The question then is how to remove this last shakti, the veiling power of maya, and become fully conscious as consciousness itself? In other words, how to become fully awakened? We indirectly experience the inner peace and contentment of the dreamless sleep state after we return to the serial dream, but how can we directly experience such peace, not afterwards but while it is happening? In short, how can we transcend the three states of consciousness that we cycle through daily? This is a familiar question asked from within the serial dream by the class of dream characters we call spiritual aspirants. It is a question that naturally arises when the dream bubble is ready to burst. But this question, in reality, has no meaning and hence has no answer. As previously pointed out, the pure consciousness is always conscious. It has not gone away. It has not become what it isn’t. All that happens, or seems to happen, is that illusion, that which isn’t, that which is nothing and yet seems to be something, is no longer taken to be real. It is no longer believed. Once the dream is seen to be just a dream it has lost its power of reality and its power to produce confusion and suffering. When the underlying rope is seen, the snake, even though it may still be perceived as a ghost-like image, is no longer taken seriously.

        We see that behind the projection of individual and world, in other words, the seeming reality of both the day-time and night-time dreams wherein the veiling and projecting powers of maya and mind are active, there is the quiescence of the dreamless state, in which only the veiling power of maya remains. Here there is neither time nor space, subjectivity nor objectivity; there is only the infinite serene field of consciousness, radiant and shining. But here, consciousness still appears to be covered with a thin diaphanous veil that obscures it from itself. This dreamless state is the normally invisible unchanging background which is present 24 hours a day, every day, for all time. It is the basis on which the visible changing foreground of consciousness, all the dramas of our night-time and day-time dreams, play. In the past, it has always been the dreams that have held our at­tention, not their basis. But that can change.

        Even now, as I write this and you read this, this background state is present and fully available. Allow it to be present in your awareness. Taste it, now. Abide in its serenity and silence for a brief moment of respite from the steady onslaught of thoughts and impressions. It is never far away. It is always available. It is always waiting to be imbibed. It is there in the instant between every thought. This very moment it beckons you to return to it and rest awhile and be refreshed. Here, the individual I-thought and all its delusory effects dissolve into a uniform field of stillness. This taste of the infinite, this flavor of the eternally tranquil and peaceful now in which no I-thought is present to intrude, is known as being awake in dreamless sleep.

Being Always Watchful

        Loving this stillness, being ever vigilant to not forget it for a moment, is what true meditation is about. It does not require a formal sitting in front of an altar with the body held in a fixed pose, such as the lotus, and the mind repeating a holy mantra or concentrating on a divine form. For many, these meditational props help to still the mind and in the beginning are very useful, and even essential. But the shift of focus from foreground to background can happen at any stage of the serial dream, whether the dream character is sitting, walking, eating, doing or not doing, thinking or not thinking. For this no effort is needed. In fact any effort at all gets in the way and makes it impossible. It is our hunger and our yearning for this stillness of being that inspires us to remember the background, the uniform unindividuated wholeness.  And it is this love of undisturbed peace that makes us watchful to see in our clarified mind’s eye, the clear stage free of all props, even while the myriad of individualized characters and objects, mind thoughts, words and ideas play out their parts in foreground. In this way, we give no further energy or credence to the unreal, but keep our vigilance focussed on the unchanging basis, the indwelling silence of being. This is true integral vision. This is true meditation.

        For this exercise, nothing needs to be changed in foreground. There is no need to change one’s activities or change one’s thoughts, or for seeming others to change what they are perceived to be doing. All that is required is a shift of awareness, a shift of focus, a broadening of the field of perception to return to stillness, even while foreground continues unabated and is seemingly unaffected. It is the shift of perception from the individualized character in a novel to the author of the novel, or from the dream character to the dreamer, or from the painted character, the Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck, to the painter, the Walt Disney, who out of his imagination creates the phantasmagoria of all that is visible in foreground, which quite magically appears on the empty, normally invisible canvas background, the blank screen or the blank book of infinite possibilities.

        An important spiritual practice which helps turn our awareness to the omnipresent background, is to shift our focus by perceiving the perceiver, by watching the dreamer, by inquiring into the I-thought. Who is this I? What is the source of this I? Who am I? The question when asked earnestly, with a totally open, unjudging and receptive mind, is not answered by an intellectual insight but by pure silence, a cessation of the activities of the mind. When the thoughts quieten, the underlying basis of pure consciousness stands revealed.

        This shift of consciousness from impure to pure is simply an inner change of perception. When it happens it is like the instant recognition of the rope as the rope. Although the snake, or in our case the world, may come and go, it is never again believed to be real. It is just like the dream world and its events and characters conjured up by the dreamer. The dream world may continue as a shadow play even after we realize we are the dreamer and we are just making up this dream, but now the happenings of our dream can hold no threat to our equanimity. They can only provide delight. The pure everunchanging, self-conscious awareness, the underlying basis for all three states of consciousness that we cycle through during the day, is our true nature. It is one of infinite joyousness and bliss, wherein only the one loving Self is seen reflected and extending everywhere in all directions.