Sunday, December 25, 2011


Ralph Waldo was a minister who had disagreements with doctrine and became a secular minister. He traveled across America in the mid 19th century "preaching" on manners, politics and literature. His words are as relevant today as they were then.

It is time that this ill-supported murmur of all thoughtful men against the famine of our churches... should be  heard through the sleep of indolence, and over the din of routine... 
The stationariness of religion: the assumption that the age of inspiration is past, that the Bible is closed; the fear of degrading the character of Jesus by representing him as a man; indicate with sufficient clearness the falsehood of our theology. It is the office of a true teacher to show us that God is, not was; that He speaketh, not spake. The true Christianity - a faith like Christs' in the infinitude of man, - is lost... 
Let me admonish you, first of all, to go alone; to refuse the good models, even those most sacred in the imagination of men, and dare to love God without mediator or veil... 
Yourself a newborn bard of the Holy Ghost, - cast behind you all conformity, and acquaint men at first hand with Deity... Look to it first and only... that fashion custom, authority, pleasure, and money are nothing to you, - are not bandages over your eyes, that you cannot see, - but live with the privilege of the immeasurable mind. 


  1. Lausten, I have sometimes wondered whether Emerson was among those who have had mystical experiences -- that is, some sort of overwhelming, transcendent experience of Oneness. Some of the things he says recall to me things said by the Buddha and other mystics. Do you have an opinion about that?

  2. Emerson needs to judged as a man of his time. He could not have been expected to be up on the latest ideas coming from Darwin or Faraday. Buddhism was not Westernized either, so any comparison to that would be a compliment. In the above I forgive his use of "true Christianity" and suspect he would use something like "true morals" or "universal values" if he were alive today.

    If he had a mystical experience, he couldn't be expected to evaluate it in light of recent nuerological research. His compassion is obvious and no doubt based on some feeling of brotherhood with the whole earth. I can arrive at the conclusion that I am related to everything using logic and reason, but it is not very inspiring. Emerson's passion does seem to indicate something less explainable, more expieriential, was at play.

  3. Thanks, Lausten. That sheds quite a little light on Emerson for me.