The Origin of Sleep and Dreams

While we may not be able to accept the dream-state as a fit analogy for the nature of human life, it would not be suitable to dismiss the experiences of the dream-state out of hand as worthless or purely chaotic. Sri Aurobindo reviews the nature of sleep and dreams: “What happens in sleep is that our consciousness withdraws from the field of its waking experiences; it is supposed to be resting, suspended or in abeyance, but that is a superficial view of the matter. What is in abeyance is the waking activities, what is at rest is the surface mind and the normal conscious action of the bodily part of us; but the inner consciousness is not suspended, it enters into new inner activities, only a part of which, a part happening or recorded in something of us that is near to the surface, we remember. There is maintained in sleep, thus near the surface, an obscure subconscious element which is a receptacle or passage for our dream experiences and itself also a dream-builder; but behind it is the depth and mass of the subliminal, the totality of our concealed inner being and consciousness which is of quite another order. ”

Sri Aurobindo describes the various types of dreams and their origin, which will be the subject of our next post. Because of the position of this subconscient dream-builder, it is possible that dreams have as their source either the waking life, or that deeper inner being, or states of awareness that are linked to us through that inner being.

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 5, The Cosmic Illusion; Mind, Dream and Hallucination, pg. 422

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