CONSCIOUSNESS: A DYNAMIC PSYCHO-COGNITIVE PROCESS
From a Buddhist, Jain Perspective
Dr. Vincent Sekhar, S.J.
Philosophers of ancient time asserted that the soul was the seat of consciousness and that it was consciousness that made mental life possible. This was the reason for psychology to be often thought of as a science of the mind. The aim of this paper is to bring to light certain features of consciousness from early Buddhist and Jain perspectives. In my study, I discovered that the nature and characteristics of consciousness, however understood by these two traditions, has a similarity in the study of the same in modern psychology, particularly developmental psychology and how persons grow biologically, physically and mentally; how they develop perceptive knowledge, general intelligence; how they experience emotions and sensations, their general behaviour, interaction and adjusting, handling complexes, etc.
In the growth of a person, consciousness plays a crucial role. One speaks of consciousness as the supreme level of mental reflection of objective reality, inherent in man exclusively by virtue of his socio-historical essence. Consciousness is the awareness of the internal and external stimuli. It includes awareness of the external objects and events (e.g., “this seminar is taking place on the theme of consciousness”), awareness of our own senses (e.g., “the electricity is off and I am beginning to sweat”), awareness of ourselves as having such unique experiences as these (“it is me”), and awareness of our thoughts about these experiences (e.g., “this cannot be and I disagree with what he is saying”). Consciousness or personal awareness is an intricate phenomenon. It is a continually changing totality of sensory images and thoughts that arise directly before the subject in his “inner experience”, and anticipate his practical activity. Consciousness is in a momentum, continually flowing, fluctuating, changing, and rarely at rest. There is an...