X-Message-Number: 14159
From: "Gurvinder Bagga" <>
Subject: 'knower' and 'known'
Date: Mon, 24 Jul 2000 22:19:11 IST

Hi everyone,

My post on the problem of the 'knower' and the 'known' has generated a lot 
of debate. A site which deals with this subject (although it might not be 
compatible with cryonics) is http://www.hinduism.org.za/three.htm

A piece of the discussion is given below...

Three States of Consciousness
As taught by Sri Ramana Maharshi
Edited by David Godman
Question: For one who has realised his Self, it is said that he will not 
have the three states of wakefulness, dream and deep sleep. Is that a fact?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: What makes you say that they do not have the three 
states? In saying "I had a dream; I was in deep sleep; I am awake", you must 
admit that you were there in all the three states. That makes it clear that 
you were there all the time. If you remain as you are now, you are in the 
wakeful state; this becomes hidden in the dream state; and the dream state 
disappears when you are in deep sleep. You were there then, you are there 
now, and you are there all the times. The three states come and go, but you 
are always there. It is like a cinema. The screen is always there but 
several types of pictures appear on the screen and then disappear. Nothing 
sticks to the screen. Similarly, you remain your own Self in all the three 
states. If you know that, the three states will not trouble you, just as the 
pictures that appear on the screen do not stick to it. On the screen, you 
sometimes see a huge ocean with endless waves; that disappears. Another 
time, you see fire spreading all around; that too disappears. The screen is 
there on both occasions. Did the screen get wet with the water or did it get 
burned by the fire? Nothing affected the screen. In the same way, the things 
that happen during the wakeful, dream and sleep states do not affect you at 
all; you remain your own Self.
Question: Does that mean that, although people have all three states of 
consciousness - wakefulness, dream and deep sleep - these do not affect 
Maharshi: Yes, that is it. All these states come and go. The Self is not 
bothered; it has only one state.
Question: Does that mean that such a person will be in this world merely as 
a witness?
Maharshi: That is so; for this very thing Vidyaranya, in the tenth chapter 
of the book Panchadasi, gives as example the light that is kept on the stage 
of a theatre. When a drama is being played, the light is there, which 
illuminates, without any distinction, all the actors, whether they be kings 
or servants or dancers, and also all the audience. That light will be there 
before the drama begins, during the performance and also after the 
performance is over. Similarly, the light within, that is, the Self, gives 
light to the ego, the intellect, the memory and the mind without itself 
being subject to processes of growth and decay. Although during deep sleep 
and other states there is no feeling of the ego, that Self remains 
attributeless, and continues to shine of itself.
Actually the idea of the Self being the witness is only in the mind; it is 
not the absolute truth of the Self. Witnessing is relative to objects 
witnessed. Both the witness and his object are mental creations.
Question: How are the three states of consciousness inferior in degree of 
reality to the fourth (Turiya)? What is the actual relation between these 
three states and the fourth?
Maharshi: There is only one state, that of consciousness or awareness or 
existence. The three states of waking, dream and deep sleep cannot be real. 
They simply come and go. The real will always exist. The "I" or existence 
that alone persists in all the three states is real. The other three are not 
real and so it is not possible to say they have such and such degree of 
reality. We may roughly put it like this, Existence or consciousness is the 
only reality. Consciousness plus waking, we call waking. Consciousness plus 
sleep, we call sleep. Consciousness plus dream, we call dream. Consciousness 
is the screen, on which all the pictures come and go. The screen is real, 
the pictures are mere shadows on it. Because by long habit, we have been 
regarding these three states as real, we call the state of mere awareness or 
consciousness the fourth. There is however, no fourth state, but only one 
There is no difference between dream and the waking state except that the 
dream is short and the waking long. Both are the result of the mind. Because 
the waking state is long, we imagine that it is our real state. But, as a 
matter of fact, our real state is Turiya or the fourth state which is always 
as it is and knows nothing of the three states of waking, dream or deep 
sleep. Because we call these three Avastha (states) we call the fourth state 
also Turiya Avastha. But it is not an Avastha, but the real and natural 
state of the Self. When this is realised, we know it is not a Turiya or 
fourth state, for a fourth state is only relative, but Turiyatita, the 
transcendent state.
Question: But why should these three states come and go on the real state or 
the screen of the Self?
Maharshi: Who puts this question? Does the Self say these states come and 
go? It is the seer who says these come and go. The seer and the seen 
together constitute the mind. See if there is such a thing as the mind. 
Then, the mind merges in the Self, and there is neither the seer nor the 
seen. So the real answer to your question is, 'They neither come nor go.' 
The Self alone remains as it ever is. The three states owe their existence 
to non-enquiry and enquiry puts an end to them. However much one may 
explain, the fact will not become clear till one attains Self-realisation 
and wonders how one was blind to the self-evident and only existence so 
For the Jnani (who is self-realised), all the three states of consciousness 
are equally unreal. But the ajnani (ignorant or who is not self-realised), 
is unable to comprehend this, because for him the standard of reality is the 
waking state.....


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