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What is the difference between consciousness and awareness?

Posted Feb. 11, 2011 by bvdbuijs in Open

commented on Feb. 5, 2015
by Drdawood2014



Can somebody explain to me the difference between consciousness and awareness? English is not my native language and I would like to understand the difference. Thanks in advance. Bob van den Buijs

  • Drdawood2014 Feb 05, 2015

    Hi everybody...
    I think that:
    1- Certainly,There is a difference between the two concepts . Because if words both are identical ,that means that we need not for using two words for the same meaning (logically).
    2- The difference is: the conciseness is the threshold of awareness, when some one is conscious that means that the person is able to understand limited information,while when some one is aware that means the person has a full knowledge about something or he /she is completely understand what he/she does.
    3-medically when some one unconscious (generally after the patient have been anesthetized and the patient become unconscious or in diseased conditions) it means that the patient cannot response to a very simple and strong stimuli .

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    Imagination Feb 04, 2015

    What is the difference between consciousness and awareness? Both consciousness and awareness can be defined differently. Both are spectrums/gradients. Consciousness and awareness can be defined by various trade guilds such as: neurology (anesthesia, epilepsy, narcolepsy, ADHD, sports concussions, prosopagnosia, etc.), philosophy (cogito ergo sum, etc.), spiritual metaphysics (Christ consciousness, Buddha consciousness, mind monkey, etc.), Hollywood (mojo), politics (Republicans, Democrats), etc.

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    dustproduction Dec 10, 2014

    Thank you, we do have many comments and a few discussions about his great research. "Self Comes To Mind" is his latest book.

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    Optimo Dec 09, 2014

    For a very articulate explanation of what makes it possible neurologically for us to have a core sense of self ("core consciousness")---as distinguished from our (extended consciousness", which includes memory and all sort of facts about our identity like knowing my gender, that I have blue eyes, that I want to be an accountant, that I like to socialize, am interested in philosophy, etc.--- see Antonio Damasio's The Feeling of What Happens. Besides clarifying what our core sense of "I", he makes clear, useful distinctions between terms like "awareness", "awakefulness", "consciousness", "core consciousness", "extended consciousness" etc.

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    dustproduction Nov 30, 2014

    "That feeling of being in, and owning, your own body is a fundamental human experience. Now, researchers have announced an important step in decoding the phenomenon. By combining techniques from cognitive science with those of virtual reality and brain imaging, scientists in Switzerland are narrowing in on the first experimental, data-driven approach to understanding self-consciousness."


    "Traditional approaches have not been looking at the right information in order to understand the notion of the 'I' of conscious feeling and thinking," Blanke says. "Our research approaches the self first of all as the way the body is represented in the brain and how this affects the conscious mind. And this concept of the bodily self most likely came before more developed notions of 'I' in the evolutionary development of man."

  • Anonymous Icon

    listening Nov 05, 2014


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    dustproduction Nov 01, 2014

    Did that, it didn't.

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    Jim Centi Oct 29, 2014

    Try going ten days without posting anything and see if your head clears.

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    dustproduction Oct 28, 2014

    Jim, and a few others, would benefit from recalling my posting this:

    ""One of the doctrines of meditation — especially Buddhist-inspired meditation — is radical acceptance. Often misunderstood, at its root lies the need to experience things as they are — not bound by judgment, opinion, or our desire to change things to better suit our expectations.""

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    dustproduction Oct 27, 2014

    IONS's mission:

    "Broadening our knowledge of the nature and potentials of mind and consciousness and applying that knowledge to enhancing human well-being and the quality of life on the planet."

    Seems like the same mission that neuroscience has. Some just have the expectation that the path leads where they wants it to and never let the facts get in their way.

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    Jim Centi Oct 27, 2014

    Dusty and Newt,

    I am truly mystified how you two can continue post here and be so ignorant of the function and purpose of IONS.

    I am not going to banter with you two dogmatic devotees of traditional science who are conditioned to believe that consciousness is imprisoned within individual brains.

    Rest comfortably in your cradles designed for cosmological infants who cannot grasp the emergence of the new paradigm being promoted by IONS.

    There is contentment in accepting that there are laggards in our species who simply must be left behind.

