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Cosmic Consciousness, by Richard Maurice Bucke, [1901], at

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Many readers, before they have reached this page, will have been struck by the fact that the name of no woman is included in the list of so-called "great cases," and the names of only three in that of "Lesser, Imperfect and Doubtful Instances." Besides these three the editor knows another woman, still living, who is undoubtedly if not a great, still a genuine, case. She would not, however, permit the editor to use her experience even without her name, and the case is therefore reluctantly entirely omitted. The only other woman known to the present writer, either in the past or in the present, who is or was, either certainly or almost certainly, a case of Cosmic Consciousness is Madame Guyon, who was, it seems to him, a genuine and great instance, though unfortunately the evidence in her case is not as definite as could be wished.


Jeanne Marie Bouvieres de la Mothe was born April 13th, 1648, was a sickly and precocious child, with strong religious tendencies, great earnestness of purpose, a leaning towards self renunciation and a passion for spiritual books, especially the Bible, which as a child of ten she used to read from morning till night. At the age of sixteen she was married to M. Guyon, who was then thirty-eight. What with an elderly and stern husband and a most disagreeable mother-in-law her objective life was unhappy, even miserable. For all outward ills she found consolation in religion, and her life was really a happy one, except when this inward joy suffered eclipse, as from time to time it did. At last, however, ou

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the 22d of July, 1680 (that is, in the summer of her thirty-third year), came final deliverance. The writer does not know of any record of her subjective experience upon that day, but it seems certain that the rest of her life was filled with peace and happiness, which is characteristic of the lives of those who have passed into Cosmic Consciousness.

She describes herself* as having ceased from all self-originated action and choice. To her amazement and unspeakable happiness, it appeared as though all such natural movement existed no longer—a higher power had displaced and occupied its room. "I even perceived no more [she writes in her autobiography] the soul which He had formerly conducted by His rod and His staff, because now He alone appeared to me, my soul having given up its place to Him; even as a little drop of water cast into the sea receives the qualities of the sea." She speaks of herself as now practicing the virtues no longer as virtues—that is, not by separate and constrained efforts. It would have required effort not to practice them [180: 227].

* These few words, though not perhaps of themselves proving anything are very characteristic. "I give nothing as duties," says Whitman. "What others give as duties I give as living impulses (shall I give the heart's action as a duty?)" [193: 190].


Some years ago, when the design of this volume was forming in the mind of the writer, it was his intention to include several chapters treating of other departures from the norm in the mental life of man more or less analogous to that which he has named Cosmic Consciousness, for the special purpose of examining into the relation (if any) between these and the latter. Had he persisted in his plan he would have included (1) a review of hypnotism; (2) of so-called miracles, supra-normal physical, as distinguished from supra-normal mental powers; (3) so-called spiritualism—the notion of the sensible communion of man with other and perhaps higher spirits considered in relation to this other notion of the communion of man with a higher self within himself, and (4) cases in which man seems to be the centre and in some sense the director of forces presumably existing entirely outside of himself, and the relation of such cases (if any) to the preterhuman psychic manifestations of those endowed with the

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[paragraph continues] Cosmic Sense. Time, and probably the necessary ability, failed him for the larger attempt, and he will only allude to one case (belonging to category 4) for the sake of indicating what seems to him the strong probability that all these different classes of cases (wherever genuine, as many of them * undoubtedly are), if they do not always lie side by side, at least touch one another by their angles.


William Stainton Moses [131:245 et seq.] was born in Lincolnshire, England, November 5th, 1839. His father was headmaster of a grammar school. William Stainton Moses was educated at Oxford. Took his degree. Was ordained, and was for the rest of his life, as long as health permitted, an active and popular parish clergyman. Up to the age of thirty-three he differed in no special respect from the ordinary university educated English Church clergyman. At that period (about the usual time of life, it will be noted, for the oncoming of Cosmic Consciousness), in the course of 1872, the physical phenomena, which give him interest to us here, began. They continued for some ten years and then, with failing health, passed away. William Stainton Moses died in September, 1892. He never married, and went little into society. "His personal appearance offered no indication of his peculiar gift. He was of middle stature, strongly made, with somewhat heavy features and thick dark hair and beard"

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[paragraph continues] [131: 250]. It must be understood that the facts as given in this case, as well as the trustworthiness of those who have reported them, including, of course, William Stainton Moses himself, have been very thoroughly inquired into by such competent men as T. W. H. Myers, and it is firmly believed that no deception of any kind has been attempted or thought of.

