Consciousness is the ability to experience reality, to be aware of our inner and outer worlds. It allows us to adapt to our environment and act to promote our lives. All living beings possess consciousness, but human beings have a unique kind. Unlike plants and other animals, we can think and act beyond instinctual drives and conditioning. We can be autonomous (from the Greek, “self-governing”). While this autonomy is a possibility, it is not a given. We must develop it through conscious choices. To be conscious means to be awake, mindful. To live consciously means to be open to perceiving the world around and within us, to understand our circumstances, and to decide how to respond to them in ways that honour our needs, values, and goals. To be unconscious is to be asleep, mindless. To live unconsciously means to be driven by instincts and habitual patterns.
“A conscious business promotes mindfulness for all of its stakeholders. Employees are encouraged to investigate the world with rigorous scientific reasoning, and to reflect on their role in it with equally rigorous moral reasoning. They are invited to contemplate their own selves, finding what it means to live with virtue, meaning, and happiness. They are also asked to think of their colleagues as human beings, rather than as “human resources.” Finally, they are required to understand their customers, offering them products and services that support their growth and well-being. A conscious business fosters peace and happiness in individuals, respect and solidarity in the community, and mission accomplishment in the organisation.” – Conscious Business by Fred Kofman.
“Living consciously is a state of being mentally active rather than passive. It is the ability to look at the world through fresh eyes. It is intelligence taking joy in its own function. Living consciously is seeking to be aware of everything that bears on our interests, actions, values, purposes and goals. It is the willingness to confront facts, pleasant or unpleasant. It is the desire to discover our mistakes and correct them… It is the quest to keep expanding our awareness and understanding, both of the world external to self and of the world within.” – The art of living consciously by Nathaniel Branden.