You will not believe how closely, how deeply, we are connected to sleep. How a person will live his life depends totally on how he sleeps. If he does not sleep well, his entire life will be chaos: all his relationships will become entangled, everything will become poisonous, filled with rage. If, on the contrary, a person sleeps deeply, there will be freshness in his life – peace and joy will continuously flow in his life. Underlying his relationships, his love, everything else, there will be serenity. But if he loses sleep, all his relationships will go haywire. He will have a messed-up life with his family, his wife, his son, his mother, his father, his teacher, his students – all of them. Sleep brings us to a point in our unconscious where we are immersed in godliness – although not for too long. Even the healthiest person only reaches to his deeper level for ten minutes of his nightly eight hours’ sleep. For these ten minutes he is so completely lost, drowned in sleep, that not even a dream exists.
Sleep is not total as long as one is dreaming – one keeps moving between the states of sleep and wakefulness. Dreaming is a state in which one is half-asleep and half-awake. To be in a dream means that even though your eyes are closed, you are not asleep; external influences are still affecting you. The people you met during the day, you are still with them at night in your dreams. Dreams occupy the middle state between sleep and wakefulness. And there are many people who have lost sleep – they merely remain in the dreaming state, without ever reaching the state of sleep. And that you don’t remember in the morning that you dreamt all night is beside the point. Much research on sleep is being carried out in America. Some ten big laboratories have been experimenting on thousands of people for about eight to ten years.
Americans are showing interest in meditation because they have lost sleep. They think that perhaps meditation may bring their sleep back, that it may bring some peace into their lives. That’s why they look upon meditation as nothing more than a tranquilizer. When Vivekananda first introduced meditation in America, a physician came to him and said, “I enjoyed your meditation immensely. It is absolutely a non-medicinal tranquilizer. It’s not a medicine and yet it puts one to sleep – it’s great.” Yogis are not the reason their influence is growing so much in America – the lack of sleep is the real cause. Their sleep is in a mess, and consequently life in America is filled with heaviness, depression, tension. So in America we see the growing need for tranquilizers – somehow, to bring sleep to people.
Every year, millions of dollars are being spent on tranquilizers in America. Ten big laboratories are conducting research on thousands of people who are being paid to undergo nights of rather uncomfortable, painful sleep. All kinds of electrodes and thousands of wires are attached to people’s bodies, and they are examined from all angles to find out what is happening inside them.
One incredible discovery these experiments have revealed is that man dreams almost the whole night. Waking up, some people said they didn’t dream, while some said they did. But in fact, all of them dreamt. The only difference was that those with better memories remembered dreaming, while those with weaker memories could not recall dreaming. It was found, however, that a completely healthy person was able to slip into a deep, dreamless sleep for ten minutes.
Dreams can be scanned through machines. Nerves in the brain remain active during our dreaming state, but as the dream stops, the nerves cease to be active as well, and the machine indicates a gap has occurred. The gap shows that at that time the man was neither dreaming nor thinking – he was lost somewhere.