Whatever explanation of them may ultimately be given and accepted, the facts as set down to-day will almost certainly stand. It would be impossible in this place to give the data upon which the truth of the account rests. These can be found elsewhere by those who wish to see them. All that is necessary here and all that can be done is to cite as samples a very few instances of the supra-normal occurrences which, with extraordinary frequency, and in great variety, surrounded the man for at least ten years.

Motion without contact, directed by evident intelligence, is seen markedly in the following instance: I was calling on a friend, and the conversation fell on the phenomena of spiritualism. A sitting was proposed, and nothing, or almost nothing, occurred. We were quite alone in the room, which was well lighted. We drew back from the table, intending to give up the attempt. My friend asked why nothing occurred. The table, untouched by us, rose and gently touched my throat and chest three times. I was suffering from severe bronchial symptoms, and was altogether below par. After this no rap or movement could be elicited, and we were fain to accept the explanation of our want of success.

My first personal experience of levitation was about five months after my introduction to spiritualism. Physical phenomena of a very powerful description had been developed with great rapidity. We were new to the subject, and the phenomena were most interesting. After much movement of objects, and lifting and tilting of the table, a small hand organ, a child's plaything, was floated about the room, making a most inharmonious din. It was a favorite amusement with the little, Puck-like invisible who then manifested. One day (August 30, 1872) the little organ was violently thrown down in a distant corner of the room, and I felt my chair drawn back from the table and turned into the corner near which I sat. It was so placed that my face was turned away from the circle to the angle made by the two walls. In this position the chair was raised from the floor to a distance of, I should judge, twelve or fourteen inches. My feet touched the top of the skirting board, which would be about twelve inches in height. The chair remained suspended for a few moments, and I then felt myself going from it, higher and higher, with a very slow and easy movement. I had no sense of discomfort nor of apprehension. I was perfectly conscious of what was being done, and described the process to

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those who were sitting at the table. The movement was very steady and occupied what seemed a long time before it was completed. I was close to the wall, so close that I was able to put a pencil firmly against my chest and to mark the spot opposite to me on the wall paper. That mark, when measured afterwards, was found to be rather more than six feet from the floor, and, from its position, it was clear that my head must have been in the very corner of the room, close to the ceiling. I do not think that I was in any way entranced. I was perfectly clear in my mind; quite alive to what was being done, and fully conscious of the curious phenomenon. I felt no pressure on any part of my body, only a sensation of being in a lift, whilst objects seemed to be passing away from below me. I remember a slight difficulty in breathing and a sensation of fullness in the chest, with a general feeling of being lighter than the atmosphere. I was lowered down quite gently and placed in the chair, which had settled in its old position. The measurements and observation were taken immediately and the marks which I had made with my pencil were noted. My voice was said at the time to sound as if from the corner of the room, close to the ceiling.

This experiment was more or less successfully repeated on nine other occasions. On the 2d of September, 1872, I see from my records that I was three times raised on to the table and twice levitated in the corner of the room. The first movement on to the table was very sudden—a sort of instantaneous jerk. I was conscious of nothing until I found myself on the table—my chair being unmoved. This, under ordinary circumstances, is what we call impossible. I was so placed that it would have been out of my power to quit my place at the table without moving my chair. In the second attempt I was placed on the table in a standing posture. In this case I was conscious of the withdrawal of my chair and of being raised to the level of the table and then of being impelled forward so as to stand upon it. I was not entranced, nor was I conscious of any external pressure. In the third case I was thrown on to the table, and from that position on to an adjacent sofa. The movement was instantaneous, as in the first recorded case; and though I was thrown to a considerable distance, and with considerable force, I was in no way hurt. At the time I lay on the sofa I felt the chair in which I had been sitting and which would be four feet from where I lay, come and press my back several times. I was finally placed on the table.

