Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Enlightenment, or Cosmic Consciousness

I had a "white light" experience at age 22 while meditating.. I had been meditating for years before that happened.. it seemed to suddenly grow outward from a center and enveloped all my vision and everything became timeless.. after awhile, I gradually came out of it (the meditative trance), and a stray dog everyone knew in Athens named Fred was at my screen door.. I went outside and told Fred to lead me on a walk and he took me to a Lutheran church that I'd never seen that was open all night, and we watched the sun rise through the stained glass windows from the altar..

Psychologists call this "Cosmic consciousness", named by Canadian criminal psychiatrist Dr. Edmund Bucke in a book of that title in 1900.. until then it had just been known as "a religious experience" - they call it that because you're aware of all life outside your body and feel a connection to the universe - apparently the "connection of all life" is the theme of the film AVATAR, which I haven't seen yet..

This led to the term "enlightenment" (Seeing the light), and is why we show halos in art - I believe it's the state experienced in meditation by Gautama Buddha. In psychedelic days, the euphemism for this was "The White Rabbit", hence the Jefferson Airplane song title.. seeking it was known as "chasing the white rabbit".

In Bucke's book, it was rare but seen throughout history, had happened to both him and friend poet Walt Whitman - Bucke theorized that it's the capability in the dormant part of our brains that's is becoming more active as we evolve, as he saw it becoming more and more common in his era..

There's a perfect description of it in John Fowles novel "The Magus", and a scientific series of articles on it in "The Highest State of Consciousness".. it's described in the Bible, happening to Saul (Paul) in the desert, and to Luke while meditating on an altar..

I've often thought this is what is represented by the cross, as one "crosses over" from the material to the spiritual. I believe it either represents this or the leaving behind of the material body and emerging as a spiritual being, which may or may not represent actual physical death in this incarnation. Otherwise, the cross is nothing but a Roman device of torture, and would not have such prominence as a decoration in everyone's lives. I personally have three: a medieval metal Celtic cross, a modern painted enamel one from El Salvador, and a graphic print inspired by a medieval design.

1 comment:

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