Wednesday 10 January 2018

The five rhythmic-phases of my typical Daily Life (circadian consciousness)

Note: I'm afraid I can't be bothered to provide full links today - if any of the terms are unfamiliar, and you are interested in finding out more, just use the Blogger word search facility in the top left corner of this page. Just to note this post is an extension of the idea of undulation.

1. The morning is the time for Primary Thinking - Final Participation. I rise at 5.30 typically; and if any time is going to be possible on a given day to attain this highest (and most divine) of consciousness states, then it is mornings: up until about 10.00 or so. That's when I do my best thinking, by far (assisted by note-taking, the notes generally being discarded soon after) - and when I sometimes feel consciously that I am thinking from my Real Self. This is the time for Intuition (coming from within).

2. From around noon to the evening I am in the mainstream, modern Consciousness Soul state - that is, I am conscious mainly of my-self and more-or-less feel cut off from the world, from other people. And the self I am conscious of is not the real-self but one or another of the superficial and functional selves, learned by interaction with experience, inculcated by The World.

3. In the evenings I tend to sink into the Original Participation - that is an un-conscious, passive state of immersion in The World. I may respond strongly to external situations, arts and people, but in a kind of trancelike and only semi-conscious sort of way. A somewhat 'shamanic' and imaginative state of affairs - and perhaps a time for Inspiration (coming from without).

4. Deep sleep is, of course, wholly passive and completely cut-off. There is no consciousness at all - it is a kind of vegetable life. This is absolutely necessary; but what really is going on, I don't know. To come-out from deep sleep is to feel its importance - clarified, refreshed, re-booted!

5. Dreaming sleep is conscious, but in another place altogether, and another time - a time in which vast amounts of experience may be compressed into very little time-as-measured-during-awakeness. This is a mostly passive consciousness, but in the 'underworld' (something like Jung's collective conscious, or the Ancient Egyptian 'dwat') - and it seems to provide necessary experiences that otherwise I would not have.

As dreaming sleep comes to an end, presumably having done its work, the dreams become repetitive and I then awaken; and it is best if I immediately get up and awaken fully. Dozing on beyond this point is boring, pointless; and sometimes leaves me too dulled ever to properly awaken the next day.

I seem to be stuck with this cycle of activity, purposive consciousness declining through the day, then the two types of sleep; and it is futile and indeed counter-productive to try and fight against it.

Best just to make the most of it...


Unknown said...


I'm a casual reader of your blog and figured I'd drop a thought by you that this post reminded me of. I have a personal theory that one of the evolutionary functions of sleep is to homeostatically regulate a person's spiritual orientation, serving as a mechanism to mitigate transcendent spiritual insight from interrupting biological directives. This thought came to me during a period of stress-induced sleep deprivation while I was traveling. I noticed that the less I slept, the more I retained the accumulated changes to my spiritual constitution (equanimity, self-control, etc.), and the less my body was able to overwrite them. It seems to me that sleep serves to "brainwash" you back to the mental space that your genes want you to stay in, and interruption of this mechanism can enhance one's ability to stray, both in the positive and negative direction.

Bruce Charlton said...

@U - It's an interesting idea.

On similar lines. Rudolf Steiner said that as a person made spiritual progress towards greater consciousness, this would affect sleep as well - as a kind of effect, rather than a cause.

In other words something like lucid dreaming would be a consequence of attaining higher consciousness during waking life (but, importantly, lucid dreaming does not/ would not itself promote higher consciousness in waking - the causal path is one-way).

The question could be put - Does God sleep? I'm not sure, but perhaps yes. (Jesus slept as a mortal - I don't know what happened after his resurrection: presumably that would tell us.) If so, obviously we too would always sleep - in perhaps a different way than now.

If God does not sleep at all ever - then I suppose we might expect progressively to discard sleep, and become conscious at all times.

Seijio Arakawa said...

"If so, obviously we too would always sleep [...] [or] I suppose we might expect progressively to discard sleep."

