Quotations on Sleep and Dreams by mystics and poets3 min read

Everyone has experienced the three states of consciousness, deep sleep, dreaming and waking. In the waking state everything is observed objectively, outside oneself; in’ the dreaming state subjectively, within oneself; and in deep sleep there is absence of all experience save contentment. The sages say that there is a fourth state in which that which is considered to be the waking condition is realized to be merely a dream. We offer here some quotations on this theme by the mystics and poets

From want of understanding of the Ultimate Reality,
a false apprehension of It appears like a dream in the form of the world.
The individual soul (Jiva) owing to nescience (ajnana) takes dream to be the waking condition,
due to his want of understanding of the nature of the dream.

Swami Mangalnath.

We are such stuff
As dreams are made on,
and our little life Is rounded with a sleep.


But life to me’s a weary dream,
A dream of ane that never wauks.


And surely it is not a melancholy conceit to think we are all asleep in this world,
and that the conceits of this life ,
are as mere dreams to those of the next,
as the phantasms of the night to the conceits of the day.

Sir Thomas Browne.

While they dream, they do not know that they dream.
Some will even interpret the very dream they are dreaming ;
and only when they wake do they know it was a dream.
By and by comes the Great Awakening,
and then we find that this life is really a great dream.

Chuang Tze.

How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard ?
When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep ?
Yet a little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to sleep :
So shalt thy poverty come as a robber,
And thy want as an armed man.


Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting ;
The soul that rises with our life’s star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar.


One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more ; death thou shalt die.


For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday :
seeing that is past as a watch in the night.
As soon as thou scatterest them they are even as a sleep :
and fade away suddenly like the grass.


That which is night to all beings,
therein the self- controlled sage is awake.

Bhagawad Gita.

Death is the veil which those who live call life ;
They sleep and it is lifted.

B. Shelley.

Since at the time of sleep thou art borne (on high), and art not bearing (the burden), thy fatigue is gone and thou art free from pain and anguish.
Regard the time of sleep as a mere taste in comparison with the state in which the saints are born (on high).
The saints are like the Men of the Cave, O obstinate one ; they are asleep (even) in rising up and turning to and fro.

Jalalu’ddin Rumi.