Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The State of Consciousness - Dreams and Reality

dreams, reality, states of consciousness, waking state of consciousness, dreams, spirituality, psychologyI can’t help but share a story that I came across from the Mandukya Upanisad. It is the story of an ancient king who had a strange dream. In his dream, he saw himself as a tramp- shelter less, without food and in tattered clothes that begged from door to door. He woke up only to find himself in the luxury of the royal couch. The perturbed king called up his wise men to pose the question –“ Am I really the King, momentarily playing the role of a beggar in dream or am I really a beggar dreaming as the King in the Court?”

The rest of the story anyway turned less important once this question gripped my mind. The question of being the beggar or the king boiled down to whether the “waking consciousness” is more real than the dream world? For most of us the answer is ”Yes”. Dreams for us are just for a short while and not useful to the activities of this world.

The hermits of the time in India took this subject seriously. In the pursuit of knowledge for the same, they discovered the four states of consciousness. Among these four, two are the predominant ones –
1. Waking state of consciousness when our organs are wide awake and interact with the external world.
2. Dreaming state of consciousness in which we view symbolic transformations of the real world.

All what we see in our dreams, no matter how weird it seems has got to do something with our real lives. For the above mentioned King, his state of being a beggar, I think, might be some kind of seeking. Although he was a King, he must have been seeking for something - either love, peace or happiness. The act of begging is just symbolic.