"Fearlessness is the first requirement of spirituality. Cowards can never be moral." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, May 16, 2011

Emerson: On 'Experience'

The definition of spiritual should be, that which is its own evidence.

In his essay on "Experience," Emerson, the dean of the American Transcendentalist movement, observes that life is led in succession, with one moment following another, seemingly blindly.

"God delights to isolate us every day," he remarks, "and hide us from the past and future. We would look about us, but with grand politeness he draws behind us purest sky. 'You will not remember,' he seems to say, 'and you will not expect.'"

"But," he notes, "it is impossible that the creative power should elude us. Into every intelligence there is a door which is never closed, through which the creator passes. The intellect, seeker of absolute truth, or the heart, lover of absolute good, intervenes for our succor, and at one whisper of these high powers we awake from ineffectual struggles with this nightmare. We hurl it into its own hell, and cannot again contract to so base a state."

"The secret of the illusoriness," Emerson says, "is in the necessity of a succession of moods or objects. Gladly we would anchor, but the anchorage is quicksand. This onward trick of nature is too strong for us: Pero si muove. When at night I look at the moon and the stars, I seem stationary, and they to hurry."

However, he observes: "Our love of the real draws us to permanence, but health of body consists in circulation and sanity of mind in variety or facility of association. We need change of objects."

"Dedication to one thought is quickly odious," Emerson notes. "We house with the insane, and must humor them; then conversation dies out."

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