Sacred Texts  Esoteric  Index  Previous  Next 

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


The Case of Paul Tyner, in His Own Words.

I was born March 7, 1860, about midnight, in the city of Cork, Ireland. My mother being Irish, of an old family, the Sarfields, one of whom is celebrated by Macaulay in his account of the conflict in Ireland between the Stuart forces and those under William of Orange. My father was the representative

p. 352

in Ireland of an important London publishing house. He used to say that one of his ancestors fought under William of Orange, and I believe came over with him from Holland.

I was brought to America at the age of four, educated in the public schools of Albany, N. Y., afterwards taking the law course in Columbia College, New York City, but exchanging law for journalism at the age of twenty, when I joined the staff of the New York "World," in which service I remained about eight years, uninterruptedly. In 1887 I went to Central America, to engage in silver mining, exploration and travel. After a year in Honduras, I went to Costa Rica, where I edited and published a daily paper, called "El Comercio," in English and Spanish, for about six months, when I returned to New York and re-engaged in journalistic work there, as editorial writer on the staff of the New York "Press."

The bent of my mind in the direction of mysticism, which has so largely influenced my later work, probably had its beginnings during a year's retire. ment in the Shaker community, at Mt. Lebanon, N. Y. (1891–2). This experience was followed by a special course of study in social economics and history with Professor Richard T. Ely, of the University of Wisconsin. In the early morning of the 11th of May, 1895, came the crowning experience of my life. On the evening of that day I set down in my diary an exact and full account of the whole episode, as then seen by me. This memorandum I here transcribe:


"With this day's dawn come the great revelation and the great charge. 'Crowned with thorns' was the waking thought; then buffeted and spat upon, mocked, insulted, scourged and in the pillory, 'a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief,' nailed to the cross, pierced in the side, utterly 'despised and rejected of men,' killed as a malefactor, buried; and then the great thought—the truth which maketh free; the absolute demonstration of man's mastery of fate and command of all conditions—the victory of man—all men in this racial man, this elder brother of mankind in his triumph over sin, fear and death!

"But one thing had remained in my mind as necessary to prove to the mass of men to-day man's absolute supremacy over death in all its forms as an at tribute of his oneness with God, with Eternal Life, Perfect Love, Perfect Justice, Omniscience and Omnipotence, the visible appearance of a man who living longer than the recorded years of any man who had seen death still lived in the flesh without shadow of change or decay. And I said to myself, this would be worth waiting and watching and working a thousand years for! Yet I wished the greater emancipation were not so far off. And lo! in the dawning of this day I know—know absolutely as a fact—a truth nothing can destroy, that the man who triumphed ever death on Calvary nearly two thousand years ago lives—lives on earth in a body of flesh made perfect, a man among men, sharing our struggles and sorrows, our joys and griefs, working with us heart to heart and shoulder to shoulder—inspiring, guiding, leading, supporting, as may be, in every human advance.

"The glory of this truth, the grandeur of this character, the supreme nobility, patience, wisdom and love of this life, thrilled me with ecstasy and awe

p. 353

unspeakable—filled me, possessed me. He lives, not in some distant heaven on a great white throne, but here and now; is not coming, but is here with us, loving, helping, living, cheering and inspiring the race to which he belongs, as wholly and as truly as the race belongs to him. Now, indeed, it is plain, that being lifted up he shall lift all men with him—has lifted, is lifting and must ever continue to lift out of the very essence of his transcendent humanity. Immortality is no longer an hypothesis of the theologian, a figment of the imagination, a dream of the poet. Men shall live forever, because man, invincible to all effects of time and change, and even of murderous violence, lives to-day in the fullness of life and power that he enjoyed in his thirty-third year, with only added glory of goodness and greatness and beauty—although the world counts 1895 years since his last birth upon this earth.

"This is the truth given age upon age to all men in all lands, and persistently misunderstood—the truth at last to be seen of all men in its fullness and purity. Man is to know himself, and with full command of his conditions and unlimited time for action, is not only to soar toward, but absolutely attain to heights of being and of beauty hitherto undreamed of, and bringing fairly within his realization a heaven on earth, in true grandeur and happiness as far transcending the heaven of the orthodox Christian as that heaven transcends the heaven of the savage.

"This is the fact I am given to know; the proof must come in good time. My mission is to bear witness to it—to be the voice crying in the wilderness, 'Prepare ye the way of the Lord! make straight his paths.'

"And in the light of this truth I live anew; I rise up vitalized and energized in every nerve and fibre. Soul and body, no longer strained apart, are linked and glorified. I will be worthy of the great charge of Truth Bearer to my kind, and will manifest in my body, in my thought and words, my life and actions, the truth that has become part of me—the truth of man's oneness with eternal life. . . .

