What is the difference between awareness and witnessing?
There is much difference between awareness and witnessing. Witnessing is still an act; you are doing it, the ego is there. So the phenomenon of witnessing is divided between the subject and the object.
Witnessing is a relationship between subject and object. Awareness is absolutely devoid of any subjectivity or objectivity. There is no one who is witnessing in awareness; there is no one who is being witnessed. Awareness is a total act, integrated; the subject and the object are not related in it; they are dissolved. So awareness doesn’t mean that anyone is aware, nor does it mean that anything is being attended to.
Awareness is total – total subjectivity and total objectivity as a single phenomenon – while in witnessing a duality exists between subject and object. Awareness is nondoing; witnessing implies a doer. But through witnessing awareness is possible, because witnessing means that it is a conscious act; it is an act, but conscious. You can do something and be unconscious – our ordinary activity is unconscious activity – but if you become conscious in it, it becomes witnessing. So from ordinary unconscious activity to awareness there is a gap that can be filled by witnessing.
Witnessing is a technique, a method toward awareness. It is not awareness, but, as compared to ordinary activity, unconscious activity, it is a higher step. Something has changed: activity has become conscious, unconsciousness has been replaced by consciousness. But something more still has to be changed. That is, the activity has to be replaced by inactivity. That will be the second step.
It is difficult to jump from ordinary, unconscious action into awareness. It is possible but arduous, so a step in between is helpful. If one begins by witnessing conscious activity, then the jump becomes easier – the jump into awareness without any conscious object, without any conscious subject, without any conscious activity at all. This doesn’t mean that awareness isn’t consciousness; it is pure consciousness, but no one is conscious about it.
There is still a difference between consciousness and awareness. Consciousness is a quality of your mind, but it is not your total mind. Your mind can be both conscious and unconscious, but when you transcend your mind, there is no unconsciousness and no corresponding consciousness. There is awareness.