Q: Is deep sleep and the state prior to the “I Am” one and the same?
Nisargadatta: As a concept it is the same thing; until you become That, then there will be no one to know. Not only that, but whatever actions are done – whether through you or me – are originally done within that state of deep sleep. In sleep you dream; this being-awake state is the primary dream; the dream in the sleeping state is the secondary dream – it is the transformation of the primary dream. In this state of consciousness, in the primary dream, the entire universe is created and when it is realized that it is a dream – then you are awake. Both dreams are consciousness.
Q: Then the actor cannot know that he is dreaming?
Nisargadatta: That is exactly the beauty of maya, the whole heart of it. Understand that the basis of whatever dream it is, is consciousness.