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When you know consciousness, you are beyond consciousness || Acharya Prashant, on Shiv Sutra (2016)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
18 min
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जाग्रत्स्वप्नसुषुप्तभेदे तुर्याभोग्सम्भवः। (1.7)

Knowing what looks like, as the difference between the three states of consciousness, one finds himself located in the joy of the fourth.

This is a little technical, so we will have to…

This is state of consciousness (pointing towards the whole surroundings). This is Jagrati; the waking state of consciousness. After a while, most of you would be asleep, the others would be singing by the river.

That sleep will be the another state of consciousness. In that sleep, you will have dreams and all. Mental activity would persist, that is called the Swapn state of consciousness.

Then you recede deeper into the sleep, and the dreams too go away. What you are left with, is the blankness. That is called the shushupti state.

Right, Simple.

Now the game starts. Be all ears.

We take the particular state in which we are, very very seriously. Does this universe appear in the swapn state, as it appears right now? In your dreams is this world the same, as it appears right now? And when you are not having even dreams, where goes this world? It’s no more, right?

So, three states of consciousness and corresponding to each state there is a different world. In this world, you are a man sitting on a chair. In sleep, you are a donkey, and in shushupti even the donkey goes, grazing or wherever.

Can we take this whole thing, a lightly? Or, would I have to explain the jokes as well? They are not *sutra*s. They are jokes (everyone smiles).

Bad jokes, maybe. Anyway (everyone laughs).

Listener: Sir, I think this is the saffron doing all this.

AP: Saffron? Oh, I get rid of this. (Removing his saffron colored cap)

L1: How can you joke when you are wearing saffron?

AP: I’m not a saffronist . I don’t belong to any color.

So, corresponding to each state of consciousness, there is a world. And here, as you sit in this state, what is this state called?

L: Jagrati.

AP: Jagrati, the waking state. You take this world as real. That is our definition of reality – that which we perceive when we are waking. Not when we are awakened, but when we are waking. So, we say the river is real, the bridge is real, the hut is real, the seat is real, the clothes is real, the men and the women are real and in middle of all these “I’m real”. This is our definition of reality, right.

The sun, the moon, the stars, the planets, the physics that you are talking off where does it disappear when you are sleeping?

All that belongs only to those hours of the day when, your eyes are open. When your eyes are close, physics too closes. So, physics belongs only to one particular state of consciousness. It is so damn limited.

The worldly mind, takes this as real (pointing to the whole atmosphere) without ever wondering where does all this goes, when he goes to bed? In fact, he keeps believing, that when he is on the bed, the universe is still there. He believes that the universe is something, independent of him that it has an objective existence. And he is supported by the observation, that when he wakes up, things are more or less the same, as they were when he went to sleep. He left his pen on the table, and he wakes up and finds his pen still on the table. So, that assures him of the continuity of this perceived reality. Right, that’s how it happens.

The sage is saying, please understand that these three states appear to be different, they are one in the sense that these all are just states of mind. They are different states, but nevertheless still states. Just states, not reality.

Fleeting states. They go away, they disappear.

This so called world dissolves instantly, gone. And when you know that all of this is not to be taken seriously, then instead of these three, you find yourself located in the substratum of these three – Tuirya.

The word turiya literally means the fourth. Fourth, as different from these three. But it is not really a fourth, in the sense it is not the fourth state. It is forth, in the sense it is different from the three. Different from the three, meaning the background of the three, the foundation of the three.

Turiya is Atman itself, Truth itself, Shiva himself.

When you are not taking yours dream seriously, when you are not taking these facts seriously then you are in Shiva. And the word used is peculiar. The sage is saying bhogah, then you are located in the joy of turiya, than you are enjoying it.

Bhog, means enjoyment. So, if you are not in the forth. When you would not be in the forth? When you are in any of the three. When you are not in the fourth then, you would be in any of the three, and in all three, there is just suffering. You take your dreams seriously, you suffer. You take this world seriously, you will suffer. You are in joy, only when you are out of these three. That is why fourth, turya; turyabhogah.

This world never gave joy to anybody. The ones who lived in joy, they didn’t get it from the world. They had it in themselves. Nobody found love in this world. Those who look for love in the world, they only keep looking. Whatever is essential about life does not come from the world.

Yes, all the trivial stuff comes from the world. Your handkerchief, and all the stuff that you are munching, comes from the world. But, your sense of attentiveness cannot come from the world.

What you are holding in your hand and what you are thinking comes from the world. But, that which brings relief to your heart cannot come from the world. It comes from the foruth. The fourth, means that which is outside the three. Do not call it the fourth; just call it not three. And three is consciousness, so call is not consciousness. And consciousness is thought, so call it not thought.

