Sunday, June 21, 2009

consciousness & awareness

After reading many books and websites on Advaita I came to the conclusion that in the west we generally tend to use consciousness and awareness interchangeably ie we use them both as pointers to the self. But Indians will differentiate them ie give them different meanings. When we meditate or use thought awareness to watch individual thoughts they slow down and we can eventually 'see' the space between individual thoughts. Later it is seen that thoughtlessness can be experienced while we are fully aware. Some times the 'space' becomes still like a pond of water and at other times the 'water' is turbulent. These are both consiousness, with or without thoughts intervening while they are always being witnessed by awareness that is constant.

Likewise in deep sleep there is no self awareness, no sense of presence of self - consciousness has switched off. Awareness continues and note dreams or unusual noises outside the bedroom window eg. We might suddenly be woken by noises and then we are aware of our sense of presence and that is consciousness. Again awareness is the witness of the conscious state and is not a 'state' in itself.