Human beings have grown farther apart from their natural peers (apes) in a fantastic sort of way. We have technology that accomplishes unnatural feats. We can see the building blocks of matter, look into space and take a peek at the initial phases of the universe. Not only can we alter genetic codes, but create new beings and process information to reveal physical secrets. In conclusion, science has made us ever more aware of the world, but do we know anything about the entity that we call awareness? Are we truly more aware of our surroundings? Does technology aid awareness, and what is spiritual awareness?
For example, a rock is unaware of the stimuli directed towards it and does not respond to it. Once broken, it does nothing but accept its fate. A layer of water behaves almost the same. Unless you remove the knife, the water reforms the original shape (because of properties like fluidity, cohesiveness, and surface tension). While a tree does almost nothing to protect itself from an ax, not only does it heal, but uses the surrounding matter to rebuild itself and grow a new branch. Though we say that rock and water are non-living, we put the tree in an entirely new class.
Who are we?
We create these distinctions as it suits us. We say that nonliving things are driven by simple physical forces. While living beings are highly complex and have the capacity for perception and learning. It is fascinating to observe that increasing complexity in the matter is enough to create new classes of things. Advanced beings develop the capacity to learn. They can remember the stimuli, responses, and consequences and pass on that information through their genes or communication. Later, these beings become self-aware, not living a coded life, but being creative about the process. They know their place in nature and know others, too, and showcase emotions like pride and faith.
What is awareness?
Awareness is a topic long discussed by psychologists and philosophers alike. While psychologists understand awareness as increasing complexity in the matter, philosophers believe that awareness causes stimulus and response. What psychologists call consciousness is a soul for philosophers. They believe that a soul is first aware of itself, only then of its surroundings. It is why the living evolves through learning while the universe reacts the same as it did a billion years ago. None of these two theories describe awareness precisely, but an intersection of the two satisfies us in a way.
Is awareness a part of only the living? Or is the entire universe aware?
The fact is that life is the summit of the evolutionary universe. A distinction between living and non-living is as fictional as the white king’s dream from ‘Alice’s adventures in wonderland’. Take an example and try to answer the question. Is earth living or non-living? Is it aware of itself? The answer becomes apparent if we think about our bodies. Are fingers self-aware and living? Yes, like a human being is, so are all parts of their body. Similarly, living beings are a part of the earth and so the planet is living and aware just as an individual. By the transitive property, so are the solar system, the galaxy, and the universe. In conclusion, awareness is not contained in a body but belongs to a much larger universe in which we share a small part in a short time.
The path to spiritual awareness.
But of course, awareness varies, as so do its bearers. There are several ways in which awareness causes a body to behave. For example, a snake depends on the heat signature to perceive a rat, while a human sees the physical body of the rat. If we place a heated rock of the same size, a snake may confuse and mistake the stone for a rat, but a human will still recognize the rock. The reason is that while a thermal scan depends only on the temperature, sight depends on size, shape, color, and texture. Although one can not challenge the sense of sight against thermal recognition, as for a rat hidden in a bush, a snake will be at an advantage. However, having more sensory capacity will surely make a being more aware.
On a separate thought, can we say that the snake knows a rat is alive? The question opens up a whole new realm of awareness. To know about other beings requires the quality of sufficient intelligence. Only a being with the capacity to define what awareness is in a language can ever know the answer to that question. In conclusion, the more we define the world, the more aware we will become. Which ultimately answers the question of what spiritual awareness is and what purpose it serves.
What is spiritual awareness?
Starting from simple matter, we developed into complex beings that could preserve their bodies and pass that information to the next generations. Later, we evolved into beings of heightened senses, were aware of the surrounding, and could communicate to form groups. Finally, we developed superior intelligence with which we can know about our universe and define it with words. Science and technology help us cross the boundary where senses stop. But our goal is to recognize the universal awareness of whom we are a part. (Read why balance between faith and reason is important.) The journey that has brought us here has to be continued until we become one with the grand. That is what spiritual awareness is.