The Indian scriptures describe the following four states of human awareness:
- Jagruti: The waking state of consciousness
- Swapna: The dreaming state of consciousness
- Sushupti: The state of deep sleep in which the mind, the ego and the superego are still
- Turya: The state of thoughtless awareness beyond the mind
The first three states of awareness are commonly experienced in our daily lives. The fourth state is the state of thoughtless awareness or nirvichara samadhi. This is the state in which the constant rising and falling of thoughts in the mind comes to an end. At first a gap begins to appear between the thoughts. As this gap grows the thoughts diminish and with the regular practice of meditation, the mind enters easily into thoughtless awareness. The attention becomes still like a lake without any ripples on it and a deep inner peace begins to dawn upon our awareness.
When there are no ripples on the water of a lake, its surface becomes almost invisible as it reflects the beauty of the landscape around it-the trees and the sky and clouds. In the same way, the still mind reflects the beauty of the creation and melts into the bliss and the peace of the divine.
In the state of thoughtless awareness we think neither of the past nor of the future. We are entirely in the present moment, in the state of being and do not waste the precious moments of life thinking about times that are finished forever or yet to come. We start to enjoy our Self, our spirit, our own inner beauty and the the beauty of creation. We start to enjoy being. We are able to enjoy the singing of birds and the scent of flowers at a much deeper level as we are no longer bombarded by the meaningless mental chatter that assails our awareness and pollutes our attention, distracting us from the simple joys of our existence.
Great saints of India such as Shri Adi Shankarcharya have described the wandering of the mind as the ocean of illusion. A constant wave of thoughts that cover the spirit
and bring us confusion and misery.