Lesson 5 – What is Consciousness?

When the light of pure Awareness became aware of the Presence of Creation, it wrapped its brilliant cognizance around this Presence-Energy and became Presence-Consciousness: Awareness, conscious of Presence. Bentinho Massaro

Some of you may be wondering at this point what the word “Consciousness” in “Presence-Consciousness” signifies. In the previous four lessons, I have been placing the emphasis mostly on discovering the sense of Presence. But what about Consciousness? Is there even a difference?

This lesson is more philosophical in nature, and in some respects, it jumps ahead of where we are, experientially. So, I encourage you to let it be all right if you don’t fully understand everything yet.

Just take it as it comes, and be patient with me as I lay out more of the context—the bigger picture—behind Trinfinity Academy’s courses and overall progression. It is my belief that, while it may seem confusing and complicated now, you will thoroughly enjoy the comprehensive, “no stone left unturned” approach of Trinfinity’s Cosmology. Ultimately, this will result in you never being existentially confused again, no matter what type of experience or circumstance you run into. Mystified and awed, yes; confused, no.

For this lesson, it may be helpful to consult the Self-Realization Index

Also, if you feel you need a little boost in Dedication/Motivation, consult the essential document: Dedication/Application.

What does Consciousness mean?

So… what does “Consciousness,” in Presence-Consciousness, point to? Let’s find out!

Did you notice in previous lessons, when you practiced placing your attention on the basic sense “I exist,” or when you recognized the Presence in Things (Lesson #3), how there was a heightened sense of clarity or consciousness present in the experience of Being? More perhaps than when you’re going about your everyday business as a person in the world?

Great! If not, no worries; simply practice with me right now for a moment…

Take a deep, relaxing sigh and ignore (be uninterested in) your ideas about everything for 2 to 5 seconds. This, in and of itself, feels soothing and nice, right? Now, recognize the sense of being that remains when you’re not as wrapped up in the person-world consciousness of thoughts and ideas.

Got it? Can you feel the sense “I exist here and now”?

Now, in that sensing of “I-Exist,” can you notice an element of cognizance? Can you recognize that there is an awareness of the feeling “I Exist”?

In other words: Can you see in this moment of existing that you know you exist here and now?

Do you notice that, sort of “in addition to” the Presence-Energy of Beingness, there is a consciousness available as well? Can you notice that you are aware of Presence, aware of being here? Aware of beingness?

Explore this awareness of being for a moment and emphasize the fact that you are aware of the presence of I-AM. Take a minute or two to taste this experientially.

Great stuff! This aspect of Beingness, or Presence, is the Consciousness aspect.

Now, keep this experiential recognition of awareness close to your heart as I guide you into a more expanded understanding of what Consciousness is and where it comes from.

Just relax, and don’t be attached to “getting it.” You can always go back to this lesson at a later time and see if it makes more sense to you. All of this will be super clear by the end of the Enlightenment II course (“Presence wakes up to Awareness”), where I will be placing all emphasis on the Consciousness/Awareness aspect of your Greater Self.

So, for now, in Course One, all you really need to know is the basics: that “Consciousness,” in Presence-Consciousness signifies that Awareness is conscious of Presence. It points to the experience of being conscious of being. It points to the fact that Presence is infused with Awareness.

Note: We can only be “conscious of” anything, because what we ultimately are, is Pure Awareness.

Is there a difference between Consciousness and Awareness?

Consciousness is borrowed clarity from pure Awareness. Consciousness is Awareness, but wrapped around an object of perception. Consciousness is Awareness aware of something “other than itself.”

Consciousness derives its existence, its presence, and its capacity to recognize, directly from pure Awareness.

In short: Awareness aware of—and/or identified with—Presence becomes Presence-Consciousness. Simple!

We could just as easily use the term “Presence-Awareness,” but for the sake of precision and differentiation, I slightly prefer “Presence-Consciousness,” because to me, Consciousness implies a subject-object duality, whereas Awareness refers to “pure awareness,” not “awareness of something else.”

In “being aware of Presence,” there is a subject-object experience present; therefore, the term “Presence-Consciousness” I find to be a more precise description than “Presence-Awareness.”

Nevertheless, the force we know as “Awareness” is the exact same force as the power we label “Consciousness,” but simply applied in a different way.

In Trinfinity Academy, I also define Awareness as “I” sometimes.

