"In Wonders We Sail, Questing for the Answers in Veil"

Monday, November 28, 2011

Afterlife : Sleep Of Experience By Satprem




Depending on the development of our consciousness, there are many degrees in this new type of sleep, from the rare spasmodic flashes we may have on one plane or another to a continuous and self-governing vision, capable of moving freely throughout the entire range of planes. Here again, everything depends upon our waking consciousness. By affinity we normally go to the planes with which we have established a connection. The vital, mental or other vibrations we have accepted, which have become ideas, aspirations, desires, base or noble reactions, constitute this connection, and when we leave our body, we simply go to the source of these vibrations – an extraordinarily vivid and striking source, next to which our mental and vital translations in the physical world seem pallid and virtually empty. Then we begin to become aware of the immense and countless worlds that suffuse and envelop and overshadow our little earthly planet, determining its destiny and ours. It is obviously impossible to describe these worlds in a few pages or even in several volumes; it would be like trying to describe the earth on the basis of a glimpse of Long Island. We will simply give a few clues to help the seeker check his own experience. The first requirements for this exploration, as Sri Aurobindo has often insisted, are a clear austerity, the absence of desire, and a silent mind; otherwise we may fall prey to all kinds of illusions. Patiently, through repeated experiences, we first learn to identify the plane on which our experience has taken place, then the level within each plane. This process of situating our experience is as important for our quest as knowing which road we are traveling and which state or country we are crossing when we explore the earth. Then we learn to understand the meaning of our experiences; this is a foreign language, even several languages, which we must decipher without any interference from our own mental language. Indeed, one of the main difficulties is that mental language is the only language we know, so as we wake up, its own transcriptions will tend unconsciously to interfere with and to distort the purity of the experience. Without a knowledgeable guide to unravel this tangle, we must learn to remain as mentally silent as possible upon awakening, and to feel, intuitively, the meaning of these other languages; this occurs fairly rapidly as our consciousness develops and our experiences multiply. At first, it is like a jungle of a Chinese marketplace: everything looks the same. Then, over the months and years, one eventually makes out paths and faces, places and signs, and a more vivid proliferation than on earth.


But how to remember one's sleep? For most people it is a total blank – a link is missing. There are in fact many links, or bridges, as the Mother puts it, as if we were made of a series of countries connected to one another by bridges. Thus, we may easily remember some parts of our being and their travels, while others are forgotten for lack of a bridge to the rest of our consciousness. When crossing this void, or untrained part of the consciousness, we forget. Usually, a sufficiently developed person travels through the whole range of planes of consciousness in his or her sleep and goes right to the supreme Light of the Spirit – Sat-Chit-Ananda – most often unconsciously, but those few minutes are the true sleep, true repose in the absolute relaxation of Joy and Light. Sri Aurobindo used to say that the real purpose of sleep is to return spontaneously to the Source and reimmerse oneself in it. From there we come down slowly through each plane – the Mind, Vital, Subtle Physical, and Subconscient (the last one is remembered the most easily) – where each part of our being has its own corresponding experiences. There are also many zones within each plane, each with its own particular bridge. The major difficulty is in building the first bridge, the connection with the external waking consciousness. The one and only way to do this is to remain perfectly motionless and silent upon awakening. If we turn over or move, everything vanishes or, rather, the great lake of sleep is instantly covered with little ripples, which keep us from seeing anything. If we begin to think, then the ripples turn into swirls of mud that totally obscure everything; thought has no place in this process, neither can the mind help us to remember. Instead, we must gaze steadily upon the vast, quiet lake, in a very sustained but objectless contemplation, as if the sheer pointedness of our gaze were going to pierce the dark blue depths. If we persevere long enough, we will see an image suddenly emerge before our eyes, or just a faint outline, like the scent of a faraway land, laden with fragrance and very familiar, yet still elusive. At that point, we should not leap at the image, for it would immediately vanish, but let it gradually become clearer, assume its own shape, and eventually a whole scene will emerge. Once we have seized hold of the thread, it is usually enough to pull it gently, without trying to think or understand (understanding will come later; if we begin interpreting prematurely, we will cut off all communications), and that thread will take us from one country to another, from one memory to another. We may sometimes remain stuck for years at the same point on the way, as if there were a memory lapse somewhere, a gap in the road. To build the missing connection, we must be patient and just persevere; through obstinacy, a path will eventually open, as in the jungle. To try to recall dreams is not the only method, however; we can also concentrate at night, before going to sleep, with a will to remember and to wake up once or twice, at fixed intervals, in order to catch the thread at different points along the way. This method is particularly effective. We know how we only have to want to wake up at a given time for the inner clock to work precisely, almost to the minute; this is called "making a formation." These formations are like little vibratory nodules issued by the will and which then acquire an existence of their own, discharging their duties very effectively.We can make more or less powerful, and more or less durable, formations (that can be periodically recharged) for all sorts of purposes, and in particular for remembering to awaken at regular intervals during our sleep. If we persevere for months, or years if necessary, eventually each time a significant event takes place on some plane of our sleep, we will be automatically alerted. We will only need to stop in the middle of the sleep, repeat the event two or three times to ourselves to record it, then go back in again.