For an enormous number of similar and diverse phenomena occurring in this case, see 131.


As already stated, the above are only quoted as samples of unusual supra-normal incidents said to have taken place—which undoubtedly did take place over and over again for ten years in

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the experience of this man. Now what (if any) relation exists between this case and one of Cosmic Consciousness?

We have seen that in the case of William Stainton Moses the phenomena with which we are dealing began at about the typical age—thirty-three years—and it is stated that on at least one occasion "the drain on the vital strength of William Stainton Moses was so great" that the manifestations had to be discontinued. It seems clear from the matter-of-course way the above is stated that the "medium" habitually felt fatigue or exhaustion in proportion to the frequency and magnitude of the manifestations. We have also seen that sickness on the part of the "medium" in like manner interfered with the production of the phenomena. These facts point to the "medium" himself as the source of the force exhibited in so many different ways.

If this inference is correct it is at the same time undoubtedly true that he was not aware that the power which caused the phenomena proceeded from himself. Neither should we expect, reasoning from analogy, that he would be, since even in Cosmic Consciousness—where all the phenomena are mental and where consequently we should look that the real actor would be still less liable to be deceived as to the person acting—we see that he is so, not occasionally, but almost or quite constantly. Paul, Mohammed, Yepes, Behmen, Blake, tell us over and over again that the great thoughts, divine emotions, which they express, are not their own but communicated from without. The protestations made by Blake—a hundred times repeated—and the last time to his wife a few minutes before his death, in reference to the songs which he sang as he lay slowly dying: "My beloved! they are not mine. No, they are not mine," have been, in one shape or another, made by them all. Still we believe to-day that that other self which wrote the Epistles, dictated the Koran, composed the Aurora, was really none other than a part (the more divine part) of Paul, Mohammed and Behmen respectively. The man acts and does not know that it is he who is acting—is sure, in fact, that it is not; scouts (as does Mohammed) indignantly the imputation that the thoughts, the words, proceed from him, and

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offers proof that such imputation neither is nor can be founded on fact: "And if ye are in doubt of what we have revealed unto our servant" [Gabriel speaks, and "our servant" is, of course, Mohammed] "then bring a chapter like it . . . but if ye do not, and ye shall surely do it not," etc. [151: 13]. In many cases the denial has been accepted and the world has agreed with the annunciator that directly, or indirectly, God has revealed to him the exalted sentiments and sublime truths that have passed his lips that God, or a messenger from God, lives in him and speaks through him.

Why not suppose that we have involved in the personality of William Stainton Moses a parallel fact—a parallel duplex or multiplex personality—that in some way, so far, perhaps, utterly inconceivable to us (as to some of their contemporaries and followers it was inconceivable that Jesus and Mohammed merely as men said and did the words and deeds which proceeded from them) as well as to himself, William Stainton Moses did himself evolve the force, did himself furnish the intelligence, which were operative in the phenomena? It seems corroborative of this view that bodies, as hundred ton rocks or houses, such as no man could move, are not lifted or displaced; that the lights are not greater than could be supplied by the force resident in ordinary man, supposing that force or some of it to take the form of light; that the intelligence manifested, though often considerable and sometimes extraordinary, is not above human possibilities, taking into account the intelligence possessed by persons having Cosmic Consciousness. For if supra-mortal beings were operative in the production of these so-called spiritualistic phenomena, why should these remain so constantly upon or (taking into account only the ordinary human faculties) immediately above the plane of human powers? Then again we have seen in the course of this study that the whole history of man, as well as that of the organic world, is simply the history of the evolution of new faculties one after the other—any one of which (before it was evolved) would have seemed an impossibility and an absurdity to any member of the race about to take it on. Have we not in, for instance,

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spiritualism and telepathy, with all their almost infinitely varied phenomena, the germ or germs of some new faculty or faculties, so far as little understood as was Cosmic Consciousness a thousand years ago, and not, as sometimes thought, in any sense, the action or interference in human affairs, either of disembodied spirits or of supra-, infra-, or extra-human minds?—such faculties not necessarily destined to expand and become universal (for, in evolution "Many are called but few chosen"), but almost certainly, in modern times, and down to date, expanding and becoming more common.

