This blog is about defining these well-used words for clarity purposes!
There is a ton of spiritual literature out there, or as my Mother would put it, “the market is saturated.” It is through my reading of many of these literary works that I have noticed that the terms conscious, unconscious and consciousness have both positive and negative definitions. Welcome to the world of duality! The world of good and bad. So, I thought it may be helpful to explain these terms so that when you are delving into your spiritual library, you are on board with the lingo. And also so you understand yourself more.
So, here goes!
Let’s begin with conscious.
The first definition presents conscious as a level of the mind. It is the mental level where you are wide awake. Here on this mental level you judge, analyze, decide and take action. In your conscious mind you can easily become agitated because your untrained mind is racing, chatting incessantly and you are also judging quite a bit.
Michael Singer, author of “The Untethered Soul” describes this chatty mind like so, “It has something to say about everything you look at: ‘I like it. I don’t like it. This is good. That’s bad.’ It just talks and talks. You don’t generally notice because you don’t step back from it. You’re so close that you don’t realize that you’re actually hypnotized into listening to it.”
A familiar dynamic, is it not?
Unless you become proactive in dissociating from your chatty mind, meaning, stop judging every thought, then you will be sucked in by it and you will be stuck in your ego mind. You will become frustrated and reactionary as your conscious mind is not clear.
You can choose to use your conscious mind appropriately though. Through choosing love, peace and non-judgment, you have made conscious decisions to be loving and these loving thoughts will directly affect your waking life and mental state positively.
Now, onto Conscious.
Eckhart Tolle would say that a person who is mindful is Conscious. Using the term Conscious this way refers to an individual’s level of awareness.
This is the type of person who notices that a few feet in front of them is a woman who is juggling some bags and will require some help opening a door. You, as the Conscious observer of your surroundings, is happy to help and go open the door for this woman. You are blissfully aware of, but not judging, your surroundings. You are the observer.
When you are Conscious, you are being your best self. You are truly hearing the words that your friend says, you are tasting the food that you are eating and you are speaking with intent. Your actions are purposeful and there is a deep feeling of trust. You are not resisting things, you are accepting. You are not controlling, but letting life flow from and through you. This is to be Conscious.
Along with what Eckhart Tolle described as a Conscious person there is the opposite, the unconscious person. An unconscious individual is scattered, disorganized and mindless about themselves and others.
When you are unconscious you are reactionary when dealing with others and only hear your side of the story. This is the level of awareness where you may find yourself also being quite careless. You are bumping into things and people a lot, you are forgetful and you may think that the world is out to get you. This is where you are reacting to the world instead of taking responsibility for your views about the world.
The positive version of Unconscious is that you are so good at something it has become an Unconscious action. During my Life Coaching training I was taught that a Life Coach should aim to be Unconsciously Competent. Anyone who has an innate talent for example, has an Unconscious Competence when it comes to performing that talent.
The Unconscious part in this definition refers to the level of the mind. We have become so good at something that it has become part of who we are and we can do it exceptionally well without thinking about it (Unconscious).
The negative definition of consciousness refers to the separated part of the mind which thinks it is separate from God or Source. Here is where we find perception, the place where we have to perceive things in order to find meaning as opposed to knowledge where we inherently know the meaning of Who and What we truly are.
According to A Course in Miracles, “consciousness is correctly identified as the domain of the ego. The ego is a wrong-minded attempt to perceive yourself as you wish to be, rather than as you are.” ~ T.3.IV.2.1-2
When we compare consciousness to the Mind of God, we can see what is meant by what A Course in Miracles says in that quote. When we are in the state of mind known as Heaven, we have become enlightened and we recognize that we are One with the Mind of God. We KNOW. This is the state of knowledge. In ego land we do not know things, we see them and judge them to the best of our intellectual ability and this is consciousness.
Now to the positive! Consciousness can also be referred to as the spiritual meaning of being awake. You may know that Buddha said, “I am awake”, it is this state of Consciousness he is referring to. Michael Singer states in “The Untethered Soul” that “Consciousness is the highest word you will ever utter. There is nothing higher or deeper than consciousness. Consciousness is pure awareness.”
In my opinion, Michael Singer’s definition of Consciousness refers to the human experience. He goes on to describe that when you are in your Consciousness you are the observer of all, much like Eckhart Tolle’s description of being Conscious. A Course in Miracles as a spiritual guide is always sharing the difference between the ego physical human experience AND the formless Spirit or Mind.
So, there you have it! What I hope is a good reference for you while you’re pursuing your spiritual path or bettering your mental health (both of which are the same thing).
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