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.
Cosmic Consciousness First Words - 1V - 2
His Conversation with C.P threw a flood of light upon the true meaning of what he had himself experienced. Looking then upon the world of man, he saw the significance of the subjective light in the case of Paul and in that of Mohammed. The secret of Whitman's transcendent greatness was revealed to him. Certain conversations with J.H.J. and with J.B helped him not a little. Personal intercourse with Edward Carpenter, T.S.R., C.M.C. and M.C.L. assisted greatly in the broadening and clearing up of his speculations, in the extension and co-ordination of his thought.
It remains to say a few words upon the psychological origin of what is called in this book Cosmic Consciousness, which must not be looked upon as being in any case supernatural or supranormal - as anything more or less than a natural growth. It remains to say a few words upon the psychological origin of what is called in this book Cosmic Consciousness, which must not be looked upon as being in any case supernatural or supranormal - as anything more or less than a natural growth. Although in the birth of Cosmic Consciousness the moral nature plays an important part, it will be better for many reasons to confine our attention at present to the evolution, of the intellect.
Cosmic Consciousness First Words - V
But as hinted previously, in order that a recept may be replaced by a concept it must be named, or, in other words, marked with a sign which stands for it- just as a check stands for a piece of baggage or a an entry in a ledger stands for a piece of goods; in other words, the race that is in possession of concepts is also, and necessarily, in possession of language. Further, it should be noted, as the possession of concepts implies the possession of language (which are in reality two aspects of the same thing) implies the possession of self consciousness. All this means that there is a moment in the evolution of mind when the receptual intellect, capable of simple conscious only, becomes almost or quite instantaneously a conceptual intellect in the possession of language and self consciousness.
When we say that an individual, whether an adult individual long ago or a child to-day does not matter, came into possession of concepts, of language and self consciousness in an instant, we, of course, mean that the individual came into possession of a whole language in a short time. In the history of the individual man the point in question is reached and passed at about the age of three years; in the history of the race it was reached and passed several hundred thousand years ago.
We have now, in our analysis, reached the point where we each individually stand, the point, namely, of the conceptual, self consiousness mind. In acquiring this new and higher form of consciousness it must not for a moment be supposed that we have dropped either our receptual inelligence or our old perceptual mind; as a matter of fact we could not live without these any more than could the animal who has no other mind than them. Our intellect, then, to-day is made up of a very complex mixture of percepts, recepts and concepts.
Let us now for a moment consider the concept. This may be considered as a large and complex recept; but larger and more complex than any recept. It is made up of one or more recepts combined with probably several percepts. This extremely complex recept is then marked by a sign; that is, it is named and in virtue of its name it becomes a concept. The concept, after being named or marked, is (as it were) laid away, just as a piece of checked baggage is market by its check and piled in the baggage room.
By means of this check we can send the trunk to any part of America without even seeing it or knowing just where it is at a given moment. So by means of their sign we can build concepts into elaborate calculations, into poems and into systems of philosophy, without knowing half the time anything about the thing represented by the individual concepts that we are using. And here a remark must be made aside from the main argument. It has been noticed thousands of times that the brain of a thinking man does not exceed in size the brain of a non-thinking wild man in anything like the proportion in which the mind of the thinker exceeds the mind of a savage.
The reason is that the brain of a Herbert Spencer has very little more work to do than has the brain of a native Australian, for this reason, that Spencer does all his characteristic mental work by signs or counters which stand for concepts, while the savage does all or nearly all his by means of cumbersome recepts. The savage is in a position comparable to that of the astronomer who makes his calculations by arithmetic, while Spencer is in the position of one who makes them by algebra. The first will fill many great sheets of paper with figures and go through immense labor; the other will make the same calculations on an envelope and with comparatively little mental work.
