Anyone who is interested in better life discovery for himself must become familiar with Consciousness, Awareness, and Attention and use the knowledge associated with them for their self-improvement and personal development
Awareness and consciousness mean practically the same thing when used in one sense. That is, they refer to what you know, see, feel, hear, taste, touch, recognize, and otherwise experience at any moment wherever you are. Whatever is around you that you experience, you are aware of and conscious of.
Your thoughts, emotions, memories, and mental images are also part of your awareness or consciousness. Whatever your attention is on at any time is part of your awareness or consciousness.
There are other meanings for consciousness. The obvious one is if you are aware of your environment at all. You can be conscious or unconscious of it at any one time. Unconsciousness is like being asleep or in a coma.
The other meaning of consciousness is the most important one for those who are interested in personal development. It is more difficult to understand, but we grow into an understanding of it as we become more aware of the whole of life and who and what we are ourselves.
Our spiritual development can be summed up as how far we are along the road to God Consciousness. This is everyone’s final objective in life, whether they believe it or not. This is the highest point of our development as a human being. It is the face-to-face meeting with God.
This meeting takes place in a dimension so far above the physical universe that it cannot be understood by the mind. One must just accept that many dimensions of existence, each one more refined, beautiful, and full of wonder than the one before it, exist above the universe we live in.
Of course these planes of existence can’t be seen or experienced using out physical senses. We must use our imagination and the techniques taught by spiritual masters to raise ourselves into the consciousness required to see them.
At each new level, we become aware of a greater truth than is possible in the level preceding it. We also move closer to the God Consciousness state. Our respect for life in all its forms deepens and we treat all forms of life with greater and greater appreciation and consideration.
Consciousness, then, is our level of awareness of the existence of these invisible planes and what existence is like there. God Consciousness comes when we ascend to the God Plane and come face to face with the Supreme Being.
To some people, the above explanation may seem like fantasy, science fiction, or heresy. The only way a person can prove whether it is truth or fiction is by actual experience. It is not wise to dismiss the existence of life on other planets or in other dimensions simply because you haven’t yet seen or experienced it.
Each individual is responsible for increasing his awareness of life, love, truth, freedom, wisdom, and God. As this awareness increases, our acceptance of the existence of beings, places, and things grows until we come to realize that whatever can be imagined must also exist.
Imagination is really seeing with the inner eyes. The eyes, the brain, and the mind are only instruments of communication. They cannot create images. They only communicate them. Therefore, if something is seen, it exists somewhere within the bounds of creation.
Hallucination, fantasy, vision, dream, mirage, myth, illusion, and other so-called unrealities are distortions or reflections of reality. They are not creations of the mind or imagination. Acceptance of this truth and the truth of other forms of life and other dimensions of existence reveals a growing awareness and a step forward in our personal development.
The same can be said for recognition of states of consciousness. Major levels of consciousness on earth are minerals, plants, animals, and human beings. Within these levels are many sub-levels of consciousness. All the different types of plants and species of animals, for example. There may be millions of levels of consciousness in human beings. The different levels of intelligence, physical abilities, levels of honesty, levels of love, and occupations are a few categories where many levels of consciousness can be identified.
Each individual enters and vacates different states of consciousness during the day depending on the role he is playing at any moment, his attitude, his emotions, and his desires. By studying this idea, it can be seen how awareness and consciousness are both similar and different.
Consciousness becomes important when we know that the higher states of consciousness take us closer to our final goal of God-Realization. Our aim should be to raise our consciousness to as high a level as possible every moment of the day. As we practise this, we will attain even higher levels than we have ever reached before.
When this happens, our awareness opens to greater levels of truth and our actions, thoughts, emotions, and speech become more refined, more noble, and closer to the attributes of the God-Realized being. We are getting closer to the meaning and purpose of life, and the Almost Perfect Life.
This is where attention enters our awareness and consciousness. You may describe attention as a concentration of our awareness and consciousness on a single place, idea, emotion, desire, plan, person, task, sound, touch, or perfume, or a combination of these.
Attention can be on something inside us: a thought, image, dream, vision, etc. It can be on something on our person like clothes, a sore, pain, or our hair. Or it can be on anything outside us, the wind and rain, the view, the thunder, our jobs, other people, and so on.
Control of our lives is control of attention. Our lives are controlled by what our attention is on. Let’s look at an example.
Bill is diagnosed with terminal cancer and the prognosis is death in two weeks. By a strange coincidence, George, his friend, is given the same death sentence on the same day. Bill is so afraid that he can’t do anything. He is physically sick with fear and cannot do even the simplest tasks because he can’t think about anything else. He knows he should straighten out his affairs for his family, but this is impossible.
George comes to see him a few days later. George is cheerful and tells Bill he feels good. He has given the news to family and friends and things are well in hand for arrangements for his funeral and how the family will cope without him.
Bill is amazed. How can he be so happy and calm? What is his secret? George tells Bill, “I nearly lost control of my mind in the first few hours. Then I thought, ‘What am I doing? I only have two weeks to live and here I am spending it feeling sorry for myself and paralyzing myself with fear and grief. My family can’t function because they are too worried about me. This is no way to spend the rest of my life.’
“So I got a grip on myself. I took my attention off my own problems and onto what I can do to make it easier for my family and friends. I forced myself to sit down and write down everything I could think of that needed to be arranged so everything would be as easy as possible for them.”
“I knew the first thing would be to stop any behaviour that causes them to disrupt their lives. I decided that I am going to die and there’s nothing I can do about it, so I may as well just accept it and enjoy the rest of the time I have. I will make sure I won’t put any attention on dying.”
“So I determined to be cheerful and make everyone else cheerful as well. Then I listed what needed to be done so that everything would go as smoothly as possible for everyone. Then I got to work and started making all the arrangements.”
“By taking my attention off my death sentence and putting it on how much I love my wife and kids, and doing everything I can to make them happy, I have been able to make it easy for them. But the most important thing is, I have made it easy for myself as well. I am not going to think about death until I am actually dying, if I can?”
Bill wondered if he had the self-control and self-discipline to copy George’s strategy.