Not at all! This problem arises because there is no clear English word for most Pali terms. What follows is my current understanding of the subject.
Most translators use “consciousness” to refer to the term “Vinyana”.
With ignorance as condition, volitional formations come to be; with volitional formations as condition, consciousness; with consciousness as condition, name-and-form
Vinyana is a short term thing, it comes into being dependent on sense contact, given a working sense receptor and a nervous system… I think of it as the spark that arises when two flints are struck. It quickly gives way to nama/rupa, vedana, sanna …etc etc. Abhidhamma further consolidates this process of mind into the stream of “Chitta” - successive mind moments. Some teachers also refer to this domino like stream as the stream of “Conciousness”. (Note small c for momentary vinyana, capital C for the stream of mind moments).
This stream of Conciousness is constantly changing from moment to moment, formed of the mental elements of Sankhara, Vinyana, Nama Rupa, Vedana, Sanna etc, fueled by Tanha (Craving). Its like a river, formed of individual molecules of water, none of which remain constant from moment to moment, yet the illusion of the river remains. Mental processes need Tanha & Upadana to continue, with the arising of Wisdom & the ending of craving, this stream comes to an end.
If there is no desire, relishing, and craving for contact as fuel … If there is no desire, relishing, and craving for mental intention as fuel … If there is no desire, relishing, and craving for consciousness as fuel, consciousness doesn’t become established there and doesn’t grow. Where consciousness is not established and doesn’t grow, name and form are not conceived. Where name and form are not conceived, there is no growth of choices. Where choices don’t grow, there is no rebirth into a new state of existence in the future. Where there is no rebirth into a new state of existence in the future, there is no rebirth, old age, and death in the future. Where there is no rebirth, old age, and death in the future, I say there’s no sorrow, anguish, and distress.
But then there is the concept of Sati - Sampajanna - variously translated as Mindfulness, Situational Awareness, Knowing, Seeing etc. etc. Some teachers ( esp Luang Por Sumedho) also use the term “Consciousness” to refer to this background awareness. This is not Vinyana. Rather, it is “clear seeing”… or in Luang Por Sumedho’s words - “Its like this”.
“Sāriputta, do you see: ‘This has come to be’? Sāriputta, do you see: ‘This has come to be’?”
“Venerable sir, one sees as it really is with correct wisdom: ‘This has come to be.’ Having seen as it really is with correct wisdom: ‘This has come to be,’ one is practising for the purpose of revulsion towards what has come to be, for its fading away and cessation. One sees as it really is with correct wisdom: ‘Its origination occurs with that as nutriment.
This background awareness is a Dhamma… It is not Self. Awareness used in this sense is timeless, not specific to any sentient being, yet not separate from sentience, it is the natural corollary of knowing Idapaccayata (in the same way that for matter to exist, space is the natural corollary). After awakening, this is the Awareness that remains within the Arahant while he/she is alive. On parinibbana, this Awareness escapes… whither did it go?
This is how I understand it as of now- forgive me if anything is wrongly explained.