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


Case of J. William Lloyd, in His Own Words.

You ask for a brief statement of my life and spiritual evolution. I was born in Westfield, N. J., June 4, 1857. My parents were English, and had had but a few months' schooling apiece. My father was a carpenter, my mother a

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seamstress. My mother was a woman of broad, gentle nature, spiritual, poetic, a great reader. My father was an intense abolitionist. My schooling was scant, at a district school. We lived near a great wood. I cared not much for other children, but spent my time with books and the trees. I loved the trees like conscious friends.

The disagreeable side of religion was never shown me. I talked with God when an infant as naturally as with my mother. Some old book on philosophy (I do not know its name) fell into my hands, and I commenced to think to the core. I read the Bible, commentaries, a book on "All Religions." At thirteen I was atheist, then turned quickly, experienced conversion, and, as I read, became Calvinist, Arminian, Swedenborgian. At fifteen I was apprenticed to a carpenter, but work failed in 1873, and I became a gardener. At seventeen I was a leader in prayer-meetings, an exhorter, a disputant with ministers on points of orthodoxy. At eighteen I went to Trail's Hygienic College at Florence, N. J., as a working student. All radical questions met me here, and the woman who became my wife. Trail died, the college failed, I went to Kansas as a pioneer, was a herder, a homesteader, married in 1879, acted as hygienic physician for my neighbors, read the Boston "Index" and Theodore Parker, and became a member of the Free Religious Association. Three years’ drouth drove me from Kansas to a sanitarium in Vinton, Iowa, where I was assistant. Became agnostic. Read Ingersoll and the scientists. Joined a hygienic colony in Tennessee in January, 1883. Again a pioneer in the woods. Accepted Karl Heingen's Democracy, and grew more confirmed in writing poems, which I had first commenced just before going to Kansas. Accepted free-love, which I had fought for years. Colony failed, and I went to another similar one in Florida, Many spiritualists here. Read Tucker's "Liberty" and became an enthusiastic anarchist. Orange grower, farm laborer and pioneer. Colony and work failed, and went to Palatka. Poultry farmer. Wife died in September, 1888, after nearly a decade of most happy married life. Came North to old home, with two little children, and became a professional nurse. Here found more books, and read the poets—Emerson, Whitman, Thoreau, Spencer, Darwin, Carpenter, William Morris. I loved the Transcendentalists, but did not understand them very well. I lived mostly in poetry and sociologic science.

As to my illumination: I was going to New York City one morning in January, 1897, on a train, to do some hospital work. I was reading Carpenter. It was a beautiful winter morning. I think I was near the Bay Bridge, or on it, when the Thought came. There was no particular sensation, except that something beautiful and great seemed to have happened me, which I could only describe in terms of light. Yet it was purely mental. But everything looked different to me. I went about the city that day calm, but glad and uplifted. The thing I remember most was a wonder how soon the sensation, or impression, would leave me. I was latently sceptical, and thought it a temporary inspiration, like that of a poem. But days, weeks, months, passed, and I found the shoot which had broken ground that winter morning was ever growing, strengthening and changing all the scenery of my life. I continually questioned and tested, and at last, after a year's trial, began to write. All the early part

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of the book was written at night, while I nursed and guarded a lunatic boy, whose yells, laughs, curses and filthy jests made the room ring as I wrote. Yet I wrote easily, swiftly, without any conscious cerebration, and with a sort of wonder at the words I wrote, as if they had no connection with me. Part of the book was written in the following summer, when at home, part of it in the winter of 1899–1900, while getting ready for the press, but always with the same sensations of ease and inspiration. And still, when I read the book, it seemed to me something apart, in whose construction I had had no hand. As to how I felt when I received the Thought, you have yourself most accurately described the symptoms on pages 10 and 11 of your pamphlet: "With the intellectual illumination comes an indescribable moral elevation, an intense and exalted joyfulness, and, along with this, a sense of immortality; not merely a belief in a future life—that would be a small matter—but a consciousness that the life now being lived is eternal, death being seen as a trivial incident which does not affect its continuity. Further, there are annihilation of the sense of sin and an intellectual competency not simply surpassing the old, but on a new and higher plane." Also many of the marks of Arahatship, as taught by Buddha, describe accurately the feeling.

What proves J. William Lloyd to be a case of Cosmic Consciousness is not so much the above account of himself (although that could hardly have been written without some such an experience as illumination) as the volume [110a] which he produced after the occurrence in question. This volume, which contains overwhelming evidence of the fact, is easily accessible and will doubtless be read by every person who feels an interest in the subject.

The oncoming of Cosmic Consciousness in this case was very similar to the same fact in the case of Edward Carpenter. There was a clearly-marked moment when the light began to break through, but illumination came gradually. There was no subjective light. There was well-marked intellectual illumination and moral elevation, but the Cosmic vision, the Brahmic Splendor, of the great cases does not appear to have been present. If not, this cannot be said to be a complete case, and still J. William Lloyd's book shows a most excellent insight into the cosmic order. It must be remembered that illumination that comes gradually may be as complete as that which comes instantly. Why there should be such difference in the awakening in different cases cannot at present be explained.

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As far as our facts will carry us it would appear that the cases in which the Cosmic Sense makes its appearance full grown, instantly and, as it were, in a flash, are those in which there is marked subjective light—such cases as that of Dante, Yepes, Paul, Pascal and others. When, on the contrary, the new sense comes more gradually there may be no subjective light, as in the cases of Carpenter and Lloyd. It seems tolerably certain that with illumination there occurs actual, physical, molecular rearrangement somewhere in the cerebral centres and that it is this molecular rearrangement which, when considerable and sudden, gives rise to the phenomenon of the subjective light.

Next: Chapter 33. Horace Traubel