–by Vinoba Bhave (Sep 14, 2017)
We all sleep every night but what is the meaning of sleep? Sleep is the rest after work, and preparation for the next days work. In this respect, sleep is a state of samadhi –the state of total absorption with no awareness of outer world, wherein the individual Self is in communion with the Divine. To understand this, let us look at the the meaning of the word samadhi. Samadhi is merging of the individual intelligence and mind into the Universal Love. Samadhi is a state where the power of the soul is manifested. Samadhi will purify our minds and intelligence. This purified mind and intelligence will purify our daily business as well. This is what sleep should bring about. After sleep, all our daily dealings, or the business of life should become more pure, more creative, more spirited.
To a real karmayogi –a person who performs selfless, desireless action done without any attachment and in the pursuit of duties– sleep entails samadhi. It is dreamless. Such sleep allows the thought process to evolve. This sleep is a sign of equanimity, not inertia. Once you are awake there should be no effect of dullness or inertia. Conversely, it does not mean that while awake there should be a constant buzz of thoughts. There should be a natural witnessivity. This natural witnessivlty is a characteristic of pure wakefulness. […]
When a seed is sown, although unseen, it is growing underneath the earth. After 3 or 4 days, when it sprouts, one realizes how many subtle developments were going on. Similarly, a person who prays and practices meditation, contemplation and reflection goes to sleep and finds answers to many of his questions which remained unanswered in the conscious wakeful state. Therefore, it is a common experience that right decisions are arrived at in the morning easily. The state of samadhi facilitates the evolution of thoughts. However, when some questions remain unanswered even in deep samadhi, they get answered in deep sleep. At such times, one understands that sleep is a state of samadhi. […]
In sleep, the individual Self merges with the Supreme Self. The question is, how does the Self come back? Take this analogy: a pot is filled with water from the Ganga [river] and is sealed shut. If the same sealed pot is left in the water of the Ganga again, the inside water will remain isolated. Similarly, the Self is sealed with I-ness. When that seal is broken, it will merge with the Supreme Self.
In deep sleep, we experience the ultimate reality. Having the same feeling while awake is the final goal. We want to experience the vacant mind in wakeful state. Remain neutral and detached while in a wakeful state. Whatever you see, see it with witnessivity. Do not allow it to influence your mind, in either a positive or negative way, with good or bad effect. You are just a witness. […]
In meditation, there should be wakeful sleep. In deep sleep one completely forgets the body, mind and senses. In dreams you are aware of them. In meditation there should be an experience of deep sleep, but wakeful deep sleep. In deep sleep, organs of perception and action as well as the mind and everything else, become quiet, and we exist only as witnesses. If we can replicate the same experience in meditation, it will be the experience of samadhi. And that experience will become constant. This means, it will stay even while performing our dally activities and it will be natural.
In sleep, we forget our differences and diversities and become one. The same thing is experienced in meditation. In sleep there is no hierarchy of any kind, it is the same for meditation. But the experience of unity in meditation is of a much higher grade and quality, because in sleep a person reaches a state almost of nothingness, forgets her/his own existence, whereas in meditation the awareness of self existence is constantly there. Hence, the experience of unity which is achieved in meditation is very useful in the practical life.
— Vinoba Bhave in his book Where Silence Speaks [Drawing courtesy of de collaborators of the book Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution.]