Bucke describes his one and only Connection Experience
It was in the early spring at the beginning of his thirty-sixth year. 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 (it was in an English city). 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 warning of any kind, he found himself wrapped around as it were by a flame colored cloud. For an instant he thought of fire, some sudden conflagration in the great city, the next he knew that the light was within himself. Directly afterwards 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 Brahmic Splendor which has ever since lightened his life; upon his heart fell one drop of Brahmic Bliss, leaving thenceforward for always an after taste of heaven. Among other things he did not come to believe, he saw and knew that the Cosmos is not dead matter but a living Presence, that the soul of man is immortal, that the universe is so built and ordered that without any peradventure all things work together for the good of each and all, that the foundation principle of the world is what we call love and that the happiness of every one is in the long run absolutely certain. He claims that he learned more within the few seconds during which the illumination lasted than in previous months or even years of study, and that he learned much that no study could ever have taught.
The illumination itself continued not more than a few moments, but its effects proved ineffaceable; it was impossible for him ever to forget what he at that time saw and knew, neither did he, or could he, ever doubt the truth of what was then presented to his mind. There was no return that night or at any other time of the experience. He subsequently wrote a book (28 a.) in which he sought to embody the teaching of the illumination. Some who read it thought very highly of it, but (as was to be expected for many reasons) it had little circulation.
The supreme occurrence of that night was his real and sole initiation to the new and higher order of ideas. But it was only an initiation. He saw the light but had no more idea whence it came and what it meant than had the first creature that saw the light of the sun.
- Bucke, Richard Maurice. Cosmic Consciousness (Kindle Locations 347-361). Book Tree. Kindle Edition. Emphasis Added
"Glimpses are neither ideal, necessary, nor normal parts of the awakening process. Rather, a glimpse occurs when a severe blockage is temporarily overcome. The experience of glimpses belies the presence of Awareness Reduction Mechanisms and other bodily pathologies."
The last part of the statement might be misunderstood. Be aware that Awareness Reduction Mechanisms are not bodily pathologies. If we posit that most psychological "illnesses" are in fact rather adaptations to the environment, then the very same may be posited for ARMs. ARMs are there to:
- minimize cognitive dissonance of the PU
- avoid identification with negative things (internal ARMs)
- minimize (felt) exposure to disjunctive content of reality. (external ARMs)
As such, they help keeping us sane and contribute towards psychological integrity - however skewed this "integrity" might be.
Naturally, the occurence of ARMs, especially the heavy use of them, reflects a pathological state of the PU. The ARMs themselves, however, are interpretable as the psychological immune system of the body, and are not part of the pathology of the PU. Analogously, we would state that the immune system of the body is not the illness. The heavy use of that immune system, however, indicates a serious, ongoing problem with the organism and/or the environment it finds itself in.