I have a strong intuition lately about the future of dreaming, and to me the answer is neither/nor, though my attempts to put the intuition to words have so far been frustrating. (Similar to the 'boring heaven' problem, I'm starting to realize that it's a major problem that fully one-third-to-one-half of a person's conscious existence {considering the many dreamlike inspirations of waking life} is being dismissed by nearly all philosophical systems as fundamentally-unreal.)

On the one hand, some of my most 'coordinated' and successful moments have come about because I acted in a manner consistent with dream-logic rather than the best course of action that my reason could dictate. Thus, in some sense, without discarding our waking mind, we have to recognize that waking life has dreamlike qualities -- and awareness of these dreamlike qualities makes our actions more suited to reality!

On the other hand, the fact that most dreams are fundamentally unintelligible makes dream-living as we experience it currently an undesirable state -- so we will have to bring a greater waking awareness to our dream state. But really, much of the un-intelligibility comes from the fact that (a) we try to force our understanding of dream-phenomena into a very limiting systematic analysis and (b) we are apparently used to not-paying-attention to what is going on right in front of us. This habit of not-paying-attention is a subtle problem in the waking world but its effects are extremely obvious in the fast-paced dream world. Most events leave no imprint on our waking memory, unless their connection to our waking world is particularly obvious. Even when we remember an event on account of connection to the waking world, we did not pay attention to its meaning, and we typically attempt to impose a spurious retroactive interpretation.

Improving our awareness of either the waking-state or the dream-state, we seem to end up approaching the same type of consciousness from different directions. What's left is merely the less-interesting technical question of whether we take our physical body everywhere or whether we leave it in one place while allowing the mind (or ethereal spirit-body, or whatever) to go wandering on occasion.

The reason most lucid dreaming is a spiritual failure is because it's done from a fundamentally false motivation. So, most people's 'lucid dreaming' practice is simply an attempt by their (meaningless) false self to conquer their (unintelligible but meaningful) dream self, typically to impose rather rote desires as interpreted through mass-media immersion: the mind as a Star Trek holodeck or video game console. Only if you attain lucid awareness but use it to start paying-attention to what is going on instead of trying to override things, will the dream start to make some waking sense and interesting paths for lucid action start to open up.

Although my further notes on the subject are awfully disjointed, I suppose I should put them into some kind of order and make them public.

Chiu ChunLing said...

I'd say that, rather than resetting your spiritual/mental/emotional state entirely, sleep allows you to reconcile at the unconscious level the various contradictions that arise in conscious experience. So you don't have to restart from zero, if your conscious experience is really significantly free of contradictions between your ideals, passions, and practical intentions.

On the other hand, it is useless to try to elevate just one of those, by neglecting the others you allow them to become debased and the contradictions will be resolved in your sleeping state without any increase, or possibly even with a decrease, in your overall state.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Seijio - Very interesting comment. As I have often commented before, we are currently in an extraordinary cultural trought when it comes to attention to sleep and dream - even 35 years ago (when I was a medical student) the public, spiritual and scientific interest in sleep was very much greater than now. However it did not lead anywhere very interesting or useful...

This matter of awareness or consciousness is - I agree - a kind of key to this matter; although also it needs to be understood in a coherent context (i.e. metaphysics, again).

And motivations affect everything. Bu the two are linked - good motivations are only possible (or only robust and powerful) with the right kind of metaphysical assumptions...

It isn't circular - but there is more than one thing that needs 'fixing'.

Unknown said...

Perhaps dreams are the mechanism by which your DNA (re)asserts control of your mind and strengthens biologically adaptive cognitive dissonance, ie. simulating experiences at a low enough level of consciousness such that your hierarchy of values is reverted to a state that motivates less-than-divine objectives. Kind of like how skillful rhetoric can trick an insufficiently aware person into believing a lie he already knows to be false.


Thank you for the thoughtful reply. I would agree with your assessment about higher consciousness causing changes to sleep rather than the other way around. It would not make sense that a state of lower awareness and greater mental turbulence would be able to tune one's normal waking consciousness to a huge degree.

The decreased need for sleep is an effect that advanced Buddhist meditators reportedly experience as well, and I imagine this scales as one's mind becomes released from the usual philosophical contradictions that normally serve to keep us running in circles.