The Logical Structure of Cosmic Consciousness

by Ian Williams Goddard

One claim held by both scientists and mystics is that the cosmic consciousness experience (CCE) is not logical. To mystics this defines the limits of logic, while to scientists it defines perceptions stemming from CCE as false. But is the claimed disjunction between CCE and logic valid? Falsification of that claim requires demonstration that defining features of CCE can be explained within a logical framework.

Cosmic Consciousness Exerience (CCE) is an experience wherein the observer’s identity exceeds normal limits. Normally the observer’s experiential field is broken into self, a sense of identity limited to the observer’s body, and not-self, which is outside the observer’s body. During CCE the division of self and not-self is seen as an unreal mental fabrication, the dissolution of which causes self to occupy both the inside, or the body, and the outside.

The yogi endowed with complete enlightenment sees... the entire universe in his own Self and regards everything as the Self and nothing else... I fill all the inside and the outside... the same in all.

Sankara (born 788) [1]

The structure of CCE may be expressed in the following animation. Normally the self is limited to being inside the body (a) surrounded by not-self on the outside (-a). During CCE the self is perceived to contain both a and -a, thereby becoming the holistic self (A).

The graphic above is animated, if it stops hit “reload.”

In symbolic logic, the holistic self (A) perceived during CCE is the union (U) of self (a) and not-self (-a), or: A = a U -a.

Holistic self is not an arbitrary construct. Your holistic self is a set that contains all that makes you what you are. Therefore, since you are “an entity within a universe,” your holistic self contains your body (a) plus the whole universe surrounding it (-a). Your holistic self (A) therefore contains the whole universe (A = {a, -a} = whole universe). This is the structure of self, or identity, that is perceived during CCE. To understand this simple logical structure is to understand CCE.

Holistic Identity: The holistic identity of the local thing a is the set A that contains all that makes a what a is.

That definition is based upon the dual structure of identity. The identity of a is function of (1) the similarity of a to a and (2) the difference between a and not-a. For example: (1) he must be Smith since he is the same as Smith, and (2) Smith is best because he scored more than the others. In this example, Smith’s holistic identity set would contain both “Smith” and “the others.” See reference [2].


CCE follows this logical structure

We are all one unified whole

If CCE is logical, its perceptions should consistently follow the logical structure just outlined. A major feature of CCE is the perception of identity with others. During CCE an observer may perceive that his holistic self (A) is equivalent to the holistic self of another (B) and of all others. This may be expressed as “I am you” or “We are all one.”

If my holistic self (A) is the union of my body (a) and its external area (-a), and if your holistic self (B) is the union of your body (b) and its external area (-b), then the statement “I am you” (A = B) is true with respect to our holistic self since both A and B define the same thing -- everything. Therefore, the perception “We are all one” common to CCE is a consistent expression of the basic logical structure of CCE.

All things are one unified whole

Holistic self, or holistic identity, unities all entities in the same way it unites two or more people in our last example. In the classic study by W T Stace, Mysticism and Philosophy, the definition of extrovertive mystical experience (EME) is the same as cosmic consciousness experience. [3] Stace quotes the Christian mystic Meister Eckhart (circa 1260 - 1328) as an example of EME:

All that a man has here externally in multiplicity is intrinsically One. Here [during CCE] all blades of grass, wood, and stone, all things are One.

Say Lord, when is a man in mere understanding? I say to you “when a man sees one thing separate from another.” And when is he above mere understanding? That I tell you: “When he sees all in all, then a man stands above mere understanding.” [4]

To say “he sees all in all” is to say “he sees holistic identity (all) in all things,” since the holistic identity of each thing (interior plus exterior) is equal to all. About Eckhart’s CCE, Stace says: “In saying that the grass, wood, and stone are perceived as one ... he means that they are both distinct and identical.” Stace continues: “Rudolf Otto has expressed the thought uncompromisingly and bluntly thus: ’Black does not cease to be black, nor white white [during CCE]. But black is white and white is black.’” [5] “Black is white” ... say what?!

The holistic identity X of a thing x is a set that contains all that makes x what x is. Therefore, the holistic-darkness set (D) must contain local darkness (d) and local brightness (b), just as the holistic-brightness set (B) must contain local brightness (b) and local darkness (d), since it is the relation of b and d makes each what they are. [6] Therefore D = B. By defining local thing x as a member of a holistic-identity set that contains all that makes x what x is, we define the logic of the mystics.


All & Nothing

Another claim associated with CCE is that the holistic self is all and nothing (A = all = 0). To say that all, which includes innumerable things, is equal to zero certainly appears to be illogical. But is it?

In the yogic system, which is based on the attainment of CCE, the term Brahman describes the holistic self. According to yogic scripture, “Brahman is all” [7] and yet Brahman is also sunya, [8] which is the number zero. Brahman appears to contain many things by the process of differentiation. [9] The mathematical definition of difference is that which is obtained by subtraction. [10]

A subtraction table therefore models a system wherein that system (the whole table) is populated with many attributes by the same process by which Brahman is populated with many attributes, by differentiation:

Exactly like Brahman

the table is all & nothing.

Exactly like Brahman, the whole table (as a model of all) contains all and yet is itself equal to nothing because the sum of all differences within it equals zero. All difference = 0. Ergo: it is a mathematic fact that the sum (yoga) of all differences (Brahman) equals zero (sunya). The “all and nothing” Brahman paradox is therefore logical with respect to the nature of the identity of all, where all is a whole system like Brahman in which all members are derived from differentiation.

