Cosmic Man

   There are those who begin to feel very spiritual.  You run into them in ashrams.  They walk a little above the ground.  For them, life is vulgar.  I’ll never forget my experience the first time I was in an ashram, years and years ago.  It was a beautiful place with deer grazing on the lawns and girls in saris on bridges looking down at the goldfish swimming in the pools.  It was simply ravishing.  Then some vulgarian came into the group.  We thought, “How can we tolerate this gross body?”  So when you think of your spiritual life as relieving you of the physical, you are going up this track.  You are going to have a great disappointment somewhere along the line because your body is still there.  This known as manic-depressive experience.  You’ve identified yourself with the subtle body, but you’re still gross.  You’re trying to become immortal while you are still on earth.  TMTT 140

According to the testimony of many myths, the Cosmic Man is not only the beginning but also the final goal of all life – of the whole of creation.  “All cereal nature means wheat, all treasure nature means gold, all generations means man,” says the medieval sage Meister Eckhart.  And if one looks at this from a psychological standpoint, it is certainly so.  The whole inner psychic reality of each individual is ultimately oriented toward this archetypal symbol of the Self.  M&HS 215

In practical terms this means that the existence of human beings will never be satisfactorily explained in terms of isolated instincts or purposive mechanism such as hunger, power, sex, survival, perpetuation of the species, and so on.  That is, man’s main purpose is not to eat, drink, etc., but to be human.   M&HS 215

In our Western civilization the Cosmic Man has been identified to a great extent with Christ, and in the East with Krishna or with Buddha.  In the Old Testament this same symbolic figure turns up as the “Son of Man” and in later Jewish mysticism is called Adam Kadmon.  Certain religious movements of late antiquity simply called him Anthropos (the Greek word for man).  Like all symbols this image points to an unknowable secret – to the ultimate unknown meaning of human existence.  M&HS 215

As we have noted, certain traditions assert that the Cosmic Man is the goal of creation, but the achievement of this should not be understood as a possible external happening.  From the point of view of the Hindu, for example, it is not so much that the external world will one day dissolve into the original Great Man, but that the ego’s extraverted orientation toward the external world will disappear in order to make way for the Cosmic Man.  This happens when the ego merges into the Self.  The ego’s discursive flow of representations (which goes from one though to another) and its desires (which run from one object to another) calm down when the Great Man within is encountered.  Indeed, we must never forget that for us outer reality exists only in so far as we perceive it consciously, and that we cannot prove that it exists “in and by itself.”  M&HS 216

The many examples coming from various civilizations and different periods show the universality of the symbol of the Great Man.  His image is present in the minds of men as a sort of goal or expression of the basic mystery of our life.  Because this symbol represents that which is whole and complete, it is often conceived of as a bisexual being.  In this form the symbol reconciles one of the most important pairs of psychological opposites – male and female.  This union also appears frequently in dreams as a divine, royal, or otherwise distinguished couple.  M&HS 216