Cosmic
Consciousness



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Glenn F. Chesnut, "Richard Maurice Bucke and the idea of Cosmic Consciousness"
The best description, according to Bill W., of his experience of light at Towns Hospital
The sense of the divine presence in the world around us
The new science and Darwin's theory of evolution
Influence on Bucke of the English Romantic poets
Also very much influenced by the New England Transcendentalists (Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Amos Bronson Alcott, Louisa May Alcott, William Henry Channing, Emily Dickinson, etc.)
The Transcendentalists were a major part of the New England background for both Bill W. and Dr. Bob, who both went to top New England schools
Losing the fear of death
The charismatic messenger: Father Dowling and Bill W.
Transhumanization and discovering the divine within ourselves
God as the life and order of the universe

Glenn F. Chesnut, "Emmet Fox and New Thought"
The problem of pain and suffering
Hinduism, ancient Platonic philosophy, and the Allegory of the Cave
William James' Religion of Healthy-Mindedness
Emmet Fox's ideas had a strong influence on the A.A. Big Book according to Jimmy Burwell
Fox was a paradoxical figure: radical New Thought ideas played out against an Irish Catholic background
The Bible was turned into allegory and symbol
Fox said that God is Creative Intelligence (a term which Bill W. borrowed from him), but Fox took that idea straight from St. Thomas Aquinas and the medieval Catholic tradition
A comparison with the ideas of Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Etienne Gilson, and Father Bernard Lonergan
Fox's belief in reincarnation and transmigration of souls: Bill and Lois Wilson rejected this idea -- or did they?
The New Thought movement was made up of a group of American and British teachers, preachers, writers, and healers including Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (1802-1866), Emma Curtis Hopkins (1849–1925), Thomas Troward (1847-1916), James Allen (1864-1912) and Emmet Fox (1886-1951). I would also include, as part of this tradition, a number of more recent figures such as Louise Hay (b. 1926), Helen Schucman (1909-1981, A Course in Miracles), and Marianne Williamson (b. 1952), although these three latter figures of course had no influence on the world of early AA.

Glenn F. Chesnut, "Albert Einstein and Paul Tillich: Cosmic Religious Feeling"
The famous scientist Albert Einstein spoke on "Science and Religion" at The Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion held in New York City in September 1940, strongly attacking the traditional concept of God. But he did accept the idea of an impersonal "cosmic religious feeling," which he described as follows:
      "It is very difficult to elucidate this feeling to anyone who is entirely without it, especially as there is no anthropomorphic conception of God corresponding to it. The individual feels the futility of human desires and aims and the sublimity and marvelous order which reveal themselves both in nature and in the world of thought. Individual existence impresses him as a sort of prison and he wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole. The beginnings of cosmic religious feeling already appear at an early stage of development, e.g., in many of the Psalms of David and in some of the Prophets. Buddhism ... contains a much stronger element of this."
      "The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man's image; so that there can be no church whose central teachings are based on it. Hence it is precisely among the heretics of every age that we find men who were filled with this highest kind of religious feeling and were in many cases regarded by their contemporaries as atheists, sometimes also as saints. Looked at in this light, men like Democritus, Francis of Assisi, and Spinoza are closely akin to one another."
      "How can cosmic religious feeling be communicated from one person to another, if it can give rise to no definite notion of a God and no theology? In my view, it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it."
SEE ALSO:  Glenn F. Chesnut, "Paul Tillich: An Impersonal Ground of Being"

Paul Tillich taught at Union Theological Seminary in New York City from 1933 to 1935, where he was a colleague of Reinhold Niebuhr (the author of the Serenity Prayer) and Harry Emerson Fosdick (one of AA's early prominent supporters in the American religious scene). Tillich’s response to Einstein's arguments was published as one of the chapters in his book on the Theology of Culture, and is important because it shows us one of the greatest theologians of the century responding to one of the greatest scientists of the period. Tillich agrees with Einstein that God is not a personal being in the literal sense. The image of a Personal God is better understood as a symbol, a metaphor, or a myth in the technical sense in which social anthropologists use that term.

Rudolf Otto and the Idea of the Holy, Part 1:  The holy as one of the categories of the human understanding.
Learning to See the Sacred Dimension of Reality: the human experience of the holy and the sacred, the story of Bill Wilson, the sense of the divine presence, the holy as the experience of the “numinous,” the use of metaphors, analogies, and ideograms to talk about this experience.

Rudolf Otto and the Idea of the Holy, Part 2:  The experience of the sacred as the source of true serenity and the healing of the spirit
The Seven Faces of the Experience of the Divine Reality:  (1) Tremendum: the feeling of awe and dread, (2) Majestas: the call to total surrender, (3) Energeia: power, energy, love and Eros, (4) Alienum: the divine abyss lying behind the surface illusion of understandability, (5) Fascinans: salvation itself as living in the continual presence of the sacred, (6) Augustus: the power which condemns us but then washes us clean, (7) Illuminatio: inspiring us to see and be gripped by the true goal of the spiritual life.
In the 1930's, Rudolf Otto and Karl Barth were considered to be the two greatest theologians in the western world. In Otto's formative work, The Idea of the Holy, he said that the heart of all of the world's religions lay in the experience of what he called the holy or the sacred, which played a central role even in religions which had no concept of God (like nontheistic Buddhism and the Native American spirituality of tribes like the Navajos and Potawatomis).

When Bill was talking with Ebby in his kitchen, he suddenly remembered his encounter with the experience of the sacred (as Otto's book called it) at Winchester Cathedral, and he remembered how his grandfather had talked about experiencing the same mysterium tremendum while gazing at the starry heavens in the middle of the night. Shortly afterwards , Bill Wilson checked himself into Towns Hospital on Central Park West in New York City and had a second spiritual experience while in the hospital, a vision of light (an Illuminatio as we have called it in this discussion of Otto's work), where God gave Bill W. his mission.

painting by Kahlil Gibran

Painting by Kahlil Gibran