The fourth is not thought. The fourth is not consciousness. The fourth is not a product of man’s mind. Therefore, it is joy. Therefore, it is love. Therefore, it is all that you have deeply aspired for.

L2: This might be academic. The way you say fourth state can be attained only when outside of the other three states, it seems to be a part of them

AP: It’s the foundation of them. It’s the source of them.


AP: When you know the reality of the difference between the three, then you are in the fourth. Bhed means different. When you know what is it that you call the difference between waking and sleeping? When you have realized it, that is when you are in the fourth. And now, to you, waking and sleeping are no more different or significant.

You know that’s what has been beautifully captured in many scriptures. They talk of a realized man, asleep while waking. Asleep while waking and waking while asleep.

Krishna says very famously in the Gita:

यानिशाम सर्वभूतानां तस्याम जागृति संयमी ।”

When the entire world is asleep, than the real one is awake. Which means for him the distinction between these states of consciousness, is blurred. He does not confine to them. He does not confirm to them or follow them.

L3: These three states are all states of mind actually. So, where is the source?

AP: Turiya is the source of mind. The foundation of mind.

L3: So, is it beyond mind?

AP: Yes, beyond mind.

L4: Is the ego, created by the ego? Is the concept of the ego, created by the ego? So, it doesn’t naturally exist?

AP: (smilingly) Very funny, isn’t it?

This is your session, if you don’t talk, I don’t talk. I don’t have anything personal to say. When you say something, than I respond.

L5: Why not to come now in turiya?

AP: You cannot come into turiya.

L5: I understood. But, the process is to make people aware and then continue let’s go.

AP: He is talking about turiya, right now. But, it is right now. It is indeed right now. We believe that we are in the waking state, all of us right now. But, if you let yourself loose a little, you are already in turiya. And turiya is not an exclusive state; you can be in a waking state and yet be in turiya. Turiya is not really, between states 1, 2 and 3.

If you are asleep, then you could not be awake. Right, 1, 2 and 3 are exclusive states. The fourth one is not an exclusive state. You could be in 1 and in 4. In 2 and in 4. So, you are already in turiya.

Right now, you are in 1 and 4. But, because you are attached to 1, you miss out on the 4.

L6: Like as you said, fourth is the source. So, I understand they cannot be without the fourth.

AP: They cannot be without the fourth. So, 1 and 4 are always together. If you take 1 a little less seriously than, you find that the 4 is there. And probably, only it is there.

L7: So, when we remember our brains is that because turya was there, watching?

AP: Turiya, does not remember anything. Remembering or forgetting all of that is a function of mind. Turiya has nothing at all do. Neither can it remember nor can it forget.

L7: Does the master do working in this style?

AP: It is the characteristic of the dream state that, it leaves some residue in the waking state and also takes some material from the waking state. Can you dream of something, of which you have had absolutely no experience in waking state? Similarly, in the waking state you retain some memories of your dream. It is just a characteristic.

L7: Does these are not states co-exist?

AP: No, not co-exist. Because, here (pointing towards brain) you have a possibility to deal with facts. There you only deal with that, which you have already come across in another state. In the sense that the dream state, kind of dependent on the waking state for its sustenance.


ज्ञानं जाग्रत्।

Gyanam Jagrat.

All knowledge is confined to the waking state

What is jagrat?

The waking state and in waking state you have, what you call as gyan; knowledge. So, all knowledge is confined to waking state.

You may be a very knowledgeable man, but you are knowledgeable, not more than 14 or 15hrs a day. Sleep, all the knowledge is lost. Including the knowledge that you are wonderful, brilliant, billionaire whatever.

Next one.


स्वप्नो विकल्पः

Swapno Vikalpah

In the dream state, everything is imaginary.

In the dream state, you have fancies not facts. In facts, there is no choice possible. Vikalp means choice, alternative.

In facts, choices are not possible, because in facts, no contradictions exist. Neither contradictions, nor choices. A fact is a fact; you cannot choose or reject it. A river is a river; you cannot say it is a stream of tears. Neither can you say that the sound is coming from wherever, somebody using a flush or something. A fact is a fact, there are no choices there.

Choice means Vikalp . In the dream state, everything is imaginary. The choices that you so craved for in the waking state, they manifest themselves in the dream state. You could not have them when you were waking, so you have them when you are asleep.

Remember, in the fact there are neither contradictions, nor substitutions. No two facts quarrel with each other, but imaginations quarrel with each other. They contradict, they substitute, they fight for the same space.

* Swapno vikalpah*. If you are getting a lot of dreams, it only means that in the waking state there is lot of desire going unfulfilled. The unfulfilled desire of the waking state, finds expressions in dreams.

What’s next?

