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A consciousness of the cosmos, knowing the life and order of the universe. It is considered a higher, yet at present an exceptional peak in human evolution which the race is expected to reach in a distant future.
According to Dr. Richard M. Bucke (1837-1902), a friend of Walt Whitman, some individuals, mostly of the male sex, between 30 and 40, and who are highly developed with good intellect, high morals, a superior physique, and an earnest religious feeling can acquire this consciousness.
Dr. Bucke considered thirteen individuals to have possessed such a consciousness: Gautama, Jesus, Paul, Platinus, Mohammed, Dante, Las Casas, John Ypes, Francis Bacon, Jacob Behmen, William Blake, Balzac and Walt Whitman.
The experience comes suddenly without warning with a sensation of being immersed in a flame or rose-colored cloud and is accompanied by a feeling of ecstasy, moral and intellectual illumination in which, like a flash, a clear conception in outline is presented to the mind of the meaning and drift of the universe.
The man or woman going through this experience knows that the universe is a living presence, that life is eternal, the soul of man is immortal, the foundation principle of life is love, and the happiness of every individual in the long run is absolutely certain. All fear of death, all sense of sin is lost, and the personality gains added charm and is transfigured. In a few moments of the experience the individual will learn more than in years or months of study and will learn much that no study will teach.
Walt Whitman described cosmic consciousness as "ineffable light, light rare, untellable, light beyond all signs, descriptions and languages."
Dr. Bucke, whose conclusions was presented in his remarkable book Cosmic Consciousness, was a descendent of Sir Richard Walpole, and was in the position of superintendent of the Asylum for the Insane at London, Onterio, Canada, for 25 years.
Distinctly there are many degrees of higher consciousness from the elementary
awareness of shared consciousness with other individuals to the perception
of profound scientific insight, and the transcendental experience of the
mystic. These represent the varying degrees of creative intelligence of
the cosmos, the infinite divine principle represented in the anthropomorphic
symbolism of "God" in the many religions of the world. A.G.H.