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Hope from the Transcendentalists 2013-Mar-18 at 02:45 PST

Posted by Scott Arbeit in Blog.
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I found myself reading a bit of Thoreau tonight, and was meditating a bit on the Transcendental movement as a whole.

As I wrote previously, Transcendentalism was the first truly American philosophy. What’s particularly interesting about it is that the Transcendentalists were very clear about the Soul and the Oversoul. In other words, mystic spirituality. As in, Thoreau quoted the Vedas in his writing… he got it. So the first American philosophy had a mystic spirituality in its very center. Cool, right?

You know, Thoreau didn’t go to Walden for two years to write Walden. He went there to write A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. Although he certainly went into town on occasion, and still saw Emerson and his family every week or two, and even had visitors… really, the cabin on Walden Pond was built so that he could do a two-year retreat. Thoreau trusted the value of that kind of experience.

And the entire world received the blessings of that trust. A Week turned out to be his best, most polished writing ever. And Walden? Walden, brilliant jewel it is, was basically a collection of observations he made during that retreat. Walden was the blog, if you will, that he wrote while he really wrote A Week. Amazing things come through when you rest in Silence.

I say all of this to say: take heart. The path to a collective spiritual life can seem like it’s farther away than ever. But Thoreau thought that too. In his time, the bustle of the railroad and the newspapers and all of the commerce in Concord (much less Boston!) was far beyond what he thought could possibly be healthy for the human soul.

And yet, even though he thought that about the world, he lived in Silence and Spirit, knowing what was true, what always would be true. We can, too. It’s not too late. It’s actually right on time.

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Comments»

1. Karen Sella - 2013-Mar-18 at 09:06 PST

As someone who appreciates Transcendentalism, Thoreau, and deep pockets of silence, I really appreciate this reflection, Scott. When I lived on the East Coast, Walden Pond was a favored destination for walking, wading, musing, and the like. Thank you for prompting sweet reflection and remembrance :)


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