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Sunday Sermon--Cosmos Consciousness

Date: Sunday, June 9, 2024 12:56 PM EDT

What the heck is "cosmos consciousness" anyhow? 

This is how Dr. Richard Maurice Bucke partially described it.


To make the matter clear it must be understood that there are three forms or grades of consciousness. 

  1. Simple Consciousness, which is possesed by say the upper half of the animal kingdom.  By means of this faculty a dog or a horse is just as conscious of the things about him as a man is; he is also conscious of his own limbs and body, and he knows that these are a part of himself.
  2. Over and above this Simple Consciousness, which is possessed by man as by animals, man has another level of consciousness called Self Consciousness.  By virtue of this faculty man is not only conscious of trees, rocks, waters, his own limb and body, but he becomes conscious of himself as a distinct entity apart from all the rest of the universe.
  3. Cosmic Consciousness is a third form of consciousness, as far above Self-Consciousness as is that above Simple Consciousness.  With this form, of course, both Simple Consciousness and Self-consciousness persist (as simple consciousness persists when self-consciousness is acquired).  The prime characteristic of cosmic consciousness is, as its name implies, a consciousness of the cosmos, that is, of the life and order of the universe.

Dr. Bucke says he expects his work to be useful in two ways:

  1. In broadening the general view of human life by comprehending in our mental vision this important phase of it, and by enabling us to realize, in some measure, the true status of certain men who, down to the present are either exalted, by the average self-conscious individual, to the rank of gods, or, adopting the other extreme, are adjudged insane.
  2. In furnishing aid to his fellow men in a far more practical and important sense.  The view he takes is that our descendants will sooner or later reach, as a race, the condition of cosmic consciousness, just as, long ago (i.e. 300,000 years ago), our ancestors passed from simple to self-consciousness.

Bucke believed that this step in evolution is even now being made, since it is clear to him both that men with the faculty in question are becoming more and more common and also that as a race we are approaching nearer and nearer to that stage of the self-conscious mind from which the transition to the cosmic conscious is effected.

He knows that intelligent contact with cosmic conscious minds assists self-conscious individuals in the ascent to the higher plane.

Thus, Buck hoped, by bringing about, or at least facilitating this contact, to aid men and women in making the almost infinitely important step in question.

Cosmic Consciousness.


ps.  I might add that Dr. Bucke published his theory in 1901.  I am sure that he felt that women could achieve cosmic consciousness as well as men and at the same rate, frequency, etc.  Although he did favor male-dominated terms in his writings for non-gender things, which was somewhat common for his time period (even with cosmos consciousnes), i truly believe that Bucke felt that all humans, by this stage in our development, were ripe for gaining cosmic consciousness.


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Frank Underwood 1 month ago Member's comment

First I've ever heard of "cosmos consciousness."

Jim Boswell 1 month ago Author's comment

Bucke is at least as important as Darwin.