Cosmic consciousness has been regarded, in mystical and metaphysical circles, as the next step up from self consciousness, of which ‘normal waking consciousness’ is something of a subset. I say ‘normal waking consciousness’, as that swirl of thoughts, feelings, anxieties, fears, anticipations and regrets, is what makes up the bulk of moment to moment life for that nebulous category, the average person.
Surrounding that swirl, not unlike a coat, is the identity we have come to see as the ego, the self, which seems to take form gradually as we break away from mother, family, school, ethnicity, culture and religion, to see ourselves as a unique formulation, an individual in the crowd of influences. Many of us start on that journey and get caught somewhere along the way, identifying with our functions and ambitions: the parent, the provider, the careerist, the selfless server of society’s needs, and so on. But some, seeing through all those temporary illusions, come to see and celebrate themselves as unique sentient units standing proudly apart from the mass.
This, of course, as there are so many attractive obstacles, is quite an achievement, and is in no way to be derided. But as our goal for the moment is cosmic consciousness, it must be seen as but a step on the way. Serving the proud and isolated ego soon becomes a dead end street, and pastimes and amusements can only delay that realization. The prospect of dying with the most toys soon palls.
One way out of that is the somewhat mysterious growth towards cosmic consciousness. The traditional mystical literature, from Rumi and Meister Eckart to Richard Bucke and any number of moderns, abounds in notes and hints concerning either the way or the lack of it. Some leap into cosmic consciousness as they travel to appointments on buses, others claim the grail after years of struggle and conscious dedication. The only pattern seems to be no pattern. As for myself, that charming illusion that seems to define ‘me’, it comes in fits and starts, not unlike summer breezes which can only be enjoyed, embraced and then let go.
The momentary identification with all that surrounds, – the tree, the leaf, the door; chair, squirrel and cloud; the workers digging the ditch, the child pedaling the bike – and the sudden understanding of their life force and spirit engaged in activity seems like an approximate evocation. Later one reflects on feeling the life force vibrating in everything, and senses the myriad ways in which spirit engages form, animating its natural sluggishness with infinite ambition. One comes to believe one can see the signature of all things radiantly announcing.
The result, if such a simple formulation can be applied to what seems a complex process of unstoppable growth, is a cessation of identification with self and its concerns. For the moment, and sometimes a sequence of moments, the self disappears and the cosmos communicates in all its glory. That communication, being multidimensional, can be overwhelming, and some experiencers have wilted under the pressure increase. We are not always completely ready for our growth spurts, as many partakers of psychedelics and alternate learning curves will testify.
Yet a recovery does come, a re-balancing of contesting elements at a higher level. A higher level of the spiral which leads inexorably to a point, that point being oneness with divinity in all its exfoliating understanding. A moment there may be brief, but it is also unending.