Awakening means a kindling of powers normally dormant. It suggests that man’s regular state of being is incomplete, that he doesn’t utilize his potential.
How can we understand awakening if we are asleep? One way is by analogy. Man, as he is, fluctuates between two states of consciousness: sleep and relative awakening.
Awakening and the Perception of Truth
Another definition of the four states of consciousness can be made from the point of view of the possible cognition of truth.
In sleep, we cannot know anything of the truth. Even if some real perceptions or feelings come to us, they become mixed with dreams, and in the state of sleep we cannot distinguish between dreams and reality.
In the second state of consciousness, that is, in waking sleep, we can only know relative truth, and from this comes the term relative consciousness.
In the third state of consciousness, that is, the state of self-consciousness, we can know the full truth about ourselves.
In the fourth state of consciousness, that is, in the state of objective consciousness, we are supposed to be able to know the full truth about everything: we can study ‘things in themselves,’ ‘the world as it is.’