"A Discussion between Father and Son"-17




Concerning Sleep, Hunger, Thirst and Dying :


(a). Now, there are greater secrets in a person than the food that is eaten. We
are not merely food, or water, or fire. There is something very interesting in us,
something which one cannot understand, ordinarily. Every day you go to sleep,
you dream, you wake up. Why does this happen? This is something quite
different from the subject of food. You have some other element in you more
than the food you take. You have some essential root of your personality,
which is the deeper side of your nature, whose various functions are waking,
dreaming and sleeping. What happens to you when you sleep? Do you know
that? You cannot easily say what happens to you in sleep, nor why you sleep.
Listen to me now. I shall tell you something about this interesting secret. When
a person is in the condition of sleep, in Sanskrit we say, svapiti, “He sleeps”.


(b). Here is a linguistic interpretation of the word svapna, describing what
sleep actually means. The etymological meaning of the term svapiti,—'one
sleeps', is that 'one goes', or 'reaches' sva, i.e., the self. One word sva connotes
one's own being or essential nature. What is made out, thus, is that one gets
absorbed into oneself in sleep. You become yourself in sleep; that is why there
is no consciousness of anything external, then. Sata saumya tada sampanno
bhavati: One gets absorbed into the true being that one is. But, in other
conditions, i.e., waking, etc., one gets drawn out of the true being that one is,
into its other aspects which are external, such as physical being. In sleep, you
get into yourself, you enter yourself, you become yourself, and know nothing
but yourself. This is sleep. You have withdrawn yourself from all outside
connections and relationships. Now, why does this happen? What makes you
go to sleep? Who compels you to enter into the state of sleep?


(c). A theory is promulgated here by means of an analogy, or comparison.
Suppose that there is a bird whose legs are tied with a thread to a peg on the
earth and that thread is fairly long, and the bird flies. How far can it fly? It can
fly only to the extent of the length of the thread with which it is tied with its
legs to the peg in the ground. So, it goes here, there, flying in different
directions, but it cannot go beyond the limitation of the thread. It goes in search
of freedom, but it cannot find it, because its movement is restricted. After
moving from place to place in different directions throughout the day, it gets
exhausted of this activity and returns to the place where its legs are tied. It is
controlled by something of which it may not be even aware. Not knowing this,
it searches for freedom outside. This is what your mind does daily. It is tethered
to a peg which is the root of your being. But it does not know this fact. So it
goes out flying like a bird in all directions in the outward world, seeking
happiness and freedom. It does not find any such thing there. It does not get
what it longs for. The whole day it works, from morning till evening, in search
of that which it wants. But, it does not find it anywhere. Then it gets tired of all
activity, and is withdrawn into that from which it arose, to which it really
belongs, of which it is a real expression, and from which it is inseparable.


(d).Then, what happens to you? In the daytime you are, verily, other than what
you are. You are then artificial, alienated from your being and, therefore,
restless in your mind. Like the bird that jumps from place to place, the mind
flits from object to object. It has lost its moorings and it does not know where
to stand. But how far can it go on like this? It gets exhausted some time or the
other, and returns to the source. The mind withdraws itself every day due to the
exhaustion of its activity, which is the consequence of its search vainly for the
freedom that it cannot find in the outer world. This example is cited now.

Chandogya Upanishad : Chapter-2, Section-8, Mantram-1.


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