And, indeed, may it not well be that in the self conscious human being, as we know him to-day, we have the psychic germ of not one higher race only, but of several? As in the nebula of a solar system we have the potentiality not of one sphere only or one kind of sphere, but of a sun, planets, moons, comets and many lesser bodies; as in the first, unicellular, living creature we had the parent not of one only but of many races of multicellular descendants; as in the alalus homo we had the progenitor, not merely of one race, but of many races of variously charactered self conscious men—so it may be (may it not?) that in the foremost race or races of self conscious man to-day we have the eligibility, the germ, of not one superior race only, but of several. As for example: a cosmic conscious race; another race that shall possess seemingly miraculous powers of acting upon what we call objective nature; another with clairvoyant powers far surpassing those possessed by the best specimens so far; another with miraculous healing powers; and so on.

That so-called miraculous powers are closely allied to what is here called Cosmic Consciousness, that they appear in relation with the latter, that they are no more supernatural than it is, and that these powers, in their natures, cover a large range of operation—all this is clearly recognized and plainly taught by the men who, of all others, know most on the subject. Gautama's dicta thereon may be read (supra) in the chapter devoted to him. Paul is no less explicit, but sets forth in very plain terms "that there are diversities of gifts, but the same spirit" [20:12: 1]—

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that "to one is given through the spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge, to another faith, to another gifts of healing, to another miraculous powers, to another discernings of spirits, and to another interpretation of tongues" [20:12: 8–10].


A main object which the writer of this volume has had before him has been to point out that there have lived in this world certain men who in consequence, not of an extraordinary development of any or all of the ordinary mental faculties, but by the possession of a new one peculiar to themselves and non-existent (or at least undeclared) in ordinary people, see, know and feel spiritual facts and experience psychical phenomena, which being veiled from, are still of most vital import to, the world at large; that if one or two of these men are studied to the exclusion of the rest—as has been the practice with not Christians only but with Buddhists and Mohammedans as well—the result must be inadequate and unsatisfactory as compared with the study of all, for the reason that none of them have been able to tell much of what they have seen, known and felt, and one or two only of them being read, what little they do tell is certain—just because of its incomplete, fragmentary character—to be misunderstood; while if they are all read and compared the testimony of each is found to throw light upon, supplement and strengthen that of all the others; that it is of the greatest importance—as has indeed always been felt—that these men should be as profoundly as possible studied and absorbed by every one who has aspirations for the higher spiritual life because the contact of the mind of the student with the minds of these men has the effect of producing in the mind of the former all the spiritual expansion and growth of which it is by its congenital constitution capable. Through the aid of these men even Cosmic Consciousness itself is often possible of achievement where without them it would certainly not occur; as one of them says: "I bestow upon any man or woman the entrance to all the gifts of the universe" [193: 216].

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[paragraph continues] Or as says another great man, who, though not, it is believed, in the class here treated of, had at least their earnestness if not their vision and their joy: "At least it is with heroes and God-inspired men that I, for my part, would far rather converse, in what dialect soever they speak! Great, ever-fruitful, profitable for reproof, for encouragement, for building up in manful purposes and works, are the words of those that in their day were MEN" [64:75].

And not only is it better to study a number of these men rather than only one or two, but should the student, from idiosyncrasy or any cause, confine his attention to one or two of them, it is immensely important that he should have an opportunity of choosing the master whom he is to follow, since a man born in Europe or America may be more certainly wrought upon, and more deeply influenced for good, by the Upanishads and Suttas than by (for instance) the New Testament. This was true, at least, of Schopenhauer and Thoreau. Of the former, it is told: "In a corner of his room was placed a gilt statuette of Buddha, and on a table not far off lay Duperron's Latin translation of the Upanishads, called the Oupnekhat, which served as the prayer book from which Schopenhauer read his devotions" [87: 456]. Of the Oupnekhat Schopenhauer said: "It has been my comfort in life, it will be the solace of my death" [147:61]. And as there are many men in the West who are, or would be if they read them, more benefited by Buddhistic and Mohammedan scriptures than they are by Jewish or Christian, so, doubtless, there are thousands of men in southern Asia who, born Buddhists, Brahmans or Mohammedans, would be, from some peculiarity of mental constitution, more readily and profoundly stirred by the Gospels and Pauline epistles, or "Leaves of Grass," than by the Vedas or by any of the books that owe their inspiration to the teachings of Gautama or Mohammed.


