy. Mechanical work is a form of work. Awareness is a special form of work. Therefore, finally you have the three forms, which are matter, energy and work. All these are inter-convertible. Matter is a condensed form of energy and therefore matter can be treated as energy. Energy is always active and action is work. Therefore, matter and energy can be treated as the two forms of work. But work requires a working material and a power or force, which is energy. But again the working material and power are only energy. But the energy is essentially work. Therefore, science ends with work, which is independent. But we do not see any work, which is independent without matter and energy. Therefore, this entire creation, which is essentially work, requires some working material and force behind it. This working material and force behind creation are unimaginable and are called as the unimaginable God (Parabrahman).

The entire creation is only the dance (work) of Lord Shiva, who stands for Parabrahman. Parabrahman or the unimaginable God is hidden in the energetic body of Shiva and therefore we say that Lord Shiva stands for Parabrahman. Otherwise, if you take Shiva as the body, which is a composite of matter, energy, work and awareness, then Shiva Himself essentially becomes work, because all these four items are essentially work. Therefore one has to accept the existence of God as a working material and force, which are unimaginable. The word creation also means the process of work. The product of the work is also work here. Therefore, creation stands for work as well as product. The Veda says that His power or energy or force (Shakti) is in several forms and the forms are awareness, force and work. Awareness is a form of work. Force is the matter and work is the ordinary work like mechanical work etc. (Paraasya Saktih…). You can approximately imagine God as the worker and the working material as His Maya or His power. Both God and Maya are unimaginable. Only the product, which is in the form of work or creation, is imaginable.

The Gita says that the five elements along with mind, intelligence and ego are categorised under one heading called as Apara Prakriti [inferior creation]. The last three items indicate the awareness. The Gita says that the second category is Para Prakriti [superior creation], which is Jeeva and which maintains the entire universe (Bhumiraponalo…). This concept is very critical and is also multi-dimensional.

If you say that awareness is Para Prakriti, it has already come under the Apara Prakriti. If you say that Jeeva means the living being, it is absurd because no living being is able to maintain this entire universe. Therefore, you have to take the right meaning in the careful way and in doing so several angles of the concept are simultaneously created. In fact, the meaning of any statement of the Lord is to be analysed very carefully since the statement is always multi-dimensional. The living being which includes the human being has already come under the category of Apara Prakriti because the awareness in the form of mind, intelligence and ego has already appeared in this category. The category Para Prakriti mentions only one item, which is called as Jeeva. Among the four Antahkaranams mind, intelligence and ego have already come under Apara Prakriti. The fourth Antahkaranam, which is chittam is not mentioned in that category and therefore it should have been the item mentioned under the category of Para Prakriti. But we have seen that chittam is in two forms. One form is awareness and another form is inert energy. If you take chittam in the form of awareness, experience shows that chittam is limited to tiny living beings, none of which can maintain this world. Therefore chittam under this category cannot be the form of awareness. If you take chittam in the form of inert energy in this category, you can see an agreement coming.

This entire universe is maintained by inert energy. Now the point comes that how the inert energy becomes Jeeva? If you take the chittam as inert energy present in the brain storing all the pulses of information (Gunas), it is the Jeeva, who is existing even in the state of deep sleep. Even the concept of I in form of the pulse (bit of information) exists in this form of chittam. Therefore, even if you define Jeeva as a form of ego [I-concept] there is no objection to this interpretation. If you consider the various pulses (bits of informations) as a mini-universe from the point of a design, this chittam (Jeeva) is maintaining this mini-world. If you take the inert energy of this chittam on a macro scale, it is maintaining this entire macro-universe. If you like to call this inert energy as awareness, basically there is no objection. The awareness is essentially work and the inert energy is also basically work. The awareness is meaningful only as long as the concept of I (pulse) exists. As long as God remains as a Spectator, this entire inert energy can be called as awareness because God is aware of the universe. For God, a nervous system is not required to maintain the awareness of the pulse of ego. Therefore, from the angle of God there is no objection even if you call this entire inert energy of the universe as awareness.

Awareness is Inert for God

From the angle of God all the inert energies are awareness alone because He is aware of the entire creation. Since, the entire creation and the entire inert energy (maintainer) are under His control, all the awareness is inert. The word inert means that which is controlled. All the living beings are also controlled by God and therefore all the living beings are also inert including the souls. The Veda says “Atmeshvaram…” which means that God is controller of souls. The distinction between inert and awareness is only from the point of the living being. In the angle of the living being, the inert energy flowing through nervous system can alone be called as awareness.