I use “I-I” to signify Self-Awareness, Self-Realized Awareness, as it implies “I” being aware of, or reflective of, itself. “I-I” is simply “I” looping back on itself; seeing itself, being aware of itself.

Analogy – Awareness as a flash light

Imagine Awareness as pure light for a moment: a light that can be directed toward different things and, in doing so, takes on different shapes. It becomes whatever it shines upon, much like a flashlight beam takes on different forms as it highlights the object it is pointed at. Awareness is very much like this.

The free light of awareness can shine upon the experience of “being a human inside of a world,” for example, thereby creating Person-World-Consciousness—the only level most humans consciously know themselves at during their waking hours.

At this level, Awareness (the experiencer/seer) identifies itself as the person and the world it sees; its light is entangled, wrapped around, intertwined, and identified with the object(s) it shines upon.

If pure light shines upon an object for quite a while, it will gradually forget that it is—in itself—pure light, and start to identify itself with the form it is shining upon.

In the example of Awareness shining perpetually on the perception of the person inside a world, Awareness will start to identify itself as the feeling, or perception, I-AM-This.

“This,” in I-AM-This, can signify the sense of the body-mind itself, as well as anything we perceive through the body and mind, such as: personality, world, possessions, career, fame, body, hairstyle, relationships, bank account, other people’s opinions, society, being a peace activist, and so on.

Keep in mind, however, that even when Awareness is caught up, entangled, or identified with the perceptions of the person-world level, it is still noticeable (even in this concealed state) as the sense “I am conscious.”

Everyone can notice Consciousness

Everyone, even very “unaware” people, can notice that they are conscious. That’s the beauty of Awareness and Presence being Always Already Present.

If you ask someone, “Are you conscious of me asking you this question?”—whether they answer yes or no, their very response is a confirmation of the never-ending consciousness in them having registered that you asked the question! They cannot really deny their existence is conscious, awake and present, for their very denial of this would obviously be a confirmation of it.

Fun tip: I have found this question to be a great way to introduce curious family members and friends to their “Greater Self.” It’s an excellent and non-intrusive entrance into a potential conversation or exploration about what we truly are and how that is changeless. Of course, this is assuming they show interest.

The consciousness that people notice in their person-world-identity state as the sense “I am conscious” is the significantly dimmed-down light of the original “I-Awareness”—which is the pure light of the Creator in its original, super free, self-realized state.

If they (or you) were to trace this sense “I am conscious” back to its source, however, closer and closer to its original purity by repeatedly recognizing “I am conscious(ness),” what would be revealed—more so with each moment of recognition—is the transcendent light and clarity available within this ever present Awareness.

In other words: The dullest state of consciousness still is Pure and Infinite Awareness at heart, and as such, can be traced back to an ever more expanded and purer state of clarity.

From I-AM-This to I-AM

When Awareness entangled as the person wakes up to a greater sense of Self (Presence/Beingness/I-AM), it is like moving the flashlight away from the person and its world of forms and names for a moment (as if zooming out) and, instead, shining the light on Existence, or the Presence of Experience, itself.

Awareness, at this I-AM level, uses its light to illuminate and wrap itself around what I call “Presence-Energy”—the substratum of everything that can ever be. This is the unconditional love God-Energy that enables and creates all other energies, forms, shapes, and experiences. And so, Awareness aware of the existence of Presence-Energy, becomes Presence-Consciousness. It is Awareness aware of Creation’s universal Beingness-substratum. It is Awareness aware of Creation itself.

As a result of person-consciousness waking up to Presence-Consciousness, the sense that I-AM-This is softened, or released somewhat, and now we (Awareness) feel more rested—or identified with—the more essential and fundamental I-AM, instead.

We feel that we exist, that we are Beingness-Presence—inclusive of the person and the world, but not limited by them. We see ourselves as more fundamental—more changeless—than the person, the world, and all of its activities.

And we know that we exist; we know the experience of Presence. We feel stable, solid, changeless, alive, and present. Here and now.

Presence-Consciousness is a profound state of Self-Realization, yet it is still not the original, or primal, state of freedom: Awareness—the state in which Awareness is aware of itself as Free Awareness only, without entanglement in the perception of Beingness or I-AM Presence.

Presence-Consciousness = Awareness + the sense-perception (feeling) “I Exist” or “Presence.”

On this level of I-AM, it becomes even clearer to us that we are Conscious(ness). In contrast, at the level of identification as a human being, we are constantly distracted from anything changeless, and it requires more effort to answer the question, “Are you conscious(ness)?”

