Dreams: Glimpsing the All Illuminating Illumination

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JULY 2012                     ARTICLE OF THE MONTH

Dreams: Glimpsing the All Illuminating Illumination

An individual experiences the three states of wakefulness,                    dream and deep sleep. A baby in the womb lies in deep sleep                    for about twelve hours, dreams for about nine hours and is                    awake for about three hours. As age advances sleep decreases.                    Out of these three states, the specialty of the wakeful state                    is that in it we transact with the outer world using our sense                    organs. Also, in contrast to the other two states, our eyes                    are open while we are awake. Hence this state is also called                    ‘Netrasthana’ in Sanskrit, meaning ‘placed in the eye’.

The Light (Jyoti) Illuminating Our Worldly Transactions

No transaction is possible without a light. What is the light                    which is necessary for our activities in the state of wakefulness?                    In daytime it is the sun; in the sun’s absence during night                    it is the moon and the stars; and when they are both absent,                    it is Agni, i.e. fire.

What                    is the Dream State?

Vedanta analyzes the dream state to bring out the nature                    of the light illuminating our dreams. When Vedanta discusses                    the world or its creation, the purpose is not to unearth the                    physics behind it, but rather to make us understand that the                    world in its essential nature (Swarupa) is nothing but the                    Supreme Soul Brahman Itself. Similarly, the discussion of                    dreams is not to understand the psychology of it, but only                    the intrinsic nature of the light (Jyoti) illuminating it.

During our waking state, our senses act through our gross                    body and conduct transactions. In due course, the Jiva becomes                    tired by this (Shankaracharya’s Commentary on Chandogya Upanishad                    6.8.1). Then the Jiva leaves his position in the eyes (Netra-sthana),                    and descends to the heart. The organs of knowledge (Jnana-Indriyas),                    namely the power to see, hear, smell, taste and touch, all                    leave their locations in the gross body, and enter the mind                    (manas). This mind (with the organs of knowledge inside it),                    enters into the heart. Thus the transactions with the outside                    world come to a stop. However, the mind does not stop its                    functions (Prashna Upanishad 4.2). This is the dream state                    (Swapna).

The experience of dreams is the state where the sense organs                    (Indriyas) are resting, but the mind continues to experience                    without resting (Mahabharata Mokshadharma 275.24). However,                    the vital airs (Prana) animating the body do not leave their                    places and hence they continue to protect the physical (gross)                    body as they do when we are awake (Prashna Upanishad 4.3-4).                    That is why a sleeping body does not appear like an inauspicious                    corpse, but continues to be auspicious.

During dreams, the mind continues to supply from inwards                    the awareness to the Jiva, according to the residual desires                    (Vasanas) contained in the mind. These awarenesses are only                    vibrations of the mind without any external stimuli. However,                    in contrast to the waking state, when we are dreaming, everything                    is made up of our Vasanas. For example, though actually the                    body is sleeping here, in our dreams we may find our body                    walking somewhere else. Indriyas are resting here, but active                    in the dream; Breathing is regular here, but we may find ourselves                    gasping in a dream. Whatever we see in our dreams has no physical                    (gross) component to it, i.e. the content of the dream world                    is only the Vasana experienced inwardly in the mind of the                    dreamer (Shankaracharya’s Commentary on the Brhadaranyaka                    Upanishad 4.3.10).

The                    Dream World

All transactions in the world make their appearances in our                    dreams. There is a whole world there. There are chariots,                    horses to pull them and also roads to drive them through.                    However, they are only visible to the dreamer, not to others.                    Here the world is not objective like the Akasha etc. seen                    in the world which is a creation of God (Shankaracharya’s                    Commentary on the Brahma Sutras 3.2.4). The dream world is                    false, there is not even a trace of objectivity in it. The                    content of the dream world is only the mental modifications                    of the sleeper, and not made up of the five primary elements                    (Pancha-Mahabhuta) created by God, which are the basic building                    blocks of the physical world, and which are experienced by                    all (Brahma Sutra 3.2.3).

Also, most importantly, the dreamer is untouched by the Paap (Sin) and Punya (Merit)) he performs in his dreams. This is because the mind during sleep is independent and out of the dreamer’s direct control. In dream one only sees the Punya and Paap, he does not actually do them (Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 4.3.15). Not only this, even the pleasure and pain experienced in the dream state are only Vasanas. The transactions which took place in the outer world are seen in dreams by the dreamer staying within the body (Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 2.1.18). That is why the Vedas describe the dream world as the creation of the Jiva. There are no chariots there, no horses and no roads. But he creates the chariots, horses and the roads (Br.U. 4.3.10).

