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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pioneering early classic
What is remarkable about this book is that it is one of the first to consider religious illumination from a psychological perspective. It differs from William James’s Varieties of Religious Experience in that many of Bucke’s opinions (e.g. his views on socialism) have been proved wrong by time and has dated. In order to judge it objectively, one ought thus to...
Published on 2 Oct 2002 by Pieter Uys

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A few words of warning . . .
I bought this book hoping that it would provide some up to date insight into the world of consciousness research - I was wrong.

The book I received was copyrighted in 1901 - which is not obvious from the Amazon listing.

As such, it uses the language of the time which seems to favour a more flowery, superfluous approach to using words rather than a...
Published on 7 April 2010 by shinysteve


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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pioneering early classic, 2 Oct 2002
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
What is remarkable about this book is that it is one of the first to consider religious illumination from a psychological perspective. It differs from William James’s Varieties of Religious Experience in that many of Bucke’s opinions (e.g. his views on socialism) have been proved wrong by time and has dated. In order to judge it objectively, one ought thus to always keep the era in which it was written in mind.
The basic point is that the human race is slowly and sporadically – albeit with increasing speed – developing a new consciousness, one that is substantially more advanced than the normal human consciousness, and one that will eventually lift the species above the fear, ignorance and brutality that has plagued mankind throughout its history.
Bucke’s argument is based on analogy. He points out the three phases of consciousness found among living creatures: perception amongst lower animals, receptual consciousness amongst higher animals and the conceptual thinking of human beings, that is accompanied by a strong sense of self.
In a very interesting chapter he demonstrates the development of consciousness over the last couple of millennia by referring to mankind’s increasing refinement in distinguishing different colors. Initially only black and red were differentiated, but what was perceived as “red” has been refined into red, orange, yellow and white and even further. Likewise with “black” which split up into black and blue-green, from which the separate colors blue and green were again discerned:
“The blazing blue of the oriental sky is not mentioned in Homer or the Bible, nor in the Rig Veda or the Zend Avesta. But in this present century we know not only the seven primitive colours, but literally thousands of different shades and gradations of them.”
Bucke argues that new or enhanced senses originate with sporadic manifestations among a minority of human beings and that a new consciousness eventually spreads through the whole population. The new, or fourth level of consciousness, which will enable mankind to perceive the unity of the cosmos and the divine presence inherent in it, that will liberate humanity from fear and that will enable the race to perceive that love is the rule and the basis of the universe, is what is called cosmic consciousness. Bucke predicts that cosmic consciousness will ultimately be the norm amongst the majority of people.
No reader will agree with all the author’s points, but some of his great contemporaries like the scientist and philosopher Ouspensky agreed to such an extent that he devoted an entire chapter in his work Tertium Organum to this book. The response of psychologist William James in a letter to Bucke was: “My total reaction on your book, my dear Sir, is that it is an addition to psychology of first rate importance, and that you are a benefactor to us all.”
Bucke considers the greatest teachers, artists and religious thinkers by looking at their teaching and what is known about their lives, and points out the remarkable correspondences. Some of those discussed in detail include Gautama, Jesus, Paulus, Plotinus, Mohammed, Dante, St. Jan of the Cross, Francis Bacon, Jacob Behmen, William Blake, Walt Whitman, Lao Tse, Socrates, Benedict Spinoza, Swedenborg, Emerson, Thoreau and Ramakrishna Paramahansa.
