Pure consciousness is that fundamental intelligence of the Universe of which higher consciousness is aware. It is the organizing principle behind all of life, the planets, the galaxies, and our souls. We can connect to it any time but we must “get out of our own way.” In other words, we cannot be running interference with never-ending streams of thought, usually based on anxiety, inability to be in the present moment, and a feeling of lack.
They are not the same, but they are related. One cannot exist without the other. If we are not aware of something, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. It just means it doesn’t exist for us. Pure consciousness keeps on being pure consciousness forever. Higher consciousness depends on who attains it, who works for it, who is able to step aside from the endless bombardments of worries and fearful thoughts.
To the animals and other beings, higher consciousness comes naturally. They do not live fretful lives and they are connected to the Peace of the Universe (unless humans interfere, cage or abuse them). Humans, however, do need to work for this peaceful state. It takes effort to cast aside the barrage of thoughts and fears. That is why meditation, yoga, and other modalities have come to be. Sometimes higher consciousness comes spontaneously to humans, especially after “The Dark Night of the Soul.” But in general, it takes intention and effort to get there.