If there is such a vast interval between the man with Cosmic Consciousness and him with self consciousness only, how is it that

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the former does not stand out before the world as belonging to a separate class from the latter? How is it that there are a hundred painters and poets who, in the estimation of nearly the whole world, over-rank William Blake, though he had Cosmic Consciousness and they had it not? How is it that men, standing on almost the loftiest peaks of fame—Aristotle, Plato, Newton, Cæsar—have self consciousness only, while John Yepes, Las Casas, Edward Carpenter and others, who are said to have this supreme, all-sufficient faculty, are not generally known to have been very extraordinary men?

The answer seems to be: In the first place the literary instinct (or expression of any kind) is not necessarily highly developed in the Cosmic Conscious mind, but is a faculty apart. Balzac worked himself to death endeavoring to acquire an adequate style, and Whitman lived and died vividly conscious of his defects of expression. Again: the average self conscious man can appreciate the faculties of the self conscious mind, even when unusually developed, very much easier, very much more certainly, than he can those of the Cosmic Conscious mind. In spite of these obvious facts, it remains true that self conscious man, even in his blindness, has placed the highest crowns of all upon the heads of men—Gautama, Jesus, Mohammed, Dante, "Shakespeare"—who have had the divine faculty of Cosmic Consciousness.

The intellect of these Cosmic Conscious men has often, if not always, a range and incisiveness—witness especially Dante and "Shakespeare"—which place them clearly above almost any merely self conscious person. It is also clear that their purely moral qualities—witness especially Gautama, Jesus and Whitman—give them a rank apart from their self conscious fellows, but this is not by any means the whole story. The central point, the kernel of the matter, consists in the fact that they possess qualities for which we at present have no names or concepts. Jesus alluded to one of these when he said: "Whoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing

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up unto eternal life" [17:4:14]. And Whitman points in the same direction when he declares that his book is not linked with the rest nor felt by the intellect, "but has to do with untold latencies" [193: 17] in writer and reader, and also when he states that he does not give lectures and charity—that is, either intellectual or moral gifts—but that when he gives he gives himself [193: 66]. The ordinary self conscious mind cannot clearly realize the faculty alluded to in these words, and consequently it cannot give it a name. Perhaps the best that can be done is to consider it as analogous to an influx of vitality, admitted into humanity through certain men, permeating and vivifying each and all who permit it to pass into them. To the most the quality in question will seem indefinite and elusive to the last degree. As a matter of fact, it is the most important and the most solid entity that exists to-day in the world.


What is it that determines that a given man shall enter into Cosmic Consciousness (for this volume is physiological as well as psychological, and its psychology must tally physiological facts)? In other words: What are the factors that enter into and finally decide for illumination?

a. The first seems to be full maturity, the age of thirty to forty years, according as the man is endowed at birth with greater or less longevity—that is, according to the number of years the man needs to reach full maturity—an average age of, say, thirty-five years. This element could have been predicated a priori, since, if mankind is growing up to Cosmic Consciousness, the individuals who reach the high water mark of mental evolution on the next plain below (that of self consciousness) must be those who will first enter it, and the earliest individuals to enter it must do so when they are at their highest point of spiritual efficiency.

b. Education (so called) seems to have nothing to do with it. Some of the greatest cases (Jesus, Mohammed, Yepes, Behmen and Whitman) have been, from the point of view of the schools,

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some of them entirely, others almost totally, ignorant. On the other hand, scholastic training does not seem necessarily to have any prejudicial influence, since some cases (as Dante, Bacon and Carpenter) were distinguished students at good colleges. But if "education," in the ordinary sense of that word, has little to do with the matter, there is another sense in which it has a great deal to do with it. We are told, for instance, by a high authority, that those who desire the companionship of the Cosmic Sense, "need the best blood, thews, endurance"; that "none may come to the trial till he or she brings courage and health"; that "only those may come who come in sweet and determined bodies"; that "no diseased person, no rum drinker or venereal taint is permitted to enter" [193: 125].

