I’m confused – am I aware or conscious?
The first thing that can be seen and understood is the use of these two words: Awareness and Consciousness. In spiritual literature, there arise readily, leaving most sensible people wondering why some teachers speak of Consciousness, whilst others refer to Awareness. Throughout this Blog and in The Counsellor, what is referred to as consciousness is one thing, and Awareness another.
Consciousness is the entire field of experience. All experiences are conscious; all things experienced are consciousness. The primary identifier is that consciousness is in a continual state of change, flux and transformation. As with all experiences, they arise merely to fall away. If they didn’t fall away, they wouldn’t be experiences. Even the so-called material objects in the world fall into line with this basic fact: Nothing (no-thing) lasts forever. A flower, a mouse, a dog, a tree, a building or even a stone. All things experienced are Consciousness and therefore are impermanent.
Awareness is your Nature, Who you truly are, though – for the sake of clarity and as an unintended insult to grammatical norms, when we use the word awareness, with have automatically made it into a noun, and if it is a “thing”, it is something that we can be conscious of; it can be experienced. Hence the confusion. Let’s be as clear as possible: Awareness is not a thing, it cannot be made into a noun, nor can it be measured, created or developed. For that reason the word Aware is used instead. As an easy analogy, Aware can be likened to the blank white screen you watch in cinemas. The flickering images that are projected onto the screen, create the illusion of that you are looking at reality. But what are you actually doing? In physical terms, you are looking at a blank white screen and without the blank screen, the projected images you call your life wouldn’t exist.
So, just to sum things up: you are Aware, you are the pure white screen on which, and within, all images, thoughts, feelings and things arise, merely to fall away. Now the strange thing is, Aware is the backbone of your existence and is as obvious as Pinocchio’s nose.
2 thoughts on “The difference between Consciousness and Awareness”
I enjoyed this post, but it still leaves me a bit confused.
I know that I am concious, but how can I know that I am aware if I can not experience it? Pinocchio’s nose is obvious, but aware is not obvious to me.
Thank you for your response Anita.
Lovers are often oblivious to the world around them – their loving focus leaves little room for anything else. And such is the case with our experiences – we love them deeply. They become the supporting pillar in our existence that holds us up and even defines us. This must naturally make things difficult, especially if you want to recognize that your basic Identity and substance is Aware. As we have seen, those that are deeply disturbed by the crazy world and question existence, turn with eagerness away from it to look within, hoping to escape from it and find a deeper meaning. Who you are can never be experienced, but can be known, and is known, despite the lack of defined, measurable experiences. I can give a few pointers.
Not only do you know – you “know” that you know. You can see instinctively that this is true. That which “knows” that you know is Aware.
If I cut off your arm, have you become less? Not at all: many will see instinctively that they haven’t become less. That which hasn’t become less is Aware.
Some people shout: I am not this body. What are they then? Aware.
Humane life: from infant, to adolescent, to adult. All the cells in our bodies have died several times and been replaced by others, but instinctively, we know that we have never been replaced or changed: we are still and always will be Aware.
Another pointer: The things that are most valued in a person’s life. Let’s face it, but without the Now, things would be fairly pointless. At the same time, I ask you, do you experience the Now? Of course you don’t – your experienced life exists within the Now. And would you presume that your “Now” is different to everyone else’s? Is the Now in Africa different to the one in China? Does it change in any way? Capture, measure and define what Now is and get back to us if you can.
And Love? Can anyone say what it is? We only know Loves definable, measurable reflections in experience. We can never find love, experience or label Love as it is: the mystery of Love is never touched by conscious experience: it is Aware.
Without Love, the Now and Aware, there is nothing left for anybody. Despite the fact that these essential premises for Life are never experienced, we have nothing left of true value without them. They are known of course, but they are all pre-experience. Yes, you are Aware, but that is only a word. You are far greater than anything experienced.