The words “awareness” and “consciousness” are normally used interchangeably. They are obviously intimately related, but they are not exactly the same.
Here are some definitions of “awareness”:
1) “Knowledge or perception of a situation or fact. For example: We need to raise public awareness of the issues involved.”
2) “Awareness is the state or ability to perceive, to feel or to be conscious of events, objects, or sensory patterns. Data can be confirmed by an observer without necessarily implying understanding.”
3) A biological psychology definition of awareness states that it is “a human’s or an animal’s perception and cognitive reaction to a condition or event.”
4) A Swedish neuroscientist states that “primary consciousness” or “basic awareness” is an ability to integrate sensations from the environment with one’s immediate goals and feelings in order to guide behavior; it springs from the brain stem which human beings share with most of the vertebrates.”
5) Outside neuroscience, some biologists contributed the “theory of cognition,” which states that “living systems are cognitive systems
and living as a process of cognition.” According to this theory, “This statement is valid for all organisms with or without a nervous system.”
Harvard scientists think they have pinpointed the physical source of consciousness. It lies in three regions of the neocortex. Let’s skip the names of these regions because they are too technical and hard to pronounce. But this finding explains why some patients who are in a coma, and therefore unconscious, can be aware of their surroundings.
Amoeba to humans
All living creatures, from amoebas and plants to animals and human beings, are aware of their immediate surroundings and react to them. But only human beings are self-aware or self-conscious.
People whose clairvoyant vision or third eye is open do not talk about what they can see, for fear of being labeled mentally ill or hallucinating.
Outer awareness is limited to what can be perceived by our physical senses of sight, smell, sound, touch and taste. Our inner sense is unlimited. They even go beyond the physical dimension.
To be aware of both inner and outer realities is to be really awake, according to Eastern masters.
Unfortunately, Western science has focused its attention mainly on mastering our outward environment. Awareness is centered on what can be perceived physically by our senses.
Much of our technological progress, however, we owe to this concentration on physical awareness.
Eastern masters and mystics have, for thousands of years, concentrated more on learning what lies in the inner states. And they have learned a lot about the vast spiritual realms and other dimensions unknown to science, because what our senses or scientific instruments cannot perceive are not considered real or true.
This has led to a certain blindness in our perception of reality. That’s why Eastern masters and mystics consider the modern man to be asleep, because he is mostly unaware of the nonphysical world. He does not even believe there is such a thing.
So, the task of waking up our inner senses or spiritual faculties has become of paramount importance to the Eastern mystics, who are, for the most part, considered by the Western mind to be out of touch with reality.
It is fortunate that this limited point of view is now slowly disappearing, with the encounter of Western science and Eastern mysticism. Also, the incredible discoveries of quantum physics have shaken the predictable and logically consistent world of classical physics. The world is no longer seen merely from the point of view of Newton and other classical physicists.
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