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Chapter 2: Meditation: The Razor’s Edge

Listening to your discourse on “Existence, the only refuge,” I was reminded of what you said in a meditation camp: “I have come to awaken you, not to teach you. Let go and I will transform you. This is my promise.”
Please will you talk in detail about this immensely reassuring statement?
Also please explain the difference between learning and waking up and the relationship between letting go and transformation.

There is a lot of difference between learning and waking up. Learning is very simple, waking up is arduous. For learning, waking up is not a precondition. Learning can happen even while asleep - in fact everything we learn is learned in sleep, there is no need for the sleep to be disturbed!

Perhaps you know that for the past ten years Russian psychologists have been conducting experiments in teaching children while they are asleep. This is a valuable experiment - to let the child enjoy his night’s sleep and yet be learning. Then there will be no need for the child to attend school during the day; he can play, he can feel free. School is a day-prison and he will get rid of it. The experiment is succeeding. The teaching machine is placed near the child’s ear while the child is sleeping, and instructions in mathematics, language, geography and so on are fed into his unconscious mind.

It has been observed that the disturbances present during an awake person’s learning are missing when learning happens during sleep. Awake, the mind is distracted - other things attract it. The child sitting in the classroom hears the birds singing outside and loses track of the lesson. Somebody walking past outside, or even just a sound, is enough to distract him. But the mind of a sleeping child is undivided. Learning happens through the unconscious, not the conscious; all learning happens in what Freud calls the unconscious mind. This is why we have to repeat things that we are learning. If you are learning a language you have to repeat words and their meanings over and over again, and through this repetition the new information is processed from your conscious into your unconscious. Recite a poem many times and you will be able to recite it by heart. Recite it just once, and it is forgotten. First the conscious mind reads and learns, and then, through further repetition, the new material sinks deeper and deeper into the lower strata of the unconscious where it is assimilated and becomes in time a part of the unconscious mind.

We learn through the unconscious; when we sleep it is the conscious that sleeps, and our unconscious is awake. In sleep the interior mind is awake while the periphery of the mind sleeps. Learning in sleep is learning directly through the unconscious mind. I am recounting this experiment to you so that you can understand that learning can take place without one’s being awake - and may even be better.

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