Sleep and Dreams

Sleep is the school one must pass through if one knows how to learn one's lesson there, so that the inner being may become independent of the physical form, conscious in its own right and master of its own life. There are entire parts of the being that need this immobility and semi-consciousness of the outer being, of the body, in order to be able to lead their own life independently.

It is another school for another result, but it is still a school. If one wants to achieve the maximum possible progress, one must know how to make use of one's nights just as one makes use of one's days. Only, people usually have no idea how to go about it; they try to stay awake and all they achieve is a physical and vital imbalance, and sometimes a mental one too.

- The Mother


There is no end to the discoveries that you can make in dreams. But one thing is very important: never go to sleep when you are very tired, for if you do, you fall into a sort of unconsciousness and dreams do with you whatever they like, without your being able to exercise the least control. Just as you should always rest before eating, I would advise you all to rest before going to sleep. But then you must know how to rest.

There are many ways of doing it. Here is one: first of all, put your body at ease, comfortably strehed out on a bed or in an easy-chair. Then try to relax your nerves, all together or one by one, till you have obtained complete relaxation. This done, and while your body lies limp like a rag on the bed, make your brain silent and immobile, till it is no longer conscious of itself. Then slowly, imperceptibly, pass from this state into sleep. When you wake up the next morning, you will be full of energy. On the contrary, if you go to bed completely tired and without relaxing yourself, you will fall into a heavy, dull and unconscious sleep in which the vital will lose all its energies.

It is possible that you may not obtain an immediate result, but persevere.

For some time I have had trouble sleeping due to inner and outer turmoil. I pray to You to help me.

Before trying to sleep, when you lie down to sleep, begin by relaxing yourself physically (I call this becoming a rag on the bed).
Then with all the sincerity at your disposal, offer yourself to the Divine in a complete relaxation, and... that's all.
Keep trying until you succeed and you will see.

March 1969
- The Mother


Sleep cannot be replaced, but it can be changed; for you can become conscious in sleep. If you are thus conscious, then the night can be utilised for a higher working—provided the body gets its due rest; for the object of sleep is the body's rest and the renewal of the vital-physical force. It is a mistake to deny to the body food and sleep, as some from an ascetic idea or impulse want to do—that only wears out the physical support and although either the yogic or the vital energy can long keep at work an overstrained or declining physical system, a time comes when this drawing is no longer so easy nor perhaps possible. The body should be given what it needs for its own efficient working. Moderate but sufficient food (without greed or desire), sufficient sleep, but not of the heavy tamasic kind, this should be the rule.

- Sri Aurobindo


A long unbroken sleep is necessary because there are just ten minutes of the whole into which one enters into a true rest—a sort of Sachchidananda immobility of consciousness—and that it is which really restores the system. The rest of the time is spent first in travelling through various states of consciousness towards that and then coming out of it back towards the waking state. This fact of the ten minutes true rest has been noted by medical men, but of course they know nothing about Sachchidananda!

- Sri Aurobindo


The physical is not the only world; there are others that we become aware of through dream records, through the subtle senses, through influences and contacts, through imagination, intuition and vision. There are worlds of a larger subtler life than ours, vital worlds; worlds in which Mind builds its own forms and figures, mental worlds; psychic worlds which are the soul's home; others above with which we have little contact. In each of us there is a mental plane of consciousness, a psychic, a vital, a subtle physical as well as the gross physical and material plane. The same planes are repeated in the consciousness of
general Nature. It is when we enter or contact these other planes that we come into connection with the worlds above the physical. In sleep we leave the physical body, only a subconscient residue remaining, and enter all planes and all sorts of worlds. In each we see scenes, meet beings, share in happenings, come across formations, influences, suggestions which belong to these planes. Even when we are awake, part of us moves in these planes, but their activity goes on behind the veil; our waking minds are not aware of it. Dreams are often only incoherent constructions of our subconscient, but others are records (often much mixed and distorted) or transcripts of experiences in these supraphysical planes. When we do sadhana, this kind of dream becomes very common; then subconscious dreams cease to predominate.

The forces and beings of the vital world have a great influence on human beings. The vital world is on one side a world of beauty,—the poet, artist, musician are in close contact with it; it is also a world of powers and passions, lusts and desires,—our own lusts and desires, and passions and ambitions can put us into connection with the vital worlds and their forces and beings. It is again a world of things dark, dangerous and horrible. Nightmares like X's are contacts with this side of the vital plane. Its influences are also the source of much in men that is demoniac, dirty, cruel and base.

This experience of X is a contact with something on the wrong side of the vital plane. Her visions of gods, goddesses, etc., are vital world experiences on the other side. This one is an attempt of some vital force to get some kind of control on her acting on her through her fear. If she were not afraid, it could not invade her. If she suffers in her waking hours from desires or despondencies and depressions, that also would help to make her enter these worlds in sleep or have a connection with them. Her experiences as you reported them showed a very great power of entry into the vital plane on the good side—these dream experiences are the other side. As they are dreams, they are not so dangerous as a similar experience in meditation would be, but all the same they are very undesirable.

If such an invasion is attempted, the one thing to do is to fight it out as she did and at the same time to call the Mother. The rule should be to call the Mother before sleeping, to concentrate on her and try to feel the Mother's protection around her and go with that into sleep. In the dream itself a habit of calling the Mother when in difficulty or peril should be formed; many sadhaks do it. Not to allow the invasion, any invasion of any power or being, whether in dream, meditation or otherwise—no force except the Divine Force, means to reject it, never to give assent, whether through attention or through weakness. To cut connection can be done by will within, a will of rejection, a concentration on higher things than the things of the vital plane; also by rejection of vital desires or despondencies and depressions, if she has them. Let her aspire most for the higher spiritual experiences, the psychic opening, calm, peace, purity, the opening to the higher light, strength, bliss, knowledge.

One thing, she should not lead too sequestered a life; some opening on the physical world is needed, also some normal mental activities of a healthy character.

- Sri Aurobindo

He is himself the dreamer and the dream. - Sri Aurobindo