There is a stage still higher than this last mentioned but it has come to but very few of the race. Reports of it come from all times, races, countries. It has been called “Cosmic Consciousness,” and is described as an awareness of the Oneness of Life–that is, a consciousness that the Universe is filled with One Life–an actual perception and “awareness” that the Universe is full of Life, Motion and Mind, and that there is no such thing as Blind Force, or Dead Matter, but that All is alive, vibrating and intelligent.
That is, of course, that the Real Universe, which is the Essence or background of the Universe of Matter, Energy and Mind, is as they describe. In fact, the description of those who have had glimpses of this state would indicate that they see the Universe as All Mind–that All is Mind at the last. This form of consciousness has been experienced by men here and there–only a few–in moments of “Illumination,” the period lasting but a very short space of time, then fading away, leaving but a memory. In the moment of the “Illumination” there came to those experiencing it a sense of “intouch-ness” with Universal Knowledge and Life, impossible to describe, accompanied by a Joy beyond understanding.
Regarding this last, “Cosmic Consciousness,” we would state that it means more than an intellectual conviction, belief or realization of the facts as stated, for an actual vision and consciousness of these things came in the moment of Illumination. Some others report that they have a deep abiding sense of the reality of the facts described by the report of the Illumined, but have not experienced the “vision” or ecstasy referred to. These last people seem to have with them always the same mental state as that possessed by those who had the “vision” and passed out of it, carrying with them the remembrance and feeling, but not the actual consciousness attained at the moment.
They agree upon the essential particulars of the reports. Dr. Maurice Bucke, now passed out of this plane of life, wrote a book entitled “Cosmic Consciousness,” in which he describes a number of these cases, including his own, Walt Whitman’s and others, and in which he holds that this stage of consciousness is before the race and will gradually come to it in the future. He holds that the manifestation of it which has come to some few of the race, as above stated, is but the first beams of the sun which are flashing upon us and which are but prophecies of the appearance of the great body of light itself.
We shall not here consider at length the reports of certain great religious personages of the past, who have left records that in moments of great spiritual exaltation they became conscious of “being in the presence of the Absolute,” or perhaps within the radius of “the light of Its countenance.” We have great respect for these reports, and have every reason for believing many of them authentic, notwithstanding the conflicting reports that have been handed down to us by those experiencing them. These reports are conflicting because of the fact that the minds of those who had these glimpses of consciousness were not prepared or trained to fully understand the nature of the phenomena.
They found themselves in the spiritual presence of Something of awful grandeur and spiritual rank, and were completely dazed and bewildered at the sight. They did not understand the nature of the Absolute, and when they had sufficiently recovered they reported that they had been in the “presence of God”–the word “God” meaning their particular conception of Deity–that is, the one appearing as Deity in their own particular religious creed or school. They saw nothing to cause them to identify this Something with their particular conception of Deity, except that they thought that “it must be God,” and knowing no other God except their own particular conception, they naturally identifying the Something with “God” as they conceived Him to be. And their reports naturally were along these lines.
Thus the reports of all religions are filled with accounts of the so-called miraculous occurrences. The Catholic saint reports that he “saw of light of God’s countenance,” and the non-Catholic reports likewise regarding God as he knows him. The Mohammedan reports that he caught a glimpse of the face of Allah, and the Buddhist tells us that he saw Buddha under the tree. The Brahman has seen the face of Brahma, and the various Hindu sects have men who give similar reports regarding their own particular deities. The Persians have given similar reports, and even the ancient Egyptians have left records of similar occurrences.
These conflicting reports have led to the belief, on the part of those who did not understand the nature of the phenomena, that these things were “all imagination” and fancy, if indeed not rank falsehood and imposture. But the Yogis know better than this. They know that underneath all these varying reports there is a common ground of truth, which will be apparent to anyone investigating the matter. They know that all of these reports (except a few based upon fraudulent imitation of the real phenomenon) are based upon truth and are but the bewildered reports of the various observers. They know that these people were temporarily lifted above the ordinary plane of consciousness and were made aware of the existence of a Being or Beings higher than mortal.
It does not follow that they saw “God” or the Absolute, for there are many Beings of high spiritual growth and development that would appear to the ordinary mortal as a very God. The Catholic doctrine of Angels and Arch-angels is corroborated by those among the Yogis who have been “behind the Veil,” and they give us reports of the “Devas” and other advanced Beings. So the Yogi accepts these reports of the various mystics, saints and inspired ones, and accounts for them all by laws perfectly natural to the students of the Yogi Philosophy, but which appear as supernatural to those who have not studied along these lines.
But we cannot speak further of this phase of the subject in this lesson, for a full discussion of it would lead us far away from the phase of the general subject before us. But we wish to be understood as saying that there are certain centers in the mental being of Man from which may come light regarding the existence of the Absolute and higher order of Beings. In fact, from these centers come to man that part of his mental “feelings” that he calls “the religious instinct or intuition.”
Man does not arrive at that underlying consciousness of “Something Beyond” by means of his Intellect–it is the glimmer of light coming from the higher centers of the Self. He notices these gleams of light, but not understanding them, he proceeds to erect elaborate theological and creedal structures to account for them, the work of the Intellect, however, always lacking that “feeling” that the intuition itself possesses. True religion, no matter under what name it may masquerade, comes from the “heart” and is not comforted or satisfied with these Intellectual explanations, and hence comes that unrest and craving for satisfaction which comes to Man when the light begins to break through.
But we must postpone a further discussion of this part of the subject for the present. We shall consider it again in a future lesson in connection with other matters. As we have said, our next two lessons will take upon the inquiry regarding the regions outside of the consciousness of the ordinary man. You will find it a most fascinating and instructive inquiry and one that will open up new fields of thought for many of you.
I Am a Being far greater and grander than I have as yet conceived. I am unfolding gradually but surely into higher planes of consciousness. I am moving Forward and Upward constantly. My goal is the Realization of the True Self, and I welcome each stage of Unfoldment that leads me toward my aim. I am a manifestation of REALITY. I AM.