Cosmic Consciousness, by Richard Maurice Bucke, , at sacred-texts.com
p. 254 p. 255
The main purpose of this Fifth Part is to illustrate the inevitable fact that granted that there is such a mental faculty as Cosmic Consciousness and that it has been brought forth, as were the others, by gradual evolution, there must exist minds on all intermediate planes between mere self consciousness and the fullest Cosmic Consciousness so far produced by the onward and upward march of the race.
If we think of the oncoming of the Cosmic Sense as the rising of a sun in the individual life it becomes clear, carrying out the analogy as we may probably do without fear of material error, that between the comparative darkness of the night of mere self consciousness and the light of the day which is Cosmic Consciousness there must exist an interval of what may fairly be called twilight—a region in which the sun of the Cosmic Sense will give more or less light, although not yet risen and perhaps never to rise in the life of that person. This twilight is often distinctly traceable (as in the case of Dante and Behmen) in lives that later become fully illumined. After momentary illumination, too, in the lesser cases a glow is left lasting for years, as if the sun, after appearing for a few moments above the horizon, remained immediately below it, very slowly descending, like the physical sun in northern latitudes about the time of the summer solstice. In another class of cases the individual spiritual life may be compared
to a winter day within the arctic circle. The sun slowly approaches the horizon, its path slanting gradually upward until the fiery ball nearly touches the earth's rim, passes slowly along the southeast, south, southwest, lighting the landscape but never showing its dazzling face—effecting a genuine illumination but without rising—yielding a glow which is in strong contrast to the darkness of night but which is yet infinitely short (in splendor and especially in fructifying power) of that of the direct solar rays. Such a case was one of the most noteworthy in this Fifth Part, that, namely, of Richard Jefferies.
To-day innumerable men and women must be living in this twilight. Undoubtedly many cases of so-called conversion are simply instances of, generally sudden, spiritual ascent from the average self conscious level into the region of greater or less splendor, according to the altitude reached, which lies between that and Cosmic Consciousness. And if Carlyle's opinion [59: 150], which is in full accord with what we know of mental evolution—that "conversion," namely, "was not known to the ancients but has come to light for the first time in our modern era," be accepted, does this not clearly indicate a gradual spiritual ascent of a vast section of the human mind? Cases of conversion occurring in the young are not here noticed. These are probably generally, if not always, cases of more or less sudden spiritual ascent within the region strictly belonging to self consciousness and do not therefore concern us. But cases of so-called conversion occurring at thirty or thirty-five years of age (such as that of C. G. Finney, chapter 13, infra) are in themselves more striking phenomena and are doubtless always, or nearly always, instances of ascent into the region which lies beyond the limits of the ordinary self conscious mind.
One word may be said in this place to guard against a possible suspicion. In the reporting of no case was the reporter (the person having the experience) prompted by word or sign. Every one of the following reports (as is manifestly true of those which are included in Part IV) is given absolutely spontaneously and nearly always without any knowledge of the phenomena belonging to
other cases, and certainly without being influenced in narration by a knowledge of other cases. In view of the extraordinary uniformity of the accounts given (as far as these go) it is important that this fact should be clearly realized.