Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Consciousness or Awareness?

  1. #1

    Consciousness or Awareness?


    In a Japanese text I'm translating they talk about "non-dualistic consiousness." (非二元的な意識). I've also been translating it as "non-dualistic awareness." My question is, from a Soto Zen view, is there any significant difference between the "consciousness" and "awareness"? "Non-dualistic consciousness" comes back with significantly more hits on Google, but to me they seem to be synonyms.

    Still, figure I should be safe and ask the pros.



  2. #2
    Hey Chris,

    I'm in no way an authority on the subject, and everything I'm about to say is probably inaccurate. That said, in Buddhism "consciousness" is considered one of the five skandhas, or aggregates. In Pali (because I go old school haha) it's call Vinnana. There's a form of consciousness for every sense organ... including the mind. So, consciousness is something that's conditional and ever changing, it can't really be non-dualistic. Shariputra compared it to a stream. Yet the Abhidharma considers Nirvana a form of "non-dualistic" Awareness. Non-dualistic's in quotes because we can't really say it's dualistic nor non-dualistic. Sometimes also called the Luminous Mind.

    Consciousness can almost be thought of as a bunch of stuff in a bag, and awareness as the bag itself (though that's really just an awful metaphor). Consciousness is like a room with objects in it, and awareness is the light revealing it all (that's marginally better). I personally consider consciousness and awareness to be different (though related), but I don't usually think on it too much these days.

    Gassho, Foolish John
    Sat Today

  3. #3

    I am aware of consciousness. I am conscious of awareness. Consciousness is no other than awareness. Awareness is no other than consciousness. Consciously aware of not being conscious. Aware of not being aware. Aware of being aware and not aware at once. Conscious of being conscious and unconscious at once. Conscious...Aware...

    Hell if I know. Words just get me into trouble.

    Gassho, Jishin


  4. #4
    Hi. I can't speak for Soto only my own practice. I see terms like "Awareness" as a marker, a way to tease up spaciousness, not as referring to an essence or principle. When I sit there is the bum on the cushion, sounds, bodily sensation..etc... very simple and open. There is no thought of awareness, and there is no checking back.



    sat today

  5. #5
    Hi Chris,

    Most Zen folks do not get lost in hair splitting of terminology and categories, and thus are Zen folks! Perhaps one might better say that we experience and manifest "非二元的な意識" on the cushion in Zazen, however ya say it. While sitting, consciously aware, one even drops all thought of "consciousness" and "awareness".

    However, I know you are trying to do a translation, so can you show me the entire passage and I will offer a suggestion?

    And Foolish John: Please empty your bag.

    Gassho, J


  6. #6
    Thank you. Fear not, 'twas just a lightning flash. No need to cling to to the afterimage these days though. Analysis is an occupational hazard haha.

    Gassho, John
    Sat Today

    Last edited by Nameless; 12-17-2014 at 11:50 PM.

  7. #7
    Thank you everyone for your thoughts and suggestions. And thank you for the James Brown!

    Jundo, again, bows and prostrations. Well the full sentence is:

    "行の世界にたって初めて、主-客の枠組自体を超えた「非二元的な意識」というものを問題にせざるを得なくな ってくる。"

    I'm fine on the over-all meaning. The text is a conversation, and as Nameless suggests, it contains Theravada elements as well. So "non-dualistic awareness" seems to work. But at the same time I've seen this translated as "non-dualistic consciousness." So like the "whatever's clever" take you suggested, it seems in general usage they are synonymous. The wider context of the conversation is mindfulness, sati. So really what I'm not clear on is the overlap between not just the English for "consciousness" and "awareness," but the Japanese 意識 and 気づき. If it turns out for all practical purposes they're synonymous, that sure would be convenient. Where I'm at now, it seems so.



  8. #8
    Haha I love this thread. When I hit the japanese characters I have to hold back, since I would almost automatically ask for a translation :P

    How complicated can it all be made to look huh?

    Curious about the outcome


    Sat today

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Ongen (音源) - Sound Source

  9. #9
    Thanks Vincent, glad you're enjoying the thread. Japanese to English translation is a hoot. Tentatively I've got the above translated as:

    "Only once you’re in the realm of practice does the “non-dualistic awareness” that goes beyond the subject-object framework itself inevitably come into play."

    And 合掌 = Gassho



Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts