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Cosmic Consciousness V - 2

But it is necessary to show more clearly still the nature of these four stages and their relation to one another. The perceptual or sensational stage of intellect is easy enough to understand, so may be passed by in this place with only one remark, namely, that in a mind made up of wholly of percepts there is no consciousness of any sort. When, however, the receptual mind come into existence simple consciousness is born, which means that animals are conscious (as we know they are) of the things they see about them.

But the receptual mind is capable of simple consciousness only-that is, the animal is conscious of the subject of which he sees, but he does not know he is conscious of it; neither is the animal conscious of itself as a distinct entity  or personality. In still other words the animal cannot stand outside of itself and look at itself as any self creature can. This, then, is simple consciousness: to be conscious of the things about one, but not to be conscious of one's self. But when I have reached self consciousness I am not only conscious of what I see , but I know I am conscious of it. Also I am conscious of myself as a separate entity and personality and I can stand apart from myself and contemplate myself, and can analyze and judge anything else.

The self consciousness is only possible after the formation of concepts and the consequent birth of language. Upon self consciousness is based all distinctively human life  so far, except what has proceeded from the new cosmic conscious minds of the last three thousand years. Finally the basic fact in cosmic consciousness is implied in its name-that fact is consciousness of the cosmos-this is what is called in the East the "Brahmic Splendor," which is in Dante's phrase capable of transhumanizing a man into a god. Whitman, who had an immense deal to say about it, speaks of it in one place as "ineffable light-light rare, untellable, lighting the very light-beyond all signs, descriptions, languages."

This consciousness shows the cosmos to consist not of dead matter governed by unconscious, rigid, and unintending law; it shows it on the contrary as entirely immaterial, entirely spiritual and entirely alive; it shows that death is an absurdity, that everyone and everything has eternal life; it shows that the universe is God and that God is the universe, and that no evil ever did or ever will enter into it; a great deal of this is, of course, from the point of view of self consciousness, absurd; it is nevertheless undoubtedly true. 

Now all this does not mean that when a man ha s cosmic consciousness he knows everything about the universe. We all know that when at three years of age we acquired self consciousness we did not at once know all about ourselves; we know, on the contrary, that after a great many thousand years of experience of himself man still to-day knows comparatively little about himself considered even as a self conscious personality.

So neither does a man know all about the cosmos merely because he becomes conscious of it. If it has taken the race several hundred thousand years to learn a smattering of the science of humanity since its aquisition of self consciousness, so it may take it millions of years to acquire a smattering of the science of God  after its acquisition of cosmic consciousness. As on self consciousness is based the human world as we see it with all its works and ways, so on cosmic consciousness is based the higher religions and the higher philosophies and what comes from them, and on it will be based, when it becomes more general, a new world of which it would be idle to try to speak to-day.

The philosophy of the birth of cosmic consciousness in the individual is very similar to that of the birth of self consciousness. The mind becomes overcrowded (as it were) with concepts and these are constantly becoming larger, more numerous and more and more complex; some day (the conditions being all favorable) the fusion, or what might be called the chemical union, of several of them and of certain moral elements takes place; the result is an intuition and the establishment of the intuitional mind, or, in other words, cosmic consciousness.

The scheme by which the mind is built up is uniform from beginning to end; a recept is made of many percepts; a concept of many or several recepts and percepts, and an intuition is made of many concepts, recepts and perhaps together with other elements belonging to and drawn from the mortal nature. The cosmic vision of the cosmic intuition, from which what may be called the new mind takes its name, is thus seen to be simply the complex and unison of all prior thought and experience- just as self consciousness is the complex and union of all thought and experience prior to it.

 
Reference: Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind: Richard Maurice Bucke
 

 

 

 

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