The consistency between this zero-sum analysis and the logical structure of holistic identity lies in the dual structure of identity briefly mentioned above, which is described in Zeroing in on Identity. [2]


Nonarising ... Say what?!

The subtraction table also models the principle of ajati, which declares that nothing ever exists or is ever actually created. This nonarising is said to define the void-like, or nonexistent, nature of things, another seemingly illogical perception associated with CCE. As the ancient Mandukya Upanishad says:

“[N]either the mind nor the objects perceived by the mind are ever born... That which is non-existent [or zero] in the beginning and in the end, is necessarily non-existent [or zero] in the middle. The objects we see are illusions, still they are regarded as if real.

Mandukya Upanishad [11]

Surprisingly the logic of this view is very straightforward: if there is no difference (0), and then difference arises, yet the sum of all difference is equal to no difference ((+) + (-)), then logic dictates that only nothing arises, hence the nonarising known as ajati.

It is worth noting that recent research has found that universal energy is balanced, meaning that the sum of all energy is zero. [12] Professor Max Tegmark of the University of Pennsylvania explained that this is due to the fact that “the positive energy in matter is canceled by negative energy in the gravitational field.” [13] Because everything is energy and total energy is zero, the insight of yogis derived from CCE that the All is sunya, or zero, appears to have been, and to be, the absolute truth.



In the classic text Mysticism and Philosophy, W T Stace purports that CCE “blatantly breaches the laws of logic at every turn.” [14] However, the analysis herein contradicts that claim by demonstrating that a simple logical framework (holistic self = union of self and not-self) that defines the basic structure of CCE serves to consistently provide logical explanation to major perceptual features of CCE that have previously been assumed to be illogical.

The contention may still be raised that CCE is illogical because the perception of self -- where “self” is understood as not merely identity but consciousness -- existing both in and outside the body is unreal. This contention assumes that for x to be logical x must be shown to exist in the physical universe. However, that assumption is not valid. For example, the mathematical equations describing more than three dimensions of space are logical even if more than three dimensions of space do not exist in the physical universe. So the logical is not necessarily real. But so far as we define “self” as “identity,” we can say that the holistic structure of identity outlined above is real (also see reference 2).

The cosmic-consciousness-as-reality theory would be that during normal experience the observer perceives the universe from the point of view of his finite mind. According to Eckhart, at that time he “sees one thing separate from another.” Then according to Eckhart during CCE “he sees all in all,” ie, he sees God -- the holistic identity -- in all things. It is perfect then that the holistic identity of the observer and of all things as defined above is exactly equal to the whole, the entire real universe, which is the same as the Mind of God, also known as Brahman.

It should be noted that this author’s analysis of CCE is based on direct observation. After several years of yoga and meditation training I was able to achieve CCE with some regularity. While the experience is profoundly blissful, I wanted to do more than merely enjoy it. I wanted to fully understand the what, why, and how of CCE. It seemed to me, contrary to popular opinion, that CCE was the quintessence of absolute truth and as such was invariably logical. Applying the scientific method I have also questioned the validity of CCE, to wit I’ve explored not only how perceptions during CCE might be logical (this essay) and existent in reality, [15] but also how they might be neurological fabrications. [16]

The power of the analysis presented in this essay is that it holds whether or not CCE is a neurological construct. If CCE is merely a neurological construct, the logical structure outlined herein invariably describes the logical mechanics inherent in the neurological modeling of CCE. The analysis herein is therefore neutral with respect to ascertaining whether or not consciousness is an underlying property of the universe. Holistic identity is inherent in the relational structure of identity regardless of the true nature of consciousness. [2]


[1] Sankara, S. (cira 788 - 810). Thus Spake Sri Sankara. Madras India Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1969, pages 32, 58.

[2] Goddard, I. W. (1998). Zeroing In On Identity, Identity Defined. Goddard’s Journal.

[3] Stace, W. T. (1960). Mysticism and Philosophy. Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc, page 62-81.

[4] Ibid., page 63-4.

[5] Ibid., page 65.

[6] Goddard, I. W. (1998). What It’s Not Is Also What It Is. Goddard’s Poetry.

[7] The Upanishads. Translated by Eknath Easwaran. Petaluma California: Nilgiri Press, 1987, page 60.

[8] Glossary of Sanskrit Terms in Integral Yoga Literature.

[9] The Siva Samhita. Translated by Srisa Chandra Vasu. New Delhi India Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 1979, chapter 1, verse 67, page 10. 

[10] Daintith, J. & Nelson, R.D. (1989). The Penguin Dictionary of Mathematics. Penguin Books, page 95.

[11] The Mandukyopanishad. Mysore India Sri Ramakrishna Ashram, 1974, chapter 4, verse 28, page 31.

[12] PennNews. (2001). Astronomers Gain Best Glimpse Yet Of What Our Universe Is Made Of -- And Not Much Of It Is Matter As We Know It., January 31.

[13] Personal communication with Professor Max Tegmark (, lead researcher of study cited in reference 12.

[14] Stace, W. T. (1960). Mysticism and Philosophy. Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc, page 68.

[15] Goddard, I. W. (1994). Logical Verification of the Mystical Experience. Neutral Mechanics Research Center.

[16] Goddard, I. W. (1999). Neurological explanation for paranormal experiences. Goddard's Journal.



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