Consciousness, Awareness and Context

The terms consciousness and awareness are often used interchangeably, but are they the same? We can be vaguely aware of many things, but when we focus on it, we become much more aware (conscious) of it. Is consciousness the focusing of awareness? Or do they mean the same thing?

According to Nisargadatta:

 “Awareness is primordial; it is the original state, beginningless, endless, uncaused, unsupported, without parts, without change. Consciousness is on contact, a reflection against a surface, a state of duality. There can be no consciousness without awareness, but there can be awareness without consciousness, as in deep sleep. Awareness is absolute, consciousness is relative to its content; consciousness is always of something. Consciousness is partial and changeful, awareness is total, changeless, calm and silent. And it is the common matrix of every experience.”  

Yet, looking this up online, there is little agreement, even among spiritual teachers, of any differences between consciousness and awareness. Yet clearly, what you are conscious of, will run your life. Making a choice as to what you do with the gift of consciousness (or awareness) is a fundamental choice that many of us are never even aware that we have to make.

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