Consider that we remove ourselves from active participation in the external world and its activities for some 30% of our lifetimes while we are asleep. Sleep provides the physical body-life-mind complex with the opportunity to undertake basic ‘maintenance’, repair the body, soothe the life energies and refresh the brain function. What happens to our consciousness during sleep?

Consider further that we are constantly receiving and sending out electrical signals, impulses, and vibrational patterns that we are not consciously attending to, but which nevertheless create their own effects within us and on the world around us.

Reflect on the fact that there are experiences we have at various times when our external consciousness is withdrawn, such as experiential dreams where we are meeting individuals, going to places and taking actions that are not based in our waking lives; or in near death experiences, or in out of body experiences including phenomena such as astral travel. It becomes clear that our consciousness is functioning on other planes and in other circumstances during the times it is not actively participating in the external world of our waking state.

Many have reported seeing and meeting teachers and gurus, and receiving profound insights while their physical being was asleep. They return from these experiences with inner growth, new levels of knowledge and use the sleep state as a field for progress in their yogic endeavour.

We also know that we process things on multiple different levels at the same time. People who are questioned about events under the technique of hypnosis are able to describe specific details that their waking processing did not grasp. We filter out much of what occurs to make our waking lives more ‘efficient’, but it is nevertheless received and stored at a subliminal level and available, under the right circumstances to be brought to conscious awareness.

Yogis shift their awareness, through a state of yogic trance, such that it is said that day for the ordinary man is night for the yogi; and day for the yogi is night for the ordinary man. This indicates that there are other states of awareness available to human beings than that of the surface waking consciousness.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “It is a mistake to think that we live physically only, with the outer mind and life. We are all the time living and acting on other planes of consciousness, meeting others there and acting upon them, and what we do and feel and think there, the forces we gather, the results we prepare have an incalculable importance and effect, unknown to us, upon our outer life. Not all of it comes through, and what comes through takes another form in the physical — though sometimes there is an exact correspondence; but this little is at the basis of our outward existence. All that we become and do and bear in the physical life is prepared behind the veil within us. It is therefore of immense importance for a yoga which aims at the transformation of life to grow conscious of what goes on within these domains, to be master there and be able to feel, know and deal with the secret forces that determine our destiny and our internal and external growth or decline.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Ch. 2 Hidden Forces Within, pg.29

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 20 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.
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