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In 1872, while in London, England, Bucke had the pivotal experience of his life, a fleeting mystical experience that he regarded as a few moments of "cosmic consciousness." Bucke described the characteristics and effects of this "faculty" as follows: sudden appearance; subjective experience of light (inner light); moral elevation; intellectual illumination; sense of immortality; loss of fear of death; loss of a sense of sin. However, the term "cosmic consciousness" more closely derives from yet another feature: the vivid sense of the universe as a living presence, rather than as basically lifeless, inert matter. This direct perception, which Bucke took great pains to try to explain, vivifies Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's theory of Nature.
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Bucke's account (1901) of his research and contemplation on the trend towards heightened intellectual awareness in man, through evolution, explaining his theory of the three stages of conscious development that culminate in flashes of understanding of the life and order of the cosmos, illustrated by his own and others' experiences.From the Back Cover:
Many of the great spiritual and intellectual achievements throughout history represent mankind's quest for an ultimate state of consciousness. This process of developing expanded consciousness is clearly explained in Cosmic Consciousness, one of the classic books on the mystical experience. Richard Maurice Bucke outlines the development of various intellectual and spiritual faculties in the history of man and how their development mirrors the growth of the individual. Bucke believed that ""the evolution of the individual is necessarily the evolution of the race in an abridged form."" Cosmic Consciousness declares that we are witnessing a continued revolution in enlightenment with people like Buddha, Jesus, Spinoza, and Whitman, to name a few, acting as the forerunners. First published in 1901, Cosmic Consciousness, is an excellent source of information for anyone interested in exploring spiritual development. From simple consciousness, to self-consciousness, and then cosmic consciousness, Bucke provides a work of profound philosophical vision. This classic study occupies a secure place in the archives of written thought.
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