This parable, Homer’s story, has not been understood in the West the way it has to be understood. It is the story of spiritual growth. You will come many times to stages which give you the feeling that the time has come to stop – because the experience is so much that it is beyond your comprehension that there can be anything more.
So the mind which has always been telling you, “More, more” – for everything was asking for more – suddenly stops. It cannot comprehend there is more. And that is the point when the master wants you to go on: “Don’t be addicted to any experience, howsoever beautiful, don’t become a lotus-eater; otherwise you will be unconscious – blissfully unconscious, blissfully asleep.” But you had not started the journey for this. You were going to reach yourself, fully awake.
The parable is simple if understood in the right way, but the parable must have reached Homer from the East. That’s why in the West there is no explanation for it: it is just a story, a beautiful story.
It is an actual existential, experiential factuality of human growth towards the ultimate meaning of life.
So remember only one thing: Go on, until there is nowhere to go, until there is no one to go, until you have exhausted everything – the road, the goal, the traveler, all have disappeared – and there is just pure silence of isness.
When we sleep, the unconscious is experienced as dreams. During dreamless sleep, why does the unconscious stop expressing itself? It seems there must be a lot of repressed material that needs expression. Does dreaming, then, act like a safety valve, allowing just enough material to be expressed so that some steam is let off and the pressure cooker of the unconscious does not completely explode?
No, it is not like that. According to the Eastern psychology, there are four stages of mind; not just two, as it is according to the Western philosophy – conscious mind, unconscious mind. In the context of the Western division between conscious and unconscious, your question is very relevant.
But the truth is that mind has four states: the waking state, which is comparable to the conscious mind; the sleeping state with dreams, which is parallel to the unconscious mind; third, the dreamless sleep which the West has yet to find; and the fourth, the real waking state.
The first is only the so-called waking state, and the fourth is real awakening. The second is sleep with dreams, but sleep with dreams is a disturbed state. In an eight-hour night, six hours you are dreaming and for only two hours are there no more dreams. Those two hours belong to the third state, which is not yet recognized in the Western psychology; it has not come across it yet.