Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind (1901) is a book written by Richard Maurice Bucke, a Canadian psychiatrist. In this book, he explored the concept of Cosmic Consciousness, which he defined as "a higher form of consciousness than that possessed by the ordinary man."
Forms of consciousness
In Cosmic Consciousness, Bucke stated that he discerned three forms, or degrees, of consciousness:
- Simple consciousness, possessed by both animals and mankind
- Self-consciousness, possessed by mankind, encompassing thought, reason, and imagination
- Cosmic consciousness, a consciousness of the life and order of the universe which is possessed by few men at present. It is a further stage of human evolution which will be reached by all humanity in the future.
According to Bucke,
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.
Moores said that Bucke's cosmic consciousness is an interconnected way of seeing things "which is more of an intuitive knowing than it is a factual understanding." Moores pointed out that, for scholars of the purist camp, the experience of cosmic consciousness is incomplete without the element of love, "which is the foundation of mystical consciousness":
Mysticism, then, is the perception of the universe and all of its seemingly disparate entities existing in a unified whole bound together by love.
Juan A. Hererro Brasas said that Bucke's cosmic consciousness refers to the evolution of the intellect, and not to "the ineffable revelation of hidden truths." According to Brasas, it was William James who equated Bucke's cosmic consciousness with mystical experience or mystical consciousness.
Bucke identified only male examples of cosmic consciousness. He believed that women were not likely to have it.
Both Bucke and James argue that all religions, no matter how seemingly different, have a common core; both believe that it is possible to identify this core by stripping away institutional accretions of dogma and ritual and focusing on individual experience; and both identify mystical illumination as the foundation of all religious experience.
James popularized the concept of religious experience,[note 1] which he explored in The Varieties of Religious Experience. He saw mysticism as a distinctive experience which supplies knowledge of the transcendental. He considered the "personal religion" to be "more fundamental than either theology or ecclesiasticism", and states:
In mystic states we both become one with the Absolute and we become aware of our oneness. This is the everlasting and triumphant mystical tradition, hardly altered by differences of clime or creed. In Hinduism, in Neoplatonism, in Sufism, in Christian mysticism, in Whitmanism, we find the same recurring note, so that there is about mystical utterances an eternal unanimity which ought to make a critic stop and think, and which bring it about that the mystical classics have, as been said, neither birthday not native land.
Regarding cosmic consciousness, William James, in his essay The Confidences of a "Psychical Researcher," wrote:
What again, are the relations between the cosmic consciousness and matter? ... So that our ordinary human experience, on its material as well as on its mental side, would appear to be only an extract from the larger psycho-physical world?
James understood "cosmic consciousness" to be a collective consciousness, a "larger reservoir of consciousness" which manifests itself through the individual brains and emanations, but remains intact after the dissolution of the individual brain and may "retain traces of the life history of its indiviual emanation".
- Animal, brutish self-awareness
- Sensual consciousness
- Higher self-consciousness
In Schleiermacher's theology, higher consciousness "is the part of the human being that is capable of transcending animal instincts", and the "point of contact with God". Essence of being human. When this consciousness is present, people are not alienated from God by their instincts. The relation between the lower and the higher conscious ness is akin to Paul's "struggle of the spirit to overcome the flesh", or the distinction between the natural and the spiritual side of human beings.
Wayne Proudfoot traces the roots of the notion of "religious experience" to Schleiermacher, who argued that religion is based on a feeling of the infinite. The notion of "religious experience" was used by Schleiermacher and Albert Ritschl to defend religion against the growing scientific and secular citique, and defend the view that human (moral and religious) experience justifies religious beliefs.
All this seems to force upon us an interpretation of Hegel that would understand his term 'mind' as some kind of cosmic consciousness; not, of course, a traditional conception of God as a being separate from the universe, but rather as something more akin to those eastern philosophies that insists that all is one.
Teilhard de Chardin's concept of the noösphere also bears similarities. Due to the popularisation of the notion of "religious experience", similarities have also been conceived with elements of Asian religions, such as the Buddhist concept of Indra's net and satori in Zen.[not in citation given (See discussion.)] According to Marshall, the concept of "cosmic consciousnes" also bears resemblances to some traditional pantheist beliefs. According to Laszlo, "cosmic consciousness" corresponds to Jean Gebser's "integral consciousness" and Cowan and Beck's turquoise state of "cosmic spirituality".
Some modern psychologists and theologians have made reference to Bucke’s work. They include 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.