The next chapter in the story is the accumulation of concepts. This is a double process. From the age, we will say, of three years each one accumulates year by year a larger and larger number, while at the same time the individual concepts are becoming constantly more and more complex. Consider for instance the concept science as it exists in the mind of a boy and of a middle aged thinking man; with the former it stood for a few dozen or a few hundred facts; with the latter for many thousands. Is there to be any limit to this growth of concepts in number and complexity? Whoever will seriously consider that question will see that there must be a limit. No such process could go on to infinity. Should nature attempt such a feat the brain would have to grow until it could no longer be fed and a condition of deadlock be reached which would forbid further progress.
We have seen that the expansion of the perceptual mind had a necessary limit; and that its own continued life led it inevitably up to and into the receptual mind. That the receptual mind by its own growth was inevitably led up to and into the conceptual mind. A priori considerations make it certain that a corresponding outlet will be found for the conceptual mind. But we do not need to depend on an abstract reasoning to demonstrate that the necessary existence of the supra conceptual mind, since it exists and can be studied with no more difficulty than other natural phenomena, The supra conceptual intellect, the elements of which instead of being concepts are institutions, is already (in small numbers it is true) an established fact, and the form of consciousness that belongs to that intellect may be called and has been called-Cosmic Consciousness.
Thus we have four distinct stages of intellect, all abundantly illustrated in the animal and human worlds about us-all equally illustrated in the individual growth of the cosmic conscious mind and all four existing together in that mind as the first three exist together in the ordinary human mind. The four stages are first, the perceptual mind- the mind made up of percepts or sense impressions; second, the mind made up of these and recepts-the so called receptual mind, or in other words the mind of simple consciousness;
Third, we have the mind made up of percepts, recepts and concepts, called sometimes the conceptual mind or otherwise this self conscious mind-the mind of self consciousness; and fourth, and the last, we have the intuitional mind - the mind whose highest element is not a recept or a concept but an intuition. This is the mind in which sensation, simple consciousness and self consciousness are supplemented , and crowned with cosmic consciousness.
Reference: Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind: Richard Maurice Bucke
Cosmic consciousness - First Words - IV
The purpose of these preliminary remarks is to throw as much light as possible on the subject of this volume, so as to increase the pleasure and profit of its perusal. A personal exposition of the writer's own introduction to the main fact treated of will perhaps do as much as anything else could to further this end. He will therefore frankly set down here a very brief outline of his early mental life and give a short account of his slight experience of what he calls cosmic consciousness. The reader will readily see there from whence came the ideas and convictions presented in the following pages.
He was born of good middleclass English stock and grew up almost without education on what was then a backwwods Canadianb farm. As a child he assisted in such labor as lay within his power: tended cattle, horse, sheep, pigs; brought the firewood, worked in the hay field, drove oxen and horses, ran errands. His pleasures were as sinmple as his labors. An occasional visit to a neighboring small town, a game of ball, bathing in the creek that ran through his father's farm, the making and sailing of mimick ships, the search for birds' eggs and flowers in the spring, and for wild fruits in the summer and fall, afforded him, with his skates and handsled in the winter, his homely, much loved recreations.
While still a young boy he read with keen appreciation Marryat's novels, Scott's poems and novels and other similar books dealing with outdoor nature and human life. He never, even as a child, accepted the docrines of the Christian Church; but as soon as old enough to dwell at all on such themnes, conceived that Jesus was a man-great and good no doubt, but a man. That no one would ever be condemmed to everlasting pain. That if a conscious God existed he was the supreme master and meant well in the end to all; but that, this visible life here being ended, it was doubtful, or more than doubtful, whether conscious identity would be preserved.
The boy (even the child)m dwelt on these and similar topics far more than anyone would suppose; but probably not more than may other introspective small fellow mortals. He was subject at times to a sort estacy of curiosity and hope. And on one special occasion when about ten years old he earnestly longed to die that the secrets of the beyond, if there was any beyond, might be revealed to him; also to agonies of anxiety and terror, as for instance, at about the same age he read Reyonld's "Faust," and being near its end one sunny afternoon, he laid it down utterly unable to continue its persual, and went out into the sunshine to recover from the horror (after more than fifty years he distinctly recalls it) which had seized him.
