Cosmic consciousness is the idea that the universe exists as an interconnected network of consciousness, with each conscious being linked to every other. Sometimes this is conceived as forming a collective consciousness which spans the cosmos, othertimes it is conceived of as an Absolute or Godhead from which all conscious beings emanate.
Throughout history, there have been many renditions of universal unity, connectivity, and the spectrum of considered possibility of mankind. The idea bears similarity to the ancient Buddhist concept of Indra's net, Teilhard de Chardin's conception of the noosphere, Hegel's Absolute idealism, Satori in Zen, and to some traditional pantheist beliefs.
Many of those who have used psychedelics such as LSD and Psilocybin mushrooms have asserted that they have had direct experience of the cosmic consciousness. In the 19th century, Canadian psychiatrist Richard M. Bucke developed a theory which claimed that cosmic consciousness lies in a mystic state above and beyond self-consciousness, the natural state of man's consciousness, just like animal consciousness lies below.
Bucke's work entitled Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind is the title of his 1901 book. In it, Bucke developed a theory involving three stages in the development of consciousness: the simple consciousness of animals; the self-consciousness of the mass of humanity (encompassing reason, imagination, etc.); and cosmic consciousness — an emerging faculty and the next stage of human development.
Alexander Zelitchenko in his "Svet Zhizni" (Light of Life, History of Humankind in Psychosphere of Earth) continues this line, joined the directions of thought of Oswald Spengler, Lev Vygotsky, Lev Gumilev, and Carl Jung tracing the transformations of human consciousness in course of history.
According to P. D. Ouspensky, as man evolves into higher states of consciousness, e. g. cosmic consciousness, he needs the tools of a higher form of logic, Ouspensky calls Tertium organum given to the title of his 1912 book. Bucke’s conclusion was that these individuals were "gifted" in the direction of cosmic consciousness and then developed this consciousness through self-discipline.
Some modern psychologists and theologians make specific reference to Bucke’s work. They include Carl Jung, Erich Fromm, Robert de Ropp, and Abraham Maslow. Others who have used the concept of cosmic consciousness, as introduced by Bucke in 1901, include Albert Einstein, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and Alan Watts.