c. It is probably imperative that the man should have a great mother—a woman strong, athletic, spiritual, of good physique, of superior mental and especially moral, powers. Unfortunately we know little or nothing of the mothers of most of our Cosmic Conscious cases. Bacon's, however, and certainly Whitman's, were exceptional women. Probably we should be safe in believing the traditions to the same effect of the mothers of Gautama and Jesus.

d. It is most likely also necessary that the father should be a superior man physically and spiritually, though it is certainly not that he should be intellectually.

e. Perhaps the most important point of all—granted a good average, or above the average, man and woman for father and mother—is that these should have opposite, or at least diverse, temperaments (the secret of success or failure in all marriages is perhaps involved in the fulfillment or violation of this unwritten law). That if the father's, for instance, should be choleric-melancholic, the mother's should be sanguine-phlegmatic, and so on.

f. Then comes the final and supreme physiological necessity—namely, that the union of father and mother from which is to proceed the Cosmic Conscious man shall occur under perfect conditions, so that each parent shall be fully represented in the off-spring—

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each blended with the other—the result being a perfect man with the qualities and temperaments of both father and mother [103: 65]. It is perhaps not imperative that a man should have all four temperaments as a condition of illumination, but it is probable that all the great cases have had all four, or at least three.

g. The right physical and mental organization granted and full maturity having been reached, the next pre-condition of illumination is the time of year. Of the total of forty-three cases given in this volume, in every case but three where the season is known, that is in seventeen cases, it took place in the first seven months of the year. The explanation of the fact that illumination occurs generally in spring and early summer is no doubt the same as that of the age at which it happens—full maturity. As at present even the foremost members of the race cannot reach the vantage ground—the status—from which Cosmic Consciousness can be entered before full or nearly full maturity, so the further advantage of the time of year of fullest vitality is an element of great importance. The season of the ascending sun, of increasing temperature, of rising sap and bursting bud, of the pairing of birds, at which the heart of all nature, including human nature, is at flood tide, is the season in which we might (if ever) expect, and is the season in which we find, the blossoming forth of this divine event—an event supreme in the life of the individual and to be supreme in the life of the race.

h. Last of all, the man fitted by heredity, personal growth and the rest to receive the exalted endowment of which there is here question, must himself do something, must place himself (perhaps not intentionally or consciously) in the right mental attitude. What this is has been pointed out already many times, both indirectly and directly, and may be once again indicated in the words of an undoubtedly inspired writer. (It is the Deity or Cosmic Sense that speaks) [154: 129]: "Once more listen to my excellent words—most mysterious of all. Strongly I like you, therefore I will declare what is for your welfare. On me place your mind, devote yourself to me, reverence me. I declare to

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you truly you are dear to me. Forsaking all else, come to me as your sole refuge. I will release you from all sin, from all doubt."


If this volume did not threaten to become unduly large, a section or chapter of some length might very properly be devoted to the various artificial means adopted (especially in India) to induce the faculty or condition here treated of. Some of these have been alluded to, and those curious on the subject may consult especially 56 and 154. It does not seem, so far as known to the writer, that any great work has ever been done by persons in whom the faculty was artificially excited, though doubtless the lives of such persons have been made immensely happier and better. The object of the present paragraph, however, is to refer very briefly to a mental condition occasionally induced by anesthetics, which is undoubtedly closely allied to the faculty under consideration. Just as the drinking of alcohol induces a kind of artificial and bastard joy, so the inhalation of ether and chloroform induces (sometimes) a kind of artificial and bastard cosmic consciousness. The following brief cases will make this clear [121: 586]: Dr. George Wyld says (upon taking chloroform): "I suddenly experienced the extraordinary impression that my spiritual being stood visibly outside my body, regarding that deserted body lying on the bed. Shortly afterward I called on three different professional chloroformists and asked them if any of their subjects had ever experienced sensations like my own. In reply one gentleman said: 'I have often heard patients express similar ideas.' Another said: 'I myself have experienced on three occasions when under chloroform, exactly similar sensations.' And the third gentleman said: 'My patients have often said that they experienced no pain, but felt as if they saw with their inner eye all I was doing during the operations.' I was told of a patient who said, after anesthesis: 'I thought I had got at the bottom of the secrets of nature.' And a dentist

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told me that many of his patients had experienced similar sensations to those I described."

