SWAMI’S THREE C’S
Loving Sai Ram and greetings from
In normal parlance, we have two C’s,
the Big C and lately the small C. Both are bad news; the Big C means Cancer
while its new brother the small C means corruption! Today we would like to
deal with an entirely different family of C’s, the three C’s that Swami used
to talk about in the old days. These are: CONSCIOUS [C1], CONSCIENCE [C2],
and CONSCIOUSNESS [C3]. What exactly are they, why are they important, and
what if any, is their relevance to one’s Spiritual development? Those are
the questions we would like to consider this Sunday.
Let us start with a question that Swami often asks His students, namely,
“What is Awareness?” The question is far from simple but fortunately, Swami
has Himself given the answer. He says, “Awareness means TOTAL
UNDERSTANDING!” On the face of it, this might seem like transforming one
difficult question into another! However, with the 3 C’s that Swami has
drawn attention to, the whole thing falls neatly into place.
To unravel all this, we begin by considering a small stone perched
delicately at the edge of a big rock. Is this stone aware of what is going
on round it? Not really; this is not to say that the stone cannot and will
not respond to what is going on around it. For example, if there is a strong
wind, the stone could get tipped and might even fall down from the rock.
We mentioned the example of the stone just to highlight how animate beings
respond to forces in their environment in a manner quite different from the
way inanimate objects do. Animate entities f eel and experience things
happening to them; they can also be aware of things happening around them.
Let us say there is a deer and that there is also a tiger in the
neighbourhood; the deer then senses danger and immediately responds, by
quietly slipping away. A stone, on the other hand, does not feel fear or any
danger to security.
This brings us to our first point: This first C [i.e., C1], that is, the
capacity to be conscious, is a gift of Nature to living beings, bestowed
mainly for reasons of survival. This capacity enables living entities to
recognise hunger and thirst, look for food and water, to sense danger and
try to protect themselves. Thus, being Conscious is the first step in
achieving Total Awareness. This capacity [largely connected with the
senses-brain combination] is present to different extent in various living
beings but among them all, the greatest all-round development of this
capacity is in humans. True, some animals can see in the dark while we
humans cannot; similarly some animals can hear frequencies we cannot hear.
Nevertheless, thanks to their intelligence, humans can extend the basic
capabilities of their senses far beyond what God endowed them with. Consider
the telescope. Using the optical telescope, man can now see deep into space,
which he cannot with naked eyes. And by combining the optical telescope with
the radio telescope, the x-ray telescope, and the gamma ray telescope, man
can learn an enormous amount about the Universe than he can with just his
eyes. This is something we might like to keep in mind. Before we leave the
first C, let us remember, C1 is connected with the external world; it
basically makes us aware of our surroundings.
We now move to C2, namely, Conscience. Here, humans take a huge step,
leaving all other living species far behind. Unlike the first C which is
predominantly concerned with the external world and survival therein, this
second C makes us aware of our “Inside”, that is to say about the
Conscience, as Swami often reminds us, is the agency which tells us whether
something we are about to do is good or bad, right or wrong, etc. Let us try
to digest this a bit. Killing, we say is bad and evil. Now a tiger kills a
deer; is that good or bad? When such a question is asked, we immediately
reply, “Oh no, for a tiger there is no such thing as good or bad. It is
simply not capable of differentiating one from the other. The tiger kills
only when it is hungry. It kills for food and nothing else. Once it has
eaten, the tiger would go to sleep peacefully and might even do so right
next to a deer!” In other words, Conscience comes into the picture only when
there is the question of differentiating between right and wrong. This
question is irrelevant for animals and so the concept of sin simply does not
apply to them. In fact even in the case of humans, legal systems exempt
mentally-retarded and insane people from responsibility for criminal acts
they might unknowingly commit.
Now why on earth has God blessed humans with Conscience? There is a good
reason, and Swami has pointed that out. Among all living species, the human
is very special. Swami says that human birth is granted so that the person
concerned can elevate himself or herself and merge with God. From God we
have come and to God we must return. God is the Ultimate in Purity, and
clearly, humans must first achieve Purity or at least try to be as pure as
possible. That in turn means one must avoid the bad and stick to the good.
Conscience is the Divine Compass gifted specially by God to each one of us,
so that we can stick to the path of Purity and march steadily towards Him.