    Best wishes to you both…….Jim

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    dustproduction Oct 27, 2014

    re: "At the foundation of traditional science is the assumption that consciousness is imprisoned in the brain."

    It's not an "assumption," there is biological evidence as to how brains function, Why do you choice to outwardly reject, or ignore the findings that promote an understanding of our physical biology. That's curious since it may lead us to find this "spirit" you seek.

    But here's is the part that I still fail to understand: if you choice to be spiritual, sit on a mountaintop and meditate, and be enlightened, so be it. No one here is standing in your way. No one, me included, is saying you are not entitled to your beliefs. But that does not seem to be enough for you. You need to have it established in a definitive manner that spiritualism is a fact so as to shut down people like me, that might think otherwise. This is not manner of difference of opinion that you create an affordance for, it seems personal.


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    dustproduction Oct 27, 2014

    Jim, What is the difference in the method, or process, between this "traditional science" you speak of and the science that Dean Radin, IONS, or any of the scientists listed in the "Here's the Evidence" does? Enlighten me. They all engage in the scientific method as far as I know and accept whatever results occur. I see this to be the difference between us; a willingness to accept the finding of science, where ever that might lead.
    You NEED science to demonstrate that there is a spirit in order to maintain your irrational belief in human exceptionalism, and when it cannot you reject all of science, IONS included.

  • NoetPoet Oct 27, 2014


    "Traditional science is what you have been promoting since you have been in this forum. Traditional science is in the hearse on its way to the graveyard."

    Where is your evidence for this preposterous claim?

    "At the foundation of traditional science is the assumption that consciousness is imprisoned in the brain."

    Not an assumption, an hypothesis based on *evidence*. Big difference.

    "This assumption is diametrically opposed to what IONS stands for."

    Then IONS has a LOT of work to do to demonstrate otherwise.

    "The purpose for IONS science providing evidence for telepathy, clairvoyance, remote viewing and telekinesis is to disprove the fundamental assumption of traditional science that consciousness is imprisoned in the brain."

    That's a mandate for confirmation bias. If it is true, then IONS absolutely deserves to be considered a pseudoscientific organisation.

    "IONS is a strong force in creating the paradigm that will allow humans to take a giant step in their evolution. This paradigm will cause humans to realize that they are not simply bipedal primates destined to experience physical existence, but intimately connected to a non-physical or spiritual realm."

    Meaningless waffle words are meaningless waffle words.

    "You are right; you can’t make me think because although you are the dominant voice in this forum sponsored by IONS, you are unable to cognize that in this forum, you are a circus clown defending a primitive paradigm."

    LOL Dream on junkie.

  • NoetPoet Oct 27, 2014


    "Have you also drifted away from traditional science?"

    No I haven't drifted away from science Jim, far from it. Your quest to seek out that which makes you feel good is exactly the same sort selfish self-indulgent endeavour that motivates heroin junkies. It is also one of the biggest reasons why the world has been so thoroughly afflicted by the ravages of religion.

  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi Oct 27, 2014

    It’s time we cleared the air.

    Traditional science is what you have been promoting since you have been in this forum. Traditional science is in the hearse on its way to the graveyard.

    At the foundation of traditional science is the assumption that consciousness is imprisoned in the brain.

    This assumption is diametrically opposed to what IONS stands for.

    The purpose for IONS science providing evidence for telepathy, clairvoyance, remote viewing and telekinesis is to disprove the fundamental assumption of traditional science that consciousness is imprisoned in the brain.

    IONS is a strong force in creating the paradigm that will allow humans to take a giant step in their evolution. This paradigm will cause humans to realize that they are not simply bipedal primates destined to experience physical existence, but intimately connected to a non-physical or spiritual realm.

    You are right; you can’t make me think because although you are the dominant voice in this forum sponsored by IONS, you are unable to cognize that in this forum, you are a circus clown defending a primitive paradigm.

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    dustproduction Oct 27, 2014

    The question posed by Jim holds a certain honesty, people do engage in a linguistic process that assigns emotional responsibility to others. We see this when people say "You make me angry." To ask, "Can you quote something... that makes me feel good?" falls into this self-centric realm.
    The answer is "no" I can't make you "feel," in the same manner that I cannot make you think.

