Question: There’s another kind of dreaming then.
Papaji: I am not speaking of dreaming. We can talk about that state later. For now, I’m talking about slumber, deep sleep.
A few years ago I met a team in Rishikesh. Twenty-five people had come from all over the world: psychologists, physiologists, even parapsychologists. They had a very original proposition that they were trying to test: that there are only two states, waking and dreaming. They said that man is either awake or dreaming and that there was really no such state as sleep.
One of them told me, ‘That is what we are discovering in the West. When we put an EEG on a sleeping person’s brain we find that dreaming is going on all the time, even during what appears to be deep sleep.’
In India we say that there are five states: waking, dreaming, sleeping, turiya, and turiyatita.
Question: What is that last one?
Papaji: Turiyatita. Waking, dreaming and sleeping are states you understand. After this there is turiya, the fourth state. This is the state in which the previous three appear and disappear. Beyond that is turiyatita, which means ‘beyond the fourth’.
These scientists were going from ashram to ashram, looking for swamis to test with their equipment. Some of the scientists were part of an astronaut-training programme. Apparently, astronauts were not sleeping well in space, so research was going on, looking for ways to improve their sleeping. There was a theory that some kind of meditation or yoga might improve their sleeping patterns.
These scientists were looking for swamis to test. They wanted to put electrodes on their heads while they were meditating to see what happened to the brain waves during meditation. They tried many people and eventually ended up with a man called Swami Rama. When they arrived he was gardening in his ashram. I was not there at the time, so I got this story second-hand.
They approached him very respectfully and explained their purpose. Then they asked him if he would sit or lie down and meditate while they checked out his brain waves.
He replied, ‘You can attach your wires while I am watering my garden. I don’t need to sit down to meditate.’
The scientists put wires on his head and discovered that, as the swami had said, his mind was not working while he was engaged in his daily gardening chores. They were so impressed, they took him off for further tests.
If you are knowingly established in the substratum, any amount of activities can go on, and you won’t need the mind to do them. The Self will take care of all these things and you will remain in peace at all times.
Let us go back to the three states – waking, dreaming and sleeping – and the underlying fourth state of emptiness. The three states are projected onto that substratum, that background in which sleeping comes and goes, dreaming comes and goes, and waking comes and goes. There is some substratum, some basic foundation on which they all revolve. That foundation, that presence, that space is always there, but while you are preoccupied with outside things, you forget it.
Now, there are three classes of people. In the first category there are those who never ever forget. Under all circumstances they know that everything is taking place in this substratum. These people are the jivanmuktas, which means that they are fully liberated while they are still alive in their bodies. The second category get themselves into trouble because sometimes they remember and sometimes they forget. Awareness of emptiness may be there for a while, but then the memory of a friend who has died may rise up and suddenly they are in grief. They have lost the awareness of that emptiness by attaching themselves to a thought. This kind of emptiness is not abiding; it depends on the whims of mental activities. The people in the third category are suffering all the time. They never have even a glimpse of that original space, that emptiness, and so they suffer endlessly. For them, samsara never ends or even stops briefly.
If you are a member of the very exclusive number one club, you know that whatever manifests is an appearance in your own Self. When you wake up, manifestation arises, but you know that it is all a projection. When you sleep, no manifestation is present, but you, your Self, will still remain. Something will still be there while you sleep, and that something is your own Self.
The slide show comprises photos of Papaji teaching in his front room in Lucknow. All the photos are from the period when these dialogues took place.
David Godman Books
Books by David Godman on Ramana Maharshi, his devotees and his teachings