His arguments are persuasive, as far as both the comparison of texts and the similarities in the numinous experiences of the individuals are concerned. As such, the book also serves as a brilliant study of the nature of the mystical experience that is exactly the same in all the religious traditions.
He concludes that these individuals were the pioneers who had already entered cosmic consciousness and wished to convey its essence to the rest of humanity. They were, however, restricted to use the language of normal consciousness and that is why their revelations appear to be incomplete and even deceptive..Bucke's work deserves its "classic" status and may be appreciated even more when read together with William James' aforementioned work, plus Stephan Hoeller's brilliant book "The Gnostic Jung and the Seven Sermons to the Dead."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars STILL A CLASSIC WORK, 21 May 2003
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This was one of the first books to consider religious illumination from a psychological perspective. It differs from William James's Varieties of Religious Experience in that many of Bucke's opinions (e.g. his views on socialism) have been proved wrong by time and has dated. In order to judge it objectively, one ought thus to always keep the era in which it was written in mind. The basic point is that the human race is slowly and sporadically - albeit with increasing speed - developing a new consciousness, one that is substantially more advanced than the normal human consciousness, and one that will eventually lift the species above the fear, ignorance and brutality that has plagued mankind throughout its history. Bucke's argument is based on analogy. He points out the three phases of consciousness found among living creatures: perception amongst lower animals, receptual consciousness amongst higher animals and the conceptual thinking of human beings, that is accompanied by a strong sense of self. In a very interesting chapter he demonstrates the development of consciousness over the last couple of millennia by referring to mankind's increasing refinement in distinguishing different colours. Initially only black and red were differentiated, but what was perceived as red has been refined into red, orange, yellow and white and even further. Likewise with black which split up into black and blue-green, from which the separate colours blue and green were again discerned: "The blazing blue of the oriental sky is not mentioned in Homer or the Bible, nor in the Rig Veda or the Zend Avesta. But in this present century we know not only the seven primitive colours, but literally thousands of different shades and gradations of them." Bucke argues that new or enhanced senses originate with sporadic manifestations among a minority of human beings and that a new consciousness eventually spreads through the whole population. The new, or fourth level of consciousness, which will enable mankind to perceive the unity of the cosmos and the divine presence inherent in it, that will liberate humanity from fear and that will enable the race to perceive that love is the rule and the basis of the universe, is what is called cosmic consciousness. Bucke predicts that cosmic consciousness will ultimately be the norm amongst the majority of people. No reader will agree with all the author's points, but some of his great contemporaries like the scientist and philosopher Ouspensky agreed to such an extent that he devoted an entire chapter in his work Tertium Organum to this book. Bucke considers the greatest teachers, artists and religious thinkers by looking at their teaching and what is known about their lives, and points out the remarkable correspondences. Some of those discussed in detail include Gautama, Jesus, Paulus, Plotinus, Mohammed, Dante, St. Jan of the Cross, Francis Bacon, Jacob Behmen, William Blake, Walt Whitman, Lao Tse, Socrates, Benedict Spinoza, Swedenborg, Emerson, Thoreau and Ramakrishna Paramahansa. His arguments are persuasive, as far as both the comparison of texts and the similarities in the numinous experiences of the individuals are concerned. As such, the book also serves as a brilliant study of the nature of the mystical experience that is exactly the same in all the religious traditions. He concludes that these individuals were the pioneers who had already entered cosmic consciousness and wished to convey its essence to the rest of humanity. They were, however, restricted to use the language of normal consciousness and that is why their revelations appear to be incomplete and even deceptive: "It would be beyond the power of the self conscious mind to conceive the cosmic conscious world. This being so, the reports made by these spiritual travelers have