Now it will be easier for you to follow me. What is this thing which appears as consciousness when it is present in a greater degree and becomes unconsciousness when it exists in a lesser degree? The name of this very element is dhyana, attention. The deeper and sharper the attention, the more profound is the state of consciousness. Unconsciousness and consciousness are but different densities of attention. The dimension in which attention becomes more profound, more intense, is consciousness. The dimension in which attention becomes tenuous is unconsciousness. In fact, the difference between a rock and a human is that the rock does not have density of attention in any dimension. Whenever attention becomes dense, consciousness takes place, and whenever the density of attention decreases, unconsciousness occurs.
If you let the sun’s rays pass through a lens, which focuses them to a point of convergence, fire is immediately produced. A condensed light becomes fire. When the fire loses its density, its intensity, when it becomes diffused, it remains as light. There is fire in an ember because it contains highly condensed light. Whenever light is condensed, fire is produced. When the light becomes diffused – that is, when its density is reduced – then even fire remains just light.
As this density decreases, darkness increases. With an increase in density, light increases. If we travel toward the sun, the light will keep on increasing because the rays are very dense on the sun. As we move farther and farther away from the sun, the light will go on decreasing. At the farthest distance from the sun there will be nothing but darkness, because of the reduced density of light.
I apply the same principle to the states of unconsciousness and consciousness. The basic principle is attention: its fluidity, density, tenuousness, diffuseness and solidity determine whether to call one awake or asleep, whether to call one conscious or unconscious.
We must remember, however, that all these words are used in a relative sense. For example, when we say there is light in this room, it only means there is more light inside the room than there is outside. There is light in this room because it is dark outside. Were there bright sunshine outside, this room would look darker. So when we say somebody is awake or asleep, we simply mean in comparison to someone else.
Language has its own difficulty; it would be a problem to continually express things in such comparative terms. That’s why we use words in the absolute sense – which is actually incorrect. The correct thing is always to express in relative terms. For instance, we are all sitting here and in a way we are all awake. But that’s not really true. Each one present here is awake to a relative degree. Not everyone sitting here is uniformly awake . Hence it is possible that, compared to you, the person to your left is less awake or the person to your right is more awake.
The element that moves between consciousness and unconsciousness is attention. So if we understand what attention, dhyana, is, we will understand what consciousness and unconsciousness mean. Attention means perception of something, awareness of something. It means reflection of something in the consciousness. It is not that every moment, twenty-four hours a day, one is equally awake – it is never like that either.