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ON THE PLANE OF SELF CONSCIOUSNESS - VIII - COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS

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ON THE PLANE OF SELF CONSCIOUSNESS - VIII - COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS

The length of time in which the race has been possessed of any given faculty may be more or less acurately estimated from various indications. In cases which the birth of the faculty took place in comparatively recent times-within, for instance, the last twenty-five or thirty thousand years-philology (as we have seen) may assist materially in determining the approximate date of its appearance.

But for comparatively old faculties, such as the human intellect or simple consciousness, this means necessarily entirely fails us.We fall back, then, upon the following tests:

1. The age of which the faculty appears in the individual man at the present time.

2. the more or less universality of the faculty in the adult members of the race today.

3. The readiness, or the reverse, with which the faculty is lost-as in sickness.

4. The relative frequency with which the faculty makes its appearance in dreams.

!. Of each of our mental faculties it may be predicated that it has its own normal or average age for appearing in the individual;as, for instance, memory and simple consciousness appearwithin a few days after birth; curiosity ten weeks after; use of tools twelve months after; shame, remorse, and a sense of ludicrous-all of them abiut fifteen months after birth.

Now it is to be noted that in every instance the time of appearance of a facultyin an enfant corresponds with the stage at which the same faculty appears (as far as can be at present ascertained) in the ascending animal scale, just as in the case of later appearing faculties, their age of appearing in the individual corresponds with their period of appearance in the race; for instance, memory and simple consciousness occur in animals as primitive as the echinodermata, while the use of tools is not met with below monkeys;and shame and remorse and a sense of the ludicrous are almost if not entirely confined (among animals) to the anthropoid ape and the dog.

2.The longer a race has been in possession of a given faculty the more universal will that faculty be in the race. This proposition scarcely needs proof. Every new faculty must occur first of all in one individual, and as other individuals attain to the status of that one they too will acquire it, until, after perhaps many thousands of years, the whole race, having attained to that status, the faculty will have become universal.

3. The longer a race has been in possession of a given faculty the more firmly is that faculty fixed in each individual of the race who possesses it. In other words: the more recent is any given faculty the more easily it is lost.

Authority for this proposition (which indeed it scarcely needs) will be quoted where it is stated in another connection. It is almost, if not quite, a self-evident proposition.

4. A study of dreaming seems to reveal the fact that in sleep such mind as we have differs from our waking mind, especially by being more primitive; thet, in fact, it would be almost strictly true to say that in dreams we pass backwars into prehuman mental life; that the intellectual faculties which we possess in dreams are, especially, recepts as distinguished from our waking concepts; While in the moral realm they are equally those faculties, such as remorse, shame, surprise, along with the older and more basic sense functions, which belonged to us before we reached the human plane, and that the more modern mental faculties, such as color sense, musical sense, self consciousness, the human moral nature, have no existence in this conditon, or if any of them do occur it is only a rare exception.

Let us now compare one with the other a few of the faculties which have bee already mentioned in the light of the rules laid down. To do this will give us, more clearly than perhaps anything else could, a definite notion of the growth of the mind by the successive addition of new functions. For this purpos let us take (as a few examples and to stand for all) simple consciousness, shame, self consciousness, color sense, the human moral nature, the musical sense, cosmic consciousness.

Simple consciousness makes its appearance in the human infant within a few days after birth; it is absolutely universal in the human race; it dates far back before the earliest mammals; it is lost only in deep sleep and coma; it is present in all dreams.

Shame, remorse and a sense of ludicrous are all said to be born in the human infant at about the age of fifteen months; they are all prehuman facultiesand are all found in the dog and apes, and they undoubtedly existed in our prehuman ancestors;they are all almost universal in the race, being absent only in very low idiots; they are all three common in dreams.

Self consciousness makes its appearance in the child, at the average age of three years; it is not present in any species but the human; it is, in fact, that faculty, the possession of which by an individual constitutes him a man. It is not universal in our race, being absent in all true idiots; that is, it is permanently absent in about one in each thousand human beings in Europe and America.

There must however, be many members of low races, such as the Bushmen of South Africa* and native Australians, who never attain to this faculty. In our ancestry self consciousness dates back to the first true man. Thousands of years must have elapsed between its first appearance and its universality, just as thousands of years are now passing between the first case of cosmic consciousness and its universality. a race, we are told, unclothed, walking erect, + gregarious, without a true language, to a limited extent tool-using, destitute of marriage, government, or any institution, animal, but in virtue of its relatively high moral nature (making it gregarious) and its highly developed receptual intelligence, king of animals, developd self consciousness, and by the fact became man.

Reference: Cosmic Consciousness; A study in the evolution of the Human Mind: Richard Maurice Bucke

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