“Sleep is sleep and meditation is meditation. If it is beyond what is necessary, sleep is friendship with ignorance. Meditation is always friendship with illumination.”
– Sri Chinmoy
Meditation is our heightened, intensified and expanded conscious awareness. Sleep is the suspension of our conscious awareness. Meditation and sleep are incompatible and mutually exclusive. Certainly we can experience spiritually significant, inspiring and uplifting dreams while asleep, however such dreams and their messages must still be assimilated by our conscious meditation for us to gain any lasting benefits.
Sri Chinmoy has called sleep ‘death’s little sister.’ Just as death forcibly interrupts the flow of our continuous spiritual progress, from one lifetime to the next, so does sleep, though in a briefer time scale, from one day to the next: our temporary spiritual death.
“I shall not sleep, I shall not sleep
In the sea of vast ignorance deep!
I shall now run and dive and fly.
I shall now touch my freedom–sky.”
– Sri Chinmoy
In the spiritual life, sleep represents ignorance. Whether we are physically sleeping or awake, whenever we are not spiritually conscious and aspiring, we are effectively enjoying ‘ignorance-sleep.’
A spiritual seeker must fight against sleep in all its forms: indulgence in indolence, comfort and desire-gratification; heeding the dictates of our body, vital and mind over the urgings of our heart and soul.
Sleep is not mere physical inactivity: it is the inactivity of our heart’s cry for something ever finer, deeper and higher. Sleep can be silence; sleep can be violence. Sleep can express as the wildest rage of the vital; the loudest boasting of ego; the proudest proclamation of prejudice.
To overcome spiritual sleep, tenderly nurture and fiercely treasure always your heart’s cry for peace, love, light and freedom. Let sleep … sleep.