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Preview: Comments on: On Emerson’s “Spiritual Laws”

Comments on: On Emerson’s "Spiritual Laws"



Christopher Lydon in conversation on arts, ideas and politics



Last Build Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2018 15:13:00 +0000

 



By: Bobby

Wed, 12 Sep 2007 03:37:04 +0000

Redding asks: “Where in the world does “disguise” come from if truth and Being are continually in abundant evidence?” “Disguise” is found whenever/wherever one finds a man, woman, or child not living his nature. From “Spiritual Laws”: A little consideration of what takes place around us every day would show us, that a higher law than that of our will regulates events; that our painful labors are unnecessary, and fruitless; that only in our easy, simple, spontaneous action are we strong, and by contenting ourselves with obedience we become divine. Belief and love, — a believing love will relieve us of a vast load of care. O my brothers, God exists. There is a soul at the centre of nature, and over the will of every man, so that none of us can wrong the universe. From that I infer the following: Nature “obeys” this higher law (God/Spiritual Laws) not because it knows it should, or because itâ€s the right thing to do; nature obeys the law, i.e. lives true to itself, because it has no other choice. One might even say nature “lacks the will” to do anything else but adhere to the law. Consequently, nature is both reliable and predictable. It means that an electron will always behave as an electron should behave; if it doesnâ€t, donâ€t fault the electron; fault the physics professor who told us how an electron should live. Itâ€s also why weâ€re able to have tide charts, and know exactly what time the sun will rise and fall on any given day of the year. It means that should you find yourself standing between a grizzly bear and her cub, you can be confident that while youâ€re being maul to death, mamma bear does so because itâ€s her nature to protect her young and NOT because of the callous remark you made about her cocktail dress at the office Christmas party. The point is that everything in nature behaves exactly as it should; it has no hidden agenda, or expectations; it means (I say with the utmost respect toward life, as well as to distinguish a subtle, yet significant point) when a suicide jumper steps off a bridge deck, he/she does so knowing (dare I say trusting) that gravity will be truthful. Not true to the jumper, but true to itâ€s self. Itâ€s why Emerson says in “Self-Reliance, “if I am the Devilâ€s child, I will live then from the Devil. No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it.” Itâ€s why we donâ€t accuse/fault gravity for the death of the individual jumping from the bridge. Itâ€s also why we can never negotiate a deal with gravity – or mamma bear for that matter. Itâ€s impossible. And that brings me to my next point. The relationship, the connection, shared between all that we see in nature doesnâ€t come from some contract or treaty. You wonâ€t find a Pollination Pact signed by the bees and flowers. The connection/relationship derives from everything behaving as it should, i.e. being truthful to itâ€s self; it simply is an extension/metaphor of the Spiritual Laws, the visible of the invisible. Therefore, one never has to be suspicious of nature, that what you see is what you get. The being said, we, too, are part of nature; weâ€re simply an extension of those same laws that govern over everything we see. “There is a soul at the centre of nature, and over the will of every man, so that none of us can wrong the universe.” Or, as Cecil B. deMille said: “It is impossible for us to break the law. We can only break ourselves against the law.” Itâ€s reasonable, then, to say that if the universe, i.e. God/Spiritual Laws/Truth can never be wronged, and that nature always behaves as it should, then “disguiseâ€[...]



