Consciousness, what consciousness!
Consciousness is there all the time , whether we are aware of it or not. It is monitoring us when we are asleep, checking on unusual noises to wake us up, checking we keep breathing, making us aware of the dreams that punctuate our night with strange mental formations.
When we are awake we sometime mix mental formations and consciousness together and call them ‘me’. Yet if you explore, you can watch your mind making thoughts, see them as separate from your consciousness, see consciousness watching your every move closely. It’s like an internal monitor.
Consciousness is what indicates to us we are alive, in human form, in this moment. But where does it come from?
A general awareness of life, that is separate from self, is not that easy to explain, but the awareness of these two similar and yet very distinct parts of experience become clearer when you practice mindfulness and meditation regularly. You start to notice that you can watch your thoughts and emotions more or less dispassionately, as if an onlooker of your own body responses.
As J. Krishnamurti says, we are both the observer and the observed, we are literally watching our ‘self’ all the time and our consciousness gives us a third perspective from which we can be aware of that happening. Nowadays i can watch myself being watched by myself. Once you can have that third party perspective on yourself it is much easier to understand the rest of your inner workings and thus find happiness.
Thich Nhat Hanh talks about store consciousness, a seed bed of everything our mind holds in potential, and from which anything can and will grow if we give it nourishment. SO we can grow our happiness by recognising the seeds of happiness in our mind. Or we can grow our unhappiness in the same way. Whatever we pay attention to will be what grows most strongly. Whatever we allow others to water will also grow strongly. Knowing how to water and lovely seeds and minimise the unhappy seeds growth is really the heart of happiness versus unhappiness, and by understanding our minds fully we can really achieve this. I know because that is how I got well again after a serious PTSD breakdown.
Jung talks about the collective consciousness, a group consciousness that links us to everyone or even everything else if we open up to it. Thich Nhat Hanh also mentions collective consciousness as this interrelationship between individual and collective consciousness which are part of each other; each is made up of the other and neither can exist without the other.
Consciousness also holds all the other skandas together in one collective experiences of body emotions perceptions and mind/thoughts. Without consciousness to bring them together they would not exist and yet without then consciousness would not exist either.