While there is no activity of the gross body in the dream                    state, from the point of view of the activity of the mind,                    there is no difference between the actual world (Jagat) and                    the dream world. However, the world created by God puts a                    leash on the mind during our waking state, where external                    objects pull us towards them. But, since the sense organs                    are inactive during dreams, the leash of the external world                    is snapped and the mind has a free play. The wakeful world                    created by God is well ordered through place, time and causal                    connections. This is not so the case with the world of dreams                    (Brahma Sutra 3.2.3). The dream world is totally false. There                    is no order there with regard to space-time and causality.                    What is a man now, becomes a tree the next moment; and the                    tree an animal. Dreams are only a recall of the memory of                    what has happened in the waking world.

There is no rule that one should see only what one has seen                    earlier. One can add his own imagination to the memory of                    what was seen in the waking state. However, what is impossible                    even to imagine, can never be seen in a dream.

Dreams:                    A Junction of This World and That World


Fourteen Dreams of Trishala, the Mother of Tirthankara MahaviraThough                    dream experience is largely a memory recall of the transactions                    done in the waking state, sometimes something special may                    also be seen according to one’s knowledge, actions and previous                    experiences (including past lives). These may include seeing                    other worlds where one has to go after death. One does not                    directly experience the pleasures and pains of these other                    worlds in one’s dreams, rather one simply sees them. Therefore,                    the dream world is sometimes described as a junction between                    this world and the next (Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 4.3.9). Not                    only that, one can foresee in dreams even the future events                    of one’s life. For example, one who never thinks about women,                    when he sees one in his dreams, can be assured that his desired                    endeavors will bear fruit (Chandogya Upanishad 5.2.8). Seeing                    a dark person with black teeth indicates the dreamer’s death                    (Aitreya Aranyaka 3.2.4). The woman and the dark man with                    black teeth are of course mental forms; however, the success                    of one’s Karma or one’s impending death foretold by the dreams                    are real, not false (Brahma Sutra 3.2.4).

Who                    Creates Our Dreams?


This question arises because different Upanishads seem to                    give different statements in this regard. The Brhadaranyaka                    Upanishad indicates that the Jiva (individual soul) is himself                    the creator of his dreams. ‘He creates the chariots, the horses                    and the roads for himself’ (Br.U.4.3.10).

However, the Katha Upanishad says that God is the one who creates our dreams. ‘When all are sleeping, the One who is awake creating different sights in the dream is the divine Brahman’ (Katha Upanishad 2.2.8).

Further, the Prashna Upanishad attributes the creation of dreams to the mind: ‘During dreams, all the senses merge in the great mind. This mind experiences the grandeur of dreams’ (Prashna Upanishad 4.5).

Therefore, the three texts give three different versions                    as to who is the creator of dreams. Remember however that                    we all know the Vedas contain no contradictions (See Exotic                    India Article of the Month September 2010). Thus we will see                    how Shri Shankaracharya has reconciled these apparently differing                    statements about the creator of our dreams.

The                    Answer:

The creator of his dreams is indeed the Jiva himself because                    it is clearly said that he ‘creates for himself’ (Brhadaranyaka).                    None of the other two quotes explicitly use the word ‘creates.’                    This is logically correct also because it is only the Jiva’s                    Vasana that appears as the dream world.

Objection: But the Jiva sometimes gets undesirable                    dreams also. How can he be the creator if he has no control                    over his dreams?

Resolution: Yes, of course. Jiva does not have control                    because it is God who shows up his dreams as per his Vasana.

Doubt: Then we have to say that God is the creator?


Reply: That is not right. Suppose one eats too much                    and gets a stomach ache; nobody says that it is the Vaishnavara                    (fire in the body which is responsible for digestion, and                    which is a form of God, Bhagavad Gita: 15.14) which is responsible                    for this pain. They say that the individual has caused it                    himself. It is true that he does not want this pain. He has                    no control over it either; but still he is himself responsible                    for it. He has no control over it after he has over-eaten.                    Had he control while eating, he would not have had the pain                    at all.                 

Further Doubt: How then does the Prashna Upanishad                    attribute the creation of dreams to the mind?

Resolution: It is because the Jiva experiences dreams                    using the instrument of his mind. For example, when rice is                    being pounded, even though there is someone responsible for                    the pounding, we say that "this pestle pounds well".                    Thus, the responsibility for the dream world is attributed                    to the mind even though it acts as a mere instrument, while                    it is the Jiva who is actually the creator of dreams. The                    Vedas adopt the style of direct teaching from the Guru to                    disciple; the Guru uses the words according to the situation.                    One who cannot understand this may think that it could be                    a contradiction.

Does                    the Jyoti Illuminating Our Dreams Belong to the Body?

