Greater Awareness

Greater awareness refers to a greater range/depth of consciousness or cognition – the direct and intimately personal experience of being alive – of Being.  People are sentient beings – we are Human Beings – we are capable of both thinking/feeling things and being aware of such. And the thinking/feeling and the awareness are fundamentally different types of cognition. So much so, it is as if they are two different dimensions of living.

We can also observe first hand – you can observe this directly yourself – that such awareness does not require a stream of thoughts, either thinking or feeling, to exist.  It is the other way around – thinking or feeling requires awareness.  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 is to have it and to experience awareness. You cannot read this without it.  Period.

We all share/experience/are/have this awareness.

Some religions may call this awareness, this consciousness, the likeness of God, the gift of life, or Universal Consciousness.  Some religions remove the vowels or reference it as no name or suggest that it is un-reference-able in that any name is insufficient and inaccurate. The Tao that can be named is not the Tao. This so to honor the concept that this awareness precedes, creates the foundation for, enables distinct thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Awareness itself precedes the observe-ability of all physicality of both time and space. An amazing aspect of quantum physics is that the science makes room for this in a mathematical and logical model of the universe, the Schrödinger’s wave equation.

In any case, the word cognition refers to all that – to the mental, emotional, and physical bodily based activities of being alive. And it is possible to be physically awake and cogitate either by thinking distinct thoughts or feelings or by not thinking distinct thoughts and feelings.

With its dual aspects of foveal and peripheral vision, consider human vision as a metaphor for human cognition. When looking at an apple grove with 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 differently – with greater completeness and context but without the acuity of foveal vision.

Similarly but differently, with awareness one can experience the apple grove both with thinking and with non-thinking cognition. With thinking one can label and apply thoughts and concepts and feelings – what a beautiful apple grove – I like red apples – or I don’t like red apples. With non-thinking one does not apply thoughts, labels, or concepts – one just experiences the apple grove – with a different form of cognition. Similar as with peripheral vision.

With vision, foveal vision offers the acuity of detail while peripheral vision offers greater visual and contextual understanding. Sometimes peripheral vision is cast as less important, but it is peripheral vision that offers the context in which foveal vision operates. Peripheral vision detects movement over a wide area, and the detection of movement over a wide area can be important – as when driving on a busy highway.

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 wants to eat. For example one might purchase an apple to eat, or plant some apple trees, or start an apple business. But the fully awake (not asleep) 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, but in 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 me and you. As I wrote this and as you read this, we both have been born and we both will die. But this awareness within us, the source of which may be named or not named or not even acknowledged, is outside, beyond, completely on the other shore of, the realm of space and time. Whatever that means 🙂

The quote  “You are the sky – the clouds are what happens, what comes and goes” speaks to the belief that one’s true self, one’s true nature, is the awareness on which or through which all thoughts arise; awareness is not the thoughts themselves. ‘Human Beings’ is a two word phrase – perfect to combine the physical world/dimension of time-and-space, of thoughts/feelings, and the transcendent world/dimension of not that. Two dimensions of existence, kind-of, within time and space.

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 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 transition into the light of greater awareness.

When a human being fails to transition into greater awareness, or regresses back out of it, the ego mind gets stuck in a narcissistic mindset. Narcissism settles into the mind. Note that narcissism is not present when we cogitate/operate in the transcendent dimension via greater awareness.  Any ego simply can’t be present in this state of cognition.  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 age of 2 days, 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. At later ages the narcissistic ego mind employs 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, things, and 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 available and present, the narcissistic ego mind can leverage fallacious reasoning, bamboozlement, or externalization and culminate in manifesting violence.

The ego mind left unchecked can destroy a democracy or can destroy the environment. The narcissistic ego mind manifests violence in terms of lies, hate, and/or theft.

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.

So, be careful of bad habits and bad pursuits, those stemming from the narcissistic ego mind in either yourself or in others. Life becomes shallow and can become violent when ego-driven. Better to practice greater awareness and right action.


Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

By Portia Nelson

I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place
but, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
my eyes are open
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

V

I walk down another street.