View Full Version : 'Cosmic Consciousness', by Richard M. Bucke

Wednesday, January 12th, 2005, 02:36 AM
In his 1902 book Cosmic Consciousness, Canadian psychologist Richard M. Bucke describes cosmic consciousness as a transpersonal mode of consciousness, an awareness of the universal mind and one's unity with it. The prime characteristic of cosmic consciousness is an awareness of the life and order in the universe.

Bucke argues that during the course of humanity's evolutionary development there are three forms of consciousness.

Simple Consciousness, our instinctual consciousness.
Self Consciousness, that self-awareness that allows a human to realize himself as a distinct entity.
Cosmic Consciousness, a new developing faculty at the pinnacle of our evolution.

Bucke outlines the evolutionary struggle on our planet which has produced self-consciousness and then describes the appearance of a new species that possesses cosmic consciousness, a consciousness that expands to become one with all. This evolutionary process continues to today. Bucke studied the lives of persons that had attained cosmic consciousness and found common characteristics such as:

intuitive understanding
elevated moral stature
loss of sense of sin
intellectual illumination
sense of immortality
no fear of death
definite moment or period of transformation
"The person who passes through this experience will learn in the few minutes, or even moments, of its continuance more than in months or years of study, and he will learn much that no study every taught or can teach. Especially does he obtain such a conception of *the whole*...Along with moral elevation and intellectual illumination comes what must be called, for want of a better term, a sense of immortality."From his book he describes how those he interviewed had experienced the state:

"Like a flash there is presented to his consciousness a clear conception (a vision) in outline of the meaning and drift of the universe ...He sees and knows that the cosmos ...is in fact...in very truth a living presence. He sees that instead of men being, as it were, patches of life scattered through an infinite sea of non-living substance, they are in reality specks of relative death in an infinite ocean of life. He sees that the life which is in man is as immortal as God is; that the universe is so built and ordered that without any peradventure all things work together for the good of all..."

Just a few months after “Cosmic Consciousness” appeared, Bucke fell on an icy porch, fractured his skull, and died. He had been well appreciated by his professional colleagues, who saw him elected a charter member of the Royal Society of Canada, president of national and international societies, as well as a distinguished professor at Western University in London, now the University of Western Ontario.