- Bucke 2009, p. 1-3.
- Bucke 2009, p. 19–82, Parts II-III.
- Bucke 2009, p. 17–18.
- Moores 2006, p. 33.
- Moores 2005, p. 33.
- Moores 2005, p. 34.
- Brasas 2010, p. 53.
- Robertson 2010, p. 134.
- Robertson 2010, p. 135.
- Robertson 2010, p. 133.
- Samy 1998, p. 80.
- Hori 1999, p. 47.
- Sharf 2000.
- Harmless 2007, pp. 10–17.
- James 1982 (1902), p. 30.
- Harmless 2007, p. 14.
- James 1987-b, p. 1264.
- Bridgers 2005, p. 27.
- Johnson 1964, p. 68.
- Bunge 2001, p. 341.
- Merklinger 1993, p. 67.
- Wentzel Van Huyssteen 2003, p. 569.
- Singer 2001.
- Walker 1974, p. 27-28.
- Marshall 2005, p. 126.
- Laszlo 2008, p. 123.
- Lambert Dolphin, The Psychedelic Drug Experience And The Unconscious Mind
- Ayre, Don (2011), Meditation and the Evolution of Cosmic Consciousness, Xlibris Publishers
- Brasas, Juan A. Hererro (2010), Walt Whitman's Mystical Ethics of Comradeship: Homosexuality and the Marginality of Friendship at the Crossroads of Modernity (Google eBoek), SUNY Press
- Bridgers, Lynn (2005), Contemporary Varieties of Religious Experience: James's Classic Study in Light of Resiliency, Temperament, and Trauma, Rowman & Littlefield
- Bucke, Richard Maurice (2000). Cosmic Consciousness:A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind. Carlisle, Massachusetts: Applewood Books. ISBN 978-1-55709-499-5.
- 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.
- Bunge, Marcia JoAnn (2001), The Child in Christian Thought, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing
- Harmless, William (2007), Mystics, Oxford University Press
- Hori, Victor Sogen (1994), Teaching and Learning in the Zen Rinzai Monastery. In: Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol.20, No. 1, (Winter, 1994), 5-35
- James, William (1982 (1902)), The Varieties of Religious Experience, Penguin classics
- James, William (1987-a), The Varieties of Religious Experience, Library of America, pp. 1–477, ISBN 978-0-940450-38-7
- James, William (1987-b), William James: Writings 1902 – 1910, New York: The Library of America, ISBN 978-0-940450-38-7
- Johnson, William Alexander (1964), On Religion: A study of the theological method in Schleiermacher and Nygren, Brill Archive
- Krishna, G. (2004), What is Cosmic Consciousness?, Bethel Publishers
- Laszlo, Ervin (2008), Quantum Shift in the Global Brain: How the New Scientific Reality Can Change Us and Our World, Inner Traditions / Bear & Co
- Marshall, Marshall (2005), Mystical Encounters with the Natural World, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-927943-2
- Merklinger, Philip M. (1993), Philosophy, Theology, and Hegel's Berlin Philosophy of Religion, 1821-1827, SUNY Press
- Moores, D.J. (2006), Mystical Discourse in Wordsworth and Whitman: A Transatlantic Bridge, Peeters Publishers
- Ouspensky, P. D. (1968), Tertium Organum, Alfred A. Knopf, ISBN 978-1-4382-3796-1
- Robertson, Michael (2010), Worshipping Walt: The Whitman Disciples, Princeton University Press
- Samy, AMA (1998), Waarom kwam Bodhidharma naar het Westen? De ontmoeting van Zen met het Westen, Asoka: Asoka
- Semple, J. J. (2008), The Backward-Flowing Method, Life Force Books, ISBN 978-0-9795331-2-9
- Sharf, Robert H. (2000), The Rhetoric of Experience and the Study of Religion. In: Journal of Consciousness Studies, 7, No. 11-12, 2000, pp. 267-87
- Singer, Peter (2001), Hegel: A Very Short Introduction (Google eBoek), Oxford University Press
- Walker, Benjamin (1974), Beyond the Body, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-7100-7808-7
- Wentzel Van Huyssteen (2003), Encyclopedia of science and religion, Volume 2, Macmillan Reference USA
- Richard M. Bucke, Cosmic Consciousness
- Paglia, Camille. (Winter 2003). Cults and Cosmic Consciousness: Religious Vision in the American 1960s. Arion. 10 (3), 57-111.