The East has had no problems about sleep, because everything was static. The West is in trouble; everything is changing, and is changing so fast that after five years it is difficult to say whether your town is the same town because everything has changed so much. The ability to sleep has been disturbed. If no object excites you sleep comes naturally; if there is excitement, you stay awake.
This is a strange definition of sushupti, the sleeping state: that we have no awareness, no self-awareness; we have no self-consciousness…we are only conscious of others. If others keep us awake we remain awake, if others stimulate us then we remain awake; if others create some challenge, maintain some struggle or friction for us, then we stay awake. And if nobody keeps us awake we fall asleep at once, we disappear into the depths of sleep.
Once I was staying in a village when a man was bitten by a snake. There was no physician in that village so he had to be taken to another. The elders of the village suggested to keep him awake, not to allow him to fall asleep, because if he fell asleep perhaps it would be impossible to revive him. So people took him to the next village keeping him awake, not allowing him to sleep, sprinkling water on him, making him sit up, shaking him so that he would not fall asleep.
I also traveled with them for a while on that day in the same train, and suddenly it occurred to me that this man may have been bitten by a snake, but that all of us are also in the same condition. If people around us don’t keep us awake, we will also be lost and fall asleep. Someone continuously keeps us awake, a new sensation keeps us alert. That is why when a war starts peoples’ eyes become brighter and a freshness comes to their faces – something new is happening. In the morning they get the daily newspapers, and even those people who usually never get up early, wake up early and wait for the newspaper. What happens? It is surprising, you would think that war would bring sadness but it brings happiness, that war would bring anguish but it brings freshness. Even dead nations begin to throb with life…blood starts circulating faster. Why?
Psychologists say that, as man is, he has to continue to fight or he becomes totally lethargic and he has no taste for life. Something must continue to happen somewhere, some sort of trouble, or we will just fall asleep. We are all bitten by snakes.
This third state, the state of sleep, happens when no object excites us – neither within nor from the outside, neither in the world of thoughts nor in the world of objects. We are still alive, but unconscious.