Cosmic Consciousness, by Richard Maurice Bucke, , at sacred-texts.com
Case of J. H. J.
A merchant in a pretty large way of business. The advent of the Cosmic Sense—which was momentary and incomplete—made no visible change in his life, and very few of the hundreds who knew him had the least suspicion that he ever had any experience out of the common. He is not regarded as a saint nor exactly as a sage, but he has many warm friends and is in several respects remarkably intelligent. He was born May 25, 1837. On the night of December 31, 1868, in the middle of his thirty-second year, he had the following dream. It is not at all clear that the dream had any connection with the subsequent illumination. I give it in his own language as part of the case, and each reader may form his own opinion as to its importance. The writer, however, may say that it seems to him that the sense of intense light experienced in
it, if not actually the subjective light that belongs to the oncoming of Cosmic Consciousness, bore some close relation to it:
"I thought," he writes, "I was standing behind the counter of my shop in the middle of a bright, sunshiny afternoon, and instantly, in a flash, it became darker than the darkest night, darker than a mine, and the gentleman who was talking with me ran out into the street. Following him, although it was so dark, I could see hundreds and thousands of people pouring into the street, all wondering what had happened. Just then I noticed in the sky, in the far southwest, a bright light like a star, about the size of the palm of my hand, and in an instant it seemed to grow larger and larger and nearer and nearer, until it began to light up the darkness. When it got to the size of a man's hat, it divided itself into twelve smaller lights with a larger one in the centre, and then very rapidly it grew much larger, and instantly I knew that this was the coming of Christ. The moment this thought occurred to me the whole southwestern heavens became filled with a shining host, and in the centre of it Christ and the twelve apostles. By this time it was lighter than the lightest day that could possibly be imagined, and as the shining host advanced toward the zenith, the friend with whom I was talking, exclaimed; 'That is my Saviour!' and I thought he immediately left his body and ascended into the sky, and I thought I was not good enough to accompany him. Then I awoke.
"For some days afterwards I was very strongly impressed by this dream and could not tell it to anyone. In about a fortnight I told it to my family; afterwards to my Sunday school class, and since I have frequently repeated it. It was the most vivid dream I ever had."
The rest of his experience is drawn from a letter, dated June 4, 1892:
"I had been for three years or more in the 'wine press.' I knew there must be a place of rest, or else the whole Bible was a lie. I had, from a boy, read and thought much about 'the second coining,' and, while I laughed at the 'Millerites' and knew that they were idiotic in their expectations, yet I still had enough of
the marvelous in me to be looking for a sudden change of some sort. One day, in the late spring of 1871 [he was then just thirty-four years old], Mr. B. [the J. B. of this volume] told my wife that my ease was a very curious one. Said he: 'Your husband is born again and don't know it. He is a little spiritual baby, with eyes not yet open, but he will know it in a very short time.' And about three weeks after that, about a quarter to eight o'clock, while walking on Second Avenue (N. Y.) with my wife, on my way to a lecture at the Liberal Club, I suddenly exclaimed to my wife: 'A., I have eternal life!' I cannot say there was a tremendous, though there was a marked, exaltation. The prominent feeling was a sort of undying assurance that the Christ in me had arisen and would remain in everlasting consciousness—and it has. There was a time after this, three years later, in August, 1874, on a Long Branch boat, when in a crowd of people, sitting, leaning back in my chair, I had an experience of the greatest mental and spiritual exaltation—when it seemed as if my whole soul, and body, too, were suffused with light; but this never made me forget the first experience, which, while something like the latter, was not so transporting."