Guiding Light: Awake, yet at complete rest

Sri Sri Ravi ShankarUpdated: Sunday, November 27, 2022, 07:09 PM IST
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We lead life through three states of consciousness — waking, dreaming and sleeping. In the waking state of consciousness, we experience the world through the five senses. We seek elevation and joy from these senses.

For instance, we only want to look at something that is a source of joy, not at something likely to sadden us. If any one of the senses is missing, the entire dimension of that sense is lost. One who can’t hear is bereft of the whole arena of sound. So the sense is more important and much bigger than the object of the sense.

However, each sense has a limited capacity to enjoy. After all, how much can one see or hear or touch? However beautiful a sight, one cannot keep looking at it. The senses get tired after a short period of time. The eyes close and we want to go back into ourselves because every experience is an expense of energy.

Higher than the senses is the mind. The mind is infinite; its desires are many. But the capacity of the senses to enjoy is limited. This imbalance in the system will remain. Greed is wanting more and more sensory objects — even though a person can eat only so much, he wants all the chocolates in the world; though the amount (of money) that can be spent by an individual during a lifetime is limited, he wants all the wealth in the world.

Giving too much importance to sensory objects leads to greed, giving too much importance to the senses leads to lust and giving too much importance to the mind and its desires leads to delusion. We hold on to the concepts of the mind and want things to happen in a certain way. Thus, the concepts in our mind impede us from perceiving the infinite consciousness that’s a part of us.

I’m not saying that the senses or the mind are bad. But we must learn to discriminate between things and be aware of what is happening at all times; that is when clarity dawns on us. This is the first step towards the higher state of consciousness.

Then the fourth (or the higher) state of consciousness is somewhere in between the waking, sleeping and dreaming states; wherein we know we are but we don’t know where we are. This knowledge that I am but I don’t know where I am or what I am is called Shiva. This state gives the deepest possible rest that one can experience. The mind becomes fresh, delicate and beautiful.

In the waking state, one is constantly engaged in looking, smelling, eating, etc. The other extreme is the sleeping state where one is completely cut off and dull. The dullness and heaviness linger even after waking up. The more one sleeps, the duller one feels since a lot of energy is expended in sleep. Hence, the fourth state, where we are awake and yet at complete rest, is worth knowing. And we enter this state only during meditation.

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