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    Jim Centi Oct 27, 2014

    Hi Noet,

    Have you also drifted away from traditional science?

  • NoetPoet Oct 27, 2014

    Heroin is supposed to make you feel good too...

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    Jim Centi Oct 26, 2014

    Blah, blah, blah, blah……
    Can you quote something from one of your traditional scientists prophets that makes me feel good?

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    dustproduction Oct 26, 2014

    Re: it "is"

    Using the word "is" seems very definitive. Might you not add the words, "In my opinion...?"

    "The brain builds models (or complex bundles of information) about items in the world, and those models are often not accurate. From that realization, a new perspective on consciousness has emerged in the work of philosophers like Patricia S. Churchland and Daniel C. Dennett. Here’s my way of putting it:

    How does the brain go beyond processing information to become subjectively aware of information? The answer is: It doesn’t. The brain has arrived at a conclusion that is not correct. When we introspect and seem to find that ghostly thing — awareness, consciousness, the way green looks or pain feels — our cognitive machinery is accessing internal models and those models are providing information that is wrong. The machinery is computing an elaborate story about a magical-seeming property. And there is no way for the brain to determine through introspection that the story is wrong, because introspection always accesses the same incorrect information.

    You might object that this is a paradox. If awareness is an erroneous impression, isn’t it still an impression? And isn’t an impression a form of awareness?"


  • Anonymous Icon

    Jim Centi Oct 26, 2014

    Awareness is what you and I as individuals experience.

    Consciousness is the spirit that supports the existence of the universe.

    I have no source for this information; it is simply something that makes me feel good.

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    dustproduction Oct 25, 2014


    A review of this book stated the following:
    "Perfect for seekers, meditators and spiritual teachers. Without being affiliated with any belief or tradition, this is a bible for self discovery and meditation in the 21st century."

    Isn't this just more magical thinking aka belief system. Not to put this people down, but how does this inform us about the differences between consciousness and awareness?

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    Dupense Oct 25, 2014

    There is a really powerful book just out that makes a difference between consciousness, awareness and perception through emptiness. I AM HERE - Opening the Windows of Life & Beauty by Georgi Y. Johnson.
    The book treats the three forms of human perception (quite beautifully discussed here) as windows between dimensions. For me it makes total sense, especially as the trilogy of perception leads to a map of many other recognizable (yet poorly defined) experiences, such as peace, love and unity.
    Since reading this book, I actively live through this trilogy, and especially through this magical perception through emptiness - that which allows both consciousness and awareness (differing as they are) to expand, focus, identify, disentangle, refine, purify etc. Like the space between molucules or between and within atoms.
    Highly recommended to take a look at it!

  • Silverghost Jul 16, 2014

    Psychologically looking at this:

    Consciousness: Consciousness refers to your individual awareness of your unique thoughts, memories, feelings, sensations and environment. Your conscious experiences are constantly shifting and changing. For example, in one moment you may be focused on reading this article. Your consciousness may then shift to the memory of a conversation you had earlier with a co-worker. Next, you might notice how uncomfortable your chair is or maybe you are mentally planning dinner. This ever-shifting stream of thoughts can change dramatically from one moment to the next, but your experience of it seems smooth and effortless.

    Awareness: It is about recognizing that just because a thought appears in the mind, we are not that thought, and just because we might feel a certain way at a particular time, we are not that feeling. It is the difference between being in a storm and witnessing a storm. It is the difference between being outside in that storm, swept away by the wind and the rain, and sitting inside, cozy and warm by the fire, as you watch the storm pass by.

    They seem very simular as consciousness needs awareness to be conscious and awareness needs consciousness to be aware; there is a difference however, one can be conscious and not aware that they are not of what they think, memorise and feel . A good example of this is delusions, thinking something is real but isn’t real however awareness sees through these delusions of consciousness.

