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Question #25:
Where does awareness come from, and where is it during deep sleep?

My experience is that Awareness is the Source (or Space) within which all other things arise. Beyond Awareness as the Background itself, I know no other source....

Many sages claim that Awareness remains alert and present through all stages of consciousness -- including waking, dreaming and deep sleep. Even if we are not conscious of Awareness in deepest sleep, our own experience verifies this truth for when the name of the sleeper is called out, the sleeper hears and responds....

To be honest, I have to say your answer has surprised me a lot. If we are Awareness, how can it be that we are not conscious of Awareness in deep sleep?

It is important to recognize that I make a distinction between:

  • consciousness,
  • Awareness, and
  • the conscious memory of Awareness.

    Perhaps this where the confusion lies?

    For more information on the distinction between the first two items, please review the following reflections:

  • Natural Awareness
  • Awareness and Consciousness

    As for the consciousness of Awareness in deep sleep, most of us are not conscious of it and do not have conscious memory of this Awareness.

    But, that does not mean that this Awareness does not exist. Many have experienced this uninterrupted state of Awareness, either as a result of Awakening, or through a cultivation of mindfulness during sleep. It is to this unbroken continuing of Awareness which I believe the sages are referring, and Its presence is not predicated upon the conscious memory of It after the fact.

    I hope this helps to provide a bit of clarification. Also, I have included, below, a description of Awareness and its relationship to deep sleep that I thought might be of interest:

    "So, the thought arose, 'the body has to rest,' and I...closed my eyes, and this Awareness just fell into this...tunnel. It just relaxed and became merged with this dark infinite Awareness. And there was nothing. There was just Awareness of the Void. Nothing. Black...I guess it was dreamless sleep, and THAT'S WHAT I WAS.

    "Then the morning came, and Awareness started to come back out of the Void. It was like the dawn of creation. The first thing coming out of that Void was sound. Then comes a sense of energy, and you begin to see motions and lights. Then you're awake again, your body is moving. And this is where it started to get a little disorienting, because how could I know who I am? There is no 'I'. Andrea is gone. But I am. Pure Awareness is. Emptiness is. Yes, now I'm back in the world again, and I think I'm over here looking at you over there. How can this possibly be?

    "Then awareness is saying, 'But it isn't. That's not true. You are. Being is. Emptiness is!'"

    Excerpted from: Breaking Through...A Journey to Awakening: An Interview with Andrea Pucci

    This discussion is continued in Mentoring Letter #48:
    Deep Sleep, Awareness and the Great Mystery

    2002, Metta Zetty
    All Rights Reserved.

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