How to sleep correctly

Having taught Nagarjuna recently in my intellectual history class, I’ve begun rethinking the non-dualist approaches of Hindu and Buddhist thought, connecting this in turn to the work of Graham Priest and Deleuze. In this context I’ve finally taken the time to read Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, a classic text in the yogic tradition (especially Kriya yoga). A quick youtube search turned up this brief primer on how to sleep correctly from 1936. It’s hard to take seriously, I realize, especially at the end when he enters superconsciousness, but at the same time he is very right. A point I find Deleuze stressing, and one most Deleuze scholars tend to ignore, is the importance of becoming-imperceptible. Rather than finding the space where one is not compelled to speak, to do something, or be productive, we academics, in particular, are always under the pressure, both self-imposed and institutionally imposed, to write the next book, article, or blog entry, and our self-assessments largely mirror the degree to which we are or are not productive. In light of the Middlesex debacle and the current rash of departmental eliminations, the harsh reality of needing to be productive is brutally obvious. This mentality, however, is precisely what feeds into the logic of western capitalism, and it’s this logic Deleuze’s concept of becoming-imperceptible challenges and it’s also at the heart of Yogananda’s observation that we in the west do not know how to sleep correctly. It took me a minute to get past the absurdity of contrasts in this video, and perhaps it simply is absurd, but I can’t help but think that in the end Yogananda is right.

5 thoughts on “How to sleep correctly

  1. Thanks so much for this. Great to see you in Albuquerque. We do seem to lack cultural spaces for introversion. I think even libraries are under threat at this point. They have become delivery sites rather than great piles of unread treasure with retiring people in them.

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