In the final time of destruction of world, the spectatorship of God is withdrawn. The universe is in the state of imagination even during the time of the spectatorship of God. When the spectatorship is withdrawn, the universe exists in the same imaginary state. Thus, from the angle of God there is no difference between the state of existence or the state of dissolution of the universe. In both the states it is imagination and it is in a very subtle and negligible state. When the spectatorship is withdrawn, you can treat it as the state of deep sleep of God. In this state all the souls are also like inert pulses present in the computer chip. The souls will not experience the creation and therefore from the point of souls the creation is invisible or inexperienced. Such state is called ‘Avyaktam’, which means the state of inexperience or invisibility. For God also the universe exists in invisible state in the case of dissolution of world. From the point of God you should not say that the universe has been converted to a subtle state from a solid state because the universe is always subtle for God. From the point of God, dissolution of the universe is only withdrawal of the spectatorship. A daydreamer withdraws himself from his imaginary world. He is no more a spectator and he is in deep sleep or in the waking state and does not interact with that imaginary world. In both these states the imaginary world exists and it is maintained by the inert energy called chittam. The imaginary world is subtle and negligible compared to the dreamer, whether the dreamer is a spectator of it or not.

Now from the point of view of the soul, the concept is quite different. In the time of dissolution of the world, the soul is not at all aware of the world. When the soul comes into the world from the state of dissolution of the world, the soul experiences a solid world. Therefore, the world is solid for the soul during the time of existence of world and the same world is not experienced during the time of the dissolution of the world. Therefore, for the soul, there are only two states regarding this world. Either the world is experienced as solid or the world is not at all experienced. Never does the world become imaginary to the soul. For God the world is always imaginary either in the state of existence or in the state of dissolution.

When God comes down by entering into a human body as a human incarnation, the situation is completely different. When God identifies Himself with a human body and forgets Himself, the human incarnation experiences this world as solid. But the same God in human body, when He remembers Himself, this solid world becomes imaginary. In such a state where He remembers His original nature, He can pierce through a solid wall because the wall is only imaginary for Him. Shankara entered the house of Mandana Mishra through bolted doors in such a state. Now the point comes: Why should God enter a human body? The entertainment from the world is little when the world is viewed as only an imaginary world. The entertainment is full if the world is viewed as a solid world. For getting full entertainment, God enters the human body and identifies Himself with that human body. After entering the human body also, if He constantly remembers Himself, then there is no meaning in entering the human body because in such a state the world looks imaginary at all times. God could remain in His original state and see the imaginary world continuously. He was having no entertainment before creating the imaginary world. After creating this imaginary world He got some entertainment. Something is better than nothing. After this He wanted full entertainment. Therefore, He entered the human form and became the human being for full entertainment.

Rama got full entertainment continuously because He never remembered His original state. The word Rama means entertainment. Krishna also got entertainment similarly but often He was disturbed and dragged back to His real state by the devotees and necessities. The word Krishna means ‘dragged’. This is clearly stated in the Veda (Ekaki Naramate…). Here the Veda says that God created this universe for entertainment and after some time He entered the universe for full entertainment. Here the Veda says that after entering the human body He has become both Sat and Tyat. Sat means His original state and Tyat means leaving His original state and identifying with the state of a human being. Some interpret that God has entered everything and every living being or every human being. If that were so, He could not have any entertainment. If He becomes every living being, then He can only enjoy all inert objects, in which He is not present. If He becomes every human being, He can enjoy all the inert objects and all the living beings other than human beings. In both these states the entertainment is not full. If He has become only one human being, the entertainment is full because in such a case He enjoys all the inert objects, all the living beings other than human beings and also all the other human beings. The scope of the objects of entertainment is widened to maximum extent in this case. Therefore, He becomes only one human being like Rama, Krishna, Jesus etc.

[Smt. Gayathri asked that if the Veda has been preached to angels, how can it be the final authority for human beings.]

For angels and the human beings, all the concepts of the spiritual effort are common. For both, God is unimaginable. Both can experience God only through a medium, which must be a part of the creation, be it an energetic body or a body made of five elements. Only this point differs between angels and human beings. For angels the composition of their body is only one element, which is energy (fire element). For human beings the composition of their body is all the five elements. This difference does not make any difference in the spiritual effort. Ego and jealousy towards the common medium is also the same for both angels and human beings. The Ramayanam, the Mahabharatam and the Bhagavatam are important for human beings because they deal with the human incarnations, which are congenial for human beings. These three do not come under the Puranas in which maximum pollutions occurred. In these three epics even if pollutions have happened, the concept of the human incarnation cannot be affected. In fact the Puranas deal with only energetic forms like Vishnu and Shiva and can be treated as replicas of the Vedas. The Gita is the essence of all the Vedas and therefore, when the Gita is the final authority, it means the Veda is the final authority because the Gita is another form of the Veda.

   

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