The Need to Maintain Balance Between Waking, Dream and Sleep Consciousness

The operation of the Gunas of nature, Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas is noticeable in the spiritual quest as in everything else. The result is that when something new or exciting occurs, it tends to provoke the rising of Rajas and an attempt to grasp and enhance the ego-gratification of the event. Rajas however has its limitations and eventually there is a reaction that either brings on the rise of Tamas, in the forms of ignorance, darkness or inaction; or, if balanced, it can bring the rise of Sattwa.

Sri Aurobindo cautions that as real experiences arise in the sleep or dream states, the practitioner of the yoga will be tempted to invest more time and focus on these states than on the activities of the waking state, in order to further the experiences and gain the powers that come with it. He cautions against allowing the encroachment on the province of the waking state; rather, a balance should be developed that keeps each status in its own time and place and works to enhance the process in each one within its own sphere. This requires a sattwic approach to the investigation of the sleep and dream states that avoids the ego self-aggrandisement that the vital nature would otherwise encourage.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “When this growth of the inner sleep consciousness begins, there is often a pull to go inside and pursue the development even when there is no fatigue or need of sleep. Another cause aids this pull. It is usually the vital part of the inner being that first wakes in sleep and the first dream experiences (as opposed to ordinary dreams) are usually, in the great mass, experiences of the vital plane, a world of supraphysical life, full of variety and interest, with many provinces, luminous or obscure, beautiful or perilous, often extremely attractive, where we can get much knowledge too both of our concealed parts of nature and of things happening to us behind the veil and of others which are of concern for the development of our parts of nature. The vital being in us then may get very much attracted to the range of experience, may want to live more in it and less in the outer life. This would be the source of that wanting to get back to something interesting and enthralling which accompanies the desire to fall into sleep. But this must not be encouraged in waking hours, it should be kept for hours set apart for sleep where it gets its natural field. Otherwise there may be an unbalancing, a tendency to live more and too much in the visions of the supraphysical realms and a decrease of the hold on outer realities. The knowledge, the enlargement of our consciousness of these fields of inner nature is very desirable, but it must be kept in its own place and limits.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 7, Experiences and Realisations, Experiences in Dream, pp. 196-199

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