What is consciousness? What is to know yourself?
This elusive entity that signifies your awake self in your everyday mind set that experiences and realizes the world.
Consciousness is a term with relatively wide meaning. It has been used even before the birth of ancient Greek philosophy as a term addressing the general thought activity in your mind, your thoughts that assimilate and interprete the information you get from the world around you.
Furthermore in old esoteric systems of different periods and cultures we meet the concept of levels of consciousness, that are higher and wider than our everyday awake state of the mind, that is our “I consciousness” it is the entity you address when you say “I”.. think about this for a moment – What do you address when you say “I”? What are you? Try to describe yourself. Examine the content of this “I”, it is one of the most used words in any language, the “I” pronoun! But so rarely it is put on the place of the observable object, most of the time the “I” observes and judges the world around, as if it doesn`t notice itself at all. As if by default the human consciousness is designed to be one-sided and the conscious “I” so narrowly aware of its own self. This is so because, as incredible as it may sound (considering the long history of mankind), the human mind is not yet fully awake and still lingers in its primitive darkness of instinctive behavior and limited self-awareness.
The old wisdom speaks about self-realization and expantion of the limits of your consciousness as the highest goal and divine meaning of human life. Spiritual evolution, divine insight, Satori and illumination – all these are the state your mind acquires gradually following the path of realization. And there is more to it, there is self-control, so difficult for the ordinary human being, there is the improved communication with others and better relations, there is the inmost harmony and balance that give the person strength to advance and achieve higher peaks than the average person. And most of all there is intransitive meaning and inspiration!
In psychology the concept of consciousness is used to address the I-consciousness or Ego that is all your thoughts, dreams, memories and perceptions of the world that form your persona on the one hand, and on the other it is used as a wide term addressing your whole psyche.
Psychology can be viewed as a modern method for self-realization and improvement, just like the ancient esoteric wisdom. Though psychology as a field that explores the human soul is still in its infancy today.
Although human beings are born sensible and potentially intelligent, human consciousness develops very little and on a superficial level through the growth of the child until it becomes a fully grown adult with somewhat settled personality that in most cases will remain generally the same for the rest of its life. Intelligence needs practice in order for it to grow and develop and so does the human consciousness and self-awareness, these are the two sides of a coin, the coin of completeness. Practice makes perfect.
The concept of mental advancement has been known to humanity since ancient times. And certain individuals had been able to advance significantly above the average person of their time, becoming open or hidden spiritual leaders of their generations.
Undoubtedly humanity is slowly advancing in our spiritual evolution, but mostly our advancement is one-sided expressed in external development, while the inmost and unexplored darkness in every individual soul remains unknown.
Say some two hundred years ago people did not had the knowledge and general awareness about the factology and mechanisms of their psychology, nor they had the notions of neurosis or behavioral stereotypes. They did not knew nor thought about the reasons for their emotional unease at times and mostly had no idea how the character forms as a unique psychological set. People back then in the past lacked all the scientific knowledge we have today, yet they felt that inmost darkness in their souls, the limits of their awareness where it could go no further. People since before the written history intuitively perceived the presence of something beyond their senses, something hidden and intangible that was behind the visible aspects of nature. Alchemy, for instance, had the unconscious as an object of exploration and transformation through symbols and associations, although the alchemists didn`t really knew what exactly they were dealing with.
And long before contemporary psychoanalysis, ancient teachings developed methods and practices for mental advancement and symbolic tools for self-realization of the narrow human consciousness we are born with.
“You will find yourself only in yourself” said Lao Tzu, and on the central ark stone above the entrance to the
Self-awareness and expanding the limits of human consciousness were ideals that inspired great persons to lead entire nations and lay down the foundations of great religions like Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Unfortunately, religious institutions and human narrow-mindedness and greed hid and obscured much of this pure knowledge in order to gain administrative control over the masses.
In the center of this practical method of knowing yourself is self-observation. Self-observation is a state of the mind, it is active and alert consciousness that operates on two sides, not just one. That is, you perceive and analyze the world around you, while in the same time you are aware of the world within you, so that if say someone provokes unpleasant emotions in you you will reflect on and search for the reasons about it, not simply react on impuls mindlessly.
Whether it be an aggressive reaction, insult to someone, saying something stupid or inappropriate or not being able to control your shyness etc. If you think about it, you will realize how much of your behavior is controlled by mechanisms and urges beyond your conscious will, like a toy in the hands of intangible entities, the entity of your unconscious mind.
Self-awareness is not some kind of meditation or exercise for a certain time of the day – it is a state of the mind! Self-realization is not something that happens suddenly at once. It is a gradually unfolding process as a result of the self-observation and analysis.
Human thought activity is closely related to memory. We memorize different pieces of information from different sources and in the process of thinking we assimilate and synthesize this information into knowledge and understanding. Most of the information we use to create our views, theories, ideas and discoveries comes from external sources including our five senses. But it is not until we transform and sift out this information with the tool of our thoughts and imagination that it turns into knowledge. Knowledge is information that you understand and fit into the big picture, not just something you have memorized from the books.
In our contemporary world we are overflown with information, we live on the fast lane with autopilot-on most of the time. So rarely do we stop to look around and think, to reflect on intangible matters such as the hidden reasons behind our behavior, the motifs that drive us, to follow our emotions and thoughts to their source.
The journey into yourself is a lifepath and a state of the mind when your thoughts penetrate into the deepest levels of reality and your psyche. It is when you are able to wield yourself, not the other way around. It is a tough journey and only the most determined are able to make the first steps, which are the hardest. And the journey itself is a deeply rewarding process that becomes ever more fruitful the more you persist. We have barely tapped into our potential and our ability to create a world of peace and unimaginable prosperity!
“Psychic, or "psi" phenomena fall into two general categories. The first is perception of objects or events beyond the range of the ordinary senses. The second is mentally causing action at a distance. In both categories, it seems that intention, the mind’s will, can do things that – according to prevailing scientific theories – it isn’t supposed to be able to do. We wish to know what is happening to loved ones, and somehow, sometimes, that information is available even over large distances. We wish to speed the recovery of a loved one’s illness, and somehow they get better quicker, even at a distance. Mind willing, many interesting things appear to be possible.
Understanding such experiences requires an expanded view of human consciousness. Is the mind merely a mechanistic, information-processing bundle of neurons? Is it a "computer made of meat" as some cognitive scientists and neuroscientists believe? Or is it something more? The evidence suggests that while many aspects of mental functioning are undoubtedly related to brain structure and electrochemical activity, there is also something else happening, something very interesting.”
prof. Dean Radin
P.S. The answer to title`s question: They are the same thing