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Who is Awake in Deep Sleep?

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QUESTION: Towards the end of today’s bhagwatam stream, you were discussing about deep sleep and describing that someone is present who joins the before and after state of deep sleep.

Let’s call the state before deep sleep “state A”, and “state B” is after it. If state A and state B are very similar, then will be be unable to tell that we were asleep? For example, if a person living in wilderness wakes up after 2 days, it is difficult or impossible for him to know he has been asleep for 2 days, because nothing in the wilderness has changed much in those 2 days.

The fact that we reconnect State A and State B upon waking up shows that there are parts of our being that persist through the intermediate state, deep-sleep. However, this is not proof of a self beyond the body and mind, because it can easily be explained that records of State A are left in the body and mind (“in memory”), which we access and “reload” upon waking into State B.

Something else is the proof of a self beyond body and mind.

Let’s return to the man you mentioned in the wilderness. When he wakes up after two days of deep and utterly dreamless sleep, it will take him a lot of time and effort to figure out exactly how much time has passed. But the important point is that, somehow, he knows he has been asleep.

Even take him out of the wilderness and put him in a sensory deprivation tank with absolutely no external stimulus. If he falls into a deep sleep, without dreams, and later wakes up. Will he know that he fell asleep?

I am not sure if this experiment has actually been done, but according the Vedānta he will.

He may not know if he has been asleep for five seconds or five hours, but he will be able to tell he was asleep, deeply asleep, without dreaming.


Because he is still conscious, even when both his body and mind are suspended.

Vedānta presents this phenomenon as evidence that the conscious being (the “self”) is beyond both the body and mind.



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