In this enormous field of experience we can stress only a few general practical points, which may strike the seeker at the beginning of his investigation. First, a clear distinction must be drawn between ordinary subconscious dreams and actual experiences. Experiences are not dreams, though we are in the habit of mixing them together; they are real events, on one plane or another, in which we have participated. They are distinguished from ordinary dreams by their striking intensity: any event in the outer physical world, however exceptional, seems dull next to them. They leave a deep impression in us, and the memory of them is more vivid than any physical memory, as if we had touched a richer mode of existence – not necessarily richer in its external aspect or color, although it may be strikingly bright (especially in the Vital), but in its content. When the seeker awakens with an overwhelming sensation, as if he had bathed in a world replete with signs having more than one meaning at a time (the events of our physical world rarely mean more than one thing at a time), which are so filled with invisible ramifications and depths that he could contemplate them for a long time and not exhaust their meaning, or when he has watched and participated in scenes that seem infinitely more real than physical scenes (which are always flat, as if they rested against a hard, somewhat photographic background), he will know he has had a real experience and not a dream.

                                                     Unreal-seeming yet more real than life,
... truer than things true
If dreams these were or captured images,
Dream's truth made false earth's vain realities

There is yet another remarkable phenomenon: as we ascend the scale of consciousness, the quality of the surrounding light changes – differences in luminosity are a sure indication of where we are and even of the meaning of the scene. There is indeed a whole spectrum, from the muddy shades of the subconscient (gray, brown, black); the vibrant hues of the Subtle Physical; the bright colors of the Vital, which, we should note, always look somewhat artificial, flashy, and a bit hard (this region is particularly deceptive); to the lights of the Mind, which become increasingly powerful and pure as one rises toward the Origin. From the Overmind and above, a radical change occurs in the nature of the vision: the objects, beings and things we see no longer seem to be illumined from the outside, flatly (as is the Earth by the sun), but they are luminous in themselves, and ultimately there is no longer anyone "outside" looking in, but only ecstasy in a still, resplendent Light, utterly free of the clatter and sensational happenings of the lower planes. To come into contact with that Light, if only for a few minutes, is to feel as rested as after eight hours of sleep. This is how yogis can live without sleep, and also how a few minutes of concentration in the day can refresh us as much as a long walk in the countryside. Our body is unbelievably resilient; psychological turmoil is what tires us.

Aside from participating in events of a universal character, we find that sleep is a gold mine of information about our own individual condition. All the levels of our being stand out during sleep, as if we had been deaf and dumb, made of cardboard, during our waking hours, and suddenly everything in us awakens to a life truer than life. These various inner levels of our being may appear in sleep as rooms, or houses, in which the slightest detail is significant: When one sets out to explore one's inner being, explains the Mother, and the different parts that form it, one often has the impression of entering a hall or a room; according to the color, the atmosphere, and the objects it contains, one gets a very clear feeling of the part being visited. Then one may even move into deeper and deeper rooms, each with its own character. Sometimes, instead of rooms, we may encounter all kinds of beings – an entire family or even a menagerie – which represent the forces and vibrations we are accustomed to harboring in us, and which make up "our" nature.

