Question: What is the conscious mind and is there something beyond that?
The difference is simply like this. Mind, it becomes known as mind when it is conscious of another object, like this world. It imagines, and it becomes conscious of every object matter of this world. That is what is mind. When this mind gives up being conscious of any external object, meaning it gives up all thoughts and all visions and imaginations, then what remains is the pure consciousness of existence. Then there is no more mind; it is not known as mind. When it gives up all imagination there is no thought also.
A Yogi, when he is going towards Samadhi, before going into actual Nirvikalpa Samadhi, the thought of "I" also vanishes, and "I need the Samadhi" also vanishes. Then the real Samadhi occurs. It is something like, you start thinking "I want to go into deep sleep, I want to go into deep sleep, I want to go into deep sleep"; the deep sleep may not occur. But suddenly a deep sleep may occur and you will lose the thought "I want to go into deep sleep." "I want to go into deep sleep" is becoming conscious of something, and going into deep sleep is the pure consciousness that is always there.
In meditation you should not become unconscious. That is why you should not go to sleep. As the mind gets cleared of all imaginations, one by one, when it is able to give them up, like the practice of not imagining anything, still the consciousness of existence is always there. Meaning you will always exist. You will not vanish or disappear in any way.
That is how the ancient sages, in deeper Samadhi also, when they became aware of their existence, there was no thought of "I," or "I am having this," "I am this" and "I am that" - there is no such thought, but simply the awareness of existence is there. When naturally, effortlessly, that is achieved at all times, that is what is Self Realization, and that is how those great sages called Self as the immortal Soul also. They recognized it is immortal and it is an eternal existence; it is beyond the birth and death of this physical body.