Discussion On Turiya

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Moderator: A very long commentary and questions from a participant in San Francisco: “Remaining aware during waking, sleep and deep sleep is held as one factor of abiding and true awakening. What is your orientation towards such matters? Do they not for the most part create a sort of dangling carrot effect that keeps one in bondage unnecessarily? Are there any such markers that you deem indispensable in your teaching? It seems that everything other than knowing myself to be the Self is inherently episodic.”

David: You’ve conflated a couple of issues in your comment which ought to be dis-weaved. They’ve been weaved together. You first ask me if there are any markers such as maintaining awareness in waking, dreaming and sleep. You then suggest that if there is such a marker, it’s like a carrot being dangled in front of someone who is then ready to chase the carrot. To ask whether something exists or not is one question. To ask about a human response toward that particular item is another question. So, your question begins by asking for a factual commentary on the question of whether awareness needs to be maintained in waking, dreaming and sleep states. But, your question also begins to ask another question about a person’s relationship to a declared spiritual ideal that has to do with awakening. So, I’m not too sure whether you want to know about chasing dangling carrots, or whether the waking, dreaming and sleep state are in fact, in terms of awareness, essential to be permeated by awareness.

Moderator: “The dangling carrot analogy was to point out, that maybe such a situation isn’t necessary for what you would consider awakening.”

David: I don’t put forth such a criterion, but it might be true that enlightenment means having awareness beyond time and space, which means beyond the causal states of waking, dreaming and sleeping. So, whether or not I assert that criterion, it still might be true. Do you follow?

Moderator: “Yes, but “beyond” and “present during” seem to be different qualities. I can know myself to be beyond the dream state even while I’m not being lucid in every dream for example.”

David: The theory of moksha states that the absolute is already beyond, which means it’s more expanded in its nature, and unconfined to waking, dreaming and sleep states. That theory points toward that understanding. And if it’s abiding, if pure awareness is abiding in the waking state, the dreaming state and the sleep state, then it is beyond those three states. In other words, it’s a whole different state of consciousness. It’s not waking, it’s not dreaming and it’s not deep sleep. It’s none of those things. It does not partake in those areas, those states, those three states. That’s why it’s called Turiya. It’s called the fourth, the fourth state which is not part of the three and that fourth state is awake. You can’t go to sleep in that state. So, if you believe that full knowledge of the absolute is required for enlightenment or realization, then it follows that the absolute must be known during every state.

But, I’m not suggesting that you chase after it. This is where I can clarify your question. I’m stating it as a teaching given by the Hindu tradition. This teaching comes right out of Hinduism, that awareness is senior to, or beyond, or fully permeating waking, dreaming and sleep states. And to come to that knowledge is liberation, when you understand and also experience, that your awareness is present in all three states. I’ll repeat something. For it to be present in all three states means it’s beyond all three states. It has a different character, and its character is that each state depends on it for its reality. Waking depends on it, dreaming depends on it, and sleep depends on it. They depend on it. So, that even as individual states, they have some true reality to them. There’s always something non-changing in human awareness. That’s why when you use the word “I” when you’re ten years old, it’s the same “I” that you use when you say “I” when you’re fifty years old. The “I” hasn’t changed. The feeling of “I” of being me hasn’t changed. Does that make sense?

Moderator: “I understand that Turiya is beyond the three common states, but I wonder on apprehending, that means that one is literally to experience that twenty-four-seven.”

David: Experience belongs to the waking state and the dream state. Experience does not belong to Turiya. Who would experience it? Who would there be to experience awareness twenty-four hours a day? It’s awareness that is present twenty-four hours a day without a separate viewer. I don’t think you understand the notion of witnessing, which is where all of this discussion goes, toward the topic of witnessing. Awareness witnesses waking, dreaming and sleep states, but there’s nobody who observes witnessing. That’s the nature of this transcendent awareness, that it has inside of it the knower, the known, and the process of knowing. That’s what is inside of Turiya, all three together at one time. So, there’s no fifth knower. When you get to the fourth, knowing is over. So, witnessing is not a kind of knowledge or experience. As I said, experience and relative knowledge belong to the waking state. So, you can’t view from the waking state that this is the case. Do you understand?

Moderator: “Does that mean that there is no awareness in deep sleep to be apprehended?”

David: The idea of apprehending it is incorrect. There will be awareness in deep sleep, and that awareness has complete recognition in it. So, the awareness itself survives sleep. It does not fall asleep. This is for a liberated being I’m talking about. This is liberation.