On Consciousness (Awareness, Perception)
A couple of week ago I answered a question about whether or not animals have consciousness (http://acimmentor.blogspot.com/2016/01/ask-does-each-animal-experience.html).My answer provoked several emails of questions and comments. They seemed to be about different aspects of my response but I’ve come to see that they were all related. So I am going to respond to the ideas in them here in one fell swoop.
First, let me define what I mean by “consciousness” (in other contexts “awareness” or “perception”): A mind that is capable of an awareness of Truth. While one split mind (what A Course in Miracles calls the “Son of God”) projects the entire universe of form, it projects its split mind onto only one form, the human animal. So while many animals have some degree of intelligence and many experience degrees of emotions, only the human animal suffers the conscious and unconscious psychological conflict of a mind that is split between Truth and not-Truth.
Some indicated that I said or implied that because only humans have consciousness they are somehow special or superior to other animals. I did not say this nor did I imply it. In fact, I implied the opposite with the last paragraph: since nothing at the level of form has any effect on Truth there is no part of it that is special or superior to the rest. It is no different to have consciousness than to not have consciousness. All illusion is illusion and is equally meaningless.
This brings me to another issue that was brought up. Some were disturbed by the idea that it does not matter if they are aware of Truth or not. Of course, I intended this to set them free! The freedom and joy of forgiveness is in the awareness that Truth is not affected by not-Truth (the universe of form). The take away is that you do not have to worry about what you attain or do not attain as a person. You can just enjoy the process and let it take you where it will. There are no bad consequences for not attaining a certain awareness. But “Why bother to become aware of Truth? Why bother with this process?” some asked. In my experience once one has had an awareness of Truth there is no going back. The Truth compels you because It is the Truth. And being aware of Truth does bring relief from the pain of believing in not-Truth (the universe of form). But just as pain is only temporary so is the need for relief from pain only temporary. Either way, it all falls away.
And this leads to the other issue brought up in the emails: Isn’t one’s awareness of Truth real and eternal? Isn’t this what “goes on” after the body is dead?
Remember, awareness (consciousness, perception) is only temporary, whether that awareness is of not-Truth or of Truth. Only Knowledge, which is Truth, is eternal. To be aware of Truth and to know Truth are not the same experience. The highest awareness one can have is of Truth. But that awareness is not Truth Itself. It is not Knowledge. Awareness can fluctuate and vary. Knowledge is static and absolute.
Your mind has diametrically opposed experiences: Truth and not-Truth. The experience of Truth is limitless wholeness. The experience of not-Truth is limitation and lack. Think of them as running parallel in your mind. You can experience both but they never intersect. They never blend. One never enters into or becomes the other. Since Truth is Knowledge (or Being) it is not aware of not-Truth. Knowledge transcends all awareness. And at the level of not-Truth you can be aware of Truth but never know (be) Truth. This is why if you want the endless Peace of Truth, not-Truth must fall away. It can never become Truth.
So in a nutshell: Whether or not something has consciousness or whether or not that which has consciousness is conscious of Truth is unimportant. It all passes. Only the Truth is true and eternal.
Learn about the books The ACIM Mentor Articles, The Plain Language A Course in Miracles, 4 Habits for Inner Peace, and Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace.