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Selected from
The Wisdom of the Overself
by Paul Brunton

PB E- Teaching #5 – The Metaphysics of Sleep

” The dream state is the key to the mystery of who he is, while the more advanced deep sleep state indicates what he is.” – The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, Category 19, chapter 3, para 34

The Metaphysics of Sleep

We have already learnt that the mind is the principle in us which really sees, hears, tastes, touches and thinks; that these activities are only ways in which it reveals itself in wakeful and dream consciousness but nevertheless they are ways which do not exhaust its fullness. What we must endeavour to grasp is that this same mind is still present during sleep even though the other kinds of consciousness are not. The waking, dreaming and sleeping selves are not really three individual beings, separate by nature. When a particular one of them is expressed it hides the other two from us but this does not alter the fact that it is only one and the same mind expressing itself under three different sets of conditions. And only because it is always present, because there is no break in the continuity of the mind itself, do we naturally experience a sense of reality when awake or dreaming. How important and how precious therefore should it be to us!

We have indeed actually dipped deeper, as it were, into the basis of its being when we have slipped into slumber. We have returned nearer to its innermost reality. Thus, from this metaphysical standpoint, the third state of mind is the most valuable of all but from the practical prosaic standpoint, the least valuable of all. For alas! What is the use of being a millionaire if one is ignorant of the fact at the time? Sleep frees us from all the fears and pains which shadow life but it also frees us from all the hopes and joys which brighten it. This is because man then ceases to limit himself solely to the consciousness of the flesh. But he also ceases to possess the consciousness of anything at all.

… .Here the higher teaching steps in and explains that Nature has indeed given man this move-up closer to the reality of mind, but because he has not earned the right to it by his own effort, she soon takes it away from him again. For he has entered sleep carrying with him the deep mental seed-impressions of earthly desire, the strong emotional tendencies which bind him to physical life and the powerful egoistic chains which cannot co-exist with the freedom and integrity of the mind’s own pure nature. Because he has not earned the right to a release from this bondage by his own personal effort, Nature does not allow him to enjoy the consciousness of his thought-free liberation during his sleep but only as a soothing afterglow during the few moment after his awakening…. Is this not a hint to man that were his thinking to be deliberately brought down to its lowest ebb, thus making his mental state during wakefulness as similar as possible to what it is during sleep, and were this to be achieved with complete intellectual understanding of all that his enterprise involves, he would consciously experience this same happy calm condition?

The Wisdom of the Overself, pp. 123-125

Read More about meditation and PB’s views on mysticism in Volume 4 of the Notebooks/notebooks/4