Against All Logic

A Little Zen, A Little Philosophy, A Little Nonsense

To Be Awake Be Asleep

sleeping_beautyIn my previous post Are You Back To Front the relationship between consciousness, the senses and awareness was examined in some detail. It is clear from the hierarchy outlined in that post that a person is closest to their true source or “being” when fully asleep. The person who sleeps is submerged in pure awareness but since the overt consciousness and the sense consciousness’s have “switched off” they perceive only darkness which is the very nature of awareness. Awareness is often mystically referred to as a “dark light”. We therefore have a contradiction or puzzle here. The person is at once both most knowledgeable and most ignorant while in the sleeping state. They are most knowledgeable because they have “become” their source, but they are least knowledgeable because they are only dimly aware of existence. The waking conscious state relies upon awareness and consciousness functioning back to back. This is the source of the dualistic split in the psyche of man. Consciousness is a projection within awareness but consciousness being an inferior principle cannot directly perceive awareness. Awareness is anterior to consciousness.

This however throws up some interesting possibilities. If a person is at their most “wise” during the sleeping state then surely if a person could develop the same mentality as that which we find in the sleeping person but while still consciously awake, then by implication they would become consciously “wise”. They would perceive both the waking and sleeping state simultaneously and by implication, they would have conscious identity with awareness itself. In other words, such a person would sink into that unconscious awareness that is the sleeping state but while still consciously awake. This of course would constitute an enlightening experience. The problem for the unenlightened person is not that awareness is not present in them, it is that they do not have conscious identity with awareness. They have conscious identity with consciousness and this hides awareness or the sleeping state like a “Penny blocking out the sun” to quote spiritual teacher Alfred Pulyan.

We can see that this state of affairs may offer a way forward to the person who wishes to develop direct identity with awareness. A study of the psychological attributes of the sleeping state would reveal those psychological attitudes and states that need to be put into effect to enable a person to enter into direct identity with awareness or “the unconscious” whilst still in the waking state.  The most common descriptions we find of the sleeping state are descriptions of passivity; it is “peaceful”, it is “blissful”, it is “unconcerned”, it is “relaxing”, it is “restful”, it is “accepting” it is “non-grasping”, it is “indifferent” etc. It is not a surprise that sleep should be described in this way. The intellect and the sense consciousness’s have shut down and the person is free of the ever ending stream of thought and concern that is characteristic of the waking state. When a person sleeps they liberate themselves from worry and concern.

We can see from all of this where the person in the waking state goes wrong. Instead of having an attitude of complete unconcern, complete relaxation and complete indifference, they have an attitude that is entirely outgoing. They grasp at things, they worry about things, they are concerned by things. They act in other words as if the world exists. The sleeping person on the other hand acts as if the world did not exist. They are completely passive in nature and it is this passivity that is the key to entering into direct identity with awareness or “the unconscious”. The grasping must stop in other words. It is important to understand that a person who can put this into operation does not become zombie like, they simply become non-reactive. They transform themselves from an almost entirely reactive being into an entirely non-reactive being. In this state of being, the devil himself could appear and yet he produces not a flicker. When a person goes to sleep, they lay down everything. The person who can do this while remaining awake will enter into the unconscious and perceive direct identity with awareness itself. They will be both awake and asleep at the same time. It is a state of absolute passivity, a state free of all grasping and yet it is not a state of blankness, of zombification. It is a state of utter joy and lightness because the mind is free. It is no longer constrained by a neurotic clinging to external objects.

The key then, is to study the sleeping state and to then imitate it. Try to be as close to the sleeping state as you can possible manage during your waking hours. If you find yourself reacting, pretend you are asleep and deal with the situation in a non-reactive way. Remember that the sleeping person psychologically acts as if the world did not exist. You need to be psychologically asleep, psychologically unconscious,  but consciously awake. You need to be absolutely non-reactive. It is not even a case of deciding not to react; that would be a reaction. It is a case of being so unconcerned that the need for reaction no longer exists. Reaction is a product of concern. Without concern reaction ceases. It is only because something bothers you that you react. Replace reaction with action. One acts in order to live, but one reacts because one is concerned. Be unconcerned and act.

Another way of approaching this is to develop nostalgia for the sleeping state. Think carefully about the liberating aspects of being asleep and develop a deep nostalgia for this state of being. Do it on a regular basis. Meditate on it and maintain a state of nostalgia throughout your waking hours. Eventually sleep will become your friend and you will gradually enter into the unconscious; you will “fall awake” and directly perceive your identity with awareness itself. We all unknowingly have nostalgia for the sleeping state. It is the thing we secretly want; to go to sleep, but our outgoing egotism constantly drives us from it. The sleeping state represents peace and tranquillity but a person has to want it. You have to tire of yourself and go to sleep.

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This entry was posted on May 6, 2013 by in Buddhism, Consciousness, Ego, Mind, Perception, Zen.

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