When we say, "I slept peacefully, I had no Dreams, I was unaware of anything," we are confidently affirming that "I" was in Deep Dreamless Sleep – that is, that we existed & knew that we existed at that time. Because we associate Consciousness with Existence, conscious of all the thoughts & perceptions that make up our Life in Waking & in Dream, we consider Deep Dreamless Sleep to be a state of un–consciousness..
But we should examine the so-called un–consciousness of Deep Dreamless Sleep more carefully. The Consciousness that knows thoughts & perceptions is our Mind, which rises & is active in Waking & Dream, but which subsides in sleep. But this rising & subsiding Consciousness is not our real Consciousness. We are conscious not only of the 2 States of Waking & Dream, in which our Mind rises to experience thoughts & perceptions, but also of a 3rd State, Deep Dreamless Sleep, in which our Mind has subsided in a State devoid of thoughts & perceptions.
This fact that we are conscious of Deep Dreamless Sleep as a State distinct from Waking
& Dream clearly indicates that we are the Consciousness that underlies the rising & subsiding of the transient Consciousness that we call "Mind". The Consciousness that enables us to affirm confidently, "I did exist in Deep Dreamless Sleep, but I was unconscious of anything," is not our "rising Consciousness" but our "Existence Consciousness".
This "Existence Consciousness", which exists in all our 3 States, is our real Consciousness, & is what is truly denoted when we say "I exist". Our Mind, the "rising Consciousness" that appears in Waking & Dream & disappears in Deep Dreamless Sleep, is only a spurious form of Consciousness, which on rising mistakes itself to be both our basic Consciousness "I exist" & this material Body.
Thus, by analyzing our experience in our 3 States of Waking, Dream, & Deep Dreamless Sleep, we can understand that though we now mistake our Self to be a Body limited by Time & Space, we are in fact the Consciousness that underlies the appearance of these 3 States, in only 2 of which the sense of being a Body & the consequent limitations of Time & Space are experienced.
However, a mere theoretical understanding of the Truth that we are only Consciousness will be of little use to us if we do not apply it in practice by endeavoring to gain real experiential Knowledge of that Truth. By itself, a theoretical understanding will not & cannot give us true & lasting Happiness, because it cannot destroy our deep-rooted sense of Identification with the Body, which is the root of all Ignorance, & the cause of all Suffering.
That which understands this Truth theoretically is only our Mind or Intellect, & our Mind cannot function without first identifying itself with a Body. Since our Mind or Intellect is thus a confused knowledge whose existence is rooted in Ignorance about who or what we really are, no intellectual understanding can ever by itself give us true Self-Knowledge. Self-Knowledge can only be gained by direct experience of the pure unlimited Consciousness which is our Real Self, because only such experience can root out the Ignorance that we are anything other than that Consciousness.
Therefore a theoretical understanding of the Truth can be of real benefit to us only if it prompts us to investigate our essential Consciousness of Existence – our simple Self-Consciousness, "I exist" – & thereby attain, through direct experience, a clear Knowledge of our own True Nature. Only by attaining such a clear Knowledge of the Consciousness that is truly "I", can we destroy our primal Ignorance, the confused & mistaken knowledge that we are the Mind, the limited form of Consciousness that identifies a Body as "I".
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"There is no Creation, no Destruction, no Bondage, no longing to be freed from Bondage, no striving for Liberation, nor anyone who has attained Liberation. Know that this to be Ultimate Truth."
– the "no creation"
, Shankara, Ramana, school of Gaudapada Nome – Ajata Vada
for very succinct summary of the teaching & practice, see: www.ajatavada.com/