Dr. Richard Maurice Bucke wrote a book at the turn of the last century entitled “Cosmic Consciousness.” He wrote of eleven traits which universally manifest in one who has this experience. They are as follows:
1. The person suddenly, without warning, has a sense of being immersed in a flame that does not burn or immersed in a cloud of light or haze. I experience all these sensations. At first, I feel a white light from above as the dove of the Holy Spirit descends upon my head. It turns to a tongue of fire that never burns, the same fire as the burning bush, alive with God’s consciousness. Then I feel time stand still in the white mist all around my body: a living, conscious time warp where there is only the ever-sacred eternal now. The light is radiating from my body but is divine, as am I—a wave of and in the Cosmic Ocean of God-consciousness. It is an ocean of milky white light.
2. At the same instant, he is bathed in joy, assurance, triumph, or “salvation.” In my case, the feeling is “sainthood.” My first reaction is “Why me Lord? I am not worthy!” And yet I know I am holy and sainted from the inside out, irrevocably, without appeal. The state is one of bliss and joy, of oceanic consciousness.
3. Simultaneously, there is an intellectual illumination about the entire nature of the cosmos. A grand vision of “how it all is.” Matter no longer appears dead but is seen to be alive with Divinity constantly. One sees, feels and knows the Living Presence in the very atoms of everything. I see this in the walls and in the atoms of my bedpost.
4. Accompanying this is the sense of immortality of the soul and of God. It is an unshakable knowing, not something learned. I see that I have lived since the beginning of time. I lose all fear of death although afterwards I can be frightened a little, but not by death. I know I am immortal, beyond time.
5. With illumination, the fear of death is permanently banished from thought. Fearlessness is transfused throughout the soul.
6. The same banishment happens to the sense of sin. It is erased. All is forgiven on all levels. A great weight or burden you don’t necessarily know you have is lifted from your shoulders. I have an item by item experience of this, going back, back in time similar to a near-death experience. My whole life “flashes before my eyes” in about two minutes real time. Every little hurt of my heart is reviewed and, at each motion picture flash, the twinge of pain is taken away. The seed idea in my consciousness of having committed sin is burnt, turned to ash, neutralized.
7. The instantaneous nature of illumination is one of its most striking features. It is such a different state that I literally cannot believe it although it’s the most real experience I’ve ever had. This lightning bolt illumination is at the opposite end of the spectrum from hallucination. I am fully conscious and aware of it.
8. The nature of the person blessed with an experience of cosmic consciousness will be of high moral character, with many traits bending towards living a “high purpose” life. I fit the profile. I am from birth very religious, devout, faithful always. My mother says I was a delight to raise, never giving anyone any trouble. I was educated in Catholic schools by nuns and became an altar boy. I was a member of the Knights of Columbus at the age of twelve. During my teenage years I was seeking God and His teachings outside the Church, and I always wanted more. I entered an ashram (spiritual community) at the age of twenty-five to find God. I practiced Kriya Yoga toward that end.
9. The age of this person is usually between 30 and 40 years with exceptions. I was about 39 years old. Richard Bucke writes, “Should we hear of a case of cosmic consciousness occurring at twenty, we should first doubt the truth of this account, and if forced to believe it we should expect the man (if he lived) to prove himself, in some way, a veritable spiritual giant.”
I know of two such saints, modern day spiritual giants, both of whom were my spiritual teachers in this life. Paramahamsa Yogananda was labeled a spiritual giant by many, many people, rich and poor, rulers, senators, statesmen and kings. He attained cosmic consciousness at age 20 or so. He brought and is still bringing to God millions of souls—even 50 years after his death, in 1953.
Sadguru Sant Keshavadas attained that state when he was 11 years old, without the manifestation of a physical guru. Thereafter, he traveled around India and later came to the West, singing the songs of God and telling stories of His saints. He is the most exceptional saint I have ever known. He left this life in 1997.
I have to say that both of these Masters had everything to do with my Illumination. The teacher(s) are God’s hands on Earth. In India, they say the guru is a direct manifestation of God, carrying the soul on their backs across the ocean of suffering to the shores of this Divine realization. Paramahamsa means “Great Swan.” This they both were.
10. The added charm of such a person is always a feature after an experience of cosmic consciousness. After my illumination, all types and ages of people find me very charming and want to be around me. I owe the entire success of my business to this very noticeable “added charm.” I know it to be a direct radiation of divine love from our Father, who is within me, within you, within everyone and everything. He works through me and uses me. It wasn’t that way before illumination.
11. There is a marked, permanent change in the person and personality, a veritable “transfiguration.” In my case the changes are many: I rarely if ever get mad anymore. I have no interest in sex. I am independent (more complete unto myself). I am more loving in a more detached spiritual way to everybody and everything. I see God in everything and everybody (even murderers and thieves). I succeed at whatever I do. I am able to figure out a solution to any problem. My IQ improved from 132 in high school to over 156 and higher in recent testing. In the aftermath of that exaltation, I always hear and feel the Holy Spirit, “the sound of many rushing waters” and feel God’s love within.
I want to permanently stay in that transfigured state (which lasted about seven hours) so I am in dedicated pursuit of another experience of it ever since. Alas, to date, I only occasionally taste it to a lesser degree in meditation.