Updated: May 19
This point is a bit more difficult to explain since in human language there are no general agreed terms for it. Let me try to define some terms first starting from the baseline given by dictionaries.
Definitions of consciousness and awareness
The first term is Consciousness and is the ability of being aware you exist as a being, the capacity of self-reflection about existence. A computer, no matter if he is millions of times quicker and better than us in many domains, still doesn’t have this attribute.
Awareness on the other hand is defined officially as the knowledge and understanding that something is happening or exists. I define it as the level of consciousness a soul reached. Imagine a building 12 stories high, which represents the potential levels (dimensions as vibration) of consciousness in this universe, and a person who takes the elevator and starts to explore 1st floor, then 2nd floor, and reaches the 3rd floor and exits the elevator and starts exploring around. His awareness is in this case at the 3rd level out of 12 potential as consciousness in this example.
Now, for the sake of the explanation, let’s further a bit the definition of awareness and refine it in horizontal awareness, meaning how knowledgeable a person is about the exterior visible world. Horizontal awareness is what an average person is aware of in daily life through his 5 senses, plus what science confirms.
We also define vertical/spiritual awareness, which is how well connected a person is with higher dimensions or vibrations, or at least that he has faith that there is something concrete beyond the awareness of his 5 senses, like: energy, God, prophets, miracles, spiritual guides, kundalini awakening, spiritual awareness, soul growth, etc. Vertical awareness is the focus of religions and spiritual traditions.
Ancient spirituality in Buddha's times
Talking about the ancient times of Krishna, Buddha, Lao Tze, Jesus etc, I would say that as horizontal awareness they were very limited compared to us. Think that 2500 or more years ago, an average farmer would not travel more than 30 miles away from his village all his life. Even many nobles traveled only very rarely between their town and the capital, and very few went traveling abroad. Distant travel in that time took very long, was expensive, and even dangerous; compared to current times people were isolated. Add to this that there was no middle class, no science so that any source of information with authority rested in the sacred book of its respective religion, another continent could have been on another planet since it didn’t exist in the collective knowledge, Earth was thought flat and the center of the universe, time with minute precision didn’t exist since clocks as we know them appeared just maybe 150-200 hundred years ago, etc.
On the other hand, their vertical awareness on the average was better than ours I would say, since whether they had true faith in their religion, or at least believed in some animistic faith, they still were mostly convinced there was another unseen world beyond their senses. They felt they were pushed by an invisible hand on their destiny path and had no problem in acknowledging this. Many felt a concrete connection with nature, the sun, stars, plants, animals, and so on. The ancient spiritual schools like yoga emerged in such an environment…
Modern spirituality in XXI century
Talking now about XXI century current times, I think nobody can argue that as horizontal awareness we are infinitely better than ancient times. I am certain that if a person from 2500 years ago would be brought to present times, when looking around he would think he reached Heavens and we all are gods, since our super-powers were described in the sacred books of Vedas, bible, Quran, etc. as belonging only to gods. Technology beats many ancient miracles that were dreamed only by ancient humans …
Considering now vertical awareness in current times, things start to become interesting ... In ancient times what a person felt as emotions, feelings, were not considered something relevant, since only the word of God was important and human feelings were considered just transient, changing all the time, and unreliable. For 100-200 years maybe, we started exploring more our emotions, and focus shifted from God to a person’s inner emotions, and as Nietzsche said “God was dead”, since the focus shifted on a person's feelings. This is the main step that separated the average person from higher vibrations, from the spiritual world, and made atheism a widespread thing, which would have been inconceivable even 150 years ago ...
Additionally, living generation after generation in crowded steel, concrete, and glass apartments, and going to jobs in cubicles of steel and plastic, didn’t help at all the connection with nature but rather the disconnection with it. Basically, we are disconnected from Earth that sustains life including our bodies; I also noticed this in my spiritual practice when helping other persons reconnect.
Since we disconnected both from the above dimensions of vibrations, and also from Earth energies, I would say a modern human is more disconnected energetically and as a soul, since for the majority Science is their personal God, and anything not confirmed by science is nonsense for him.
Because of the global access to higher technological education, the majority of people, including Harvard graduates, are quite simple-minded in this respect, for them things are only in white and black, they never heard of grey tones, of things not yet discovered etc. A high IQ doesn’t at all guarantee a higher awareness, unfortunately.
On the other hand, it is true that due to the global information access, currently potentially anyone has access to spiritual information compared with ancient times, and can practice it even without leaving his job, an impossible thing in ancient times. This accelerates the separation between the group of atheists, and the "spirituals".
In conclusion, in my opinion, the ancients were much lower than us as horizontal awareness, but higher as vertical awareness. Or put the other way, the modern homo sapiens is much higher as horizontal awareness, but considerably less as vertical awareness.
You can learn more by reading other posts in this spiritual site that are coming from a very different and fresh angle and based on a very long and personal experience and research, and not from books.
You might also consider a service like Psychic Readings in the Services section of this site from the ones listed there and get a spiritual diagnostic, or attend my spiritual School of Body and Soul Ascension Mastery so to raise your body and soul awareness, and reach into higher dimensions.