Redefining Consciousness and Awareness

Redefining Consciousness
and Awareness…

And a critical examination of the term “Conscious Evolution

There is a lot of confusion between the words consciousness and awareness.  In many instances they are used interchangeably, i.e., he is conscious of or aware of.  In other cases they are used differently, but the difference is subtle.  For instance, you might say he has regained consciousness, in the sense of regaining consciousness after deep sleep or a drugged state; whereas you seldom hear someone say he has regained awareness.

Then, there is a deeper way in which they are used.  However, in order to elucidate this, we first have to make a distinction within the word consciousness.  To make this distinction we capitalize the first letter of consciousness to signify that it is referring to an absolute, i.e. Consciousness.  Whereas when we use it as an adjective or noun, we start with a lowercase letter, i.e., consciousness.  This parallels the way we distinguish Self and self.

The root words ‘conscious’ and ‘aware’ are frequently used as nouns, i.e. things in themselves, consciousness or awareness.  In other cases, they are used to refer to a state of sentience, as in ‘he is conscious of’ or ‘aware of’.   In all of these cases they are interchangeable … He is a conscious person or he is an aware person means much the same thing.

But after that the equivalence between the two words stops entirely.  Hindu and Buddhist sages, among others, theorize that Consciousness is the ground of being itself.  In other words everything or every living thing (there are differences of opinion) is made up of Consciousness.  Consciousness then is either the irreducible ‘substance’, the force of life, or if you are so inclined – the essence of God.  Consciousness, used in this way is really an absolute!  On the other hand you can say no such thing about awareness.  Awareness can be used as an adjective, a noun or state of being, but in no sense has it been used to refer to the ground of being or the irreducible substance.  Everything is not composed of awareness, even a measuring instrument can be aware in the sense that it registers and calibrates something.  Therefore, in no sense is awareness an absolute.

Consciousness, when used as an absolute, cannot evolve, any more than empty space can.  It just is what it is.  On the other hand, consciousness used as a noun or even as an adjective can evolve.  But in these cases, it is not consciousness itself that is evolving; it is the object, the thing described that is evolving.

In the spiritual movement of ‘conscious evolution’ it is you, or in some cases the entire group of which you are a part, that is evolving.  The phrase ‘conscious evolution’ is a misnomer and a misleading one at that.  If anything, it means that you are evolving consciously, i.e. that you have taken the evolution of your awareness into your own hands and are pursuing it consciously. If so, as your awareness evolves, you might well become aware of deeper, even causal layers of things:  I don’t dispute that.  I am only clarifying.  (Actually however, real evolution is always unconscious, even though the lifeforms that are doing the evolving might be aware.)

Finally, to say that Consciousness evolves is to imply that it is a thing, for in the strict sense of the word, only things, and living things at that, can evolve. And though in the final analysis what consciousness is might be a mystery, or at least inexpressible: one thing is clear.  It is not a thing.

Jeff Eisen, Ph.D.

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About Dr. Jeffrey Eisen, Ph.D.

The creation of PsychoNoetics is the life's work of Dr. Jeffrey S. Eisen, an academically trained psychologist and psychotherapist. Dr. Eisen's discoveries brought him to a breakthrough expansion of Freud's id, ego and super-ego structural model of the psyche called the Enoe, and a revolutionary vision of the Self-Illuminated Human. Dr. Eisen is a gifted speaker, facilitator and author of hundreds of unpublished essays, four books, and a forthcoming one titled The De-Programmed Human. Playing 20 Questions With God, An Introduction to the Clearing Path of PsychoNoetics is both an engaging overview of the development of PsychoNoetics, and a comprehensive guide to applying it to your life. Oneness Perceived, A Window Into Enlightenment is a monumental body of work that attempts a unified field theory from the viewpoint of nonduality with academic precision and rigor, and stands to become a key reference within the alternative scientific community. He has appeared in an EnlightenNext webinar with Ken Wilber, Deepak Chopra, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Brian Robertson, and Andrew Cohen, recorded online interviews with EnlightenNext Magazine, and collaborated with the first director of the Institute of Noetic Science (IONS) who inspired the name PsychoNoetics.
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4 Responses to Redefining Consciousness and Awareness

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