Above we have read about the light (Jyoti) facilitating our                    transactions when we are awake. There the illumination comes                    from the sun, moon etc. But in the dreams there is no scope                    for any of them to operate. The Katha Upanishad says:

‘The sun does not shine there. The moon, the stars, the lightning                    do not shine there. Nor does fire’ (KaU 2.2.15).

However, in the dream state too the Jiva gets all the awarenesses                    just as he does when he is awake. What is the Jyoti for them?                    It is certainly not from the outside. It has to be only from                    inside. The question is: Is this Jyoti connected with the                    body or something different? According to one view this light                    is of our body. How do we say that our body has the capacity                    to generate a Jyoti? Because of the fact that when one rubs                    ones eyes one sees stars inside. Similarly, the Jyoti in dreams                    too is related to the body. This is the view of those who                    do not believe in the Vedas.

The                    Light Illuminating Our Dreams is Not of the Body

The above view however is wrong. The reason is as follows:                    One who had seen something with his physical eyes in the wakeful                    state, sees the same again in a dream even after becoming                    blind. Therefore the seer must be someone who is different                    from the eyes. Previously what was seen with the eyes is now                    seen without the eyes. Therefore, this Jyoti does not belong                    to the eyes, i.e. it is not connected with the body.

Objection by the Atheist (Non-Believer in the Vedas):                    Not like that. What we meant was that whatever is seen by                    the sense organs when we are awake is recorded in the mind                    as Vasana. This Vasana itself shows up as objects in dreams.                    Therefore the mind now plays two roles – as the seen object                    and also as the seer. Therefore the light in which we see                    the dreams (Swapna-Jyoti), is of the mind, which we know is                    related to the body.

Reply by Vedantin: In that case it is agreed by you                    that the seer is different from the eyes. Further if you say                    that the mind is the seer of dreams, what then is the instrument                    through which it sees the dream? For example, in the waking                    state it is our eyes which serve as instruments to view the                    world. We have already seen that they cannot serve as instruments                    for us to see dreams. If we take the mind as the seer of dreams,                    then it will require an instrument other than itself to see                    the dream. However, no such instrument exists. (Brahma Sutra                    2.3.38)

In fact, it is but our common experience that the mind (and                    everything else) is absent when we are in deep sleep (Sushupti).                    Therefore, the true seer is the one who is different from                    the mind, and witnesses the mind’s absence during deep sleep.

Therefore, the light illuminating our dreams does not belong                    to the mind either.

The                    Light Illuminating Our Dreams is that of the Atman (Soul)

This much is now decided: The Jyoti in dreams must be of                    one who is even beyond the mind. This is the Atman. Who is                    he? It is the one who is witnessing the absence of everything                    including the mind when we are in deep sleep. Though it is                    difficult to apprehend him, nobody doubts his existence. Therefore                    he shines in his own Jyoti, not by someone else’s. This is                    the Atman’s self-illuminating nature (Swayam-Jyotishtava),                    which is its essential nature (Swarupa).

Conclusion:                    The Facility with Dreams

Everybody knows the existence of the Atman, because no one                    can deny the ‘I’ in oneself. However, we are too used to viewing                    the Atman through the lens of certain conditioning adjuncts                    (Upadhis), superimposing the nature of these Upadhis on ourselves.                    For example, if the body is male one thinks he is a man, if                    female, he thinks he is a woman. Both man and woman are Himself,                    but He is neither a man or a woman. Therefore, in order to                    understand the Self-Illuminating (Swayam-Jyotishtava) of the                    Atman, he is to be freed from the outside lights and the lights                    of the Upadhis. What has been done in the dream state is precisely                    this. It is through the dream state that we get introduced                    to the soul’s self-illuminating nature. Though this Jyoti                    is same Jyoti which illuminates the waking state also, its                    pure and unalloyed nature remains unrecognized there in the                    humdrum of the external Jyotis. In our dreams this humdrum                    is suppressed and therefore its recognition becomes easy.                    Indeed, our countless salutations to our Atman, who by gracing                    us with the dream state, removes our darkness with its light,                    baring itself as the ‘One, Pure Illumination’, illuminating                    all other illuminations.

This article is based almost entirely on the teachings of Param Pujya Swami                    Paramanand Bharati Ji. However, any errors are entirely the                    author's own.

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Comment by Eddie Sitting Pretty on July 16, 2012 at 5:50pm

The bird is called the Ka or sometimes Ba-- Soul Bird
In Boston we pahk the Ka in Hahvad Yahd

Comment by Eddie Sitting Pretty on July 15, 2012 at 11:20am

Raising your consciousness above the earthly microcosmic viewpoint to the macrocosmic viewpoint.

The body is the tomb.

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