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Cosmic Consciousness, by Richard Maurice Bucke, [1901], at


William Wordsworth.


That the mind of this writer (nearly if not quite a poet) in his loftier moods attained a very close neighborhood to Cosmic Consciousness, if he did not actually enter the magic territory of the kingdom of heaven, no one will deny who knows what these words mean and who also has read him with any sympathy. In fact the following short passages, from lines written at Tintern Abbey in his twenty-ninth year, prove as much. In the first he speaks of "that blessed mood"

In which the burden of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world, p. 286
Is lightened:—that serene and blessed mood
In which the affections gently lead us on,—
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and becomes a living soul.
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things [198: 187].

This passage indicates plainly the relief (approaching to joy) and the enlightenment (approximating illumination) which belong to the unrisen sun of the Cosmic Sense. But there is no evidence that upon him, at any time, the sun actually rose—that the veil was ever rent and the splendor let through; in fact it may be considered as quite clear that this did not happen. Then, next line, follows the usual doubt:

If this but be a vain belief

(whether or not the revelation can be relied on)—a question never asked, at least after the first few minutes or hours, by a person who has obtained even one glimpse of the "Brahmic Splendor."

Later, in the same poem, is another passage describing in other words the same mental condition, which may be properly called the twilight of Cosmic Consciousness:

                           I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thought; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man—
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things [198: 189].

Next: Chapter 13. Charles G. Finney