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Awaken to the Fourth State

We lead ordinary lives, not realising the latent divinity within. Passing through the waking, dream and sleep states, we consider them to be our only reality. Pujya Gurudevshri, while describing the states, brings to light a fourth state of our consciousness and explains how to manifest it for our spiritual upliftment

Man’s life is seen as the combination of three states – waking, dream and sleep. Each morning, you get up and enter the waking state, and when retiring at night, you enter the dream state and when the dreams stop, you enter the deep sleep state. In this way, you spend your entire life, nay, you have spent life after life wandering in these states, and hence, you are familiar with just these.

Apart from these three states, there is a fourth state called Turiya. Unlike the first three that are named based on the condition of mind and body, this one does not have a specific name. Being the fourth, it is named Turiya. The word Turiya means ‘the fourth’. This state cannot be compared with the waking, dream or sleep states that are considered to be the states of unawareness of the Self. Turiya is a state of supreme awareness. In fact, this state is realised only when one experiences oneself separate from the other three.

The Waking State

The waking state of consciousness is where the soul knows the world of objects and thoughts by means of the senses and mind. In this state, the body and mind are active, and transacting with the external world, but there is no awareness of the knower, the Self. The name of this state is actually a misnomer. It is only because you do not know any higher awakened state, you consider this as a waking state.

You know about the world but you do not know who you really are. You say you have woken up from sleep but you are not awakened if you have not known the Self. The day you awaken to the fourth state, you will realise that what you call the waking state is just another dream or kind of slumber.

The Dream State

The dream state of consciousness is where without the objects of touch etc., the soul experiences the world created by the mind. It is neither waking nor deep sleep state, nor is there knowledge of the Self. Because you are dreaming, it is named as dream state.

Here, the mind is active but the body is not and so the senses do not take note of the external world. The soul sees dreams made-up of impressions from daily activities performed during the waking state, suppressed desires, or memories from past births. Like a reflection of the moon in the water or an object in a mirror, in this state, you see the reflections of things, beings, and events of the waking world. Saints say that man has within him a collection of impressions from infinite past births. The mind projects them like a movie without a censor. Unlike the waking state, in dreams you have no limitations of society, etiquette or culture.

While dreaming you never feel you are seeing a dream. It all feels ‘real’. If you can know it to be a dream while it is still on, then the dream has ended and the waking has begun.

The Sleep State

In this third state of consciousness, there is neither the perception of the external world nor of the inner world of imagination. The body, senses and mind are at rest hence the name sleep state. You neither experience objects nor their reflections as dreams. The consciousness here is said to be in deep sleep. There is no knowledge of the non-self or the Self.

Life for you is a series of experiences related to the non-self alone. You have no awareness of the Self. For example, if a stone hurts your leg, you are aware of the stone as well as the pain but not of yourself. You know the world of objects and even the thought modifications but not your real Self – the knower, the witnessing consciousness. In the knowing of the event, you do not ever recognise the one who knows the event. The soul traverses the three states, and hence they can be called the states of the soul but in reality, the soul is separate from the three states.

The Turiya (Fourth) State

A state of consciousness in which there is awareness of the knower, that state is named by the sages of yore as the Turiya state. Without remaining aware of one’s real Self, one cannot attain the Turiya state. When the experience of the Self becomes profound, the awareness of ‘I am’, the witness, the knower, remains constant in every activity, in all three states.

Due to unawareness of the Self, you get identified with whatever you see. In reality, you, the one who sees is distinctly separate from all that is seen. Just as in a dream, everything seems so real that you forget who you are and get engrossed in it. Only upon waking up, you realise it was just a dream. But the fact that you remember dreaming shows that in you, there is a knower which journeys through the three states. Therefore, these states are not you. The moment you are awakened to the reality that you are separate from all of these; the fourth state begins to emerge. This awareness of the separateness is the Turiya state.

How Can the Turiya State be Attained?

The practice of self-awareness removes your false identification with the seen. Keep separating yourself from that which comes and goes. It is difficult to do so because for infinite lives you have been identifying yourself with what you are not and also have no practice of breaking this identification.

The Enlightened Ones ask you to start the practice from the waking state. Begin to see yourself as the knower. Time and again, you will get lost in the identification with the non-self. Do not stop. Once again remind yourself. In every activity remember, ‘I am not the doer, I am just the knower.’ This awareness should remain constant. The impressions of past lives will bother you. But with firm resolve and sincerity, if you continue remembering yourself as the knower you will see it becoming easier day by day.

While walking on the road shift the attention from the seen to the seer. See the body walk; you do not walk. While bathing shift the attention from the activity to the knower. See that one is bathing and the other just knows. While eating, know the taste as a witness. See one is eating and the other only knows. Sitting at home or at work, talking to someone, check yourself – the knower.

Perform every activity with awareness – ‘All this is happening outside of me. I am just the knower.’ Hold on to this knowingness and keep increasing the duration of awareness. Gradually, you will see this separation even in the dream and sleep state.

As the awareness grows, you will see that the thread of knowingness is always present in and through the three states like a thread in the beads. You can never lose it because ‘to know’ is your inherent nature. Till now it has remained hidden from you because you have not paid attention to it and have been engrossed in the seen. All you need to do is shift your attention towards the knower and the delusion will break.

Wake Up!

He who has awakened to this fourth state alone is truly successful. The others with worldly possessions have only failed. He who has awakened while living has no more death because he has realised his true nature of being unborn, undying, immortal, eternal, beyond the body.

Wake up to the Turiya state! Do this wherever you can, whether in the temple or in a marketplace. The process of waking up remains the same. Be the knower of every happening and not the doer or enjoyer. No one can say how long it will take to realise the Turiya state. It all depends on the intensity of your yearning and sincerity of practice. It can even be this very moment. Because you do not have to take the journey outside. It is only a matter of shifting attention to your Self.

As the absorption in the Turiya increases it deepens the experience of peace, fulfilment and ecstasy. You shall experience sameness towards all beings. You will recognise the same lamp of consciousness in all. To the awakened soul reveling in the fourth state, there is no friend nor foe, no mine or yours. There is only an ocean of peace and bliss.


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#SadguruWhispers The disciple loves the Guru,seeing His spiritual height. The Guru loves the disciple, seeing his yearning for it.