The late John Addington Symonds described his sensations (while under the influence of chloroform) thus: "I seemed at first in a state of utter blankness; then came flashes of intense light, alternating with blankness and with a keen vision of what was going on in the room round me, but no sensation of touch. I thought that I was near death, when suddenly my soul became aware of God, who was manifestly dealing with me, handling me, so to speak, in an intense personal present reality. I felt Him streaming in like light upon me and heard Him saying in no language, but as hands touch hands and communicate sensations: 'I led thee; I guided thee; you will never sin and weep and wail in madness any more; for now you have seen Me.' My whole consciousness seemed brought into one point of absolute conviction; the independence of my mind from my body was proved by the phenomena of this acute sensibility to spiritual facts, this utter deadness of the senses. Life and death seemed mere names." . . . Symonds adds: "I cannot describe the ecstasy I felt," and, referring to his experience and its psychological evidence, says: "If this had happened to a man in an uncritical age would it not have carried conviction, like that of Saul of Tarsus, to his soul?"

It is curious that Symonds, who seems to have really passed into a sort of actual Cosmic Consciousness for the moment, should have instinctively selected a genuine case to which to compare his own temporary mental state.

All conditions allowed and the fact of Cosmic Consciousness being granted, what is its place as a psychical entity? And from where does it come? The clue to the answers (the writer thinks) may be picked up in chapters 3 and 4 of 134. It is ably shown there how the simple conscious—circumstances being favorable—passes by slow growth into the self conscious mind. By experience, by inheritance, by accumulation and by a process of psychical masonry, percepts are collected, stored up, and of them are built recepts. Then percepts and recepts are used, as are

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stones and mortar in a wall, and of them are at last formed concepts. And, as the last touch is given, the completed edifice suddenly flashes into sight as a new entity and the self conscious man has appeared upon the earth. So (it seems) are concepts, emotions, sense perceptions, all the spiritual elements of the thinking, feeling, knowing man, individually and collectively builded up until the walls, buttresses, pinnacles and towers of a still higher consciousness are finished. The moment of completion comes, the signal is given, the scaffolding falls and instantly the new structure stands revealed.


The explanation of what may be called the mystery of religion as it exists among us to-day may be stated simply as follows: All men, so far, with the exception of at most a few hundreds, have lived in the world of self consciousness without the power to leave it. The great religious seers, revealers, teachers, have also lived in that world, but at the same time in another—the world of Cosmic Consciousness—the latter being by far the larger, the most important and the most interesting. Whether either of these worlds has an objective existence is a matter of no consequence. They are equally real and momentous to us on either hypothesis. The men who have lived in the Cosmic Conscious world, that is, in the world made visible by the Cosmic Sense, as the forests and the sky are made visible by the sense of sight, have desired, for the comfort and good of their fellows, to tell mankind at large what they saw there; but as they were obliged (for want of a better) to use the language of self consciousness their accounts have been exceedingly incomplete and the words and phrases used have been so inadequate as to have been to the last degree misleading. Not only so, but, supposing a clear report (an impossibility), it would be beyond the power of the self conscious mind to conceive the Cosmic Conscious world. This being so, the reports made by these spiritual travelers have been not only not understood but misunderstood in an

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infinite variety of senses, and the essentially similar account given by, for example, Paul, Mohammed, Dante, Jesus, Gautama, Whitman and others, has been looked upon as a variety of accounts, not of the same, but of diverse things. And these accounts, all but one, that one under the influence of which the hearer is born, have been supposed to rest solely upon the imagination of the narrator. A critical study of all these (seeming) diverse accounts will show that they are all more or less unsuccessful attempts to describe the same thing; but because it was out of the power of the original reporter, the seer, to give anything like a full and clear account of what he saw, largely because of the inadequacy of the language belonging to the self conscious mind; because his reporters again (as in the cases of Jesus and Gautama, who did not write), possessing only self consciousness, blurred still further the picture; because translators, possessing only self consciousness and understanding very imperfectly what the teacher wished to convey, still further distorted the record; for all these reasons the important fact of the unity of the teachings of these men has been very generally overlooked; hence the confusion and the so-called mystery; a misunderstanding unavoidable, no doubt, under the circumstances, but which will one day, assuredly, be cleared up.

