The English dictionary defines awareness as a state of having knowledge, ability to perceive a situation or fact. Awareness is not simply being an intellectual person. An animal is aware of its surrounding and is to some extent aware of itself too when it comes to its own existence, this is because it thinks from the realm of its mind. A pet animal in the house can be made to behave by conditioning its mind and a wild animal uses the adoptive mind to suit for its survival. Being aware of Self does not only mean conscious knowledge of own character, feelings motives and desires, a mirror test will prove that many animals are self aware as they do have a mind like us. Being aware of the body, mind and those desires in it does not constitute awareness pertaining to human beings.
What is that Awareness which is valid for humans?
“Prajnanam Brahmaa” says one of the Mahavakyas which means Awareness is Absolute Reality. Prajnanam is referred to as supreme knowledge also but knowledge being the byproduct of awareness it is like calling a wedding ring as gold, while awareness is like lump of gold supreme knowledge is like wedding ring. The basic raw material for supreme knowledge is awareness. Though they both are same in the core there is a difference, a wedding ring could be called gold but a gold lump is never be accepted as wedding ring. Supreme knowledge is awareness but awareness is not knowledge. There is no awareness of awareness. It knows itself by itself. If it were to be known by something other than itself it would become an object and therefore cease to be awareness and become limited, which it is not. Unlike anything in the dark which need light beam for me to make sure of its existence, I do not need a torch to confirm that I exist in a dark room; awareness in me is self luminous. I am aware of my existence without the aid of any other means. It is an important point to make that no perception of any kind is needed for awareness to know itself.
Awareness is ever present it does not depend on object around, irrespective of the presence or absence of objects like in deep sleep. It does not depend on objects to exist or be known. However, if awareness was not present, then the question of whether or not objects were present would be null and void. What would be there to know if objects were present or not? How existent is an object if it can't be known to exist? So, all is in the awareness; but awareness is not in all? Lord Krishna also tells Arjuna the same in Bhagavad Gita chapter 9 verses 5, “All beings are in me, but I am not in them”.
For example, the computer you are looking at right now is nothing but you, awareness. However, you are not 'in' the computer, meaning limited by it. Are you contained in the computer? No, in fact it is contained in you. There is a time when the computer did not exist. There is never a time when you have not existed. When the computer goes away, you are still there. The computer is limited by time and space while you are eternal and have no spatial limitations. So everything is awareness, yes, but you are not limited, affected or dependent on any of the apparent objects that appear in you. They come, go, and change. You remain the same, the awareness of the coming, going and changing.
I am that awareness and hence there is no need for me to attain or cultivate it. All that I need to do is to give up being aware of other things, which are not-Self. If I give up being aware of them then awareness alone remains and that is the Self.