By: Bobby

Fri, 07 Sep 2007 07:39:15 +0000

This is not exactly related to the topics which have recently been brought up, e.g. Emersonâ€s view on God, disguise (something I found intriguing and have been thinking about) but I thought I'd send it off anyway. I've been reading The Declaration of Independence for something else, and I realized the other day that Emerson has said/recognized some of the same ideas. Anyway, below are some of my notes. The Declaration of Independence We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. From Emerson's Spiritual Laws A little consideration of what takes place around us every day would show us, that a higher law than that of our will regulates events; that our painful labors are unnecessary, and fruitless; that only in our easy, simple, spontaneous action are we strong, and by contenting ourselves with obedience we become divine. Belief and love, – a believing love will relieve us of a vast load of care. O my brothers, God exists. There is a soul at the centre of nature, and over the will of every man, so that none of us can wrong the universe. A few observations: Both Emerson and The D. of I. claim there is an authority greater than mankind Neither gives us a clear definition of that authority – if only because it's not the intent of either document – but each are clear that it does exists, that it is "self-evident", that if we only take a careful look around us we would come to the same conclusion. This authority has given mankind particular Rights The Declaration of Independence names three: Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Emerson, however, talks about being obedient. But I don't believe that is what Emerson is saying if only because he than says that if we are obedient we "become divine." And what could be a better reward than divinity? Now what if we replaced the word "Rights" with "Purpose"? Would it change the essence of the Declaration? Or, instead of Emerson's line where he says "that only in our easy, simple, spontaneous action are we strong, and by contenting ourselves with obedience we become divine." could he just as easily said "that only by fulfilling our Purpose are we strong, and when we satisfy that Purpose we become divine." These Rights (Our Purpose) cannot be taken away nor can we surrender them Now I don't believe either The D. of I. or Emerson (at least the passages I'm quoting today) explicitly say that, but I believe I'm safe inferring it. After all, to say our Rights are bestowed upon us by our Creator is to also say then that they are not granted to us by some manmade institution. (Now to say they are not granted to us by our own institutions is not to say that it's impossible for them to do so. Or is it?) Consequently, these manmade institutions have no authority to take away what is/always has been ours. (Are there any constitutional lawyers and/or Emersonian scholars out there who can set me straight if I'm wrong?) Furthermore, just as one cannot take them away, we are unable to given them up (in a manner of speaking). This is why I think it's reasonable to suggest that these Rights are synonymous with Purpose. And if that's true, then to surrender those rights is to surrender our humanity, which doesnâ€t seem possible. On the other hand perhaps this is exactly what we do when we fail to – as Emerson says – “trust thyself”. Neither Emerson nor The D. of I. take actual credit – good or bad – for the claims they make. Both are simply stating what is in fact the way things are. Maybe even the ways thin[...]



By: Zeke

Thu, 30 Aug 2007 16:26:36 +0000

I'm with you Redding. Thanks for your additions and question to my post. I was imprecise. Let me see if we still stay together as I clarify. I did not mean to imply that we have a choice of what our vision will reveal. However, we have to choose whether we will open ourselves to claim this birthright. It is much safer and more convenient to rely on the vision of "authorities" and the "revelation" of history. On March 26, 1838, a few months before the July Divinity School Address, RWE writes in his journal: Thought is only to be answered by thought not by authority, not by wishes. I tell men what I find in my consciousness. They answer me, "It is wrong; it is false; for we wish otherwise." I report to them from my thought how little we know God, and they reply, "We think you have no Father. We love to address the Father." Yes, I say, the Father is a convenient name and image to the affections; but drop all images if you wish to come at the elements of your thought... As Redding corrects me, he is not imploring them to see the world as he sees it. But he is calling them to account what you call their "benighted" [another interesting metaphor from the natural world by the way] lazy view. He wants preachers (and everyone) to rely on themselves; in short, to choose to exercise their birthright.



By: Redding

Thu, 30 Aug 2007 14:42:03 +0000

Thanks for the quotations, Flow. They do indeed ground Emerson's sense of irony and paradox. Zeke's observation that "this mystery appears ironic or paradoxical" sounds right to me, especially if we emphasize the word, "appears." In these quotations, I see Emerson describing the experience of paradox as an acute awareness of the self/Self division. For instance, people see themselves in the colossal without recognizing themselves because they are still seeing from the vantage point of "self" and not from within the flowing exercise of natural power that we have been calling "Self" (and we could call it "God," or "Nature" or "the Sublime," etc.). Zeke's closing comment however brings me back to a fundamental point about Emerson, and I'm not sure if this is a substantive difference in our views or simply a semantic quibble. Zeke helpfully points out that Emerson says in "The American Scholar" that this expanded Self is our "birthright," and then he closes his posting with this further observation, "back to my comment above about our “birthright” to see the world as we choose to see it.." We cannot choose a birthright, and I don't think Emerson thinks so either. He repeatedly says that there is a "fatality" in vision, and I think he means that we do not choose our visions, they choose us. With vision, he is a fatalist, not an advocate of free choice. We can choose to leave behind the social constraints that impede vision, but the vision is neither willed nor separable into "individual points of view." If we find ourselves making a choice to see the world in a particular way, it is simply another particularity, not a universal vision. Now, we may express our universal sensibility in ways that seem peculiar and particular to the clouded social perspectives of our benighted neighbors, but we do not have the power as individuals to "see" the world in ways we choose. I am not sure if Zeke was just using an occasional figure of speech (which means we are simply discussing a trivial semantic difference), or if we have different understandings of Emerson's proposals.



