The Two Dimensions of Consciousness

But this mirror is only one aspect of consciousness. Consciousness, like light, has two dimensions. Just as light can be described as both a wave and a particle. Consciousness has an unbound wave or sky-like nature and it has particular particle-like aspects. As we have seen, in its wave-like function, consciousness is unchanging, like the sky. In its particle-like function, consciousness is momentary. A single state of consciousness arises together with each moment of experience and is flavored by that experience. With precise mindfulness training, meditators can experience this particle-like nature of consciousness arising and passing like bubbles or grains of sand.

When the momentary aspect of consciousness receives an experience, it is colored by the experience, carried by it. In one Buddhist text, the particle-like quality of consciousness is described with a hundred and twenty-one different flavors or states. There are joyful states of consciousness, fearful states, expanded and contracted ones, regretful states and loving ones. These states come with stories, feelings, perceptions, with beliefs and intentions. Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh describes it this way: “The mind is like a television set with hundreds of channels. Which channel will you turn on?” Usually we are so focused on the dramatic story being told that we don’t notice that there is always consciousness that receives it.

Through mindfulness, we can learn to acknowledge which channel is playing.  We can learn to change the channels, the stories and states, by recognizing that all states are simply appearances in consciousness. Most importantly, we can begin to understand the underlying nature of consciousness itself.

Here is a description of the two fundamental aspects of consciousness:
555555555555555555555555555555555   This excerpt is taken from the book, “The Wise Heart”

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