The State of Atma while Dreaming

Question: Srila Prabhupada said many times in his books that while dreaming the soul in his subtle body “goes places”. At least that is what I understood from what he said.

Mystical writers in the West also maintained at all times that the soul – when hovering in the subtle body (in dreams or in the so-called “OBE” – (“out-of-body experience) is connected to the gross body via a subtle (ethereal) chord, (and when it breaks, death occurs.) The same seems to be indicated in the famous “silver chord” mentioned in the famous Bible verse “Remember him – before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”
(Ecclesiastes 12:6 – 7)

Would you know of any scriptural evidence explaining what is going on, when we dream? Or in the so-called OBE, out of body experience? Whether the soul stays within the gross body while we dream or whether he travels actually in the subtle body (while at the same time somehow being connected to the gross body)?

Answer: The only reference I can think of is Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad  4.3.9 onwards.

It talks about dreams. This subject is also discussed in Vedanta Sutra 3.2.1 onwards. Maybe you can look up these references. My personal understanding is that atma does not leave the body, otherwise it would amount to death. Now the question arises, what happens in dreams? Does it go places? It depends how you want to see things. Actually at the subtle level things happen in a different manner, just as at the quantum level reality is different than at the classical level. Atma is not a material thing and is thus not fixed in xyz coordinates. It exists by sankalpa. XYZ coordinates lose their meaning at the level of atma. So one way of seeing it is that atma leaves the body and goes places, as is described by many people. The other is that it does not go anywhere as Krishna says in Gita (2nd chapter), that it is acala (immovable). The subtle body can move around, expand and contract. Thus it is possible to have OBE.

I hope this sheds some light on your question.

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