Modern Psychology and Buddhist Psychology
Consciousness and subconsciousness

The words ‘consciousness’ and ‘subconsciousness’ can be confusing to most of us; to be honest we are not even bothered with such terms. However, they are actually our programming, or bias – that which makes us do or not do things. There is much we do not want to look at about this acquired self, and this is the reason why we cover up our ‘presumed’ faults by projecting an image of ourselves because we feel incomplete. Complicated isn’t it?! This is only because, due to hope and fear, we try to belong to a collective mind rather than realising true liberation 😀

Dictionary definition:
Consciousness: awareness by the mind of itself and one’s surroundings.

Subconsciousness: part of the mind of which one is not fully aware but which influences one’s actions and feelings.

Subconscious could be said to be where we are unconscious or unaware, but that would depend on the individual. It’s that which drives us, or rather, controls us. We can assume the posture of light and fluffy, but our ‘buttons’ can be pressed at any time and off we go, whirling around in samsara.

Buddhist definition:
Consciousness: faculty of mind made up of eight elements – five are the senses, 6th is perception, 7th is judgement and 8th is memory. Very subtle consciousness could be said to be pure awareness – the 9th consciousness which is beyond conventional consciousness.

Subconsciousness: 7th (judgement) and 8th (memory) consciousnesses (these may be deep seated feelings that we don’t want to admit).

This is a delicate matter as we believe we are what we think; this is incomplete and so we constantly defend ourselves and that which we believe. This gives rise to subtly aggressive reaction; what is lacking is honesty. It’s honesty that is the delicate matter. We may appear to be ‘nice’ Buddhists but underneath we are still tricksters projecting, merely rewriting our programming rather than breaking out of it.

In actuality, we can’t be honest in a collective mind as it’s too threatening; this is the reason we need courage and skilful compassion.

The core of the mind is subtle consciousness.
The core of subtle consciousness is pure awareness.
The core of pure awareness is emptiness.
The core of emptiness is love.

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  1. remanandhra says:

    Interesting but very brief. And how would you define love?

    • tony says:

      Love is our highest challenge. This caring for others more than oneself – unconditionally.


      To put it more beautifully…


      Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

      Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

      Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

      Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

      Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

      Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

      Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

      Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

      Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

      And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at
      peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.

      And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

      Max Ehrmann

      * Desiderata: Latin for ‘desired thing’.

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