The word Buddha means “I am awake.” The last words of Jesus before his arrest in the garden were also “Stay awake” (Matthew 26:38). To be awake is to be fully conscious. The Buddhists sometimes call it “object-less consciousness”; I might just call it “undefended knowing.” It is a consciousness where we are not conscious of anything in particular but everything in general. It is a panoramic receptive awareness—whereby you take in all that the moment offers without eliminating anything or attaching to anything. You just watch it pass.
This does not come naturally to us, surely not in our culture. We have to work at it. All forms of meditation and contemplation teach some form of compartmentalizing or limiting the control of the mental ego—or what some call the “monkey mind,” which just keeps jumping from observation to observation, distraction to distraction, feeling to feeling, commentary to commentary. Most of this mental action means very little and is actually the opposite of consciousness. In fact, it is unconsciousness. It is even foolish to call it “thinking” at all, although educated people tend to think their self-referential commentaries are high-level thinking.