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The Path To Divine Wisdom Essay

1687 words - 7 pages

The Path to Divine Wisdom

Throughout history different segments of society have struggled for such liberties as personal freedom and eternal happiness. For centuries man has attempted to "find" himself, posing the questions "Who am I?" and "Who do I want to be?" People tend to express themselves physically, spiritually, psychologically, and emotionally in order to promote their image, their sense of identity and individualism. During the late 1820's and 1830's, Transcendentalism emerged as the defining American philosophy. A movement which intertwined the study of truth, religion, and literature, stressing the value of intellectual reason as the path to divine wisdom. Ralph Waldo Emerson's Nature and Henry David Thoreau's Walden both express insights into the divinity of the human person transcending material possessions and conformist ways of thinking.
Emerson's transcendental philosophy allowed him to experience harmony and understanding by broadening his horizons and seeing what others could not see, or even imagine. His literary masterpiece Nature explores the direct relationship between God and nature. Emerson suggests that the presence of a divine spirit in both nature and the human soul creates a direct understanding of God as well as the perception of fundamental truths. He describes his experience: "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 eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or parcel of God" ( He emphasizes that nature is a creation from God's hands and exists to fortify human souls with the purity of immortal beauty. Landscapes, horizons, even thunderstorms, have the potential to alter the human spirit and provide a sense of harmonious reassurance. Robert E. Spiller supports this idea by stating that Emerson feels God is revealed in "...Beauty, or the pleasure in contemplation of form and color" (10). There is a direct relationship between nature and people insofar as they both express emotions and stages of development. Moods can, as does nature, brighten and fade as they seek change and identity. The Transcendental emphasis on the unity of individual souls both with nature and with God instills dignity and significance into human endeavors. Everything found in the soul of the world can be found in the soul of the individual, moreover, contact with the truth, goodness and beauty embodied in nature originates the Over-Soul ( Alfred Kazin states that Emerson felt that those who "...had found God in himself was always happy, confident of his wisdom about everything that came to his attention" (52). Such an emphasis establishes a belief in the power to effect social change in harmony with God's purposes. In Nature, Emerson proclaims that "the reason why the world lacks unity, and...

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