We are so engrossed in the letters that we forget the paper. The enlightened sees the paper as the substratum whether the letters appear on it or not.
Self-realisation by constantly reflects on the question ‘Who am I?’ and tracing the `i-am-the-body’ thought (ego) to its source through deep meditation.
In deep sleep there are no perceptions. Yet, the ego was present because otherwise, there cannot be the memory of having slept. He asked: “Who slept? You did not say in your sleep that you slept; you say it in your wakeful state. So the ego is the same in wakefulness, dream and sleep. Find out the underlying Reality behind these states. There is no you, nor I, nor he; nor present, nor past, nor future. It is beyond time and space, beyond expression.”
The fact remains that there is no change in the one who slept and the one who is now awake. The difference between waking and deep sleep lies in the emergence of body. And since the body is experienced in one state (waking) but not in the other (deep sleep), one can say that it arose at some particular moment and that it has both an origin and an end.
The Self, on the other hand, is the Eternal Consciousness which both pre-exists and survives the body. There is the continuity of the Being, the Eternal Self, in all the three states while the body and the worlds that appear in the waking and dream states are ephemeral.
Both the body and body-consciousness emerge and sink simultaneously. While no limitations are experienced in deep sleep, the waking state is the state of bondage characterised by limitations. Despite being devoid of worldly possessions and body, in deep sleep an individual experiences unalloyed happiness. Maharshi says: “See how carefully people prepare their beds to gain that happiness. Soft cushions and pillows are all meant to induce sound sleep, that is to say, to end wakefulness. And yet all these are of no use in the state of deep sleep itself.”
Happiness therefore does not depend upon extraneous factors; it is inherent in man.