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Cosmic Consciousness by Ali Nomad


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The term Illumination seems a fitting description of the state of consciousness which is frequently alluded to as cosmic consciousness. Without the light of understanding, which is a spiritual quality, words themselves are meaningless. When the mind becomes Illumined the spirit of the word is clear and where before the meaning was clouded, or perhaps altogether obscured, there comes to the Illumined One a depth of comprehension undreamed of by the merely sense-conscious person.

If we consider the recorded instances of Illumination found among Occidentals, we will find that such extreme intensity of effort as that which is reported of Sri Ramakrishna, and other Oriental sages, does not appear.

It would seem that the late Dr. Richard Maurice Bucke of Toronto, Canada, was the first in this country to present a specific classification of what he termed the "new" consciousness, and to describe in some detail, he experience of himself and others, notably Walt Whitman.

Dr. Bucke's first public exposition of these experiences was made at a congress of the British Medical Association in Montreal, Canada, in September of the year 1897. Dr. Bucke described this state of consciousness--a subject that seemed to him at that time to be a new one--in the following words:

"But of infinitely more importance than telepathy, and so-called spiritualism--no matter what explanation we give of these, or what their future is destined to be--is the final act here touched upon. This is, that superimposed upon self-consciousness as is that faculty upon simple consciousness, a third and higher form of consciousness is at present making its appearance in our race. This higher form of consciousness, when it appears, occurs as it must, at the full maturity of the individual, at or about the age of thirty-five, but almost always between the ages of thirty and forty. There have been occasional cases of it for the last two thousand years, and it is becoming more and more common. In fact, in all appearances, as far as observed, it obeys the laws to which every nascent faculty is subject. Many more or less perfect examples of this new faculty exist in the world to-day, and it has been my privilege to know personally and to have had the opportunity of studying, several men and women who have possessed it. In the course of a few more milleniums there should be born from the present human race, a higher type of man, possessing this higher type of consciousness. This new race, as it may well be called, would occupy toward us, a position such as that occupied by us toward the simple conscious 'alulus homo.' The advent of this higher, better and happier race, would simply justify the long agony of its birth through countless ages of our past. And it is the first article of my belief, some of the grounds for which I have endeavored to lay before you, that a new race is in course of evolution."

At a subsequent date, having given the subject further consideration and having collected data corroborative of his former observations, Dr. Bucke said:

"I have, in the last three years, collected twenty-three cases of this so-called cosmic consciousness. In each case the onset or incoming of the new faculty is always sudden, instantaneous. Among the unusual feelings the mind experiences, is a sudden sense of being immersed in flame or in a brilliant light. This occurs entirely without worrying or outward cause, and may happen at noonday or in the middle of the night, and the person at first feels that he is becoming insane.

"Along with these feelings comes a sense of immortality; not merely a feeling of certainty that there is a future life,--that would be a small matter--but a pronounced _consciousness_ that the life now being lived is eternal, death being seen as a trivial incident which does not affect its continuity.