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Re: Fear of Sleep
Mar 17, 2004
Hi File,

Actually your problem is not weird or abnormal. You're not afraid of sleep. You're afraid of death and a lot of people are afraid of death. It makes sense that you associate sleeping with a death-like state. Even the Bible and Jesus refer to death as sleep. One example: "Our friend Lazarus is sleeping. We go to wake him" and the disciples did not understand this so Jesus said plainly "Lazarus is dead". This fear is not something that will go away with time. Quite the opposite. The older you are, the more afraid you become of death. The more time you have to define who you are by how you relate in the world, the more there is of you to be afraid of losing when you are lost to the world (dead). And if you live very long, you will surely realize the futility of the world. Nothing is solid. Nothing is static. Nothing is concrete. It is all passing, changing, becoming, dying. It only appears solid because our observation is limited. And this persona you have created that seems so real and solid that you know as yourself is completely dependent on the world. No wonder you are afraid of leaving it.

The first thing you have to do is relax. Take deep breaths. Relax and observe your body, your feelings, your sensations, your thoughts. When a thought comes into your mind, take note of it, and then let it pass. Let your thoughts just come and go until you are in a state of 100% pure awareness. Just be aware. Just be. In reality, who you are is not determined by your experiences. We imagine ourselves based on our experience, our likes, and our dislikes. Are you your personality? Are you your choices? Are you your experiences? Are you dependant on the world or your senses? Are you determined by your thoughts, or the processes of your body? We create a "personality" and we call it ourselves in order to operate in the world, but the problem comes when this is the only way we choose to know ourselves. In this case, then, "you" is completely dependent on an outside world, an experience, a sense. If you let this world determine who you are, then you will be as futile as the world is when you can be so much more and ultimately are. We become so wrapped up in these little worlds we have created. "This is what we like. This is what we do not like. This is what we are. This is what we aren't. I'm short. I'm tall. I'm intelligent. I'm shy."

[quote]To me, concious thought is what makes us alive, when we're not actively thinking, taking in things, aware of ourselves, we're not really alive in the one way that matters.[/quote]

Descartes, rest his soul. "I think, therefore I am". To Decartes this was the most primitive statement he could make regarding reality to which any thinking person could agree and you say it here too that our existence is our primary experience. That is the only thing that matters, yes? Look at this sentence though. Running through this is a paradox that has plagued us for a long time, since we began to think, even. "I think, therefore I am." Thinking is a process. Being is a state. When you think, your mental state changes with time, but the "me" to which you refer remains the same. We attribute this same paradox of process and being to the world. The world continues to exist, yet it changes. The present becomes the past, and the future comes into being. What is this constancy that you recognize in your personal identity that you are so afraid to let go of? If it is based on your experience, your thoughts, or any product of your relation to the world, then you have nothing to hold on to.

If it helps you any, when you sleep you are not any less aware. Your thoughts may subside, however if you are a dreamer then even your thoughts do not subside. You must let your thoughts subside, and just be aware. Realize that before you thought, you were. Good luck.

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