The Four States of Awareness

by Mati (Sandy) Gilbert

I love waking up in the morning, before the alarm goes off, wanting to lie still and stay quiet.  To luxuriate in that cozy experience, not wanting it to end, not fully awake but not asleep either…  I always called it my “La La Land” time, when I experience inner contentment and bliss.

This is beyond the three states of awareness that everyone recognizes, which are waking, dreaming, and deep sleep.

When you are awake, you are thinking, moving, talking, and doing things.  Even when you are just sitting there or doing nothing and are aware of it, you are awake.

You dream every night.  Some you remember.  I used to write mystery novels in my dreams and I was the all the characters.  All the while, I was aware that I was dreaming the story.  Mystery novels were what I liked to read at that time.

In deep sleep, your body and mind are inactive and relaxed. You are unconscious.

However, there is a 4th state.  It is called “turiya,” which is translated as “the fourth state.”  A sutra explains: “Turiya should fill all three states, not just the beginning and the end of each.”   — Shiva Sutra 3.23 (translated by Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati)

It’s easy to find turiya — when you wake up and then fall back asleep, but are not fully asleep, as well as at the beginning and end of every dream.  Even when you are awake, this deeper state of consciousness is just below the surface of your awareness, just behind the part of your mind that you usually look at.

Turiya is pure bliss, the bliss of the Self, which is your own Divine Essence.  Meditation is the direct route to this bliss; the purpose of meditation is to find your own Self and keep you there, even with your eyes open.

Swami Nirmalananda describes it this way, “While in Turiya, your mind can be busy or quiet.  Your normal thoughts and worries don’t disturb your inner depths.   The sages describe it like the waves on the surface of the ocean, that don’t affect the mountains, valleys and creatures that live in the depths.  Meditation is your opportunity to dive deep for an inner experience, but its true goal is that you live from that deep and centered level of your own Beingness .”

This sutra promises you can live in the constant experience of consciousness, the transcendental bliss of your own Divine Essence, whether waking, dreaming or sleeping.  You attain this goal through meditation, through manta repetition, and through cultivating consciousness while in the midst of life.

Currently, I read fewer mystery novels and read more works of the yogic masters.  Since I started meditating regularly, I write fewer novels in my dreams as well.

Turiya, to me, is all encompassing.  The inner depth is there, when I am dreaming and in deep sleep.  I appreciate it most during my waking hours.  Turiya hovers in the background of my mind and being, and keeps me on an even keel during my day-to-day activities.  What a way to live!

OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah

To your Inherent Divinity again and again I bow.