been not only not understood but misunderstood in an infinite variety of senses, and the essentially similar account given by for example, Paul, Mohammed, Dante, Jesus, Gautama and others, has been looked upon as a variety of accounts, not of the same, but of diverse things. A critical study of all these (seeming) diverse accounts will show that they are more or less unsuccessful attempts to describe the same thing. But because it was out of the power of the original reporter, the seer, to give anything like a full and clear account of what he saw, largely because of the inadequacy of the language belonging to the self conscious mind; because his reporters again (as in the cases of Jesus and Gautama, who did not write), possessing only self consciousness, blurred still further the picture; because translators, possessing only self consciousness and understanding only imperfectly what the teacher wished to convey, still further distorted the record. For all these reasons the important fact of the unity of the teachings of these men has been very generally overlooked; hence the confusion and the so-called mystery; a misunderstanding unavoidable, no doubt, under the circumstances, but which will one day, assuredly, be cleared up." Bucke's work deserves its classic status and may be appreciated even more when read together with William James' aforementioned work, plus Stephan Hoeller's brilliant book The Gnostic Jung and the Seven Sermons to the Dead and Rudolf Steiner's Theosophy: An Introduction to the Spiritual Processes in Human Life and in the Cosmos.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bucke convinced me of the reality of which he speaks ., 9 Nov 1998
By A Customer
I have been convinced by my own experience of the reality of the state of consciousness of which Bucke speaks and believe his book to be one of the most valuable I have ever found in guiding others to this state. It speaks to the deepest needs and aspirations I know of and has enriched my life immensely. Along with this I have studied "A Course in Miracles," Vedanta, Zen, Tao, and the Bible and find them all to speak of exactly the same things Buck says at the level beyond dogma. A wonderful experience of a book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cosmic Consciousness, 20 Nov 2013
This review is from: Cosmic Consciousness (Hardcover)
After having a similar experience to that described by Dr Bucke in his book "Cosmic Consciousness" I have spent the last 54 years looking for other examples and explanations of this form of "enlightenment." I am sure there are many more examles of people experiencing Cosmic Consciousness but they have not come forward with their individual stories. I have concluded, from experience, that there is not much that can be added to Dr Bucke's account. The big problem can be summed up with this analogy. How can a person with normal sight explain the concept of color to a blind person? Because of the lack of language to adequately discuss this experience, it remains virtually hidden from the general public. The result is those with the Cosmic Consciousness experience know what Dr Bucke is getting at and those who don't, don't believe there is any significance to the experience at all. For those who think drug induced altered states of awareness have anything at all to do with Cosmic Consciousness are wrong. Cosmic Consciousness is a permanent change in consciousness. Simply put, Cosmic Consciousness is a permanent reduction in anxiety. The result of Cosmic Consciousness is a richer and more productive Earthly experience without the burden of fear, prejudice, ego and the ever present human sense of lonely isolation.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unmuddied by spiritual dogma, 18 May 1999
By A Customer
Thankfully, this is one book that describes the experience of expanded consciousness without obscuring the raw experience with supposed "spiritual implications." This would only make it another delusional tirade, something we have far too much of right now, and could only add to the pain & conflict in the world. If you're looking for a good intro to the topic without a lot of idiotic mumbo-jumbo, this may be it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Readings in spiritual philosophy, 20 Jan 2011
By 
Dr. H. A. Jones "Howard Jones" (Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cosmic Consciousness - A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind (Paperback)
Cosmic Consciousness: A study in the evolution of the human mind, edited by Richard Maurice Bucke, Innes and Sons, Philadelphia, 1905; 1st edn. 1901; 342 ff.

