Sleep and Spirituality
by Sri Chinmoy
During sleep the soul moves from one plane of consciousness to another. The soul is like a free bird. If the physical consciousness wants to observe what the soul is doing, it has to allow itself to be moulded and guided by the soul’s light. Only then can one expect to be conscious twenty-four hours a day.
If you wish to be more conscious of your experiences during sleep, the best thing to do is to spend more time in meditation. If you spend one hour now, then try to spend an hour and a half, then two hours. If you want to be conscious of your inner experiences during sleep, during dreams, then please try to devote more time to your spiritual life.
Sometimes you do not get very much sleep because you are doing selfless service or some other spiritual activity. Now some of you, when you go for several nights with only two or three hours’ sleep, feel that you will get sick. You fear that you will fall sick and ultimately die because of lack of sleep. But at that point, when death enters into your mind, say to yourself, “Will Guru or will the Supreme allow me to die when I am trying to conquer sleep through my dedication and aspiration?” Immediately the answer will come: “No!” If what you are doing is beyond your capacity, then your inner wisdom will come and tell you, “No, you need more sleep.” But if your inner wisdom is not warning you, the few hours that you are enjoying sleep are more than enough.
How will you recognise your inner wisdom? It is the soul in you that tells you whether you are doing the right thing. You can know whether you are doing the right thing by whether or not you get joy. The soul compels you to meditate and when you meditate you get real joy. Now, you have to know that that inner joy itself is strength and energy. There is no comparison between the energy that you get from sleep and the strength and energy that you get from inner joy. If you sleep for ten hours, you will not get the same strength as from five minutes of inner joy. Very few people have a sound sleep. You may sleep for eight hours, but for only a few minutes perhaps you will have sound sleep. During these ten minutes you can go into the higher world and get real joy. The rest of the time you are in the lower worlds, but it is not registered in your memory.
A few minutes of inner joy can conquer everything. With five minutes of vital joy, emotional joy, ordinary people can go on working for hours. If their vital is encouraged, if somebody has appreciated them on the vital plane, for instance, they can conquer sleep to some extent for two days. If the vital has the capacity to keep you awake, the heart has much more power than the vital and the soul has infinitely more power.
Excerpt from The Soul’s Journey by Sri Chinmoy.