Question: Please Rinpoche, what is the difference between consciousness and mind?

Rinpoche: Yes. Actually, when we say consciousness, then we are talking about one particular set such as senses, different senses of ourself, the body, the sensation, the perception, the acquisition, the effort to acquire, and then the consciousness. This is very much, of course, related with mind, related with the spirit and related with your primordial essence.

Having said that, there is a subtle aspect of it and a gross aspect of it. The gross aspect, it goes from, [… just now], when I said five things, [the five senses], then it becomes a little bit too many things to count. Thus bring it down to three: body, speech, verbal as well as expression, body expression, communication, expression, and the mind.

The mind, the brain mind, which is functioning as long as our brain is in good order, it functions well. When our brain is not in good order, then it doesn’t function well. The consciousness of that is connected with our eyes, our ears, our nose, our tongue, our entire body.


Something we touch with our toes, we can feel it. Something we see very far, we can see it. Something we can hear, even very faintly, we also can sense this. That is the brain mind. But this aspect of mind, I’m being very superficial here, I have to, otherwise, we don’t know how to explain [the mind], very limitless and grand like [the] entire space.

When we explain, then we have to use words, examples, metaphors and so on and so forth, which are very limited. Therefore, this aspect of mind is, you can call it, as a consciousness. But this same word consciousness, also can be used for higher definition of mental evolution. Then, the mind as such is beyond brain.


When our brain stops functioning, our mind still continues. When our body stops functioning totally including the brain, then our mind continues. But that mind is not necessarily evolved, but it is just functioning and able to function without body and without brain. But it doesn’t mean it is enlightened. For example, in our dreams, we are able to see, hear things and feel things. When we wake up, […] we remember them. We don’t have any historical connection to that thing that we felt very much at home in our dream. But when we are dreaming, they are as true as everything here is true.

There are many different levels of mind. But regardless of whether I know about them or not, whether you know about them or not, if we do our best, as you already are doing, to be [… the] best human being that we could possibly be, then everything, your consciousness, the gross aspect of mind, the subtle aspect of mind, everything will evolve.

~ Guru Vajradhara His Holiness the 12th Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa

Excerpt: What is the difference between consciousness and mind, (and the importance of ethical conduct).

Walk the Path of Inner Harmony and Joy.
Extending Joy Into Each Corner of Your Life
Module Three

(Posted by Buddhism: HH the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Facebook, 3 April 2024)  

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