Deep Sleep, Consciousness and MemoryWhy doesn't Conciousness have a mechanism to remember its experience during deep sleep?
When you talk about deep sleep, you use reasoning to reach the conclusion that Presence must be there witnessing. The question is: why Conciousness does not have a mechanism to remember its experience during deep sleep? And if there is nothing to remember, does this mean that Conciousness contemplating itself is nothing? So this means that, whatever contemplative pleasant experiences we may have when using a body, they do not have much to do with the state once the body dies?
Javier: When you talk about deep sleep, you use reasoning to reach the conclusion that Presence must be there witnessing.
Rupert: Presence is the ‘isness’ in all experience (and simultaneously, the knowingness’ in all experience). So, in the experience of deep sleep, whatever that is, its ‘isness’ or its existence is made out of Presence, Being, Knowing or Consciousness.
Witnessing is, as it were, a mode of Consciousness, just as ‘imaging’ is a mode of the screen. If there is no apparent object we cannot say that Consciousness is witnessing, but just because there is no apparent object present there, it does not mean that Consciousness loses its ‘knowingness’ quality. It is this ‘knowingness’ that becomes, as it were, (or is called) ‘witnessing,’ when an object appears or, in the absence of an apparent object, simply remains as it always is, abiding in and as the Knowing of its own Being.
Nothing new is known there. Consciousness’ Knowing/Being of itself is simply no longer coloured by the apparent ‘otherness’ that seems to take place when Consciousness takes the shape of mind.
Where is the ‘there’ that you refer to in deep sleep? There is no ‘there.’
The ‘there’ of deep sleep is ‘here.’ That is, deep sleep, as it is commonly conceived, takes place ‘here’ in exactly the same Consciousness in which this current perception is taking place. Consciousness never moves from this ‘place.’
The Consciousness that is taking the shape of the current thoughts, sensations and perceptions is exactly the same Consciousness that remains in and as itself in what the mind calls ‘deep sleep.’ Deep sleep is in fact simply this current experience uncoloured by mind. Or we could say that THIS current experience is the experience of deep sleep, coloured by mind.
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Imagine that the space of the room you are sitting in is a metaphor for Consciousness. The furniture in the room is a metaphor for the waking state sensations and perceptions and the images on the wall are a metaphor for thinking and imagining which are present both in the waking state and in the dream state.
First of all imagine removing the furniture from the room. In the metaphor, this is the equivalent of falling asleep - the body and the world (sensations and perceptions) vanish.
Now there are only the images on the walls, that is, there is only thinking and imagining. This is the dream state.
Now imagine removing the images on the walls. That is, in the metaphor, the dream state gives way to deep sleep.
What happens to the space of the room when the objects and images disappear? Nothing! Does it know anything new?
A better analogy would be one of a hologram in which all the objects and pictures in the room are actually holograms. In other words, their only substance is the substance of the space in which they appear, in just the same way that a hologram is made out of the space in which it appears.
What happens to the space of the room when it ceases to take the shape of the hologram that appears within it? And what happens to the space when the hologram reappears? When the hologram reappears, does the space know something new, something that was not present when the hologram was not present? No! There is always only the space of the room knowing itself in the absence of and in the presence of the hologram. What does it need to remember when the hologram reappears? Whatever it was that was known in the absence of the hologram is still being knowing during its presence.
Likewise, whatever is known in the absence of objects is still being known when objects reappear.
Javier: Why doesn’t Consciousness have a mechanism to remember its experience during deep sleep?
Rupert: It does. All memory appears in Consciousness. A memory comes in the form of a thought or image which is itself the shape that Consciousness is taking at that moment. In other words, the mechanism is still present, but that does not mean the memory is still present. When the car is sitting in the garage, the mechanism is still present but it may not be running.
Only an object can be remembered. However, not all objects are remembered.
That fact that some objects are not remembered is not proof that they were not present and experienced ‘at some time.’
So, the phrase ‘deep sleep’ could refer to a state in which there are no objects, in which case it is not a state, because for a state to be present, mind must be present. In this case what we call ‘deep sleep’ is equivalent to Consciousness.
Or ‘deep sleep’ could refer to a state in which a certain class of objects are present and yet which are not recalled by memory. In this case deep sleep is indeed a state (because objects are present there, albeit very subtle ones).
If by ‘deep sleep’ we refer to an experience of the absence of objects there is nothing objective ‘there’ to be remembered. But this is not a state that lasts in time, because in the absence of objects there is no time. In other words, there is only the experience of Consciousness knowing its own Self.
However, that is not something that needs to be remembered from the past because it is still shining here in the present, in this very experience.
It is like asking a TV screen, while the film is running, why do you not remember what you are like when there is no film present, ie, when the screen is blank? And the screen answers that even now when the film is running, it is still knowing itself as it is. Where is the need for memory, when the screen, the knowing of its own self, is present as a current experience?
You see, memory is thought. When there is no thought, what is there to be remembered? In other words, the mechanism (mind) and the content (mind) are one and the same. The absence of one implies the absence of the other.
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Javier: And if there is nothing to remember, does this mean that Consciousness contemplating itself is nothing?
Rupert: It means that it is nothing objective, that is, it has no objective qualities.
The confusion arises because we think that when an object appears, an object truly appears. But there is never truly an object, even when an object seems
to appear. There is only ever Consciousness. That is, Consciousness never truly becomes obscured any more than the screen becomes obscured.
If we think that an object truly appears, then by definition we will feel that Consciousness is obscured and therefore needs to be remembered.
However, when it becomes obvious that no object really appears it becomes simultaneously obvious that Consciousness’ knowing of itself never becomes obscured.
Javier: So this means that, whatever contemplative pleasant experiences we may have when using a body, they do not have much to do with the state once the body dies?
Rupert: Yes, whatever the state of the body, however pleasant or unpleasant, is obviously irrelevant when the body is no longer present.
However, the death or disappearance of the body does not necessarily mean the death or disappearance of the mind. In fact, the body is only a sensation and or a perception. Sensations and perceptions are part of the mind (in the broadest sense of the word). Even in the waking state, sensations and perceptions disappear all the time, but thinking and imagining still appear.
Likewise, in the dream the body disappears but imagining continues. In fact, imagining imagines a new body and a new world. And in that ‘new world,’ that is, the dream state, thinking imagines that the Consciousness in which the dream is appearing, is limited to one of the bodies that is appearing in the dream. In this way, a new separate dream entity is created in exactly the same way as the separate entity is created in the waking state.
It is hard to describe all this…..I hope I have made sense to you.