These are not beings of "dream"' they are the real beings we harbor. Forces are conscious, vibrations are conscious; beings and forces, consciousness and force, are two simultaneous sides of the same reality. Then we see very vividly what we want to keep, or no longer keep, within ourselves.

Something else will strike the seeker by its almost daily recurrence. He will find, after the fact, that he has had, during the night, the exact premonition of all the important psychological events that will take place the next day. First, he may believe this is pure coincidence, or deny the connection between one event and the other, but after the same thing has reoccurred hundreds of times, he will begin to be on guard; and finally, once he has completely awakened to the fact, he will use this foreknowledge to take protective measures beforehand. For example, we may have a spell of depression that day, or go into a rage, or feel a movement of rebellion inside us, or a sexual impulse, etc., or even, to take another example of a seemingly different nature, we may trip on the stairs two or three times and almost fall headlong, or contract a violent fever; then we notice that each of these small, very trivial daytime incidents corresponds exactly to another incident, most often symbolic in nature (symbolic, because it is not the fact itself, but a mental transcription when we wake up in the morning), which we experienced the night before: either we were attacked in a "dream" by an enemy, or we were involved in an unhappy turn of event, or else we saw, sometimes very precisely, all the details surrounding the psychological scene that would take place the next day. It would seem that "someone" is perfectly awake in us and very concerned with helping us identify all the why's and hidden mechanisms of our psychological life, all the reasons for our falls as well as progress. For, conversely, we may have a premonition of all the happy psychological movements that will translate the next day into a progress, an opening of consciousness, a feeling of lightness, an inner widening; we remember that the night before we saw a light, an ascent, or a wall or house crumbling (symbolic of our resistance or the mental constructions that were confining us). We are also very struck by the realization that these premonitions are usually not associated with events we deem important on our physical plane, such as the death of a parent or some worldly achievement (although these premonitions also may occur), but with very trivial details, bearing no external importance, yet always very meaningful for our inner progress. This is a sign of the development of our consciousness. Instead of unconsciously accepted mental, vital or other vibrations, which shape our life without our knowledge and which we naively assume to be our own (we say: this is my anger, my depression, my sexual impulse, my fever), we begin to see them coming into us. This is visible proof, supported by hundreds of experiences night after night, that all the play of our frontal nature originates outside ourselves, in a universal Mind, a universal Vital, or even higher regions if we are capable of tuning in to them. This is the beginning of mastery, because once we have seen, or foreseen, something we can change the course of circumstances. Earthly life is simultaneously the place of the most rigorous and the most blind determinism, and of conquered freedom – it all depends upon our consciousness. A disciple once wrote to Sri Aurobindo relating his "dreams," emphasizing the rather bizarre coincidence that seemed to occur between nocturnal events and waking. This was the answer he received: Understand that these experiences are not mere imaginations or dreams but actual happenings.... It is a mistake to think that we live physically only, with the outer mind and life. We are all the time living and acting on other planes of consciousness, meeting others there and acting upon them, and what we do and feel and think there, the forces we gather, the results we prepare have an incalculable importance and effect, unknown to us upon our outer life. Not all of it comes through, and what comes through takes another form in the physical – though sometimes there is an exact correspondence; but this little is at the basis of our outward existence. All that we become and do and bear in the physical life is prepared behind the veil within us. It is therefore of immense importance for a yoga which aims at the transformation of life to grow conscious of what goes on within these domains, to be master there and be able to feel, know and deal with the secret forces that determine our destiny and our internal and external growth or decline.

-Satprem
From the book 'Sri Aurobindo or The Adventures of Consciousness'

Satprem


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