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


Case of A. J. S.

I was born on the 24th of January, 1871, in a country village, the seventh of a family of nine. I was the youngest of six girls. My father, mother, and all of us children were very musical—the girls having fine voices. When I was three or four years old I was taken about to different places to sing, and at that

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age could sing a song through if it were sung to me. When a little older 1 would make believe I was a great singer and would spend hours thumping on an old desk of my father's rather than play on the organ, because I would hear the sound I made on the latter, which did not always please me, while from the other there came no sound to interfere with that created in my own imagination. To this day I sometimes wonder whether I did not really hear coming from the old desk the music which my fancy created in myself. I was always very frail. Much of the time I did not care to play with other children, but liked better to listen to this spiritual music which fascinated me. In the end this dream was dissipated by the tragic death of my father, and by an accident which happened to myself. Or did I, perhaps, simply grow out of it?

The thought of becoming a public singer was constantly held before me by my family and friends, and I was sent to a musical school in Boston. It appeared that my voice had all the quality supposed, but my frail physique and some results of the accident alluded to stood in my way; yet I would not give up.

I was married early and afterwards worked at my music harder than ever, and my husband felt that my heart was so much in singing that it would probably kill me to give it up. Soon, however, I broke down entirely as the result of overwork. Everything possible was done for me, but to no avail. I failed steadily and was in constant pain from the effect of a fall in childhood by which my spine was injured. I took various remedies to make me sleep, but they only brought on excitement and delirium. I was sent at last to a sanatorium, took to my bed in a darkened room and refused to see any of my friends. For a time my life was despaired of, and I only rallied to plan to take my life when I should have an opportunity.

At last a time came when I had given up all hope and felt there was nothing more for me to live for or to look forward to. One day while in this state I was lying quietly in my bed when a great calmness seemed to come over me. I fell asleep only to wake a few hours after to find myself in a flood of light. I was alarmed. Then I seemed to hear the words, "Peace, be still," over and over again. I cannot say it was a voice, but I heard the words plainly and distinctly just as I had heard the music coming out of the old desk in my childhood. I put my head under the pillow to shut out the sound, but heard it just the same. I lay for what seemed to me then a, long time in that condition, when gradually I was again in the dark. I sat up in my bed. I would not call the nurse, as I felt she would not understand. I did not, of course, understand myself, but I felt it meant something. This same calmness came to me often, and it always came before the light.

After that night my recovery was steady without the aid in any way of a physician or medicine. When the light came to me again later I asked my husband if he did not see it, but he did not. I have not tried to cultivate it, as I do not understand it. I only know that whereas formerly I was a wreck I am to-day well and strong physically and mentally, and whereas I loved the excitement of a public life I now love the quiet of home life and a few friends. With this calmness has come a power (as I call it) to heal others. With a touch or in some cases by catching the eye I can in many cases induce sleep.

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[paragraph continues]

In other cases the person will say to me: "Why is it I feel so restful when I am near you?" When friends have asked me to tell them of my experience I have declined except in one or two cases. It is all so real to me, and I fear that to others it will seem foolish; but some day these things will all be explained, and I hope they may be soon.

At the time I first saw the light I was twenty-four years old. I have seen it three times altogether. Now as to the intellectual and moral experiences that immediately follow the light: It is about impossible to set these forth, for words are very poor as a medium to express either the feeling or the vision that came to me at that time. I think the intellect could never give to me in worlds of study what is revealed to me during this experience and immediately following the presence of the light. To me it is beyond intellectual expression. It is seeing inwardly, and the word harmony would perhaps express part of what is seen.

Humanity goes on and on almost in despair, hoping some time to find rest and peace and fullness of life in the undefined future, when, in fact, all these and more are here now if we would (could?) only reach out our hand and take them.

My supreme desire is to be of help to humanity, but when I have had this light come to me I have been so filled with the desire to reveal what I see to mankind that it seems as though I were not doing anything at all.

The mental experiences following the light are always essentially the same—namely, an intense desire to reveal man to himself and to aid those who are trying to find something worth living for in what they call "this life."

I do not feel that I have made myself intelligible, but I repeat that, in this subject, at least, words offer a most inadequate medium of expression.

Next: Part VI. Last Words