Is it possible to be asleep and remain aware and conscious? Sadhguru speaks of Shoonya, sushupti, and what it takes to experience this state.
Questioner: Namaskaram, Sadhguru. During sleep, we are usually unconscious. Is there a way we can stay aware during sleep?
Sadhguru: When you sleep, just sleep. Don’t try to do something else. There is a beautiful story. For many, many years, the Saptarishis, the seven sages, lived with the Adiyogi, doing sadhana, learning, and absolutely bonding with him. The sharing was so profound that they did not know any other life but him. But one day, he said, “It’s time to go. You have to take this to the world.” He told them to go to faraway places. One to Central Asia, one to North Africa, one to South America, one to Southeast Asia, one to South India, and one to what is today the Indian part of the Himalayas. Only one stayed back with him.
If 15,000 years ago, you asked a man to go to South America, it was as good as asking him to go to another galaxy. The Saptarishis said, “We don’t know where we are going, what kind of people exist there, how they will receive us, and whether they are ready for this or not. If we are in danger, or if we cannot transmit this as you wish, will you be there for us?” The Adiyogi looked at them incredulously and said, “If you are in trouble, if your life is in danger or your work is in danger, I will sleep.” They got the point. But if I say this to you, you will feel terribly insecure and insulted. “I tell him my difficulties, and he says he sleeps on it!”
To sleep consciously, you should have no sense of body. Only if your identification with the body is completely broken, will you sleep consciously. When we are awake, we are conscious, but our energies are involved and engaged in many things. We have to sit up, we have to speak, we have to do some work, we have to do something else. But if I sleep consciously, my energies are completely consolidated, and I am still conscious – that means I am at my peak performance level. So when Shiva says, “If you are in trouble, I will sleep,” it means, “I will do the best possible thing for you,” because then he is at his best.
Those of you who have been initiated into shoonya meditation may have experienced a few moments here and there of what in yoga is called sushupti – that means being fast asleep but wide awake. The day this state of sushupti lasts for even just two to three seconds, you will not be able to sleep at night. You will be bright and alert.
Only if you are not identified with the body, will sleeping consciously become a possibility. On a certain day, a baby turtle, with great effort, meticulously, slowly, taking 24 hours, climbed up a tree, leapt off the branch, and fell flat. Again, slowly, taking another 24 hours, it crawled up, leapt, fell flat – again and again. After four days, one of the two birds who were sitting in the opposite tree said, “I think it’s time we tell him he is adopted.” So I thought it’s time to tell you, to sleep consciously, striving is needed, but it is not enough. The most important thing is that you distance yourself from your physical nature.
Editor’s Note: Find more of Sadhguru’s insights in the ebook “Of Mystics and Mistakes”, available on Isha Downloads.
A version of this article was originally published in Isha Forest Flower.