"With these thoughts filling me and dissolving me in happy tears, I sprang from my bed about five o'clock and walked up and down the room in a fervor of adoration and love, for what love is like unto this man's? All this time the atmosphere of the room was vibrant with an intense white light. The presence which had been revealed in the first waking moments seemed now diffused and continuing through the universe. After bathing and dressing I went out for an early walk. The morning was chilly, cloudy, raw and gusty, but the sweet-scented, light-filled air, full of vivid, tender green of spring and vibrant with life, seemed to share my sensation of joy and uplift."


I may add, that my mind, being naturally analytical, I have been able to trace as distinct factors in the mental evolution here indicated, first (and perhaps most of all), Wagner's "Lohengrin" and "Parsifal"; second, "The Venus of Milo"; third, Munkacsy's "Christ Before Pilate"; all of them, however, blended, expanded and illumined by the grand soul of Walt Whitman.

In reply to your question: I do not know whether any change in my physical appearance followed what may be called my illumination and would

p. 354

rather some one else would speak of that. I have been told, however, that my face was that of one aflame, and that is distinctly my own feeling as to the change physically. There is a consciousness of a steady glow which is light and warmth in all my being. It is certain that ever since that morning I have had a larger and surer hold on life and have been able to work with clearer and more active brain and body.

Being asked to explain more fully the continuous life of Christ on earth in a human body, Paul Tyner answered as follows:

In asserting the continued existence on earth of the man Jesus, in the body of flesh and blood, it is by no means intended to deny the law demonstrated throughout the universe in all forms of life, simple or complex, of the passage from birth to maturity, and maturity to decay, so far as outer form is concerned. What this continued existence of Jesus in a body of flesh and blood means is dominion and control over the law of construction, destruction and reconstruction going on in all forms, its deliberate and conscious direction at all times. As a matter of fact, flexibility is the very essence of form, and this is especially true in regard to the human form. The spirit, which is the man himself, formless and unsubstantial, is continually building and rebuilding, calling to himself out of the universal ocean of matter and force all the elements he needs, and rejecting and expelling that which he has used, when it no longer serves his purpose, or when he has taken from it all that he requires.

In the true sense, there is no such thing as disembodied spirit. Spirit must embody itself for manifestation and expression. Jesus, having attained to spiritual self consciousness, deliberately and consciously chose and chooses his embodiment, molding it from day to day, into greater and greater responsiveness to his will—in his case the Cosmic will, the will of the Father. He is able to pass through closed doors and stone walls in this body, because of his power to change its vibrations. That is to say, he passes through stone walls, as ethers or gases pass through substances of lower vibrations or greater density. The component elements of his body, while governed to some extent by normal human anatomical structure and organization, is in what might be called a state of flux. The old Greeks considered the universe in a state of flux, as indeed it is.

Fully aware, as I am, of the difficulties in the way of describing a phenomenon, not merely unfamiliar, but unthinkable by most men, I can only ask the reader who desires a keener comprehension of what is meant by this "immortalization of the flesh," to imagine by way of analogy, and yet an analogy conveying a very close approximate to the actuality—to imagine an architect who has planned a very beautiful and perfect dwelling, whose mind holds the plan very distinctly and completely, and who is himself a master builder, with unlimited command of the materials needed to embody his plan, and unerring knowledge of the best method of building. Imagine, further, that this architect, standing in the midst of the dwelling he has planned and built, should find that the materials he used, by some chance. or rather law, burned up every

p. 355

night without, however, burning him, or in the least injuring his powers. Remember that the plan remains intact. Remember that the builder's skill is not consumed; that his command of material, sufficient to his needs and instantaneous in supply, remains with him. What would happen? He would reproduce this dwelling as quickly as it was destroyed; in fact, there would be no apparent break in the continuity of the dwelling. The only possible changes would be that, with experience and growth, the material part of the building would become ever finer and finer, the adjustments of its various parts one to another more and more exact. This in a rough way, conveys an idea of what is meant by the immortal man in an immortal embodiment.

No difficulty appears to be found in conceiving of the immortal principle in man embodying itself in a succession of bodies, on an ascending or descending scale, any more than we find it difficult to conceive of the universal principle of life embodying itself in a variety of forms in an ascending or descending scale. And yet, any such process must be considered complex and uncertain, compared to the simple and definite processes of the cosmically conscious man consciously and deliberately rebuilding, from day to day, that embodiment which best expresses his thought and answers to his requirements. In this, as in other things, evolution of forms and of processes are all in the direction of increased simplicity—of economy and efficiency in the doing of our work. It is not the personal Jesus that is immortalized, or that has the power of immortalizing the flesh, but the Christ principle clothed in that personality, embodied in it and using it simply as one of its modes of motion, so to speak. The Christ in Jesus, however, came into such fullness and plainness of manifestation that his personality is indeed made the Light of the world that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

As regards the appearance of Paul Tyner at the time of illumination, I am informed by H. C. as follows: "I am in a position to give a positive statement as to the appearance of Mr. Paul Tyner on the morning of the 11th of May, 1895. His color was unaltered, his flesh warm and natural, his expression peculiarly sweet and bright. His face had at the time and retained for days afterwards, the illuminated look we see at times on the face of the dying, a look of ecstasy, bright, uplifted—it was as if lit up with a glow from some unseen source. No lapse of the ordinary faculties, no failure of full health, both mental and bodily, but on the contrary apparently superabundant health. His day's work (a very large one) was done that day as usual."

