Here’s a summary of some of the things I have learned through meditation practice and through listening to skilled practitioners and reading what they’ve written.
Consciousness is the only thing of which I can be certain. (Thank you, Sam Harris!).
I am not entirely sure of what consciousness is. No one seems to be. But I know it when I see it. In me, because that’s the only place where I experience it.
Awareness is different than consciousness. When I am not asleep, I am not conscious of most of what is around me. But I am aware of some things of which I am not conscious.
Attention is different than awareness and consciousness
The Mind Illuminated proposes that both awareness and attention are aspects of consciousness. The goal of meditation is to find an optimum balance.
I am usually not conscious of consciousness, aware of being aware, or paying attention to what I am paying attention to.
In a guided meditation, I am directed to become conscious of consciousness, objects in consciousness, awareness, and attention. When I am invited to become more mindful or aware or attentive, I tend to become so.
One of the attributes of consciousness I have become acutely aware of this: objects arise consciousness, and they pass away. Both happen effortlessly and cannot be prevented other than, I suppose, by being rendered unconscious.
Another: I can partly control attention and awareness, but attention also moves without my bidding, and awareness changes without my direction.
I don’t control what specific thought or experience arises, but I can influence what sorts of thoughts or experiences are likely to arise.
I am conscious of “objects in consciousness” more often than I am conscious of consciousness itself.
The “sense of self” is just one more “object in consciousness.”
When I am conscious of consciousness, all that exists for me (in that moment) is only what is in the “field of consciousness.”
To the degree that I can say that I am certain of something, that certainty ought to be grounded in consciousness. Often it is not.
. I am sometimes conscious of the contents of a dream and yet not conscious of the fact that I am dreaming. I am sometimes conscious of both.
What arises in consciousness is always an illusion. It cannot be otherwise. But I am rarely aware that I am seeing an illusion.
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