I was sitting on my deck talking to my husband about consciousness and what it really means. We’ve decided together to define it as awareness of one’s own experience and the meaning that one makes out of that experience. In that respect, a phrase kept ringing in my ears (spoken by a much older and wiser part of my being), that the level of conscious awareness, of any given moment, depends on two things….context and intention. I said out loud to my husband (in this deeply steady voice), that consciousness is relative to context and intention.
He and I sat and unfolded that statement. What that meant was that the more you know about the context in all it’s aspects – the context of the present moment, the context of the person speaking, acting, being; the context of the person observing – these are all interacting at the moment affecting how that moment is experienced. At the same time, there are intentions floating around. There are intentions of each person (creature, place, etc..) in the moment. There can be so many intentions – some may even be at odds with each other.
The more you are able to hold, the more consciously aware you become of what is happening underneath conversations and what the conversations actually mean. Let me back up, first, to make sure that I’m clear about what I mean when I use the word context. Context means background, environment, and history. A good example of how we can organize and recognize the context of others is used in integrative psychology. This approach is used to understand a person’s experience of their world. When you recognize other’s contexts and differences – you are more likely to empathize with them instead of pity or feel sorry for them. When you delve into someone else’s context, you can begin to understand why and how they did the things they did.
For example, if you meet up with a friend, and your intention is to support them with compassion, and their intention is to exercise their anger by rejecting all compassion then there are going to be many misinterpretations of the moment, especially if your intentions are not clearly defined.
This works the same way with context. If you view my experience through your context only, than my life is not going to make sense to you at all. In order to understand why I’ve made the decisions I’ve made, you would first need to know the path that led me there. That doesn’t mean that you are going to be able to always be aware of others full contexts. The best you can do is to consider that others have a vastly different context than you do, and trust that they did the best they could with what they had access to in that moment. The more you understand about their context, the more you can understand how they came to these decisions, experiences, reasons, etc.