It only remains to quote two short passages from a book written and published before Paul Tyner had ever heard of the present editor or his theories:

p. 356

At daybreak of Friday, the 11th of May, 1895, I woke into full and absolute knowledge of the great fact which to me proves man's immortality here and now, and in the body of flesh we know. I know that a man had lived nearly nineteen hundred years, and, knowing only fuller and fuller life with the passing of the years, had lived and still lives in the same body in which, in the beginning of that period, he walked the earth a man of flesh and blood. This man, in whom humanity came to full flower with the conscious manifestation of his oneness with eternal life in the thirty-third year of his present incarnation, has really destroyed the last enemy, which is death.

To-day, in Europe and America, Australia and Africa, India and the isles of the sea, wherever the Father is worshiped in spirit and in truth—as in the Judea of Herod the Great—Jesus the Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, lives in the midst of us! For this cause came he into the world; that he might be a witness to the truth; a living, unimpeachable witness of the truth that shall make us free—the truth of man's religion (reunion) with God, through absolute spiritual self consciousness—with God—with the Eternal, Omnipotent and Omniscient Source and Fountain of Life, "in whom we live and move and have our being," without whom we are not!

I have said I knew this greatest fact in the history of humanity in a moment; that what before was as unknown to me as was the Western continent to Columbus before he sighted land, became in an instant a known reality, as much a part of my consciousness as was the air I breathed; a truth as yet faintly comprehended in its fullness, but a truth firmly grasped, irrevocable and indestructible; an eternal verity written in the letters of fire on my brain and in my heart—and so on the mind and in the heart of this age, and of all future ages.

Opening my eyes on the first rays of morning light illuminating my room, I thought of the oneness of Eternal Light and Life in a vague way, when my attention was seemingly diverted by the image of a monk's tonsured head; and I thought of the crown of thorns it symbolized. Then the whole sublime tragedy of the passion moved vividly and rapidly before my eyes; the scourging, the pillory, the cuffs and blows, the jibes and jeers, the mockery and derision of that crowning with thorns; the painful progress of Golgotha, hooted by the blind and cruel mob; the torture and ignominy of the nailing to the cross, the cry of agony telling that the last dregs of the cup had been drained; the shout of victory that proclaimed "It is finished!" I saw then the spear thrust;

I saw the burial, the sublime temple of the Divine thus laid low, and I saw—the resurrection on the third day.

At this point my mind opened to the great fact, as to a flood of life. He rose from the dead. He never died again! He lives! The air in my room seemed to vibrate with a more intense light than was ever seen on land or sea. My brain and nerves, my blood and muscles, all my being vibrated in sympathetic unison with this light, and in the midst of its shining glory I beheld the Divine Man, the Undying Man—beheld him face to face, and knew that it was he in very flesh and bones, as in flesh-transcending soul; knew that it was he and not another [187: 4].

p. 357

"Verily, verily, I say unto you that he that believeth on me hath everlasting life" [John vi, 47]. In these words Jesus announced a scientific principle of the utmost importance. Belief is essential to the attainment of immortality (in or out of the body). Belief in what? Belief in immortality—a state of consciousness of the fact of immortality. Belief in Jesus, in any real sense, is belief in the immortality of man. It is a belief in him who is "the way, the truth and the life"—in body and soul together; and with belief, a realization of oneness with him [187:97–8].

I offer no criticism of the specific belief of Paul Tyner as to "The Living Christ." It is simply a question as to how the words are understood. Christ (as Paul named the Cosmic Sense) is of course living and will always live.

From the point of view of this present book Paul Tyner is almost a typical case of Cosmic Consciousness.

a. The subjective light was well marked.

b. There was the characteristic moral elevation.

c. Also the usual intellectual illumination.

d. The sense of immortality.

e. The suddenness of the onset, the instantaneousness of the awakening.

f. The previous mental life of the man was such as is likely to lead to illumination.

g. His age of illumination, thirty-five years and two months.

h. He attained Cosmic Consciousness in the spring, 11th of May.

i. There was the characteristic change in appearance upon illumination.

Next: Chapter 35. The Case of C. Y. E., in Her Own Words