Looking through Midnight Margarita’s post on the ‘God Center’ set the stream in motion and brought back memories of adventures in alternate realities. Drac’s comment pointers were also useful in getting up to scratch on recent developments in looking at how the mind works and the intricacies therein. The book that first came to mind in the analytical process that flashes through the innerspaces was ‘Cosmic Consciousness’ by Richard Maurice Bucke, MD, that impressed me no end when I read it in what seems like eons ago.

Described as ‘a classic investigation of the development of man’s mystic relation to the infinite’, Bucke investigates the mystical experiences of sages through the ages – including folk like Gautama the Buddah, Jesus the Christ, Mohamed, Paul, Plotinus, Dante, Whitman, Balzac, Bacon, Blake, Emerson, Thoreau, Spinoza, Socrates and a host of others. First published in 1901, it was enthusiastically acclaimed by both William James and P.D.Ouspensky – both giants in their respective and related fields.

Richard Maurice Bucke was a descendent of Sir Robert Walpole – a famous English statesman in the 1700s – and was born in England in 1837. The next year his parents migrated to Canada and he grew up on their farm near what is now Ontario. Self-taught for the most part, he left home when he was seventeen and made his way to the USA, where he did all manner of work, including wagon driver and gold-miner to keep body and soul together. Then at twenty-one years of age he lost one foot and part of the other to frostbite. Having inherited a small estate from his mother, he put himself through McGill Medical School and did his postgraduate work in Europe. In 1876 he was appointed Superintendent of the Provincial Asylum for the Insane at Hamilton, Ontario and in 1877 of the London Ontario Hospital. In 1888 he was elected President of the Psychological Section of the British Medical Association, and in 1890 President of the American Medico-Psychological Association.

In the process of reviewing the mental and spiritual activity of the human race Bucke discovers that at certain times, certain individuals who appear to be endowed with the power of transcendent realization, turn up and immensely influence many of those they come in contact with. He postulates that their experiences constitute a definite advance in man’s relation with the infinite. Bucke was also of the impression that the ability to achieve this consciousness was on the increase and the book is his record of, as the liner notes describe, “practically all the cases on record up to the time the book was written”.

Bucke himself had experienced ‘illumination’, as is quoted from the Proceedings and Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada:

He and two friends had spent the evening reading Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Browning, and especially Whitman. They parted at midnight and he had a long drive in a hansom. His mind, deeply under the influence of the ideas, images and emotions called up by the reading and talk of the evening, was calm and peaceful. He was in a state of quiet, almost passive, enjoyment.

All at once, without a warning of any kind, he found himself wrapped around, as it were, by a flame coloured cloud. For an instant he thought of fire – some sudden conflagration in the great city. The next (instant) he knew that the light was within himself.

Directly after there came upon him a sense of exultation, of immense joyousness, accompanied or immediately followed by an intellectual illumination quite impossible to describe. Into his brain streamed one momentary lightning-flash of the Brahmanic splendor which ever since lightened his life. Upon his heart fell one drop of the Brahmanic Bliss, leaving thenceforward for always an aftertaste of heaven.

The effect this experience had on Bucke changed forever his views on life in general and consciousness in particular, and in 1879 he produced his first book, Man’s Moral Nature . This was an examination into the relationship between the human central nervous system and man’s moral nature – a subject that he had broached before in a paper read for the Association of American Institutions for the Insane in 1877. This same year he met Walt Whitman – another crucial experience for him and described by him as “..a sort of spiritual intoxication” and “the turning point in my life”.

But getting back to ‘God Center’, or that point in time and space where the individual consciouness transcends the ‘ordinary’ plane, it does seem that many folk throughout the centuries have experienced this bliss. Most religions describe it and many of the acid freaks of the 60s swore they got a glimpse of it. Richard Alpert, Professor of Psychology at Harvard was so freaked out by it he dropped out, changed his name to Baba Ram Das and took off for the Himalayas to check out the monks there and what their states of consciousness were like. There are many others who have been there and many more who would like to take the trip.

How to get there is the question…