L: I want to ask this. You said that facts cannot be disputed, but facts exist within this world of knowledge, which in itself is a product of objects. But objects can be perceived through perception.

AP: I’m saying, facts do not quarrel with each other. That in facts, there are no contradictions, no choices. The whole landscape of facts can be totally dismissed, but within that landscape there is no contradiction.

Facts exists only in the waking state, right? You can dismiss it only when you move to dreams. But, when you are awake then within facts there can be no disputes, there can be.

Do you get what I’m saying?

Imaginations, choices, opinions, biases – they dispute each other. One fact can only supplement another fact, never contradict it. One fact can only add to, complete, or supplement to another fact. But never cross it.

L8: Is that not subjective?

AP: In fact, there is no subjectivity at all. Facts mean complete objectivity.

L8: So, perception plays no role?

AP: Perception plays a great role in imagination. Whenever there is personal perception involved, that is imagination.

L8: So, paradox can only exist in minds?

AP: No, in the world of facts, there can be no paradoxes.

L8: Like everything and nothing, this is a paradox. But, this can be the fact easily the either one or the other one.

AP: You cannot pick two facts and say, this is a fact and this is a fact, and they are not fitting with each other. That they are at odds with each other. No, facts are never at odds with each other. If you find two facts, that are not quite adding up, than one of them is not a fact, or may be both of them.

L9: So, you are being one in the fourth world. Than all these facts are one?

AP: In the world of facts, all is not one. In the world of facts, all is all and different. It is only in the world of fourth, that all is one.

What is one? Is this the same as this? Is this the same as that? All of these are facts. What is one?

Here, you see only differences and diversity.

L8: If you are dreaming and you realize that you are dreaming, are you in the waking state? As you are dreaming awake.

AP: You are at the interface. You are moving towards waking up. If you have started becoming conscious that it is a dream, then very soon the dream will be broken. Very soon.

Yes, Shiva.

L9: Earlier, we talked about facts. The variance of facts, are they the same facts?

AP: Same.

L9: So, I don’t get it. Now the facts are separated, so, which one of consciousness and which one of sleep?

AP: Coming close to facts, the gate of Truth opens. When you know what facts are. You see when I’m speaking to you, am I speaking to you in dreams? I’m speaking to you in the waking state. That’s how this is taking place.

In the waking state, what do you see? That is a fact. So, if you want to know what the waking state really is, what you will need to use? What is available to you in the waking state?

Only the facts, nothing else is available. So, if you really want to know something in the waking state, which actually is your current state, you will have to use facts. So, coming close to the facts is the only option that you have, because you are waking right now.

L9: But, that fact I can perceive in through my senses. Earlier you were saying you don’t see with those eyes, you see with the third one. That’s where I don’t get all these facts and all.

AP: Ok, see, we not only perceive with these eyes. When you are perceiving with these eyes, than this one should be just a person, a man. But, am I just a person?

You already have many meanings attached. Now, are the eyes supplying those meanings? All that the eye is bringing to you is that, a particular river is flowing. Is the eye saying that the river is holy?

Do you get this?

So, we never live in facts. That’s what I intended. To live, to look with this, is to look purely at the fact and go so deeply into the fact that, its falseness and its root open up. That root is the Truth. That root is the three.

See, as waking creatures nothing else is available to us. Only facts are available. What else would you use? You want to know the reality of existence, right? You really want to know what is the Truth of all this, what can you use.

Nothing is available to you, except facts. Except facts. So, one goes close to the facts. One finds out what it means to be looking at facts and how facts get distorted by perceptions. And when you have really figured that out than, you have gone into awareness.

Now, you are beyond consciousness.

L10: Illusions form our perceptions. So, if one frees from perceptions, he sees reality.

AP: First of all, one sees that illusions are so false and then, on coming close and closer to facts one also sees that the facts are false. But, that can wait.

First of all, just see that there are so many illusions mixed with what we call as our daily perceptions.

A man is not a man. A wall is not a wall. A car is not a car. A cloth is not a cloth. A color is not just a color. It means so much. All that meaning is not factual. All that meaning is not what the eyes see and what the ears hear. That is supplied by the…

L10: River is river, is a fact. The river is holy, is a judgement. The difference between these two is the difference of social conditioning.

AP: See, even to say that, this is a river is not really a fact. Because the moment you use the word river, all that which goes with the word river, comes into play.

So, when you talking about facts, you will at some point desist from calling this a river, because, naming brings prejudices into the picture.

But, that can wait. First of all, let the river be a river. And saffron be a color

L10: So, that is the distinction which brings to consciousness?

AP: Yes, of course!

L10: There is something which one must be aware?


In consciousness, there are objects. In awareness, there is nothing. You are always conscious of something. You can never be aware of something. Actually, awareness means nothing. Awareness just means peace.

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