Monday, August 27, 2018

Awareness and Content

Awareness is the field of potential knowing. Consciousness is the knowing of what appears in the field. This distinction is similar to the metaphor of the movie screen and the images that are projected upon it. The screen is always there,  but the movies shown vary. The screen is the field upon which knowing happens.

An example would be a person in deep sleep. Awareness is there potentially, ready to respond if content arises. A dream perhaps. It is also there to respond if the lights are turned on, or a loud noise arises.

Awareness is always available to the mind and senses. There may be no sound, but the second a sound arises, we hear it. If in the dark, our eyes see nothing, but the second a light is turned on, seeing happens. Taste is always available. When food is taken into the mouth, we know it is an apple or a lemon.

If this distinction were made between the word awareness and the word consciousness, a slightly more subtle and accurate description of non dual awareness and the various forms of content might be made clearer. 


M. Casari said...

I'm glad you make this distinction as it doesn't seem to be talked about much if at all by others. I've always felt there was a difference between the two meanings. My body could be 'unconsciousness' in sleep but "I" could yet be aware that the body was sleeping. MC

Maury Lee said...

Yes. When I think about consciousness and try to grasp subtleties, a distinction between awareness and consciousness seems helpful. Since Sanskrit has a hundred or more variations on facets of consciousness, a few distinctions in English are probably helpful. Thanks for commenting.