Short version – 15 second read
To experience thoughts and feelings, to be able to read this sentence and understand just the English words themselves, which is to say experience cognition to some degree, is to have and to directly experience awareness. You just experienced/manifested the light of consciousness by reading this, even if just a little.
TL;DR – 10 minute read
Greater awareness refers to a greater range/depth of consciousness or cognition – the direct and intimately personal experience of being alive. People are sentient beings – we are Human Beings. While awake we are capable of two fundamental modes of cognition – thinking / conceptualizing / rationalizing, and not that. The former is a kind-of single threaded, linear thinking in time – a single linear sequence of thoughts or thought forms. Distinct words, images, feelings, or thoughts follow one after the other like the words on a web page or a train on a set of tracks. A second type of cognition is not that – perhaps described as a kind-of multi-threaded, parallel or multi-faceted cognition which is not temporal in nature. And when we are not linear or sequentially thinking, awake and not under the influence of substance abuse, it possible to then become aware of the light of consciousness itself. To become momentarily aware of that which makes everything possible. From that direct personal experience, recognition, comes the phrase ‘I am That’.
And these moments of greater awareness, when fully awake and without a linear train of thoughts or feelings, are sometimes described by the wisdom masters as stillness, or emptiness or fullness. Some call it the fullness of heaven.
Awareness – the light of consciousness – is like the sky, the blank canvas on which the clouds of linear thinking, our formed thoughts and feelings, occur. Both are beautiful and joyous. The light of consciousness is the deep ocean on which the waves of individual thought ripples. Both are aspects of the amazing gift of life.
We can personally experience this dichotomy first hand. Note that this awareness, this light of consciousness does not require a stream of thoughts, either thinking or feeling, to exist. It is the other way around – thinking or feeling requires the light of consciousness. Your awareness, or rather the awareness that is within you, is what allows/supports/enables you to think, feel, act – as well as to be simply aware, to Be. You may or may not be aware of this awareness even as you read this, which is fine. But to read this sentence and to understand even just the words regardless any deeper meaning is to have and to experience the light of consciousness. You cannot read anything without it. Period.
And we all share/experience/are/have this awareness. What beauty and joy!
Some religions may call this universally available awareness or consciousness God. Or Love, the Source, Yahweh, Christ, or Universal Consciousness. Some religions remove the vowels or reference it as ‘no name’ to suggest that it is actually un-reference-able. To give it any name or reference is insufficient, inaccurate, or limiting. “The Tao that can be named is not the Tao”. This to honor the concept that this awareness precedes, creates and enables the foundation for distinct thoughts, emotions, and feelings we all individually experience. Awareness itself precedes the observe-ability of all physicality of both time and space. An amazing aspect of quantum physics is Schrödinger’s wave equation. It and other fundamental principles make room for awareness and the light of consciousness to exist prior to and a substrate for quantum mechanics and the nature of the universe itself.
Human vision is a deeply intimate analogy for this duality of cognition. With its dual aspects of foveal and peripheral vision, human vision is an analogy for dual capacity of human cognition. When looking at an apple grove of red apples, one can use foveal vision to experience the scene – looking at specific apples or trees or clouds in the sky. Or one can use peripheral vision to experience the scene with greater wholeness and is’ness – with greater completeness and context but without the acuity of detail as provided by foveal vision. Foveal vision is good for details, peripheral vision is good for context and wholeness.
Similar to the duality of vision, the cognition of an apple grove can be experienced either with a train of thoughts or without that. With a train of thoughts one can label and apply concepts and feelings – what a beautiful apple grove – I like red apples – or I don’t like red apples. Without a train of thoughts one is not applying labels, concepts, or feelings – one is just experiencing the apple grove as it is and not as you the observer are thinking it is. Neither one is ‘right’ or better – it is just two different forms of cognition similar to foveal and peripheral being two forms of vision. The truth or accuracy of one does not invalidate the other.
Similarly to ignoring the importance of peripheral vision, the non-thinking/feeling dimension can also be ignored or deemed unimportant. The thinking/feeling can be useful if say one is in need of food. For example one might purchase an apple to eat, or plant some apple trees, or start an apple business. But the non-thinking/feeling dimension is also quite useful in that it keeps one grounded in/with the universal consciousness of awareness regardless of whether one is hungry or not.
Why is this so important? Well there are many reasons, and different religions and philosophies describe it differently with different words. From a Buddhist perspective the physical world of apples, hunger, thoughts and feelings is in constant change. There is constant birth and death in the physical world of all things comprised of time and space – including both you and I. As I wrote this and as you read this, we both have been born and we both will die. You cannot be here and read this without your physical death still to come. But this awareness, this universal consciousness within us as us, is outside, beyond the scope of time and space. “It is completely on the other shore” as Buddhists like to say.
Love and change are two basic constants in the universe.
“You – the transcendent you – are the sky; the clouds (your linear thought-trains) are what happens, what comes and goes.” You are the both ground over which your thought-trains run and the thought-trains as well. And all humans share the same ground, the same deep ocean. The deep ocean realm is the transcendent reality as the ripples occur in the physical realm.
In the transcendent dimension we are all same – we are all a ground of love supporting individual physical agents of change – sentient beings, human beings, us – you and me. Aligning with this reality results in acts of compassion in the physical reality, and vice versa.
And both dimensions are available to all sentient beings and can be directly and personally experienced at any time. The first by thinking thoughts; the second by not thinking thoughts – while also not going to sleep or becoming drugged or drunk. Sometimes a sudden event shifts us into the second dimension: a beautiful sunset, a moment of compassion, a touch of the Grace of God, or perhaps a Zen satori.
But there is a dark side with which one should be careful, as when a young child fails to choose a path into the light of greater awareness. Or when a human being or a group of humans resonate backwards/downwards into darkness. In these moments the light of consciousness grows dim and acts of lies, theft, and hate become possible.
When a human being fails to walk a path into greater awareness, or regresses back out of it, the ego mind gets stuck in a narcissistic mindset. Narcissism settles into the mind. Narcissism is not present when we cogitate/operate in the transcendent dimension via greater awareness. All ego thought-trains derail in this state of stillness/fullness. When grounded in compassion for others and the world, the self-centered ego is absent – it cannot energize, it cannot manifest.
Similar but different to foveal vision, the ego mind focuses thoughts and feeling towards the self excluding others. Yes this ego may by good at keeping humans alive until tomorrow, particularly at an early stage of evolution, but only when we are not doing so via greater awareness. Without the transcendent dimension, the ego mind operates by externalizing anything other than the self. The narcissistic ego mind can employ stream-of-thought thinking to create labeled, rationalized, reasoned cognition that is self focused and ignorant of others. Ignorant of the context in which human beings live. It is not a coincidence that such reasoning is faulty and not ultimately logical when examined with greater awareness, with the light of consciousness.
The narcissistic ego mind psychologically or physically hoards food, material objects, and physical and psychological power. This can be dangerous – it can create the Other; it can nurture fear, hatred, and violence individually or collectively. With only one dimension of cognition present, the narcissistic ego mind can leverage fallacious reasoning, bamboozlement, or externalization and culminate in manifesting violence. Instead of manifesting love, truth, and justice, the ego leads to lies, theft, and hate -violence by other names.
With greater awareness comes more right action via the manifestation of more truth, more love, and more justice. Greater awareness results in less violence and more right action. And with more right action comes greater awareness – and less violence. A regenerating wave. With greater awareness the individual and the collective transitions from single dimension communication to multi dimension communication, to Nonviolent Communication. To more divine connection in both act and contemplation.