Message: 2

Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2002 00:16:37 +0000

From: "michael Reidy" <>

Subject: Re: Deep Sleep


To all wakers and sleepers:

My last post came round to accepting that the knowledge that we have been

in a state of deep dreamless sleep is an assumption theoretically based on

the fact that consciousness is always on. However the observation that

might have backed this theory up is blocked by adaptive needs such as 'where

am I' or 'what woke me up', 'am I in danger' etc.

I now think that what we have in this statement 'I slept soundly and was

conscious of nothing' is not a single report of a condition that has passed

but in fact two reports which are fused together.

(a) I slept

(b) I slept soundly and was conscious of nothing

The report (b) could have any number of varients e.g. I had an unquiet

night, I dreamt all night, I woke up in the middle of a dream, I was being

chased by elephants.


(a) is delivered to us by the physiological symptoms, cues, whatever. It is

the bare fact.

(b) is the character of the fact, the mental correlate as Shankara points

out in B.S.B. II.ii.28, You can have a cow as such and whiteness or

blackness/white cow or black cow. The smell of milk and the taste of milk.

He is thereby exposing the unreal nature of the Vijnanavada restriction of

reality to mental appearances.

We remember nothing, there was nothing to remember. Does that allow

Dennis' suggestion that there might be no consciousness at all during that

interval. On for the dream and off for the deep sleep passage. Who

switches it on and off? Why should that happen only in one form of sleep

and not in the other or does it switch on and off. By the Identity

criterion which I proffered viz. that the same thing cannot have two

beginnings in time continuity is established but there is yet another fact

which Shankara uses as a preamble and a preparation for the deep Sleep

argument. It is a varient of that in B.S.B. II.ii.28 where he draws our

attention to the marked difference between perception and mental cognition.

We do not inwardly scan our mental modifications. They are immediately

presented to us. The concepts that are part of our mental apparatus come to

exist in that moment of perception. "Not that anybody cognises a perception

to be a pillar, a wall, etc., rather all people cognize a pillar , a wall

etc. as objects of perception." The concepts that we have of whiteness,

tallness, ruggedness are switched on with the sensation and are not

abstracted from the review of inner mental data. There is no examination of

the mental modifications one after the other by the inner subject to

abstract these inner qualities from them. However as Peter Geach remarks in

'Mental Acts'

"The relation of the judgment to the sensory context was what Aquinas called

'conversio ad phantasmata'; it cannot be mere simultaneity, but we are no

better able than he to specify what the relation must be."


(from Upadesasahasri)

#75. The teacher said to him,"your doubt is not justifiable, for you,

the Self, are proved to be free from change, and therefore perpetually

the same on the ground that all the modifications of the mind are

(simultaneously) known by you. You regard this knowledge of all the

modifications which is the reason for the above inference as that for

your doubt. If you were changeful like the mind or the senses (which

pervade their objects one after another), you would not simultaneously

know all the mental modifications, the objects of your knowledge. Nor

are you aware of a portion only of the objects of your knowledge (at a

time). You are, therefore, absolutely changeless."


Modifications of the mind are multitudinous and various and changeful and

the disciple (#74) in a confusing blend of abstractionism, idealism and

inner sense draws the inference that the Self implicated in all this must be

of a changeful nature too. The Master does not deny the variety of our

concepts but asks the disciple to consider instead the manner in which they

are presented to us. It is a figure/ground switch.

To recapitulate, we may have a knowledge of having been asleep due to

physiological cues, but our judgment as to the character of that sleep is

inwardly, immediately presented to us. We remember having dreams for

instance. In the case of deep dreamless sleep nothing presents itself.

That consciousness of nothing from the method of presentation of mental

modifications (#75) is an actual consciousness happening now and is

definitely not a memory nor an inference. You are not speaking about a

state of mind then but about a state of mind now. The belief that we were

talking about a state of mind then was the source of the varied views.

Perhaps one could say that it is a temporally extended now or an a now of a

duration more than the ordinary instantaneity


Best Wishes and thanks for a stimulating discussion,