A friend of mine, Chris, was working with a therapist who specializes in dream interpretation. He would follow her instructions and write a letter to his inner Self before going to sleep, asking it to reveal through dream form whatever he needed to know to attain his personal goals. Then, as he awoke from sleep, he would write down the dreams and bring them to her office, where she would help him to decipher the symbolic messages behind the events, people and objects of the dream.
One week Chris came to her office feeling frustrated. He had not remembered any of his dreams that week, and furthermore he had just been through a week from hell. His old alcoholic tendencies had come up again and he found himself drowning himself in alcohol. The next day, the well outside his house ran totally dry. Then he met a fellow who he was very attracted to, and they had dinner together. The fellow did not drink or take drugs, and was living a very clean and disciplined life.
The therapist told Chris, "Well, since you don't have any dreams for us to interpret, why don't we analyze the symbolism of your waking state?" They worked on the week as though it was a dream, and came up with some very helpful insights about Chris's inner state. Here he had been drowning himself in alcohol, yet the next day his well ran dry. He was drying his resources out by following this tendency to drink. The fellow he met that week actually represented a part of Chris himself, just as he might have in a dream -- the part of himself that wanted to live a clean life. The fact that he was so attracted to the fellow showed that he was longing to give up his bad habits and live a cleaner life. This information struck Chris in such a powerful way that he gave up drinking in that moment and moved on to make a number of incredibly powerful changes in his life. The interpretations of his waking state symbolism rang so true to his innermost being that it created a change in his entire mode of interaction with his world.
The Shiva Sutras of Kashmir Shaivism states: "The bliss of turiya (the fourth state of consciousness beyond the waking state, dream state and deep sleep state) arises, or is woven through all the different states of waking, dream and deep sleep."
This alludes to a higher state of consciousness we are not generally aware of, called turiya, the fourth state. There are infinite spaces of knowledge and awareness within our own beings that we know nothing about. This sutra posits that a higher, pure awareness is present in all that we go through during all our states of consciousness, even when our personal experience is limited to that of an incomplete, bound soul.
If we were having the experience of the fullness of conscious awareness and infinite knowledge right now, right this moment, would we even know it? Do we have the internal machinery available to us that can read this state? Well, according to this sutra, that higher awareness is available to us at all times. It is right here, right now; living parallel to our experienced state of limitation. We simply have not learned to accept and expand our awareness into this fourth state, this inner freedom that is woven through all our other states of consciousness.
The Shiva Sutras go on to say, "The waking state is perception. It is the state in which we are in direct contact with the objective world. The dream state is mental activity. Its contents consist of the mental processes which occur in isolation from the objective world."
Our usual experience of waking consciousness is actually a combination of the two states described here as the waking and dream states. We are taking in sensory information from the universe around us, but we are also limiting, adding to, manipulating, deleting, and giving meaning to the information as it comes in, using the mental processes considered in this scripture as belonging to the dream state. We are dreaming while awake, painting our pure perception with judgments, desires, memories, and other false mental constructs -- altering and recreating these pure waking state perceptions with our own images.
The Shiva Sutras continue, "The deep sleep state is the inability to discriminate, which is caused by the power of illusion. This state is characterized by the absence of perception since the knowing faculty has ceased to function."
This deep sleep state is a very nourishing, restful space we enter during our sleep process, where there are no dreams, no physical perception, just darkness and complete rest of our non-essential physical and mental systems. As the verse says, " . . . the knowing faculty has ceased to function." The we is gone. The entire city within us has turned its lights off and gone into a deep sleep. Still, according to this scripture even in this total darkness the higher knower, this turiya state of consciousness, sits ever watchful.
Next, the Shiva Sutras presents a secret teaching, veiled only by the personal and intellectual effort that must go into understanding its meaning: "He who experiences the three states (of waking, dream and deep sleep), is the consciousness or power behind the senses. The complete integration of these states allows him to wield all powers within that limited realm of manifestation."
This waking state reality may be just as malleable as the dream state. Stephen LaBerge, of the Stanford University Sleep Lab, has conducted very telling research into the nature of dreaming. He has taught many experimental subjects to become lucid dreamers. These people are able to become aware that they are in the middle of the dream, and are ultimately able to affect the nature and outcome of the events in their dreams, from within the dream. They step out of the pocket of limited consciousness as the one having the dream, and step back into that power behind the senses, that consciousness through which the dream is being created. They are in the dream, but not of it. They become a co-creator. And as the above sutra states, "The complete integration of these states allows him to wield all powers within that limited realm of manifestation."
We must become lucid wakers, not just lucid dreamers. If we can become lucid during our waking state, realizing it is a manifestation of our own great consciousness; then we can live with great power and freedom in this very world. We can play the game of life, knowing it is truly our own game. We are able to interact with a friendly, conscious universe. Then, even when everything seems to be falling apart around us, we know it will all be fine, that in fact everything is fine right now. Anything can happen at any time.
What if you slept?
And what if in your sleep, you dreamed?
And what if in your dream you went to heaven
and there plucked a strange and beautiful flower?
And what if when you awoke, you had the flower in your hand?
Ah! What then?
-Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Miracles are only such to the bound, egocentric, limited mind. If someone had never heard of virtual reality, for example, they might be shocked to see that all of the hand movements and even facial movements of a person could be perfectly reflected in another image on a screen far away from the person. It would seem to be a miracle, some kind of magic or supernatural ability.
We live in a virtual reality, interactive universe. Our beliefs and actions have repercussions in realms we have never imagined. Beyond our cages of egocentric limitation is the vision of this world as a flowing, interactive palette of colors, in which we are all artists -- poised with brushes in hand, waiting to accept our own artistic ability, our own right to participate in this creative dance. For this, we need to wake up and realize who we really are. We need to claim our own birthright, our great inner power, our oneness with the universe in which we live. We need to forge the great journey to lucidity.
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