Now, having woken up to (recognized until obvious) a deeper level of being—that of Beingness itself—we can more easily recognize the light of Awareness infused into the fabric of our experience. We can more easily notice that there is a consciousness, a cognizing force, an awareness of being, an awareness of existence.

Review of terms

So, once again, why do I call Awareness “awareness” on its own level, and “consciousness” on the level of I-AM and I-AM-This?

It is because the word “consciousness” implies awareness of something in addition to itself. It implies some degree of a perceiver perceiving something or, simply put, subject-object experiencing. On its own level (Awareness as I or I-I), there is no subject-object experience; Awareness is only aware of itself.

Duality versus Nonduality

When Awareness becomes aware of a particular perception, and especially when it starts to identify itself with that particular perception, it creates the subject-object duality experience.

This duality is just an experience, and never a reality, as we’ll discover in Enlightenment III. Nevertheless, the word “consciousness” implies a somewhat dimmed-down version of Awareness; a veiled, concealed, or simply put: a mis-identified state of Awareness.

Consciousness is Awareness mis-identified, unless Awareness truly knows it is free as Awareness, while it is being aware of subject-object experiences. At that point, Awareness can engage with any level of Reality freely, joyfully, and even passionately. It can associate itself with things, without actually identifying itself with those things.

It’s a beautiful paradox that is hard to explain, but it will be your own intimate experience if you give the best of yourself to Trinfinity Academy’s courses.

In time, this will all make more and more sense. It’s so much easier when directly experienced than when expressed in words. The more you take breaks, experiment, and re-read these lessons, the more you will start to see beyond the words and effortlessly follow the text with experience to back up what you read.

Awareness is not “better” than Presence-Consciousness; it’s just more naked, more original, and freer from identification. All levels of Reality are equally valid and are ultimately to be treated that way. However, at this stage, it is for the sake of your initial discovery and awakening that I make these distinctions.

I want to give you the full context, the full understanding, because I know from my own experience that these subtler questions will come up at some point—whether arising from your own search for clarity, or through someone else’s curiosity about your state of being and what it means for them.

At this point in your study/awakening process, don’t let these terms and distinctions occupy your mind-space for too long, especially if you don’t seem to derive any immediate, experiential clarity from it. Remember, I will take you step by step. Simply trust in the process.

For now, in this lesson, my goal was just to clarify the word “Consciousness” in Presence-Consciousness against the background of Trinfinity Academy and Self-Realization as a whole.

Here’s one more analogy to help you grasp the concept of Self-Realization:

Imagine Awareness as a camera. The camera can be aware of a person in a world, and identify itself with what it sees there. Or, it can zoom out from the personal picture to the more impersonal, grander picture and view Presence as shared throughout all of creation—the substratum of Existence—and place its identity with what it sees and feels there (Presence-Consciousness).

Or, hypothetically, let’s say the camera is not paying attention to any object, even if just for a moment (2 to 5 seconds). In this case, the camera would only be aware of itself as a camera, free from having to focus its lens on any object that would create the subject-object experience. In that moment, Awareness realizes it is Awareness, ultimately free from any object, including the singular object that is All of Creation (Presence-Energy).


Over the course of the next 72 hours (3 days) either revisit the previous lessons and discuss your experiences and/or doubts or confusions in the study groups, or if you feel completely confident and perhaps even a bit saturated with information, then I do not encourage you to re-read this chapter at this point. If that is the case (and you feel saturated) I would encourage most people to simply let it be—forget about it for a while—and instead continue with Chapter Two of this course if you feel ready. At this point you might consider taking a little break and taking your new realizations out with you into the world.

I do recommend you read through all of the Essential Documents, especially if you haven’t already done that, since by now they all might actually start to make sense to you and speak to your growing experience with Self-Realization. 

Congratulations on having made it through to the end of Chapter One—the chapter that lays the groundwork for everything else to come! I hope that from this point forward, you will start having more and more fun in your life, and that you will find Trinfinity Academy to be an increasingly enjoyable place to hang out—a place that helps you feel more at home everywhere you go in your life.

Please note that very quickly from this point onward, with each successive lesson, I’m going to assume greater intelligence and increased ability to comprehend subtler material on your part. So, familiarize yourself as best as you can with the experiential sense of Presence-Energy, as presented in the previous four Lessons. Explore on your own, practice, and discuss the material in the study groups to gain a deeper understanding.

With love and true support,

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