We are absolutely sure that we possess fully functioning self-consciousness.
It is not to be confused (as it is often done) with self-awareness: self-consciousness has to do with knowing oneself and acting and responding out of this knowing, while self-awareness is a limiting, blocking and mostly freezing the free flow and spontaneity of the life of the person, which self-consciousness never does. A good example is an audition for an actor, an appearance on T.V., or a blind date; you are so full of self- awareness you are completely stiff and frozen. So, self-awareness freezes while self-consciousness expands the scope of possible dimensions.
So, the questions to determine the existence of self-consciousness in a person, would be like: What is dominant in you now? Are your emotions positive or negative? How clear or confused are you now? How peaceful or nervous are you? And if one reacts, what is the nature and meaning of what is coming out of you now? Do you know? And if yes, do you take ownership of it?
The reactions of most people are without self-consciousness, which makes them completely mechanical, automatic, without any internal back-up or upper supervision. And these reactions escape us while we convince ourselves that we are the ones that decided to react this way.
The opposite of mechanical ‘sleeping’ response is a response that comes from and with attention, attention is the spirit of self-consciousness.
There are levels in self-consciousness, one higher is to know what kind of substance you are made of, and the highest is to know who you are.
People are sure they know who they are. And what they think they know is not more than a nicer version of the truth of who they really are.
Are you fully responsible for your responses and are they issued fully under your control and your awareness? Or do they just jump out of you without you being able to do anything about it? And often this happens without being aware about what was living in this response, why it jumped out, and what would be its effect on others who receive it. This is what life is like without self-consciousness which is mostly the case, while we believe that nothing comes out of us without our self-consciousness.
One typical example is: in the case of someone who is unkind to us, we tend to treat him in a nicer way and more carefully, than towards someone who treats us in the kindest, caring, considering and space giving way. And if someone makes us self-conscious about this great injustice, there is no possible chance that we could face this dissonance.
If someone will make us face the truth of our responses of ourselves and our life and our relationship – we would probably go into shock.
Any spiritual or consciousness development way, or any journey towards enlightenment- is useless without self-consciousness. It is impossible to execute it with so much self-delusion. (The stories we tell ourselves about what is behind our mechanical- automatic responses). But many truth seekers would abandon spiritual paths that have in them the spirit of self-consciousness, as part of the process of the study and advancement in the path. It doesn’t matter how inspiring, outstanding, uplifting and advancing is a particular spiritual or consciousness-development path is, when the spirit of self-consciousness and self-honesty about it – is present and enters into the individual path – the frustration and pain of the seeker is so high – that he/she feels they cannot stand it anymore.
We live asleep; we respond this way to someone on Saturday and completely different tomorrow, and we have no idea why, because things happen to us, we live without any self-knowing why our attitude to him has changed, for we were asleep.
When self-consciousness is presented to people for real, usually it raises strong feelings of rejection, for it causes them to meet much in them that was repressed by the stories they told themselves.
People hate any form of self-consciousness because it breaks down old repressions and thus puts them in a head-long clash with themselves. So, if you give someone self-consciousness they will never forgive you.
In the beginning, self-consciousness could be painful until you come to realize that the great pain is the prize you must pay for your freedom to be a consciously woken-up adult in your own choices and not a slave unit to your infantile & unknown impulses.
Self-consciousness is the greatest gift that could be given to someone, but this someone would view it as a curse.
Quotes on Self-Knowing:
A Quote from Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 4:
In the play: Hamlet by William Shakespeare, Hamlet is making his mother conscious of the adultery act she committed.
By that, she herself becomes self-conscious and thus horrified from what she did, as is portrayed in this dialogue:
… These days, there’s no shame when lust takes charge. Everything’s turned upside down – the frost burns, grey haired women are ablaze with passion, and reason makes excuses for lust.
Oh, Hamlet, say no more! You’ve made me look inside myself, and I see the stains on my soul, which won’t go away.
Living like a prostitute, making love in a greasy bed in a brothel…
Oh, say no more! Your words are like daggers in my ears. No more, dear Hamlet.
He’s a murderer and a villain, a nobody, not worth one percent of your previous husband, a king of sinners, a thief of the kingdom, who stole the crown and put it in his pocket…