Cosmic consciousness is a type of consciousness, posited by some psychologists and theologians, in which the universe is perceived as an interconnected network of individual consciousnesses, each one of which is connected to every other one.
There have been, throughout history, many conceptions of universal unity and connectivity. Cosmic consciousness bears similarity to:
- the ancient Buddhist concept of Indra's net
- Teilhard de Chardin's concept of the noösphere
- Hegel's absolute idealism
- satori in Zen[not in citation given (See discussion.)]
- some traditional pantheist beliefs
In the 19th century, Canadian psychiatrist Richard Maurice Bucke developed a theory which held that cosmic consciousness exists beyond ordinary self-consciousness, the usual state of human consciousness. The theory also posits animal consciousness, which is said to be prior to, or below, human consciousness.
Some modern psychologists and theologians have made reference to Bucke’s work. They include Carl Jung, Erich Fromm, Robert S. de Ropp, and Abraham Maslow. Others who have used the concept of cosmic consciousness, as introduced by Bucke in 1901, include Albert Einstein, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and Alan Watts.
In this book, Bucke presented a theory of the development of consciousness in three stages:
- the simple consciousness of animals
- the self-consciousness of the mass of humanity (encompassing thought, reason, and imagination)
- cosmic consciousness, an emerging consciousness which is the next stage of human evolution
Alexander Zelitchenko in his Svet Zhizni (Light of Life: History of Humankind in the Psychosphere of Earth) continued this line of throught, which traces the history of transformations of human consciousness. Others who have engaged in similar speculations include Oswald Spengler, Lev Vygotsky, Lev Gumilev, Carl Jung, and P. D. Ouspensky.
According to Ouspensky, as man evolves into a higher state of consciousness (i.e., cosmic consciousness), he needs a higher form of logic.
- Alan Watts
- Carl Jung
- Collective unconscious
- Omega point
- Peak experience
- Richard Maurice Bucke
- Transpersonal psychology
- J. J. Semple, The Backward-Flowing Method, p. 14, Life Force Books, 2008 ISBN 978-0-9795331-2-9
- Benjamin Walker, Beyond the Body, pp. 27-8, Routledge, 1974 ISBN 978-0-7100-7808-7
- Paul Marshall, Mystical Encounters with the Natural World, p. 126, Oxford University Press, 2005 ISBN 978-0-19-927943-2
- Bucke, Richard Maurice (2009). Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications. ISBN 978-0-486-47190-7.
- Bucke, Richard Maurice. "Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind". Retrieved November 23, 2013.
- Bucke, Richard Maurice (2009). Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications. pp. 19–82. ISBN 978-0-486-47190-7.
- P. D. Ouspensky Tertium Organum, pp. 219-44, Alfred A. Knopf, 1968 ASIN: B001Q236NE; 1st ed. 1920; paperback ISBN 978-1-4382-3796-1
- Ayre, Don (2011). Meditation and the Evolution of Cosmic Consciousness, Xlibris Publishers.
- James, William (1987), The Varieties of Religious Experience, Library of America, pp. 1–477, ISBN 978-0-940450-38-7.
- Krishna, G. (2004). What is Cosmic Consciousness?, Bethel Publishers.
- Paglia, Camille. (Winter 2003). Cults and Cosmic Consciousness: Religious Vision in the American 1960s. Arion. 10 (3), 57-111.