By: Zeke

Thu, 30 Aug 2007 11:06:20 +0000

I think the interesting exchange about "paradox" and "irony" may partly reflect semantics, with different views of what those two words mean. For me, both Flow and Redding are responding to an underlying aspect of Emerson's thought: the "mystery" of Unity in Diversity. For him, I think, the answer to this mystery/paradox/irony is to be found in God/Divinity/Nature/Truth (all encompassing). Each of us is capable of finding it; indeed, as he says in the American Scholar, it is our "birthright." Flow provides a great list of examples of ways that --in our experiential world-- this mystery appears ironic or paradoxical. The wordplay in flow's final sentence --itself a comment on the final sentence of his prior post-- seems to also reflect very Emersonian point of view. It points back to my comment above about our "birthright" to see the world as we choose to see it.



By: flow

Thu, 30 Aug 2007 04:49:10 +0000

Redding says “I donâ€(image) t see any paradox or irony (yet) in Emersonâ€(image) s description of the Spiritual Laws. So I could use some help in locating passages…” In response, I offer the following few selections that seem (to me) imbued with various degrees of paradox and irony: No man can learn what he has not preparation for learning, however near to his eyes is the object. Not in nature but in man is all the beauty and worth he sees. As in dreams, so in the scarcely less fluid events of the world, every man sees himself in the colossal, without knowing that it is himself that he sees. Take the book into your two hands, and read your eyes out; you will never find what I find. The sentence must also contain its own apology for being spoken. He that writes to himself, writes to an eternal public. The great man knew not that he was great. All devils respect virtue. But real action is in the silent moments. The rich mind lies in the sun and sleeps, and is Nature. This over-estimate of the possibilities of Paul and Pericles, this under-estimate of our own, comes from a neglect of the fact of an identical nature. In addition, I would like to revise the final sentence of my prior post to read: “If you see it differently, I acknowledge and respect your perspective and the opinion informed by it.” There is no need for me to “grant” that which you are certainly entitled.



By: Potter

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 23:59:41 +0000

Thanks Zeke- that's very helpful.



By: flow

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 18:30:25 +0000

Redding When I say, “I believe much of Emersonâ€(image) s insight in Spiritual Laws is conditioned by the paradox and irony consistent with the topology of this ‘landâ€(image) ” I am simply trying to suggest that, as a seer, Emersonâ€(image) s insight penetrates paradox and irony. That he himself has traversed this “borderland”, and achieved the synthesis: self/Self. I am also suggesting that for any individual immersed in the internal adventure, sensitivity to the values of paradox and irony can be very instructive, quite fortunate. When you say, “As I read Emerson, paradox and irony are signs that one is trapped in the petty confusions of everyday life; and the goal is to move past irony to an unmediated blending of self/Self where any border is obliterated altogether”, it suggests to me that only semantics stands between us. If you see it differently, I grant and respect your perspective and the opinion informed by it.



By: Zeke

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 15:24:33 +0000

More for Pottter on Emerson's God: As long as the soul seeks an external God, it can never have peace, it always must be uncertain what may be done & what may become of it. But when it sees the great God far within its own nature, then it sees that always itself is a party to all that can be, that always it will be informed of that which will happen and therefore it is pervaded with a great Peace.



By: Zeke

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 15:17:48 +0000

Thanks Redding. Saves me from having to read this! It seems that Emerson would agree with your diagnosis of the Melville. I like that poetry which without aiming to be allegorical, is so. Which sticking close to its subject & that perhaps trrivial can yet be applied to the life of man & the government of God & can be found to hold. I find this also. Fiction that is only reflective of its time and does not speak to me, is of only passing interest. On the other hand, didactic allegory is annoying. The middle ground is a credible naturalism that transcends borders and years. For example, Shakespeare. Of whom Emerson wrote: In Shakespear I actually shade my eyes as I read for the spendor of the thoughts.



