The ordinary waking consciousness is only ‘waking’ for name’s sake – deep down dreams continue. Just a small tip of the iceberg is alert – the whole thing is underneath, in darkness. Watch it sometimes. Just anywhere close your eyes and look within: you will see dreams floating like clouds surrounding you. You can sit on the chair any moment of the day, close your eyes, relax, and suddenly you see that the dreams have started. In fact they have not started, they were continuing – just as during the day stars disappear from the sky. They don’t really disappear, they are there, but because of the light of the sun you don’t see them. If you go into a deep well, a very deep, dark well, from the dark well you can look at the sky and you will be able to recognize a few stars – even at midday. The stars are there; when night comes they don’t reappear, they have always been there, all twenty-four hours. They don’t go anywhere, the sunlight just hides them.
Exactly the same is the case with your dreaming: it is just below the surface, just underground it continues. On the top of it is a little layer of awareness, underneath are a thousand and one dreams. Close your eyes any time and you will find yourself dreaming.
That’s why people are in great difficulty when they start meditating. They come to me and they say, “This is something funny, strange. We never thought that there were so many thoughts.” They have never closed their eyes, they have never sat in a relaxed posture, they have never gone in to see what was happening there because they were too engaged in the outside world, they were too occupied. Because of that occupation they never became aware of this constant activity inside.
In India, the ordinary waking consciousness is called the first state. The second state is that of dreaming. Any time you close your eyes you are in it. At night you are continuously in it, almost continuously. Whether you remember your dreams in the morning or not is not of much importance, you go on dreaming. There are at least eight cycles of dreaming during the night. One cycle continues for many minutes – fifteen, twenty minutes, then there is a gap, then there is another cycle, then there is a gap, then again there is a cycle. Throughout the whole night you are continuously dreaming and dreaming and dreaming. This is the second state of consciousness.
This parable is concerned with the second state of consciousness. Ordinarily all desires exist in the second state of consciousness, the dreaming state. Desire is a dream, and to work for a dream is doomed from the very beginning because a dream can never become real. Even if you sometimes feel it has become almost real, it never becomes real – a dream by nature is empty. It has no substance in it.
The third state is sleep, deep sleep, sushupti. In it all dreaming disappears – but all consciousness also. While you are awake there is a little awareness, very little; when you are dreaming, even that little awareness disappears. But still there is an iota of awareness – that’s why you can remember in the morning that you had a dream, such and such a dream. But in deep sleep even that disappears. It is as if you have completely disappeared. Nothing remains. A nothingness surrounds you.
These are the three ordinary states. The fourth state is called turiya. The fourth is simply called ‘the fourth’. Turiya means ‘the fourth’. The fourth state is that of a buddha. It is almost like dreamless sleep, with one difference – that difference is very great. It is as peaceful as deep sleep, as without dreams as deep sleep, but it is absolutely alert, aware.