What is Consciousness
From: devindersingh < >
CONSCIOUSNESS is liberty, unconsciousness is slavery. When you are unconscious you are a prey to all kinds of forces and beings outside yourself and over which you have no control. You are a plaything in the hands of any power or influence that seeks to possess you and when you are in such a state it is the undesirable powers that seek and secure hospitality in you. It is only when you become conscious that you begin to react to the outside forces that try to control you or utilize you.
The individual being is only a field, a passive field for the play of cosmic or collective forces. It is in man, with the awakening of an individual consciousness in him, that a movement of self-assertion, of willed reaction has started in nature, that is to say, one is no more content with playing the role of a slave executing helplessly what is demanded of him by an external agent but is now making his own terms and propositions. That is how man is man because he is creating his own self and his own environment.
Consciousness, however, is not mere consciousness, that is to say, awareness; it is also power, power for organization and execution. It is unconsciousness that is or invariably leads to disorderliness, disorganization and confusion. It is the light of consciousness that brings order out of chaos, gives an organized direction to forces moving at random and with no purpose. Man has started organizing his life since he acquired the light of consciousness. He has been doing the yoga of the intelligent will (Gita’s buddhi-yoga) since his advent upon earth. But even in man this force of light, the energy of consciousness is not fully operative because man is not fully conscious, he is only partially so. His mind is conscious and has developed into intelligence (a little strayed into intellectuality); but there are large domains in him that are wholly unconscious, that is to say, move in mechanical rounds, a passive slave of external impacts. I am referring to his vital being and his physical being. Even like the mind these too must admit into themselves the light of the consciousness in order to free themselves from the influence of other external forces and attain the sense of their own truth and self-fulfillment.
Indeed each part, even each constituent element of our being has an individuality of its own, a personal being and consciousness. And it is because it is not aware of that inner reality, because it has fallen unconscious, therefore it has entered into this life of bondage and slavery and mechanical existence. When life becomes conscious, the life-energy becomes luminous, the vital being gradually gains self-control and self-direction. Instead of being moved about by irresponsible and irrepressible desires and impulses it attains a clarity as to what it should desire and what it should effectuate; and along with that light secures the strength also to act up to the directions of that light.
The body too similarly can be filled with light and light-energy; instead of being wholly at the mercy of the physical environment, the natural conditions around or even subject to its own innate or atavistic suggestions, it can be aware of its true reality, its inner nature, and its higher potentialities.
I have spoken of the light in the mind, the consciousness that has awakened there and has organised its activities as an autonomous unit. But we must not forget that it is only partially so. The autonomy is very limited, for a- good part of the human mind is far from being conscious, there is a part half-conscious and a part almost wholly unconscious. This hemisphere so to say is under the influence of the vital and the physical being with their unconscious and ill-organized influence. The true light comes from elsewhere; the mind in so far as it receives the light becomes conscious and proportionately autonomous. The light is always the spiritual light, the consciousness of the spirit which is above and beyond mind. Not only the mind but the vital too, and the physical too in order to be consciously organized and free and autonomous must know how to take in that light beyond the mind and bathe in its liberating influence.
I have laid stress on consciousness, but consciousness has three facets or steps. The first is simple consciousness; the next is self-consciousness and the last supra-consciousness. First you become conscious of a thing, next you become conscious that you are conscious of the thing, last something else is conscious in and through your consciousness. [Nolini Kanta Gupta]