Someone posed a question the other day on a “list serve” I subscribe to which caused me to do some reflection….The question:  What is the difference between consciousness and awareness?  Although I posted my comments there, I thought I would bring it over here to the Bridge readers as well. I would love to hear your answer to the question as well.   Here’s my take…

Here’s the short answer:  Consciousness is the ground of all being, an essence, power and divine intelligence that is embedded in everything.  Awareness is both our personal perception of the level of consciousness within us and our use of it.

Here’s the commentary on the short answer:

The creator, creative force, God or whatever name you wish to give that which created All embedded Its essence in all of its creation.  That essence includes the power and intelligence of consciousness.  Everything contains consciousness, from the smallest particle on up to those entities with the most complexity such as humans.  Our evolutionary path has been driven by forces (among them love, allurement, and the synergy of being in relationship) that have brought about higher levels complexity.  As more complex entities emerged, they transcended but included the lower levels from which they came, and in that process embedded within themselves higher levels of consciousness.  In integral theory, each level is called a holon.

At each level of the evolutionary process, each entity had an “awareness” appropriate to its level of consciousness.  It may be hard for us to imagine what a rock’s or a plant’s or another animal’s “awareness” is like, but they each have their own personal perception and use of their consciousness appropriate for their level of development.  Humanity crossed an important threshold in its complexity such that its awareness moved into a level of “self-awareness” not available to lower levels.  In other words, we know and know that we know.

Here’s how Science of Mind creator Ernest Holmes put it so many years ago:   “Through eons of time life has been slowly climbing up the ladder of unfoldment to the present self-conscious state achieved in man.   Some degree of consciousness exists in everything because everything is some form of Spirit, and Spirit is Intelligence.  However, there are degrees of intelligence, or consciousness.  We often hear the expression, “Consciousness sleeps in mineral life, dreams in plant life, awakens in animal life, and comes to self-consciousness in man.”  Man, then, stands at the very peak of the evolutionary climb.  He is now a self-conscious individual which means that he not only knows, but knows that he knows.  He can think about his own consciousness, and he now has the power of choice – the very summit of life’s upward striving.  Evolution, through infinite ages, has done much for him.”

So here we are at the summit and are becoming aware of the power of our thoughts.  And, the more and more we become aware of this power, we realize that we are a co-creator in the divine evolutionary process.  We can now look forward and upward to the even greater levels of complexity and higher levels of awareness that exist beyond us as individual humans.  With our understanding of the evolutionary process, we can now consciously move humanity towards these higher levels.

These higher levels call to us to release our sense of separation and to embody our sense of unity.  We include our uniqueness and our personalness and carry it with us as we transcend our current level of awareness and move into an awareness of oneness.

Here’s how Rumi put it, ““Originally you were clay.  From being mineral, you became vegetable.  From vegetable, you became animal and from animal, man.  During these periods man did not know where he was going, but he was being taken on a long journey nonetheless.  And you have to go through a hundred different worlds yet.  There are a thousand forms of mind.”

And it gives meaning to these quotes from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: ” Driven by the forces of love, the fragments of the world seek each other so that the world may come into being. Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves.” and ” Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”


Rev Mark Gilbert


Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!