Readings in spiritual philosophy
By Howard Jones

Dr Bucke was a progressive Canadian psychiatrist of the 19th century: he died in 1902. He was therefore a near contemporary of William James. He was born in the county of Norfolk, England, in 1837, and his parents emigrated to Canada when he was only one year old. His parents died when he was only a child.

The book is a collection of the writings, with commentary by Bucke, of several dozen people who have had something to say about human consciousness. The list of contributors is very varied - from Gautama the Buddha and Jesus through Dante, Muhammad, Roger Bacon, Francis Bacon, Pascal, Swedenborg, Tennyson, Wordsworth and Pushkin, to Walt Whitman and Ramakrishna; and there are many more. Many of the `contributors' whose thoughts Bucke presents are, rather irritatingly, identified only by initials. The term `evolution' is used in the sense of `development' - there is comparatively little here on evolution in the sense in which it is used by biologists. Such evolution as is described here is predominantly cultural rather than strictly biological. Artistic creativity and spiritual insight derive from this cosmic consciousness.

Bucke distinguishes three realms of consciousness - simple consciousness (that of the animal kingdom), self consciousness (of humans) and cosmic consciousness (an awareness of the order of the universe). He maintains that `our descendants will sooner or later reach, as a race, the condition of cosmic consciousness, just as, long ago, our ancestors passed from simple to self consciousness'. This is similar to the vision of Teilhard de Chardin. Bucke foresees economic and social revolutions, which will continue those of the last few centuries but, most importantly, the psychical revolution that will change the whole outlook of humankind. In this state, there will be no need for religion as we know it today, for spirituality will fill every moment of our lives and each soul will `feel and know itself to be immortal': the Saviour of Man is Cosmic Consciousness. But cosmic consciousness `must not be looked upon as being in any sense supernatural or supranormal [or] as anything more or less than a natural growth.' Bucke (and de Chardin) regard it as part of the natural process of (biological or sociological) evolution.

For a book written over a century ago we cannot be surprised if the style of English shows its age; but the writing is poetic and inspirational. As the book contains a collection of writings of very much greater antiquity, often of poets, we cannot really have a problem with this. I would recommend this book for anyone who is, or who wishes to be, in tune with cosmic spirit. It is a more reflective treatment of the subject than many books written today and contains words of wisdom from many who, in this respect, are sages.

Dr Howard A. Jones is the author of The Thoughtful Guide to God (2006) and The Tao of Holism (2008), both published by O Books of Winchester, UK.

The Phenomenon of Man
New Spirituality: An Introduction to Belief Beyond Religion
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A few words of warning . . ., 7 April 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Cosmic Consciousness - A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind (Paperback)
I bought this book hoping that it would provide some up to date insight into the world of consciousness research - I was wrong.

The book I received was copyrighted in 1901 - which is not obvious from the Amazon listing.

As such, it uses the language of the time which seems to favour a more flowery, superfluous approach to using words rather than a more concise, direct approach to convey meaning.

Also, the typeface used is much in the style of the old mechanical typewriter - which, for me, detracts from the reading experience.

Just so you know. . .
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great idea with unimportant(ish) flaws, 6 July 2007
By 
J. I. De Beresford "safemouse" (Farnham) - See all my reviews
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The fellow is onto something. He proposes that consciousness was, is and will expand and plots some of the steps.... As well as predicting the next, which is cosmic consciousness. The last one we acquired was a sense of self- the next will be a sense of one being one with the universe. This is all fine and dandy then he runs into one two tricky stretches of water with his predictions for the 20th century and who he thinks is a CC candidate and how old they were. It is biased towards his contemporaries and "mate", to put it bluntly. I'm not saying he's wrong but you start to get a feeling things are getting tenuous, shall we say. I personally don't buy that Francis Bacon was Shakespeare. I think Shakespeare probably read alot of Bacon's dull dull prose and alchemised it into fine poetry. That would explain why one writes boring stuff and one totally excellent stuff.
Also, as we know just 100 years later, we are getting more senous, musically sophisticated and have even had bouts of Cosmic Consciousness. But we're doing it without advancing morally. We're doing it with the assistance of illicit substances and hypocritical pop stars. There's no doubt that we're getting more conscious but not necessarily on the brink of waking up in the kingdom of love. Not just yet. The narrow path may be much more horizontally inclined. He would appear to suggest that we are on the tipping point.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 7 Aug 2014
This review is from: Cosmic Consciousness - A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind (Paperback)
Brill, exactly as described. Will have to read a few times as I'm no psychologist but very interesting.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars D Mackenzie, 15 May 2013
This review is from: Cosmic Consciousness - A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind (Paperback)
FAO - J.I. De Beresford,

I was enjoying your review, even though I'm wary of anything I read, but your last paragraph in short is nonsense.

Do you really believe that we are getting more musically sophisticated? Name me two musicians who surpass Beethoven and John Coltrane. Illicit substances have been used for cosmic journeys since the dawn of man. I suggest you research psilocybin, DMT, salvia and cannabis.

Finally, do you really believe that - I am quoting you here - we're getting more conscious!? We, more now than at any point in our existence, are living with our eyes closed. There's many reasons for this, but hypocritical pop stars are partly to blame. Even though they, and we, are completely useless in this society we live in. Unless you are a governmental figure, banker, or oil tycoon, then you control the world.
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Cosmic Consciousness - A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind
Cosmic Consciousness - A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind by Richard Maurice Bucke (Paperback - 6 Sep 2007)
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