When there is inactivity
and rest of the fourteen instruments
there is a lack of perception,
and gross objects, such as sound and touch,
are not experienced.
This state is called sushupti,
the sleeping state of the soul.
The eternally witnessing consciousness
which knows the presence or absence of the three states,
and which is itself beyond presence or absence,
This is the fourth.
Waking is the first state, dreaming is the second and sleeping is the third state. Sushupti, the sleeping state, means that there is neither an awareness of the outside world, nor is there any experience of objects or of any dreams created by their impressions in the mind. Conciousness is totally asleep, there is no trace of any awareness: consciousness is there but no awareness, life is there but completely asleep – without comprehension of any kind. The person becomes inanimate – living, yet inanimate, inert.
So far we have discussed two states: when we open our eyes the outer world is seen, when we close our eyes, then what we have seen outside is seen inside in our dreams. Something is always visible. The outside world may be absent, but still the forms created by it continually move on the mind’s screen. Something always remains on the screen of the mind.
When this screen is empty, this state is called sushupti, the sleeping state. Then neither any outer objects nor any inner thoughts are perceived, the flow of all images ceases; the screen is empty, it is blank, no awareness is left – that state is called sushupti.
Now, there are a few very important things to understand here. First, it is necessary to understand that you are never aware of yourself. If you did have some awareness of yourself, then even if the outside world disappeared, and the inside world of dreams also disappeared, yet one point of awareness would still remain, that “I am.” The sun, the moon and the stars may not be visible, your eyes may remain closed with no dreams flowing, but even then the awareness of “I exist” would still remain. But as it is you have no awareness of yourself, your awareness is object-oriented; you are aware of others, of objects, but not of yourself.
So when all objects disappear your awareness disappears, the consciousness disappears. Whatever awareness you have is about others; you have no awareness of yourself. When you stub your toe on a stone, you become aware of the stone and the experience of pain in your mind, but you are not aware of yourself, you are not aware of the one who is perceiving everything.
Right now, I am speaking and you are listening. You are hearing my words, you are hearing by the vibrations in your ears, but you do not yet know the listener who is hidden behind all this. If the speaking stopped and the words falling on your ears disappeared and there was nothing resounding within, then you would have no awareness.