Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ralph Waldo Emerson: "The Over-Soul"

"Our faith comes in moments," writes Emerson, the great American Transcendentalist, "our vice is habitual." "Yet there is a depth in those brief moments," he observes, "which constrains us to ascribe more reality to them than to all other experiences."

Continuing in his essay, "The Over-Soul," we read:
"We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty to which every part and particle is equally related; the Eternal ONE. And this deep power in which we exist and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour but the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle the subject and the object are one."
"We see the world piece by piece," Emerson observes, "as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are the shining parts, is the soul."

"All goes to show," writes Emerson, "that the soul in man is not an organ, but animates and exercises all the organs; is not a function, like the power of memory, of calculation, of comparison, but uses these as hands and feet; is not a faculty, but a light; is not the intellect or the will, but the master of the intellect and will; is the background of our being in which they lie - an immensity not possessed and that cannot be possessed. From within or from behind, a light shines through upon things and makes us aware that we are nothing but the light is all." (Emphasis added.)

"The soul circumscribes all things," he notes, "contradicts all experience. . . . (And) in like manner . . . abolishes space and time."

"The influence of the senses," he observes, "has in most instances overpowered the mind to that degree that the walls of times and space have come to look real and insurmountable; and to speak with levity of these limits is, in the world, the sign of insanity. Yet time and space are but inverse measures of the soul."

"We are often made to feel that there is another youth and age," he continues, "than that which is measured from the year of our natural birth. Some thoughts always find us young, and keep us so. Such a thought is the love of the universal and eternal beauty. Every man parts from that contemplation with the feeling it rather belongs to the ages than to mortal life."
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