03. Sleep And Death

While your body sleeps you are out of touch with it; in a certain sense you are away from it. But each time you awaken your body you are immediately conscious of being the selfsame "I" that you were before you left your body in sleep.

Your body, whether awake or asleep, is not conscious of anything, ever.

That which is conscious, that which thinks, is you yourself, the doer that is in your body.

This becomes apparent when you consider that you do not think while your body is asleep; at least, if you do think during the period of sleep you do not know or remember, when you awaken your body senses, what you have been thinking.

Sleep is either deep or dream.

Deep sleep is the state in which you withdraw into yourself, and in which you are out of touch with the senses; it is the state in which the senses have stopped functioning as the result of having been disconnected from the power by which they function, which power is you, the doer.

Dream is the state of partial detachment; the state in which your senses are turned from the outer objects of nature to function inwardly in nature, acting in relation to the subjects of the objects that are perceived during wakefulness. When, after a period of deep sleep, you re-enter your body, you at once awaken the senses and begin to function through them again as the intelligent operator of your machine, ever thinking, speaking, and acting as the feeling-and-desire which you are.

And from lifelong habit you immediately identify yourself as and with your body: "I have been asleep," you say; "now I am awake."

But in your body and out of your body, alternately awake and asleep day after day; through life and through death, and through the states after death; and from life to life through all your lives—your identity and your feeling of identity persist.

Your identity is a very real thing, and always a presence with you;

but it is a mystery which one's intellect cannot comprehend. Though it cannot be apprehended by the senses you are nevertheless conscious of its presence. You are conscious of it as a feeling; you have a feeling of identity; a feeling of I-ness, of selfness;

you feel, without question or rationalizing, that you are a distinct identical self which persists through life.

This feeling of the presence of your identity is so definite that you cannot think that the you in your body ever could be any other than yourself; you know that you are always the same you,continuously the same self, the same doer.

When you lay your body to rest and sleep you cannot think that your identity will come to an end after you relax your hold on your body and let go; you fully expect that when you again become conscious in your body and begin a new day of activity in it, you will still be the same you, the same self, the same doer.

As with sleep, so with death.

Death is but a prolonged sleep, a temporary retirement from this human world.

If at the moment of death you are conscious of your feeling of I-ness, of selfness, you will at the same time be conscious that the long sleep of death will not affect the continuity of your identity any more than your nightly sleep affects it. You will feel that through the unknown future you are going to continue, even as you have continued day after day through the life that is just ending.

This self, this you, which is conscious throughout your present life, is the same self, the same you, that was similarly conscious of continuing day after day through each of your former lives.

Although your long past is a mystery to you now, your previous lives on earth are no greater wonder than is this present life.

Every morning there is the mystery of coming back to your sleeping body from you-do-not-know-where, getting into it by way of you-do-not-know-how, and again becoming conscious of this world of birth and death and time.

But this has occurred so often, has long been so natural, that it does not seem to be a mystery;

it is a commonplace occurrence. Yet it is virtually no different from the procedure that you go through when, at the beginning of each re-existence, you enter a new body that has been formed for you by nature, trained and made ready by your parents or guardians as your new residence in the world, a new mask as a personality.

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