Vedānta series 16

Next to the active state is the dream state, which occurs before the state of deep sleep.  During the active state, the mind is active.  Mind has a peculiar nature.  Whatever the inputs it receives, it not only acts immediately, but also stores the information, often known as impressions.  Let us take a typical example. A person wants to buy a high end model car, but it remains out of his reach due to its prohibitive cost.  In spite of the fact that he cannot afford to buy the car, he thinks about the car frequently.  The thought about the car is stored in his mind as impressions. During his dream state, his mind continues to think about the car.  The impressions gathered by his senses during active state appear as dreams during dream state.  In the active state, mind is associated with the gross body and during the dream state the mind is associated with the subtle body. This is the important difference between these two states. In fact, in the dream state and the deep sleep state, brain’s metabolic rate is high.  Dreams do not let us see objectively into our mental process.  Rarely such dreams give us very direct insights and intuitions.  Generally, dreams are to be ignored, as they are based on the impressions of the mind rather than any spiritual revelations or forewarning.  Particularly the advaita do not take cognizance of dreams.  Therefore, dream state means only the state of the mind and not divine commune. If someone says that god has communicated to him in his dreams, he is to be ignored.

A person in dream state is known as taijasa.  Actions by the gross body leave impressions in the mind called vāsanā-s. In the active state, all the three bodies are active, whereas, in dream state, only subtle body, the mind, is active.  Dreams originate and culminate only in the mind and have no association with other two bodies. Dream is not a reality, but the manifestation of the impressions of the mind.  Hence, dreams are illusionary in nature.

The third state is the deep sleep state.  In the state of deep sleep, the mind is also rested.  Only the casual body is awake, as casual body or the soul will never sleep.  It is eternally sleepless.   In the state of deep sleep, one does not have any experience.  A person who is in the state of deep sleep state is known as prājñā.  During this state, every organ is rested and they are recouped and energized by metabolism.  Though the mind is completely cut off from the external world, it still does not realise the Self, as the mind is also rested.  Only in the active mind, Self can be realized.  These three states are discussed only to reveal the nature of the soul and involvement of the mind in the process of Self realisation.  They refer to the quick transition of one’s consciousness.  When one’s consciousness is totally purified, it means that he has realised the Self, as Self alone remains immutable in all the three states of active, dream and deep sleep states.  Though the study of these states does not contribute directly to realisation of the Brahman, the study provides adequate knowledge to know about the mind and the soul. 

The following chart will explain the connection between the three types of bodies and the three types of states.

Active state à gross, subtle and casual bodies are active

Dream state à gross body is rested and subtle and casual bodies are active

Deep sleep state à gross and subtle bodies are rested and only casual body is active.

Thus it can be observed the casual body or the soul is active in all the three states.  The soul is eternally awake till it realizes its true nature.  The three states happen one after another. When a person enters into sleep mode his active state slips into a dream state, which in turn slips into a deep sleep state. While waking up, the reverse process happens.  At any given point of time, a person is established in any one of these states.  It can also be observed that the soul or the casual body is always active and remains the same, without partaking in any of the activities.  It remains only as witness all the time. 

Further reading:  There is an intermediary state between active and dream states.  One is half awake –half asleep in this state.  Generally, divine communication happens only in this state.  This state also happens in the reverse process.  This state has more clarity in the reverse order, i.e. from dream state to active state. Based on this state, it is said that early morning dreams come true.  But this state is neither a dream state nor an active state.