Question: Is there some way that we can use the time when we are sleeping to further our progress, so that we can carry our day's consciousness through the night with us?Sri Chinmoy: When you sleep, you sometimes get all kinds of vital dreams from the vital world, just rubbish. Why do you get these? Because your sleep is not sound, because you have not entered into the sleep world fully. When you go to bed, you actually sleep perhaps only three hours a night. The rest of the time you remain asleep just because it is not time for you to get up. What makes you sleep that long? It is your inertia, your body-consciousness. Your body-consciousness may say that if you sleep for ten hours, then the next day you will be able to work very hard and solve all your problems. But sleep cannot overcome your problems and difficulties. It is only conscious aspiration that will clear your life of problems. If you sleep for eight, nine, ten hours, you may only forget your problems. But then the following morning you will see that they are coming back much more vehemently.
If we take night as something for comfort, for peaceful rest, then night will give us lethargic comfort and not fulfilling rest. Fulfilling rest comes as a result of the day’s labour, from spiritual effort, spiritual awakening. During the day we have meditated, we have worked very hard. Now, the result of this effort can be used during the night. If we try to feel the result of day during the night, then we shall see that day has actually entered into night. Otherwise, day and night will be like two separate beings. Day has played its role by seven o’clock, and night starts. We have played with one being, and now we have to play with the other.
For spiritual people there is no night. Night, for us, means ignorance, unconsciousness, inconscience. For spiritual people all is consciousness, all is conscience. If we take to the spiritual life, we have to remain awake and alert at every moment. How? Only by lengthening the conscious part of our life, which is day. When we meditate during the day, we are energised. So let us continue this dynamic feeling even into the night. Let us take night as something energising and fulfilling, as the lengthening of day.
After we have slept for an hour or two, if we wake up and feel that just for a few seconds we are conscious but not meditating, the best thing is immediately to get up and meditate for five, ten or fifteen minutes. At that time, we have to try to feel that the day has entered into our consciousness, that our day has already begun. Now what does this mean? It means our consciousness is fully alert; it is awakened and vigilant and doesn’t want to sleep. The body may sleep, but the consciousness is already fully awakened and meditating on our behalf. If we feel that we are lethargic and heavy, that our mind is not functioning, we should pay no attention to this thought. If we feel that if we get up, then the next day we won’t be able to work, this is wrong. No, we will be able to work. We must always try to feel that night can be transformed into day through our awakened consciousness.
May I tell you a funny story? In some spiritual communities at three o’clock or three-thirty all the members have to get up to meditate together. When the Ramakrishna Math was first established, it was Vivekananda’s order that everybody had to get up at three-thirty to meditate, no matter how high his rank. If any individuals didn’t get up then, those who were awake were allowed to sprinkle unbearably cold water on them. Once the president of the Math, Rakhal (Brahmananda), was not feeling well, and he could not or did not want to get up. Somebody told Vivekananda that Rakhal didn’t want to get up. Vivekananda said, “The same rule applies to him. You go and pull him out of the bed.” Rakhal got very mad, and he wanted to leave the Math. He said, “I am president and this young boy, a disciple of mine, comes and insults me. You know I am sick; otherwise I wouldn’t violate your rule. I am leaving. I don’t want to stay here.”
But Vivekananda was very clever. He said, “Whose place is this? Ramakrishna never called me his son; he always used to call you his son. Now, the father’s property belongs to the son. This is your place, your Math. Here is your father’s mission, your father’s realisation. You have to stay; I shall go away.” Brahmananda didn’t want Vivekananda to go, so the matter was settled. This story shows how Vivekananda made it a hard and fast rule that everybody had to get up early in the morning, no matter how high the position. And it did help; it did help.