Already many others besides the present writer have noticed the essential unity of the seeming diverse teachings in question—as, for instance, Hartmann [100:6], who tells us: "I have carefully compared the doctrines of Behmen with those of the Eastern sages as laid down in the 'Secret Doctrine' and in the religious literature of the East, and I find the most remarkable harmony between them in their esoteric meaning; in fact, the religion of Buddha, Krishna and the Christ seem to me to be one and identical." It is worth nothing that Hartmann's specimen teachers are all cases of Cosmic Consciousness, although of course he knew nothing of that as a specific mental status.

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One word in conclusion. The writer of this book, since it was first conceived some few years ago, has sought diligently for cases of Cosmic Consciousness, and his whole list, so far, including some imperfect and doubtful cases, totals up nearly fifty. Several of these are contemporary, minor cases, such as may have occurred in considerable numbers in any of the recent centuries and no records of them remain. He has, however, as more than once stated, found thirteen, all of them so great that they must, almost inevitably, live. As has been already shown, five of these men lived during the eighteen centuries which elapsed between the birth of Gautama and that of Dante, and the other eight in the six hundred years between the birth of Dante and to-day. This would mean that cases of Cosmic Consciousness are nearly five times as frequent now as they were, say, a thousand years ago. It is not, of course, pretended that they are becoming more frequent in exactly this ratio. There must have occurred a large number of cases in the last twenty-five hundred years all memory of which is lost. No man could say positively how many lived in any given epoch. But it seems tolerably certain that these men are more numerous in the modern than they were in the ancient world, and this fact, taken in connection with the general theory of psychic evolution, fully considered on previous pages, goes far to confirm the conclusion that just as, long ago, self consciousness appeared in the best specimens of our ancestral race in the prime of life, and gradually became more and more universal and appeared in the individual at an earlier and earlier age, until, as we see now, it has become almost universal and appears at the average of about three years—so will Cosmic Consciousness become more and more universal and appear earlier in the individual life until the race at large will possess this faculty. The same race and not the same; for a Cosmic Conscious race will not be the race which exists to-day, any more than the present race of men is the same race which existed prior to the evolution of self consciousness. The simple truth is, that

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there has lived on the earth, "appearing at intervals," for thousands of years among ordinary men, the first faint beginnings of another race; walking the earth and breathing the air with us, but at the same time walking another earth and breathing another air of which we know little or nothing, but which is, all the same, our spiritual life, as its absence would be our spiritual death. This new race is in act of being born from us, and in the near future it will occupy and possess the earth.










367:* Those who are interested in the matter would do well to turn up the "Atlantic Monthly" for August, 1868, and read ''A Remarkable Case of Physical Phenomena." Mary Carrick, an Irish servant girl, just come to America, was working for a family in a town of Massachusetts. For months (from time to time) the bells would ring, articles of furniture move from place to place, tables would rise of themselves from the floor, tubs full of clothes and water move from their benches, always in the room in which Mary was, or in the next room to it, but without being touched by Mary or by any one else. The articles moved were never so large and heavy but that Mary was strong enough to have moved them in the usual way. The extraordinary movements did not take place while Mary was asleep. There was no question of trickery. Mary was more distressed than any other person at the occurrences; besides, others were often in the room with her and saw the chairs, dishes, etc., move without being touched. There seems no possible reason to connect "spirits" with the phenomena in question. The movements seem to have been entirely objectless. That there was something peculiar (on the other hand) about the girl herself is shown by the fact that ultimately she became insane and was sent to an asylum.