Recently a friend asked me for definitions awareness and consciousness. The words “consciousness” and “awareness” are used in multiple ways, and sometimes they are treated as synonyms, which can be quite confusing. I have been sourcing definitions for these and other spiritual concepts for years. As I have become more awake, the definitions have become clearer. It is likely that the below articulations will be revised over time to provide further clarity.
Pure awareness is that which comprehends, nonconceptually, the state of being. It is thinking that clouds awareness and leads to confusion. The antidote to confusion is to cease thinking and discover the clarity of what is actually the case, without any interpretation. Sometimes we speak of the “light of awareness,” and this is because in unclouded awareness that which is comprehended without thoughts or commentary may have a clear and luminous quality.
From Creating the Foundations of Health: Consciousness is the profoundly subtle aspect of who we are, both individually and collectively, that makes decisions and evaluates the outcomes. Consciousness determines our perceptions, and our experiences are largely a result of what is happening at the level of consciousness.
Although consciousness can produce thinking, consciousness does not require thinking. Consciousness can operate nonconceptually, in which case there is no clouding of awareness. When consciousness and awareness are working together as one, with no clouding, we may call this fully conscious awareness.
Although consciousness seems to be more active and awareness seems to be more receptive, each is both active and receptive. Fundamentally, consciousness and awareness are one, and consciousness emerges out of awareness as a special case. So in this sense awareness comes first in the sequence of creation and is the deeper function.