7 States of Consciousness – Part 3

5. Deep Sleep State (Continued…)

Making samskaras (impressions) are mere memories: Then, having lost their power (or reduced it substantially), the deep habit patterns, or Samskaras (M of OM), can no longer bind one to what would otherwise automatically drive actions, speech, and thoughts. Now, those deep impressions have become mere memories with little or no power. It is like a rope that before could bind, but that has now been burned. Though maybe still having the shape of a rope, it has lost its ability to bind. (This process is definitely not one of psychological suppression or repression.)

Deep Sleep

Gaining direct access to the samskaras: There are a variety of techniques that professional and lay people use at the Waking level to indirectly affect changes in these deep impressions. Some of these can be very useful to spiritual aspirants in their journey. However, the Yogis want direct access to these deep impressions so that they can choose their own deep habit patterns. In this way, the Yogi gradually becomes a master over the Samskaras leading to his or her own thoughts, speech, and actions.

Burning away the colorings: For the Yogi, this is a process of dealing with the roots of habits directly, through Yoga Meditation, Contemplation, and Yoga Nidra. While the Yogi definitely cultivates the creation of new habit patterns, it is not merely pasting on another layer of habits on the top of the old, whereby one is left with inner conflict between the old and the new habits or Samskaras (that can play out unconsciously into actions and speech, as well as inner turmoil). The Yogi wants to attenuate and then burn away the coloring’s of fears, aversions, attractions, egoism, and spiritual ignorance.

Microcosm and macrocosm of Deep Sleep: These personal latent impressions or Samskaras are the microcosm, while the macrocosm is the Causal plane from which creation of the entire Subtle and Gross (A of OM Mantra) universe emerges. This is why it is called the “Causal” realm or level of reality (M of OM Mantra). Those with great access to this level are sometimes revered, although even this attainment is short of the Self-realization that comes with the realization of Turiya, the Absolute Reality (Silent aspect of OM Mantra). The Yogis suggest that the aspirant turn away even from the allurement of the offer of such creative powers, and instead walk in the pursuit of the Highest Realization.

Three types of awareness with “M”: In the practice of remembering the AUM, when awareness is on “M,” you cultivate and train yourself to have awareness of:

  • the Deep Sleep state,
  • the Subconscious (latent, dormant, inactive, storage) aspects of mind (from where the impetus for Karma, or actions springs forth), and
  • the Causal realm, out of which arises the Subtle and Gross universe (they are all at the same level).

The awareness of these three operating at the same level of reality is allowed to become clearer through practice over time.

6. Samadhi / Deep Absorption

Beyond Waking, Dreaming, and Deep Sleep: Beyond, or below Waking, Dreaming, and Deep Sleep (the A, U, and M of OM Mantra) is the state of deep absorption, that is the stage to which one’s Meditation practice next leads. It is called Samadhi.


Many types of Samadhi: There are many forms of Samadhi. An even cursory review of the texts will reveal dozens of different types. Mostly, these differences have to do with the nature of the object on which one was meditating before dropping into the state of Samadhi with that object.

Meditation on Gross or Subtle: The Object on which one is meditating (and then enters Samadhi) may be Gross or Subtle. A simple example will help. If one is internally meditating on the image of a red rose, that object is a Gross object. Meditation may shift away from the red flower to the red color alone, the “redness”. However, even that is still a Gross object of sorts. However, if attention shifts to light itself, or to the ability to see light, those are subtler. If attention shifts deeper to the observer who is doing the observing, or to the blissful feeling that comes from the absorption, then these are still subtler. However, in any case there is still an “object,” although that object may be extremely subtle. Similarly, Meditation on a spiritual or religious object will also move through levels of experience, from Gross to Subtle, to Subtler, and to Subtle-most (the A, U, and M of OM). Eventually the inward shifting of attention reveals the essence of the object of Meditation and Samadhi.

Observer, observing, and observed merge into one: In Meditation on an object, whether Gross or Subtle, there are three parts: 1) An Observer, 2) A Process of Observing, and 3) The Object being observed. With Samadhi, it is as if these three parts collapse into only one. There is no longer an observer observing the observed; rather, there seems to be only the object. It is as if the observer and the process of observing have become absorbed into the object, such that object is the only thing left.

Samadhi with, or without form: There are two general categories of Samadhi. One is Samadhi “with form” or “with object” (of which there are many types of gross or subtle objects, and thus many types of Samadhi). During Meditation, attention was directed towards this form or object, and in Samadhi, the attention becomes absorbed into that form or object. The other category is Samadhi “without form” or “without object,” in which there is attention that is not directed towards any form or object (since it is without any object or form, there is not the diversity of types of Samadhi, as is the case with Samadhi on form or object). In both categories of Samadhi, the attention stance is similar. The difference is that in the case of objectless or formless Samadhi, there is no object. The stance of attention is still there, but the object is not. It is somewhat as if during Samadhi with form, one had simply forgotten the object, and thus came into objectless Samadhi.

Cultivating Practice and Non-attachment: For one who does not get trapped by the activity of the Gross world, the Subtle realm, or even the stirrings of the formless Causal level, then the state of absorption called Samadhi is within reach. Attaining Samadhi rests on two foundation principles, Practice and Non-Attachment, Abhyasa and Vairagya.

7. Turiya / Consciousness / Absolute

Silence represents the permeating consciousness: After the “A,” the “U,” and the “M” of the OM there is Silence that is representative of the consciousness that permeates, and is all of the other levels. The name of this level of consciousness is Turiya. Turiya means “the fourth”: Turiya literally means “the fourth,” and represents that consciousness which permeates, observes, and is the other three levels. To call Turiya a “level” is not really accurate, since it is always, in fact, witness of, and at one with, the other states.


Standing on the roof of the building: From the vantage point of Turiya, one sees the entire panorama of the play of the levels of consciousness. It has been likened to standing on the roof of a three floor building, where the first three floors are the Waking, Dreaming, and Deep Sleep states (Gross, Subtle, Causal levels) . From those levels, you can only look out a window, whereas from the roof you can see it all.

Merging into stillness and silence: Many sages, teachers, and traditions have pointed out that eventually all light, sound and mantras lead to Stillness and Silence. By understanding the meaning of AUM and OM Mantra, and the levels of consciousness that it represents, it becomes much easier to see how it is that light, sound and mantras truly do merge back into the Stillness and Silence from which they arose.

The meaning of AUM is revealed: The masters, sages, teachers, and traditions have also pointed out that to really understand this, one must do the practices and go to the Stillness and Silence oneself, wherein the meaning of AUM is revealed.


Distinction between Samadhi and Turiya: There is a fine distinction between Samadhi and Turiya. Samadhi is a dualistic style of attention, while Turiya in non-dualistic, leading one to the experience “I am That,” or Self-realization. There are many objects on which one can practice Yoga Meditation and enter Samadhi, and there are Gross, Subtle, and Subtler levels of objects in which one might attain Samadhi, as well as objectless Samadhi. However, Turiya brings one to Self-realization that, “I am a Wave in the Ocean of Bliss; I and the Ocean are One; I am Ocean; I am That”.


Yogic Conscious Deep Sleep by Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati at http://www.swamij.com/yoga-nidra.htm

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