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The Three Fundamental Concepts Of Emerson's Philosophy

2374 words - 9 pages

MANY attempts have been made to compare the philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson with other systems of thought. When it is compared with Theosophy, a new point of view must be taken. For Theosophy is not a philosophy, but the Root-Source from which all philosophies have sprung. It is not the result of one man's speculation, but the synthesis of the knowledge of the ages which has been accumulated, recorded and preserved by a long line of Adepts. It is a complete whole, and admits of no comparison with anything less than itself. All that can be done, in the case of a single philosopher, is to examine the fruit of his mind in order to see if it was grown in the Garden of Wisdom.Many are the Gardeners who have nurtured the Tree of Knowledge which grows in the midst of this Garden. The Theosophist knows Them as the Mahatmas. Emerson described Them in these words:"I cannot recite the laws of the intellect without remembering that lofty and sequestered class of men who have been its prophets and oracles, the high priesthood of pure reason, the Trismegisti, the expounders of the principles of thought from age to age. The truth and grandeur of their thought is proved by its scope and applicability, for it commands the entire schedule and inventory of things for its illustration."In the teachings of these "great spiritual lords" as Emerson calls Them, certain fundamental concepts appear as the central sun around which the entire system of philosophical thought revolves. They are epitomized in a few pages of the Secret Doctrine as the "Three Fundamental Propositions" and are summarized by Emerson in the three Essays which are the most widely read of all his works: The Over-soul, Compensation, and Self-Reliance.The First Fundamental Proposition treats of that Unity which lies behind all diversity -- That which contains all and pervades all, That from which all proceeds and into which all eventually is absorbed. Emerson realized the philosophical necessity of such a concept. Finding no satisfactory expression of it in the religious teachings of his own day and race, he sought for it within the philosophy of the ancient Aryans. The method he pursued in his search for the Causeless Cause which lies behind all causes is outlined in the Katha Upanishad:"Than the powers, the impulses are higher;Than the impulses, Mind is higher;Than Mind, Soul is higher; than Soul, the Great Self.Than the Great Self, the Unmanifest is higher;Than the Unmanifest, Spirit is higher;This is the end, the supreme way."Emerson's Westernized version of this Eastern teaching is found in his essay on Plato:"The mind is urged to ask for one Cause of many effects; then for the cause of that; and again the cause, diving still into the profound; self-assured that it shall arrive at an Absolute and sufficient one; a One that shall be All."In that deep force, he says, the last fact behind which analysis cannot go, all things find their common origin. Being behind the power of analysis,beyond the...


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