“If I have lost confidence in myself, I have the universe against me.”

–          Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am always intrigued and  interested in writers and philosophers of the near and distant past and their undeniable illumination and wisdom; wisdom and insight that rises above the threshold of dogma and ignorance that besieges much of our more recent history. Take the dark ages for instance: The intellectual gains of ancient Greece and the contributions of great thinkers like Plato and Aristotle were blurred and forsaken when Christianity inherited Europe. Even Galileo was accused of blasphemy for his theories in astronomy. Imagine where science and technology would be today if we continued to build from where ancient Greece left off, instead of backsliding into blind faith and stifled forward thinking for hundreds of years.

One such writer and poet that continues to intrigue me is Ralph Waldo Emerson. Born in 1803, Emerson is considered one of the great transcendentalist writers of his time.  His literary influences were seen as a reflection of individualism and a steward for challenging the dominant and dogmatic pressures of society:

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

“Life consists in what a man is thinking of all day.”

His essays and quotes talk about God not as a man but other things. His connection with nature was also interesting:

“There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, — no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God”

Fellow blogger, Kirk McElhearn offered this insight: “He understood that the world is not simply that which is outside of man, but also that the world is something that we create from our own experiences and feelings, a concept which the great Zen teachers have espoused for centuries.”

I find it empowering that in a close minded world, there are visionaries from our past that have awakened and it is reflected in their writings. Ralph Waldo Emerson saw the world as something special beyond just pulpits and scripture. He saw a world where energy and nature are the paying currency; mans actions and thoughts, its driving force:

“Man is the creator of his world.”

God enters by a private door into every individual.”

When you read deeper into Emerson’s contributions you see a man bathed under the illumination of clarity and awareness. Nature was his meditative sanctuary where he found further insight and healing energy. Within his writing you see this connection with the universe, but also a connection with himself – there is almost a Buddhist quality to his message and his writing shows us that serenity, silence and inner wisdom are paths to enlightenment.

John C. Bader

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Kirk McElhearn