Deep Sleep, Anaesthesia and DeathHow can you actually be so sure that Consciousness knows itself during deep sleep, or under anaesthesia or when death occurs and hence no future reconfiguration of the mind?
You say that in deep sleep, “I”, this conscious witnessing Presence, remains exactly as it always is in the waking and dreaming states. As a theory I can accept it, but how can anyone truly know it?
Your book is about contemplating the nature of experience, but as far as I’m concerned, nobody actually witnesses pure Consciousness without any object.
How can you actually be so sure that Consciousness knows itself during deep sleep, or under anaesthesia or when death occurs and hence no future reconfiguration of the mind?
I would really appreciate it if you can help me with this. In advance many thanks,
My apologies for delaying to respond to your question.
In fact your question cannot be satisfactorily answered on the level on which it is asked because in your question the interpretations of the waking state mind are considered to be real. In other words, time is considered to be real.
However, if we look closely at experience we do not find an entity moving along in time. We find the ever present now.
Are you ever absent now? No, it is not possible to experience our own absence or discontinuity. It is only the imaginings of the waking state mind that say so.
In other words, the absence of Consciousness during deep sleep, anaesthesia or death is never an experience or, we could say, that deep sleep, anaesthesia or death as they are normally conceived are concepts of the mind, never experiences for Consciousness.
The mind first imagines this absence and then seeks to prove it. Why imagine the absence of Consciousness in the first place? Such an absence is never experienced. Only the thinking mind, which is by definition not present in such an apparent absence - says so. But how can the mind know anything of timelessness in which it is itself not present? It cannot!
So it is not quite true to say that Consciousness ‘remains…’ That is just a manner of speaking, a concession to the belief in time. Consciousness doesn’t ‘remain.’ It is ever-present.
You say, “nobody actually witnesses pure Consciousness without any object” but in fact, if we look closely, Consciousness never experiences itself with an object. In other words, ‘Consciousness without any object’ is a concession to the belief in the idea of ‘Consciousness with an object.’
If we see clearly that there is only the ever-presence of Consciousness and that there is ‘never’ any time in which it may come and go, and that all seeming things are simply modifications of its own being as opposed to being real in their own right, the question of deep sleep, anaesthesia or death looses its meaning.
Time is imagined with the thought that thinks it and so in between thoughts there is no time. Whether we call that timeless ‘gap’ between thoughts (again, even the idea of a gap implies time and can, therefore, be misleading) ‘deep sleep,’ ‘anaesthesia’ or ‘death’ doesn’t really matter.
The mind distinguishes between these three and believes that each lasts for a different period of time. But they are all the same and none last in time.
It is only the returning mind that labels the ‘past’ experience - during which it was not present and which therefore did not ‘last’ in time - ‘deep sleep,’ ‘anaesthesia’ or ‘death.’
Time is created with that very thought and with it, the possibility of an absence of Consciousness. Forgetting that this thought is its own creation, thinking imagines a ‘period of time’ and the ‘absence of Consciousness’ and, believing them to be real, then seeks to assert that Consciousness is not present during this period of time.
In other words, it is time and objects that are imagined and Consciousness that is real and ever-present, rather than Consciousness being absent and time and objects that are real.
However, once we believe that time and objects are real we cannot simultaneously understand that deep sleep and death are not. These are two mutually exclusive ideas and our experience will appear to confirm whichever idea we believe to be true. (Ultimately no ideas are completely true but from a relative point of view some may be truer than others!)
“As a man is, so he sees.” (William Blake)
I hope this helps - here is a link to an essay I wrote some time ago which is a more detailed discussion of the same subject.
With kind regards,