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    dustproduction May 08, 2014

    The Brain Science of Self-Deception
    Understanding the Limits of Self-Awareness

    By Louis Cozolino

    It’s commonly suggested that depression results from seeing reality too clearly. Repression, denial, and humor grease the social wheels and lead us to put a positive spin on the behavior of those around us.
    This may be why humans have so few networks dedicated to self-insight and so many ways of distorting reality in their favor. It’s a reflex of the social brain to attend to the mote in our brother’s eye and not to the beam in our own.
    Take mirror neurons, for example. Mirror neurons are neurons in the premotor regions of our frontal lobe that fire when we observe someone engaging in a specific behavior. Some mirror neurons are so specific that they fire only when an object is grasped at certain angles by particular fingers.
    Mirror neurons link observations and actions, allowing us to:
    Learn from others by watching them
    Anticipate and predict other’s actions
    Activate emotional states supportive of emotional resonance and empathy
    All three of these functions support group cohesion and the spread of culture, but do little to foster introspection.

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    dustinthewind Mar 04, 2014

    Does it follow that "Unconsciousness" equates to unawareness?

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    Rocky Mar 04, 2014

    The term consciousness is often used to describe a state of awareness. “He regained consciousness” intending to mean his awareness returned, or “her consciousness changed” meaning her awareness changed. From science’s perspective, consciousness and the mind are an epiphenomena of the brain’s complex neurological activity without an independent existence from it. However, consciousness is far more than awareness, or an epiphenomena of the brain, or dependent on the brain for its existence. Awareness is simply one aspect of consciousness, your attention, the result of the mind’s focused consciousness though the physical senses.

    Consciousness is the brick and mortar for all reality and reality has two parts, physical reality and the nonlocal. This consciousness exists as a linear continuum of wavelengths extending from longer wavelengths making up physical reality to shorter wavelengths making up the nonlocal.

    The wavelengths of physical reality are perceivable (via physical senses) or detectable (via instruments such as particle accelerators). This consciousness of physical reality are the photons in the EM spectrum and the many subatomic particles, which make up the components of atoms, which in turn make up molecules and objects, and enable their interactions as a physical reality.

    The other part of reality, the nonlocal, is shorter wavelengths that are unperceivable by the physical senses and undetectable by any physical instrument. These shorter wavelengths include the mind, intuition, ESP events and lots more. In regards to discovering the nonlocal by conventional scientific means: science has reached the limit of measurements with physical instrumentation at the consciousness wavelengths of subatomic particles. Exploration into the shorter wavelengths of the nonlocal can only be achieved by the mind via intuition, meditation, or other nonphysical means.

    The future of science is the mind because the consciousness of the nonlocal is what the mind is made from. However, the bottom line is all reality is consciousness.

  • drifter427 Feb 27, 2014

    Consciousness is the thought, awareness is the senses.

  • IamWhatIAm Feb 13, 2014

    I think that awareness is also a transaction of the mind. We are bounded to the mind and there is no way to go beyond it. Awareness is a little bit freedom of the mind but this is also a behaviour of itself. Everything is in a loop, knowing has no begining or end, every known thing gives birth to an unknown and this continues. There is a mitologic character in the ancient Greek which is called Sisyphus, I think that this is the symbol of the knowing who is following the knowledge and will never find an end or absolute reality.
    I came up that all of this things are the dialectic of Myself, the Absolute One which is described as "I am that I am" and " I and My Father are One" in the Bible.
    Nothing else of this gives me a meaning anymore, I gave up searching and looking, there is no such path or way.
    We are all One, sharing the same mind, consciousness and awareness which has never born never died.

  • Sunshadow Mar 14, 2011

    bvdbuijs, you asked the question, "Could it be that awareness has to do with 'knowing' through the use of our 6th sense?"

    I think that this could be so. The 6th sense is a "knowing" that cannot be explained by the 5 senses. It's an awareness of "things", for lack of a better word, that are outside of our physical environment, different from the "things" that can be perceived by our physical bodies via the use of the 5 senses. That's how I understand the 6th sense, anyway.

    I realize that the word "awareness" is also used to describe the kind of "knowing" that comes from the use of the thinking mind when trying to solve problems or figure out what's going on...such as "I am now aware that when I say these words in this way, many people in this group may be offended by how I have expressed myself." In that sense, "awareness" is "coming to an understanding" of something that isn't stated outright, OR that you cannot understand because of the limits of your perceptual abilities, due to your prejudices, blind spots, lack of knowledge and information, the miscommunication of others, etc. But it's directly related to the world of the 5 senses and is a product of our mental processes...thinking.