The boy's mother died when he was only a few years old, and his father shortly afterwards. The outward circumstances of his life in some respects became more unhappy than can really be told. At sixteen the boy left home to live or die as it might happen. For five years he wandered over North America from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Upper Ohio to San Franscisco. He worked on farms, on railways, on steamboats, and in the placer diggings of Western Nevada. Several times he nearly suffered shipwreck by sickness, starvation, freezing, and once on the banks of the Humboldt River, in Utah, fought for his life half a day with the Shoshone Indians.#
After five years' wandering, at the age of twenty-two, he returned to the country where his childhood had been passed. a moderate sum of money from his dead mother enabled him to spend some years in study, and his mind, after lying so long fallow, absorbed ideas with extraordinary facility. He graduated with high honors four years after his return from the Pacific Coast,.Outside of the collegiate course he read with avidity many speculative books, such as the "Origin of the Species," Tyndall's "Heat" and "Essays," Buckle's "History," "Essays and Reviews," and much poetry, espically such as seemed to him free and fearless. In this species of literature he soon preferred Shelly, and of his poems, "Adonais" and "Prometheus" were his favorites.
His life for many years was one passionate note of interrogation, an unappeasable hunger for enlightenment on the basic problems. Leaving college , he continued his search with the same ardour. Taught himself French that he might read Auguste Comte, Hugo and Renan, and German that he might read Goethe, espically "Faust". At the age of thirty he fell in with "Leaves of Grass," and at once saw that it contained, in greater measure than any other book so far found, what he had so long been looking for.
He read the "Leaves" eagerly, even passionately, but for several years derived little from them. At last light broke and there was revealed to him ( as far as such things can be revealed) at least some of the meanings. Then occurred that to which the foregoing is preface.It was in the early spring at the beginning of his thirty-sixth year. He and two friends had spent the evening reading Words-worth, Shelly, Keats, Browning, and especially Whitman. They parted at midnight, and he had a long drive in a hansom (it was in an English city). His mind, deeply under the influence of the ideas, images and emotions called up by the reading and talk of the evening, was calm and peaceful.
He was in a state of quite, almost passive enjoyment. All at once, without warning of any kind, he found himself wrapped around asit were by a flame colored cloud. For an instant he thought of fire, some sudden conflagration in the great city; the next, he knew that the light was within himself. Directly afterwards came upon him a sense of exultation, of immense joyousness accompanied or immediately followed by an intellectual illumination quite impossible to describe. Into his brain streamed one momentary lightning-flash of the Brahmic Splendor which have ever since lightened his life; upon his heart fell
One drop of Brahmic Bliss, leaving thence-forward for always an aftertaste of Heaven. Among other things he did not come to believe, he saw and knew that the Cosmos is not dead matter but a living Presence, that the soul of man is immortal, that the universe is so built and ordered that without any peradventure all things work together for the good of each and all, that the foundation principle of the world is what we call love and that the happiness of every one is in the long run absolutely certain. He claims that he learned more within the few seconds during which the illumination lasted than in
Previous months or even years of study, and that he learned much that no study could ever be taught. The illumination itself continued not more than a few moments , but its affects proved ineffaceable; it was impossible for him ever to forget what he at that time saw and knew; neither did he, or could he, ever doubt the truth of what was then presented to his mind. There was no return, that night or at any other time, of the experience. He subsequently wrote a book (28a.) in which he sought to embody the teaching of illumination.
Some who read it thought very highly of it, but (as was expected for many reasons it had little circulation. The supreme occurrence of that night was his real and sole initiation to the new and higher order of ideas. But it was only an initiation. He saw the light but had no idea from whence it came and what it meant than had the first creature that saw the light of the sun. Years afterwards he met C.P., of whom he had often heard as having extraordinary spiritual insight. He found that C.P. had entered the higher life of which he had a glimpse and had large experience of its phenomena.
Reference: Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind: Richard Maurice Bucke
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