OK, we understand that Conscience or C2 takes us one notch up in the ladder
of Total Awareness. What about the third of the C’s, namely, Consciousness;
what does C3 do, and how does that help us any, if at all? That is what we
shall now come to. Let us start with Conscience. We presume you will agree
that C2 is essentially the Voice of God speaking to us from within. Do you
agree that this Conscience is present in all of us? Perhaps you do not; you
probably are saying, “Listen, if Conscience is present in all, how come
there is so much of evil in this world?” Is it true that God within speaks
to some and does not to others? No dear reader, it is NOT like that! God is
supremely compassionate and He is anxiously waiting for all of us to return
to Him as soon as possible. Therefore, He speaks to all, all the time. The
problem is that even though He does that, many of us are not able to hear
Him. Why? Because of the background “noise and chatter” that comes from the
Now that we agree that Conscience/God is present in all, let us go one step
further, to Consciousness. What is the big deal about it? To understand
this, consider a good man, who always listens to his Conscience. Thus, this
person never does anything that manifestly smacks of Adharma. That is fine
but is that enough? The answer is, as they say in mathematics, following the
Conscience is NECESSARY BUT NOT SUFFICIENT! And this precisely is where
Consciousness [C3] comes into the big picture.
Let us go back to our good man. Actually, even in today’s world, a lot of
people are good in their own way. But that alone is not enough. Please
recall what we wrote a few weeks back about devotees drinking coffee at the
kiosk in the Mandir, and then throwing away the used cup on the ground
instead of depositing it in the garbage can provided. Why do devotees do
that? Because they see nothing wrong in doing so. But does that make their
action right? By no means. Through their careless act, they are actually
polluting the environment. OK, agreed, but what has that got to do with
Supposing the good man we considered not only listened to the God within but
also became conscious of the fact that the SAME God resides in all, and in
every place too. His actions would then be several notches higher. He would
see God in all and would never hurt anybody. He would see God in all and
always try to help, whenever possible, without making all kinds of excuses.
He would see God in Nature and never pollute in any way – through littering,
or driving a scooter that belches thick black smoke. He would never waste
water or electricity; and so on. In short, Consciousness or Universal
Consciousness to be more precise, means being deeply conscious of the
immanence of God in everything, everywhere, all the time. And that really is
what TOTAL AWARENESS is all about.
Let us now pull all this together, so that you don’t feel dazed!
- God is Omnipresent, meaning He is everywhere, in everything, all the time.
We might not be aware of this but that does mean He is not Omnipresent.
- Total Awareness means being conscious of this Omnipresence all the time,
and acting in accordance with such awareness .
- Total Awareness is possible only for humans for they alone have the higher
capability to cognise God, both “within” and “without” .
- Humans share with animals the capacity to be Conscious of the external
world, a capacity that is very important for survival. It is a God-given
capability and should not be sneered at. At the same time, we should be
careful not to be dominated by this capacity C1, and become totally
preoccupied with the outside world .
- Thus, being conscious of the external world, amounts only to being on the
first step of the ladder of Total Awareness.
- Next, one must pay attention to the Conscience [C2] within. Here, we move
from the outer to the Inner world. Humans alone have been gifted with
Conscience, and must therefore not ignore it .
- Conscience is the Voice of God speaking to us from within, guiding us
constantly on the path of Righteousness.
- However, if we allow a lot of “noise” to be generated by the Mind, the
Voice of God would not be heard. So we must kept this ‘Heart-cellphone’ in
good shape! Thus listening to our Conscience takes us to the second step of
- Being good and following the command of the Heart is very necessary no
doubt but not enough
- One must be aware that the Same God resides in all living beings,
including animals, and conduct oneself accordingly. This awareness is called
Universal Consciousness or simply Consciousness, and constitutes the third
rung in the ladder of Total Awareness.
- In short, we use C1 diligently for cognising the forces in the external
world. However, when we respond to these forces, we must consult our
Conscience [C2], so that our response is what God would like from us. We
must next rise one step higher, realise that the same God is in all, feel
the universality of God, feel that we in fact are that God, and merge our
individual lower-identity with the Cosmic, Universal Self. That is, we must
feel we are the Atma .
- Krishna told Arjuna that he was the Immortal Atma. The ladder C1, C2, C3,
takes us to that level step by step .
Thus, Total Awareness really boils down to Universal Consciousness. And
Universal Consciousness means being Conscious of the presence of the same
Conscience in all, at all times .
Have we confused you enough?! We hope not but in any event in case you want
to comment, you know where to write, don’t you?
Till we get together again next week. Jai Sai Ram.
With Love and Regards,