    But to me, "awareness", when used as a comparative term to the word "consciousness" such as presented in the topic of your original question, captures the essence of what we think of with the 6th sense. Reading the quote from Edgar Mitchell on the IONS "About/What are the Noetic Sciences?" page, he said:

    " Ironically, it was the trip back home that Mitchell recalls most, during which he felt a profound sense of universal connectedness—what he later described as a samadhi experience. In Mitchell’s own words, 'The presence of divinity became almost palpable, and I knew that life in the universe was not just an accident based on random processes. . .The knowledge came to me directly.' "

    It's that last sentence--"The knowledge came to me directly"-- that is "awareness" in the sense that you are seeking to understand. At least, that's my take on it.


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    nbtruthman Mar 09, 2011

    "Consciousness" and "awareness" are defined differently and inconsistently between different writers depending on their philosophy. Many would make the terms synonymous. Definitions are so difficult and vague mainly because of the "hard problem" of consciousness - no one in the first place really understands what is the essence of consciousness.
    Various formulations of the "hard problem":
    "Why should physical processing give rise to a rich inner life at all?"
    "How is it that some organisms are subjects of experience?"
    "Why does awareness of sensory information exist at all?"
    "Why is there a subjective component to experience?"

    Different people equate "consciousness" with mind, awareness, self-awareness, subjective experience, intelligence, cognition, perception, internal dialog, soul and so on. Because of the "hard problem", because these terms are inevitably "inner" not "outer", they can't be given the most basic form of definition, where some objective thing in the environment or its function or change is pointed to as being it. Most of these consciousness-related terms can be defined only by saying (1) what they are not (such as matter), and (2) that this is what it is like as experienced by the self, and has to be assumed to be experienced by others and some animals. The distinctions between the terms seem to be mainly a matter of esoteric debate among philosophers of mind.

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    bvdbuijs Mar 09, 2011

    I really want to thank all of you that took the effort answering my question. This is great learning for me.
    Several of you mention that consciousness has to do with our perception of the world around us and our own self through our 5 senses and being aware has to do with some sort of inner knowing. (KarenKoshgarian I notice you put it the other way around)

    Sunshadow, you already mentioned the so called 6th sense.

    Could it be that awareness has to do with "knowing" through the use of our 6th sense?

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    SpunkyCollins Mar 09, 2011

    Consciousness is the energy of all that is. It is what connects us to our origins as souls and to all other living and spiritual beings. Awareness is the incarnated being's ability to connect to this consciousness. The higher your awareness is the stronger your connection to your own soul and hence the greater your connection to consciousness. Through awareness we grow as souls and in turn as incarnated beings. Spunky Collins.

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    KarenKoshgarian Mar 08, 2011

    This came to me with certainty, though I have no empirical proof:
    We are pure, formless consciousness.
    In order to know who we are, awareness allows us to connect and communicate through our sensory organs.
    The body's only function is to maintain healthy, sensory functionality.

  • Sunshadow Feb 16, 2011

    I've read what other have said here. Thanks to all; your responses encourage me to take a stab at this too.

    Bob, my way of thinking about this is:

    Consciousness, with a lower case "c" in the English language, is our physical knowing...our ability to use our 5 physical senses to know what is happening to our bodies and our environment. It's the ability to *physically* perceive with senses...and the ability to *process* the information that we are receiving, either from our 5 senses or from our 6th sense, so to speak.

    Awareness, sometimes used with an upper case "A" in the English language, is an inner knowing with our spirit...not necessarily explainable by the use of our 5 senses. We may be using our 5 senses when we come in to "awareness", but the knowledge we have through "awareness" was not obtained by information coming through our 5 physical senses.


    One night I was washing dishes at my kitchen sink. I was conscious of the temperature of the water, the feel of the dishes and the sponge and the soap, of the temperature of the room and of my thoughts, which were on the task at hand and my current affairs with my house mate at the time.

