Commonly understood as: A state of being aware; A state of knowledge, truths and conduct, derived from the experience of existence.
Consciousness is really one of the key elements within defining or discussing metaphysics, because it permeates every living thing not only within this dimension but in all dimensions. In higher dimensions, consciousness merges into deeper states of consciousness. It is the same for the soul as it evolves, a greater consciousness is revealed by merging and being more aware. Even here in this third dimension we can allow more of our consciousness to be revealed as we evolve and progress.
Ultimately, all parts of consciousness join at infinity. If this is difficult to understand it is because of our perceptions of life, which is limited to an expression of itself in practically its lowest form (physical). Although there are many different forms of consciousness, some of these may be described as:
So while we are expressing ourselves through bodily matter, we are only aware of a tiny portion of consciousness. The larger part remains unexpressed, except in fleeting glimpses, until the process of development enables awareness of the larger self. To put this another way, the consciousness expressed through a physical brain cannot be aware of the larger consciousness until, either by the process of development, or the transition of death can we begin to properly express it. The greater consciousness is aware of a vast repository of information--knowledge of the past and of the future.
Consciousness, or mind, exists apart from the brain altogether and exists in itself. In order to be aware of mind, you must have a vehicle through which it can express itself. We have bodies therefore in order that we can express ourselves. Without a body, we would still exist, but would have no means of physical manifestation.
In order to understand the concept of total consciousness, imagine the greater consciousness as a circle, and then realize that there are segments of that circle which are revolving around its center. Sometimes those segments meet and when they meet there is a recognition of their common oneness. When they finally cease to revolve, the different segments occupy their allotted places and the circle is united and complete.
Silver Birch maintains that these multiple parts of the same circle do not incarnate on Earth at the same time, as it would be contrary to the whole purpose. The purpose of the individual is to find experience on all planes of expression and only to return to the same plane when there is something to be achieved by the return.
Seth explains that such segments do incarnate at the same time in order to obtain a dichotomy of experiences, where one segment may be a priest and another an atheist. Generally, three or four such segments may incarnate in a similar time frame.
Both however agree that it is not so much a grouping of different souls, but a union of different portions of consciousness returning to complete the whole. Each consciousness does not lose its own individuality, it is akin to the vibrations of a violin that merges into the harmony and expression of a whole orchestra.
All consciousness is self aware, but outside of the mind, it may not be self aware in quite the same way. This is because of the nature of its expression and purpose. An example for individuals to experience an altered state of consciousness is during an out of body experience.
There are a variety of ways in which consciousness is interpreted. These range from the belief that only those beings that are spiritually aware have consciousness, to the theory that all cells contain consciousness. An increasing perception is that there are degrees of consciousness in all living things, in which they are not self aware like we are self aware- -as they may not need to reflect upon their own state of being. For example, a tree is aware when a person walks by and can easily recognize a familiar passer-by. The tree may think in its own way "that unfortunate individual, having to move about!"
If consciousness is always conscious of itself, and of its integrity and state, this would presuppose that there is no unconsciousness.