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...waking stage, the dream stage, the deep sleep stage and the Thuriya...
The Individual or the Jivi, believing that it is divided from the whole, the Universal, is subject to desire and despair, love and hate, grief and joy. He is attracted by the world of Name and Form. Such a person is characterised as 'bound', as baddha. Hence his need for liberation is urgent. And, to be liberated he must give up his dependence on and attachment to Prakrithi. The blind cannot be saved by the blind. The destitute cannot be helped out by the destitute. How can a man, himself destitute and helpless, remove the poverty, the suffering and the pain of another? The poor must approach the affluent, the wealthy. The blind must seek the guidance of a person who can see. Those who are bound and blinded by the dualities of Prakrithi have to take refuge in the inexhaustible treasure of Compassion, Power and Wisdom, namely, the Divine Atma. Then one can get rid of the destitution of grief, and revel in the wealth of Ananda; one can attain the Goal of Human Existence.

This consummation is reached, the Atmic awareness is won through the grace of Brahman. Wherein is the Atma to be sought? Where does the Atma reside? How can one know the Atman? Adoring the apparently consciousness-less things too as manifestations of the Sovereign Consciousness or Atma helps the process. The Atma Principle can be genuinely understood only by seekers who are grounded in the formless, attributeless Brahman. But, even the Saguna embodiment has the Atmic Reality in full measure. There are many examples to illustrate this Truth. Brahma Vidya is another name for understanding and experiencing the Atma as the Brahman, the Individual as the Universal.

Every one has the right to Brahma Vidya. And, every man passes through four stages in this search, every day of his life. They are, according to the Veda the waking stage, the dream stage, the deep sleep stage and the Thuriya or the fourth. These are demarcated as stages or even steps. In the first stage, one is awake to the objective world and is oriented outwards. Objects in the Universe are seen by the eye; sounds are heard; the senses are able to smell and taste and touch. Life is lived to the fullest in contact with society.
The five sense organs of perception, the five organs of action, the five pranas or vital airs. The four internal instruments are:

The Mind
The buddhi or faculty of discrimination.
The level of Consciousness, and
The ego-sense.
These nineteen means of contact and impact provide man during the waking stage the experience of grief and joy, gain and loss, success and failures in their gross forms. Since one is identified with the gross body complex at this stage, the experiences too are gross.

The region of dream is different. There the self is in-faced, Antharmukha. Reactions, responses and experiences are all self-contained. They do not belong to the area outside of oneself. There may be ten others sleeping in the same room; still, each one has his own dream. One's dream experience has no relation to that of anyone else. Each is disturbed or delighted by his own dream only. The dreamer is unaffected by outer circumstances. In fact, the external world is beyond one's consciousness. During the dream stage, one creates a world out of one's mind and dwells in the experiences it provides. Though the objects perceived are imaginary, the feelings and emotions like joy and grief, love and fear are as real as in the waking stage. The nineteen instruments of contact and impact are present even during the dream. They do not act materially or physically; they operate only through the mind, for the mind has a luminosity that produces the pictures. This is the reason why it is designated as Taijasa (from Tejas, enables one to formulate etc.,). The Tejas enables one to formulate and design any form, the sound, the taste etc., it decides upon. The dream state is the second step or stage in the acquisition by the self of its own awareness.

Next, Deep Sleep or Sushupti. This stage is free from even dreams. One is lost in undisturbed sleep. The person will not be conscious of his limbs, or of the sounds, the smells, the forms, the tastes and the sensations of touch. All activity is subsumed by the mind and is latent in it. All experience is absorbed into the higher levels of consciousness, Prajnana. There is no feeling of either separation, or identity, the particular or the universal, the part or the whole. There is no experiencer or experience. There is only the Atma in which he has temporarily merged.

Then, the Thuriya or the Fourth Step. Here, the Vyakthi or Individual is no more so. It has attained the Basic Truth of life and of Creation - The All-pervading, All-inclusive Atma, the Peace and Power of the one and only Atmic Empire. Those who have reached this step have no concern any longer with the individual self. One cannot assert either that these persons possess knowledge or that they do not have it. For, they are ever immersed in the highest Bliss.

The Atma in which they have merged is invisible to the eye. It cannot be grasped or held by hand. One can only know that It exists and that It is Goodness and nothing else. All urges that draw one towards the objective world have to be exterminated, before faith in the Atma can take root.

The four steps of Atmic awareness are very much akin to the four steps in the recital of OM. The A.U.M and the ultimate Matra are on a par with the waking, dreaming, sleeping and merging steps already dwelt upon. The Atma is evident in the mind; in deep sleep, it reposes in the heart; in the fourth stage it is all of oneself.

To sum up, it can be laid down that in all stages of daily life, in all circumstances and conditions, and in all activities and experiences, the Atma exists in all beings. All is Atma, Atma is All - the Cosmos is manifested as One by the One, This is what the Sutra reveals. Without the awareness of this unity, there cannot be joy and peace. Without joy and peace, Truth is an empty concept. Therefore, one should know the Cosmos as full, Poorna. It is not a void or vacuum. It is Atma Itself.


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