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On the Plane of Self Consciousness - VII-Cosmic Consciousness

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On the Plane of Self Consciousness - VII-Cosmic Consciousness

Primeval man, from whom we are all descended, has still upon the earth in these later days, two representatives-first, the savage; second, the child, and through the mental state represented by these two, not only each individual member of the race, but the race itself as a whole, has passed. For, as in his intra-uterine evolution the individual man retraces and summarizes in a few brief months the evolution of the human race, physically considered, from the initial unicellular form in which individual life began through all intervening phases between that and the human form, resuming in each day the slow evolution of millions of years, so likewise does the individual man in his mental development from birth to maturity retrace and summarize the evolution of physical life of the race:

And as the individual physical man begins at the very bottom of the scale as a unicellular monad, so does the physical man begin on the bottom round of the ladder of mind, and his ascent of a few dozen months passes through the successive phases each of which occupied in its accomplishment by the race thousands of years. The characteristics of the mind of the savage and of the child will give us, when found, the characteristics of the primeval human mind from which has descended the average modern mind that we know, as well as the exceptional minds of the great men of history of the present day.

The chief difference between the primeval, the infantile and the savage mind on the one hand and the civilized mind on the other, is that the first (called for the sake of brevity the lower mind) is wanting in personal force, courage, or faith, and also in sympathy, or affection; and that it is more easily excited to terror or anger than the second or civilized mind. There are of course other differences than these between the lower mind and the higher-differences in intellect, and even in sense perceptions: but these, though great in them selves, have not the supreme significance of the basic, fundamental, moral differences just mentioned.


The lower mind than lacks faith, lacks courage, lacks personal force, lacks sympathy, lacks affection-that is ( to sum up), it lacks peace, content, happiness. -that is (to gain sum up), to unrest, discontent, unhappiness. It is prone to the fear of things known, and still more to vague terror of things unknown; it is prone to anger, rage, hatred-that is, to unhappiness. The statement thus broadly made does not seem at first sight to mean very much, but in fact it means almost everything; it contains the key to our past, our present, and our future.

For it is the condition of the moral nature (thus briefly adverted to) that decides for each one of us, from moment to moment, and for the race at large, from age to age, what sort of place this world in which we live shall appear to be-what sort of place it is indeed for each one of us. For it is not our eyes and ears, nor even our intellect, that report's the world to us, but it is our moral nature that settles at last the significance of what exists about us.

The members of the human race began by fearing much and disliking much, by loving or admiring little and by trusting still less. It is safe to say that those earliest men of the river drift, and the cave men, their successors, saw little beauty in the outer world in which they lived, though perhaps their eyes, in most other respects, wee fully as keen as ours. it is certain that their family affections (as in the case of the lowest savages of to-day) were, to say the least, rudimentary, and all that all men outside their immediate family were either feared or disliked, or both.

When the race emerged from the cloud-covered past into the light of what may be called inferential history, the view men took of the government of the universe, of the character of the beings and forces which this government was carried on, of the position in which man stood to the governing powers, of his prospects in this life and after it, were (as in the case of lower races of to-day)gloomy in an extreme degree.

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

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