    Suddenly, I became "aware" of a "boring of energy", what felt physically like a force field drilling into the back of my head near the base of my skull. The hairs the back of my neck stood up, like an animal's raising hackles. I was "aware" that someone was watching me from the window behind me, but I could not *see* the person with my physical senses...there was a light on at the table that made the window and all beyond it completely dark. When I walked to the window and switched off the light, I could see the person standing there, trying to "hide" behind the curtains that were drawn into the center of the window.

    I came to know of the intruder by "awareness", not by my 5 senses. Once "aware", I began to *think* about it and employ my 5 senses to handle it too...that was being "conscious."

    Does that help?

  • Tz'ikin Nin-Ti Feb 14, 2011

    Hi Bob,

    A post I read on a neuroscience forum really resonated with me: "When we talk about human consciousness, we mean that we have the ability not just to be aware of a fact, but to reflect on it." In that way, I guess consciousness is a more "advanced" form of awareness.

    If you would allow me to put in Dutch: "Consciousness" is je zelfbewustzijn, "awareness" betekent: je ergens van bewust zijn.

    Which is kind of what Chesed said. :)


  • frequencytuner Feb 13, 2011

    Oldman you have a wonderful way of putting things so simply.

  • RedDog Feb 13, 2011

    I like the simple truth behind what TheOldMan said. Do you have any contact information?

  • Neon1 Feb 13, 2011

    The body (Including the mind): A relatively large field of perception with an approximate bandwidth of 10 to-the-eighth bits per second.

    Consciousness: The relatively small field of perception with an approximate bandwidth of 10 bits per second, which we erroneously believe to be the self.

    Awareness: A group of approximately 7 thoughts we are able to hold in consciousness at any given moment.

    Source: A scientific treatise on the subject of consciousness called The User Illusion by Tor Norretranders

  • Theoldman Feb 13, 2011

    Blessings - A good question - that came from the "heart". So I will speak of the heart in my reply. You are conscious of the sound of your beating heart in your ears and the feel of it pulsing through your body, you know it is physical and in your chest. Each beat giving you life expressed in your consciousness. Awareness - is knowing it is your heart - and that between each heart beat there is no sound, no pulse, and a small death between each beat, reminding us of the gift of life. "Life" is expressed through your consciousness and your awareness of it (life) and your existence.

    Each step a heart beat - each breath a prayer - of the unity of love for all life.

  • frequencytuner Feb 12, 2011

    Consciousness is likened to the heads and tails faces of a coin, seeing contrast - black and white - giving perspective and experience - polarity, duality. There is more than one "I" that is conscious within you. There is also the grey area of consciousness, the space between the poles that is tuned into awareness, but not actually awareness.

    Awareness is not seeing the world through the face of a polarized coin like consciousness. Awareness is not from a particular perspective, black white or grey. Awareness is likened to the coin as a whole, inclusive of all 3 perspectives but not an individual experience or perspective of any one of them. Awareness can be a realization in a moment that 'I am' all of these things.

    You can consciously decide - whether externally (day to day waking consciousness), internally (subconscious) or a combination of both (which must be practiced to master). You are always aware, but not always conscious of it.

  • Chesed Feb 11, 2011

    I have a book written by a man named Joshua Free. He writes about consciousness in his book "The Great Spiritual Arcanum" as follows.

    Consciousness is the personal awareness of the "I" or Ego which relates to both external/environmental and internal. set forms of stimuli. Before being dominated by "behaviorism," and overt experimentation with behaviors.The branch of philosophy we now call "psychology" was once very concerned with consciousness.
    Consciousness has, for the most part, returned to the realm of metaphysics. But the only recent innovations and experiments being done in this field are not coming from the average "new age" practitioner, but from the relatively new field of Quantum (meta)physics.
    Prior to this, the "quantum mechanics" of previous generations was again trying to remove consciousness and spirituality from the equation.
    Only with an incorporation of both the quantum and metaphysical models can the seeker hope to earn coherent truths about the fundamental nature of reality.
    (i know this is a bit wordy. I paraphrased this entry from his book "Arcanum")
    here is what i learned from reading this book:

    Consciousness is the part of you that is self-aware of your own existence.
    Awareness is a relative concept. Animals are aware, but only on a lower level.
    Human awareness is still an animal trait that the Human race has inherited, but on a larger, more global, or even universal scale.

    I hope this helped you ;)

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