Can cosmic consciousness save the world? I believe it can, if that shift happens soon enough. The term itself was coined by the English poet and activist Edward Carpenter in the late 19th Century after spending six weeks with a Hindu swami in Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka). Carpenter came to understand that the goal of the spiritual practices of the East was to attain direct recognition of the universe being a living entity that we are all expressions of. He felt that the phrase cosmic consciousness was the best way to articulate this in the English language.
For Carpenter, this realization was the solution to all the world’s problems. He was a progenitor of today's social activists and fought for prison reform, racial and economic equity, women’s rights, gay rights, and animal rights, to name only a few. His own glimpse of nondual unity convinced him that separation and division were not real and would eventually yield to the underlying reality of wholeness. This consciousness of unity was the solution to all the world’ problems and injustices.
Some decades later Albert Einstein, as part of a group of scientists, wrote a letter to potential donors asking them to fund “a nation-wide campaign to let the people know that a new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels.” The global situation in many ways has not improved much since that letter was written in 1946 and regardless of what side of the issues we’re on, the one thing most people seem to agree with is that our world has some supremely large problems that need to be solved. We might disagree about what the problems are and how to solve them, but the fact that we have them is seldom questioned.
We are all aware that our world is facing catastrophic challenges, and anyone reading this probably already believes that only with a new level of consciousness can we meet those challenges effectively. What I think is less known is how close that new consciousness actually is. This is what ultimately inspires me to teach about cosmic consciousness and train people in the practices that can bring them into that awareness.
In conducting research for my book The Path of Cosmic Consciousness, I discovered how P.D. Ouspensky, the famous Russian philosopher and mystic, had recognized that Carpenter’s idea of cosmic consciousness was the same as the fourth dimension of reality that he himself had been seeking. Ouspensky believed that our familiar three-dimensional world is the surface of a hidden fourth dimension of being, in the same way that two-dimensional squares form the surface of a three-dimensional cube. The fourth dimension is cosmic consciousness and it exists all around us on the other side of everything.
Just beyond the physical objects around us, our own bodies, and the thoughts and feelings in our minds, lies a deeper reality. In that mysterious higher dimension we don't exist as objects in space. There is no separation and therefore no separate things or beings. That other realm can perhaps only be understood as a continuously fluctuating state of conscious awareness. There is no one aware of that state of awareness. It is a self-luminous pure presence and nothing more. There is an experience of being, but no experience of being someone or something.
At the end of the book The Path of Cosmic Consciousness I described a practice, or what you could call an alternative way of being, called “A Life of Cosmic Prayer”. This practice is what I want to teach and share in my upcoming six-week program. The simplest explanation of the practice is that it means learning to live knowing that every part of your experience is a thin surface that masks the infinite. You can live this when you practice meditation, and you can also live it while you are walking down the street, gardening, or drinking coffee. Everything – every object, thought, and feeling – is all part of the thin surface of a deeper dimension.
If we consistently live this cosmic prayer our normal perceptual habits will slowly shift. Seeing everything as the surface of the infinite will become habitual and will eventually give us access to the infinite. The world around us will begin to appear more translucent and the vast expanse behind it will begin to shine through. We will find the same luminous being on the other side of every material thing, plant, mountain, animal and person. And when we look inside we find the very same light shining through all of our thoughts, feelings, and attitudes.
It becomes increasingly clear that this higher light is the reality behind everything. We are that, and every other person and thing is also that. We are truly one. This is the realization that changes everything. We are transformed and the world is transformed.
The surface reality of three dimensions is no different than it was, but now the deeper reality is shining through everywhere. You cannot see anything as separate from yourself, or yourself as separate from anything or anyone else. Everything you do affects everything, and everything that happens affects you. Our potential to make a difference is immense. Even a brief and temporary glimpse of the infinite that lies beyond the familiar, changes us irrevocably. My passion for teaching and practicing cosmic prayer comes from knowing that the miracle of cosmic consciousness is so close, so powerful, and so available to any of us.