View Full Version : Consciousness and Knowledge

22 September 2012, 05:22 PM

What is called consciousness, rather super consciousness and what is called knowledge ? In general terms, we call awakening, which is beyond the 5 senses but what that - beyond 5 senses - we get which is called consciousness ? With my one sense, I can perceive - There is a tree, so without use of any of 5 senses which type of awakening do I get ?

How we differentiate between knowledge and consciousness ? Knowledge comes ignorance leaves, so what knowledge, which type of knowledge ? I know divine knowledge but like to know specific about that.


23 September 2012, 04:32 AM
There are two views on consciousness.

Realist schools of thought (Nyaya/Mimamsa, etc.) hold that consciousness is always intentional. That is, consciousness is always of an object that is external to consciousness. For these schools, objectless consciousness does not exist and would be a contradiction. As a result, they hold that in deep sleep, when we do not have any object in consciousness, there is no consciousness.

So, for Nyaya and Mimamsa, consciousness = knowledge of some external (to mind) object.

For Advaita, consciousness is the process of witnessing. That is the essence of consciousness is independent of whether that witnessing is of some object or not. In our day to day awakening mode of life, this consciousness is intentional, i.e. of some other object. But Advaita holds that in deep sleep, when there is no object of consciousness, consciousness itself shines. The argument Advaita uses to argue for the presence of witnessing consciousness in deep/dreamless sleep is that if there were no consciousness, no one would be able to say, "Ah, I had a peaceful sleep without any dreams/object of consciousness".

So, for Advaita, consciousness = pure witnessing. Sometimes, when consciousness is intentional (i.e. it is of an object), consciousness = knowledge, but not otherwise. Consciousness in this sense is therefore ontologically prior/independent of any object of consciousness.

23 September 2012, 08:08 AM
Namaste AIH,

What is called consciousness, rather super consciousness and what is called knowledge ? In general terms, we call awakening, which is beyond the 5 senses but what that - beyond 5 senses - we get which is called consciousness ? With my one sense, I can perceive - There is a tree, so without use of any of 5 senses which type of awakening do I get ?

"Consciousness" is the power which makes witnessing, thinking, deciding, analysis possible. Consciousness is perceived at three different levels : Waking Consciousness, Sub-consciousness and Super-consciousness. Waking Consciousness is our Consciousness of individual mind when we are awake. Sub-consciousness is what stores information gathered by waking consciousness for retrieval and use in future ... we remember past things, nurture tendencies in our nature by our Karma due to this sub-consciousness. This Sub-consciousness is also which is responsible for creation of dreams and visualisation in mind.

Super-Consciousness is also called as "God-Consciousness". This is the substratum of the previous two consciousness. Superconsciousness is the essence upon which the earlier two consciousnesses appear to exist. Superconsciousness is reached by intense Bhakti, Meditation or just by God's/Guru's grace.

Now 5 senses and the Consciousness :

The 5 senses are like bulbs which get their respective power of "sensing" because of Consciousness. In absence of Consciousness, the 5 senses are dead meat. Apart from the five senses, the arising of individuality i.e. "i" in any being is due to this Consciousness. "Awakening" is not a knowledge of something that is outside. Awakening is the Realisation of one's True Nature. The actual description of Self-Realisation cannot be described as it is beyond words. However, Those who have attained Self-Realisation have tried to describe it in these words :

a) "I"-"I" perception ... "I alone exist" --- I am Brahman
b) It is Self annihilating knowledge ... the Knowledge, Knower and object of knowledge are non-different from each other
c) It is a state of supreme bliss. After attaining this, one is detached from all worldly pleasures/pains
d) It is best described by perfect silence coming at the end of Cosmic Sound "AUM"


24 September 2012, 09:51 AM
Namaste Devotee ji and Wundermonk,

Thank you very much taking time to write about Consciousness, Gratitude.

So far, I read Patanjali Yoga Sutra - Raj Yoga. I think they have explained the consciousness as when we eat we know we are eating, our hand takes morsel and drops in our mouth but we do not have any idea what happens to that morsel after chewing, how it gets assimilated with my saliva, and how it goes in my stomach and how it gets assimilated in my blood. If we get knowledge about this whole system of morsel to blood then it is consciousness. This is what my understanding of Consciousness.

I think, I still need to read more about Consciousness to understand the concept of Consciousness.

Both of you have explained very well but for me it will take some time to grasp - digest the concept.


Eastern Mind
24 September 2012, 10:17 AM
Vannakkam: Perhaps, or perhaps not, I can add a bit to this discussion. Same thing, slightly different wording. I've heard consciousness also referred to as awareness, the ability to be aware. So its that part of the mind that sees, feels, hears, etc, and is separate from that which it is aware of. So its a part of you.

It can also be seen as areas of the mind, namely conscious, subconscious, and superconscious. Conscious is the seeing, feeling, etc that goes on in the moment, as we do what we have to do. The subconscious is memory, storing every single thing that happens in the conscious mind, and some things more than others, as per the intensity of the conscious experience. So we will remember the more intense stuff. The superconscious is the intuitive mind, the mind of the soul, where we know right from wrong, and much more. All the 'gut' stuff is superconsciousness.

My teacher had two more, namely the sub of the subconscious, acting differently again, when two or more similar or conflicting events are there, but create a third, different thing, much like two elements like hydrogen and oxygen combine to make a third substance. That one can be tricky, and forms things like odd reactions, or more severe mental problems because its march harder to trace the cause.

And the other was the sub-superconscious, of the memory of all our intuitive or superconscious experiences, or activities, that will makes us feel intuitive from a scent of incense, for example.

This probably just ads further complication, so feel free to ignore.

Aum Namasivaya

25 September 2012, 12:59 AM
Taking a cue out of Devoteeji.

The waking consciousness is mostly related to the perceptions through the body related 5 senses.

Sub-consciousness is mostly related to the mind-intellect combination which exists even without body. This is evident at different levels of detachment of mind from body - when a person is grossly attentive to a particular subject (unware of the senses through body), sleep, unconsciousness, death.

The superconscious state is beyond this. Let me explain. The body acts and mind is a witness to it. The mind acts - the "I" is a witness to it. All the turbulence, all the thought waves can only be witnessed if the witnesser is still. It is like a person witnessing the movement of a train. If the person is still the train movement is absolute. If the person is moving the train movement is relative. In case of body and mind - both are moving but the effect is felt as relative to each other. In case of mind and "I" it is between a still person and the train. The movement is absolute.

Now this movement or waves of mind are due to the karmaphals. As it calms down and becomes zero, it reaches the state of "I" i.e. where there is no karmaphals left to disturb. This is a state of super consciousness and it is a state where there is not even the "I".

Now what has knowledge to do with all this ? It is an enabler, it is an instrument through which we condition our mind and body. It is an enable towards super consciousness.

08 December 2012, 10:58 AM
Sant Kabir sings in Raag Gauri.
He fashioned the body with six chakras and placed the extraordinary thing within it.
The breath stands as the watchman who holds the key to the lock of ignorance.

Keep your mind aware in this human form.
You were careless and wasted your life, your home has been invaded by thieves (greed, pride, attachment, ignorance, etc). Pause

The five senses stand as guards to the gate of the body and they cannot be trusted.
When you are conscious in your consciousness, you shall be enlightened and illuminated.

Attached to the nine gates (openings) of body the bride (soul) is led astray and does not obtain that extraordinary thing.
Kabir says, the nine gates are being plundered, find the True essence in the tenth gate.
Guru Granth page 339