The three states of existence

Avasthātrayaṁ - The three states of existence

After the explanation of ātmā who is distinct from gross, subtle and causal body, now ācārya explaining about second definition of ātma who is the witness of tree states of experience.

Q: avasthātrayaṁ kiṁ?

What are the three states of experience? A: Jāgrat-svapna-suṣuptyavasthāḥ

They are waking, dream and deep sleep states.

Q: jāgradavasthā kā? What is waking state? A: Śrōtrādijñānēndriyaiḥ śabdādi-viṣayā jñāyatē iti yatsā jāgradavasthā. Sthūla-śarīrābhimānī Ātmā viśva ityucyatē. That in which state the objects, of cognition beginning with sound etc., are cognised by the organs of perception such as the ear etc., that is waking state. I ātmā identifying with the gross body is called viśva.


Waking state is defined as the state where the sense objects are known through their correspondent sense organs (as we studied before in the lesson of five organs of knowledge) - śrōtrādijñānēndriyaiḥ śabdādi-viṣayā jñāyatē iti yatsā jāgradavasthā. Sense objects (sound, touch, form, taste and smell) interact with the sense organs (ear, skin, eye, tongue and nose) respectively. The entire waking world is about the interaction between them.


Ātma as the inner self, is the back up for the sense organs to function. The sense organs can not operates by their own. When the sound is there, but mind didn't pay attention, it is as good as not there. When the mind is there, but without the presents of the inner conscious being (ātmā), the mind can not function also. Therefore, for the organs to be functioning, I - ātmā have to identify with our physical body (physical ear where the organs of hearing take place, physical skin where the organs of touch takes place etc.). Without identifying with our physical body, we can not operates our sense organs which function as gateway to interact with the external world.

Therefore, when one in the waking state and there is identification of ātmā with the gross body, one is called viśvah-the waker - sthūla-śarīrābhimānī Ātmā viśva ityucyatē.


Q: Svapnāvasthā kā iti cet? What is the dream state? A: Jāgradavasthāyāṁ yad dṛṣṭaṁ yat śrutaṁ tajjanita-vāsanayā nidrāsamayēyaḥ prapañcaḥ pratīyatē sā svapnāvasthā. Sūkṣma-śarīrābhimānī ātmā taijasa ityucyatē.

The world which is experienced while in sleep, projected by the impression born of what was seen, what was heard in the waking state. I ātmā identifying with the subtle body is called taijasa, the effulgent one.


At the time of waking state, our mind record the experiences of interaction between the sense organs and the sense objects. Because the mind is a faculty for all the emotions such as happiness, anger, jealousy, etc. to happened, therefore emotions also being recorded. The deeper the impression of the experience, the deeper the recording. This recording medium has no limit, from one life's time carry to another life's time, because the medium of recording which is our citta is subtle body which transfer from one body to another body which we call birth. Even though most of the memory couldn't recall after obtaining another new body, but the impression (vāsanās or samskārā) can be explained by what we called genius, the talent which carried from previous births.


In the same manner as our dream. What we have seen, heard etc., which is born out of experience (impressions) is being projected (and recognised) in the dream - jāgradavasthāyāṁ yad dṛṣṭaṁ yat śrutaṁ tajjanita-vāsanayā nidrāsamayēyaḥ prapañcaḥ pratīyatē. This is called dream state - sā svapnāvasthā. Sometimes we see things in the dream which we never see in our life before, but it also might be the impression from our pass births, or the existing things which we put together with our own imagination.


In the dream state, identification with the physical gross body is dropped, but there is a total identification with the mind where all the dream's object and subject are projected. Mind belongs to subtle body, therefore for dream to happened, one need to identify with the subtle body. I ātmā who is identify with the subtle body is called taijasa - the dreamer - sthūla-śarīrābhimānī Ātmā viśva ityucyatē.


Q: atha suṣuptyavasthā kā? Then what is the deep sleep state? A: Ahaṁ kimapi na jānāmi. Sukhēna mayā nidrāsnubhūyata iti Suṣuptyavasthā.

Kāraṇaśarīrābhimānī ātmā prājña ityucyatē.

I do not know anything. Happily the sleep is experienced by me. Thus, this is deep sleep state. I ātmā identify with the causal body is called prājña.


In the deep sleep state, neither our sense organs are interact with the sense object in the transactional world, nor any projection of our personal impression is happened. There is total non-experience in the deep sleep state. But the non-experience here is not that the experiencer is not there, but in the deep sleep we experience nothingness. Just like in the darkness, we always think that we see nothing, we even though that eyes are not functioning, but actually we are seeing the darkness alone. Because in the deep sleep state, there is no identification with the gross or subtle body (every experience need at least for the mind to function), therefore after waking up from sleep, I said "I do not know anything" - Ahaṁ kimapi na jānāmi. I still aware that I experience nothing in the sleep where we call as deep sleep.


In this state, the identification with gross and subtle body are dropped. One only identify with the causal body where the ignorance is there (veiling power of māyā), therefore total not knowing is there, but because the projection power is suspend due to the absent of the mind as the medium, one has no wrong notion about one self. Therefore the experience of deep sleep is happy alone - sukhēna mayā nidrāsnubhūyata, because one is in the closer state with one's own true nature which is limitless happiness. I ātmā identify with the causal body is called prājña - kāraṇaśarīrābhimānī ātmā prājña ityucyatē.


When we talk about the true nature of anything, it must be something which is never ceases to be. Therefore from the perspective of three state of experiences, whichever the identification can be dropped, that is not the true nature of I ātmā. When I am in one state of experience, automatically others 2 identifications are dropped. Therefore all three states are not my true nature. Q: How about If each state is having a different individual entity as support? A: If each state is having a different entity as support, how come when we go for sleep (waker was dropped and sleeper and dreamer were there), and at the time we wake up, we still remember our dream? This logic can support the fact that I ātmā is the only support which is in and through all three states of experience, but in the same time doesn't effect by them.

Q: Why it is said that ātmā doesn't effect by the states of experience?

A: There is an interesting fact about all these three states of experience, that we do not know we are in that states unless we dropped the identification with the particular state. In the deep sleep state, even though nothing has happened there and I say "I don't know anything" (after waking up), I know that I slept well and I was in the deep sleep state. In the same manner of the dream state. We don't know we are dreaming until we wake up from it. Actually for the waking state also, because of the full identification with the causal, subtle and gross body, we think that only waking state is the state of reality. But after one wake up from the ignorance of oneself and abide in one's true nature, cognitively dropping the identification with all the falls knowledge about oneself, at that time, waking state is like a dream (no reality) for that person. Therefore while everybody is only effected by all the problem in waking state, but for the person who see this reality, he/she doesn't even get effected by the waking state. Because he/she is the only reality which in and through all three states of experiences as the witness - saksi.


In Gita chapter 2, Bhagavan Srikrsna said:

या निशा सर्वभूतानां तस्यां जागर्ति संयमी | यस्यां जाग्रति भूतानि सा निशा पश्यतो मुने: ||2- 69||

yā niśhā sarva-bhūtānāṁ tasyāṁ jāgarti sanyamī yasyāṁ jāgrati bhūtāni sā niśhā paśhyato muneḥ


That which is the highest reality of the self is the night for all people (not knowing, because the ignorance veiling the knowledge of the self), that reality is the day time for the wise person (awake from the ignorance of the self). The duality (misconception of the self) is the day time for all people (taking it as real), that duality is the night time for the wise person (knowing the unreal of duality just like knowing the unreality of the dream).

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