Cosmic consciousness references an awe-inspiring, beautific mind state attained during a peak spiritual experience. In an experience of cosmic consciousness, all previously perceived boundaries between self and appearing things, falls away. One experiences a deep and pervasive sense of unity with the totality. The perfection of it all is clearly seen and most reports of cosmic consciousness include descriptors of joy, bliss, awe.
I’ve had numerous cosmic consciousness experiences myself, and most were accompanied by copious tears of joy as the sense of perfection, unity, love, experienced, was simply so overwhelming.
Many report having cosmic consciousness experiences while mediating, or in quiet contemplative moments, but these deep experiences of unity, where personal boundaries fall away to reveal a unified universe, can also apparently arise seemingly out of thin air, when least expected.
I had my first CC experience as a child, and several more throughout the years that followed. In the days immediately after my brother’s death in 2005, I had several CC experiences as I was in the process of navigating my grief over the loss. These profound experiences left me feeling not merely at peace with the physical loss of my brother, but at times, actually revelling in pure unadulterated joy.
Many who have had cosmic consciousness experiences report that following the experience, there is no longer a fear of death, that they now can see the utter perfection of everything, and that they now experience a sense of deep gratitude and awe for the totality of life.
Excerpt from Autobiography of a Yogi (Chapter 12) Paramahansa Yogananda's First Experience in Cosmic Consciousness:
"All objects within my panoramic gaze trembled and vibrated like quick motion pictures. My body, Master's, the pillared courtyard, the furniture and floor, the trees and sunshine, occasionally became violently agitated, until all melted into a luminescent sea; even as sugar crystals, thrown into a glass of water, dissolve after being shaken. The unifying light alternated with materializations of form, the metamorphoses revealing the law of cause and effect in creation. An oceanic joy broke upon calm endless shores of my soul.
The Spirit of God, I realized, is exhaustless Bliss; His body is countless tissues of light. A swelling glory within me began to envelop towns, continents, the earth, solar and stellar systems, tenuous nebulae, and floating universes. The entire cosmos, gently luminous, like a city seen afar at night, glimmered within the infinitude of my being. The dazzling light beyond the sharply etched global outlines faded slightly at the farthest edges; there I saw a mellow radiance, ever undiminished. It was indescribably subtle; the planetary pictures were formed of a grosser light.
The divine dispersion of rays poured from an Eternal Source, blazing into galaxies, transfigured with ineffable auras. Again and again I saw the creative beams condense into constellations, then resolve into sheets of transparent flame. By rhythmic reversion, sextillion worlds passed into diaphanous luster, then fire became firmament. I cognized the center of the empyrean as a point of intuitive perception in my heart. Irradiating splendor issued from my nucleus to every part of the universal structure. Blissful amrita, nectar of immortality, pulsated through me with a quicksilver like fluidity. The creative voice of God I heard resounding as Aum,* the vibration of the Cosmic Motor.
Suddenly the breath returned to my lungs. With a disappointment almost unbearable, I realized that my infinite immensity was lost. Once more I was limited to the humiliating cage of a body, not easily accommodative to the Spirit. Like a prodigal child, I had run away from my macrocosmic home and had imprisoned myself in a narrow microcosm. "
While an experience of cosmic consciousness can undoubtedly change the way life is experienced thereafter, no experience, regardless of how amazing it is, should be conflated with “Truth.”
While awe-inspiring, paradigm shattering, beautiful, peak spiritual experiences might indeed be life changing, in and of themselves, by virtue of being ‘experiential’ these special experiences still part and parcel of the ‘dream-scape.’
Actual ‘awakening’ means seeing beyond the dream-scape, seeing all of the dream for a dream. In some instances, actual Truth realization happens in tandem with a CC experience, but the experiential component of that happening should not be conflated with the realizational aspect. I see the CC experience as mind’s way of attempting to frame Truth realization, (which by its very nature, defies capture by mind and really, can only be pointed at) into something mind can grasp. Thus, we can say the experience of cosmic consciousness is as close to the Truth as one can get in terms of experience, but because it is still an experience, it falls short of actual “Truth.”
That said, in terms of spiritual attainment, peak experience, the cosmic consciousness experience is as good as it gets, which explains why following an initial CC experience, many find themselves continuously seeking for another.
This seeking for another peak spiritual experience sets one up for denigrating so called normal, everyday experience. It is for this reason that some spiritual gurus and teachers downplay all peak mystical experiences. The propensity to become attached to the experienced awe, joy, bliss is very high.
The zen saying; If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him, speaks to this propensity for mind to cling to conceptual ideas vs. actual Truth. In terms of “Truth,” any-thing you can experience, is not “It.”
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