Saturday, June 16, 2007

Awareness and Consciousness are not the same

As a technical writer using words correctly is very important. It avoids sloppiness and misunderstanding. In the world of the spiritual seeker, two words are used interchangeably that shows a sloppiness that really does create misunderstanding. The two words are "awareness" and "consciousness."

These two words are different, and even though this is abstract territory to begin with, a distinction, I believe, might bring some clarity to spiritual seekers.

Awareness -
This term to me, is a field of potential. In the absolute sense, one could say that it is the root potential for any apparent object in the universe to appear. It is like a blank canvass on which anything may appear, and depending on the point of view, positionality, as Dr. David R. Hawkins, would call it, any content becomes conscious. The field is never disturbed by what appears on it. It is always the unchanged field of potential for objects to appear in consciousness.

Consciousness -
This term refers to what is in the field of awareness at any given time. IE, the content. Objects in consciousness may be anything that appears, music, thought, feelings, the moon, a cow chewing its cud. Consciousness is for the most part limited. For example, each person has consciousness, but the content is different. The point of view is different, which affects the content of consciousness.

Discussion points: Consciousness is dependent on awareness, but awareness is not dependent on consciousness. This is because the field of potential, awareness, has to be there first. Because it is there, content can appear. It is the content that manifests. In fact, the whole world is a manifestation in awareness.

What a person is aware of, of course, depends on the content of his or her consciousness. In a sense, consciousness is the sum total of the content of an individual. The content of consciousness in a bushman in Africa would be quite different from the content of a Wall Street banker, but both consciousnesses would be in the field of awareness.

Now comes an interesting angle for thought. Can awareness be conscious of itself? If we posture that awareness without content exists as the an a priori field, can it be aware of itself as a blank field of potential without content? I suspect yes. But this could be a fun discussion.

What caused me to get into the discussion above is the fact that I tend to be a person with a very strong thinking mind. In other words, my thinking function is dominant. Most of my enlightening experiences have come through thinking, from challenging my thinking, from expanding my thinking. Where someone else might be prone to lead from the heart, or relationship, the differentiation between words may not be important, or even significant. But, if your approach to freedom is through your mind, a book that is feeding you, feeds best if it done with well defined words and concepts. I don't want alphabet soup; I want words spelled out and arranged logically.

Of course, enlightenment is beyond words, and not in the linear realm of logic. But, if we are using the intellect as the starting point, and the vehicle, it is important that words are used well, and defined well enough so that subtleties are seen and felt.

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