Deep sleep and consciousness
Q: “Is there consciousness in deep sleep?”
According to Advaita Vedanta
A: Most of the times one of the question that pops up in the mind of people that follow Advaita Vedanta is if consciousness is actually present while we sleep.
Advaita Vedanta gives straight away the answer: “Yes.”
But most people will objectify: “It’s not possible! We don’t experience anything in deep sleep. No images, no sounds, no thoughts, nothing!”
Logically faulty questions
This question has no logical basis, let’s see why and how:
The mental process of knowing A and therefore “guessing” B is called inference. A good example can be;
“There is smoke on the top of that hill, there must be a fire.”
And it works perfectly well.
Inference can only be brought up when we see A and B together: We saw the smoke alongside with the fire therefore we guess that there must be a fire on that hill.
Another example would be:
We bought a new bell with a sensor, each time a person passes by the bell makes the sound because the sensor saw something that made the light refract differently.
When we are in another room and we hear the bell ringing we may guess by inference that a person or an animal has just entered our house and made the bell ring.
We know that for sure because we were able to verify beforehand that the bell rings when something triggers the sensor.
Now apply the very same logic of inference with deep sleep and consciousness:
When did you see both the absence of consciousness and the no-experience pair?
To actually guess that in deep sleep there is no consciousness you had to “experience” the absense of experience with the absence of consciousness.
However, to do that you need to be conscious and consciousness to be present.
Therefore the logic of inference cannot be applied in this case and in deep sleep there is indeed consciousness!
Waking, Dreaming and Deep Sleeping are not a state of consciousness, they are states of the mind.
Most of the times the consciousness gets mistaken to be the mind and therefore in deep sleep we say “I wasn’t conscious” but as we just demonstrated logically it doesn’t work.