By: Redding

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 11:59:33 +0000

Zeke says: "I donâ€(image) t know Melvilles The Confidence-Man. Is it possible to explain your reference without having to go to the trouble of retelling the whole story?" The Confidence-Man, published a few years after Moby-Dick, takes place on a Mississippi riverboat named The Fidele. The story is really an extended allegory about belief, faith, doubt, unbelief, and ethical action. As the boat moves from one docking station to the next, a series of "confidence men" appear and disappear, each one inviting the passengers to have faith in a particular scheme for human betterment that requires their audience to donate funds to a charity, purchase stock in a commercial enterprise, or express believe in a creed or philosophical position by making a sacrifice (usually financial). Greeted with both scorn and credulity, the confidence men justify their appeals with a wide variety of anecdotes and rationales. One of the personages, named Mark Winsome, is considered by some people to be Melville's figure for Emerson. The novel makes few attempts to sort out whether these appeals for confidence and faith are genuine or bogus. We are presented with appeals for belief that could be disguises for fraud or the representation of authentic improvements in the human condiition. It is not a novel that one reads for fun or even edification but rather because one is intrigued by the development of Melville's sensibility. While maybe three of the episodes are memorable, the book is repetitive and the allegory is too dryly philosophical (and therefore tedious) to have much impact. * * * * Flow says, "I believe much of Emersonâ€(image) s insight in Spiritual Laws is conditioned by the paradox and irony consistent with the topology of this “land”. This description of a descent to a "terra incognita" that stands on the border between self and Self is intriguing. And the claim that such a condition or state is marked by paradox and irony is believable. However, I don't see any paradox or irony (yet) in Emerson's description of the Spiritual Laws. So I could use some help in locating passages in the essay that make paradox or irony a signal element in the unifying experience. As I read Emerson, paradox and irony are signs that one is trapped in the petty confusions of everyday life; and the goal is to move past irony to an unmediated blending of self/Self where any border is obliterated altogether and paradox is no more. "Paradox Lost," you might entitle his works, at least as I have understood him thus far.



By: Zeke

Wed, 29 Aug 2007 01:41:02 +0000

Potter seeks ideas about Emerson's definition of God. It seems to me that, as with many of the concepts in his work, this cannot be definitively nailed down. It changes as his ideas evolve. This seems also true of a number of abstractions that he uses, often with capital letters. Here is a journal entry I found that explains why a definition is impossible for him: We see at once that we have no words for distinctions in that inaccessible region. That air is to rare for the wings of words. We cannot say God is self conscious, or not self conscious; for the moment we cast our eye on that dread nature, we see that it is the wisdom of wisdom, the love of love, the power of power, & soars infinitely out of all definition & dazzles all inquest. I realize that this isn't helpful to Potter but, at this point, much of my interest is being stimulated by Emerson's forceful renunciation of contemproray religion's view of God. I deny personality to God because it is too little not too much." On his trip to Rome he confesses to being moved by the forms of the churches and the music. But concludes they "fall short of what they should be. He finds the pomp of the Vatican slightly ridicuulous and says, " It was hard in this ceremony to recognize the gentle Son of Man who sat upon an ass amdist the rejoiceings of his fickle countrymen." He asks of the Pope: Why should he not leave on emoment this formal service of fifty generations & speak out of his own heart, the Father of his Church to His Children,though it were but a single sentence or a single word? One earnest word or act to this sympathetic audience would overcome them. It would take all hearts by storm. (April 4, 1833) His clarity that no form can find God is critical I think. In that regard I want to strongly recommend the sermon he preached in 1832 prior to his resignation from the pulpit at Second Unitarian Chruch in Boston. In this sermon he lays out the case against the conventional practice of communion. It is a remarkable statement: learned, uncompromising, yet respectful. It reveals a principled, courageous man. Emerson's God is outside of history. God's presence is in each of us as we live. It is waiting to be discovered. The sermon can be found at www.rwe.rog. It is titled: The Lord's Supper



By: flow

Tue, 28 Aug 2007 21:03:29 +0000

oops, the last part of the final line should read: we must content ourselves to “seem” rather than to “be”



By: flow

Tue, 28 Aug 2007 20:38:36 +0000

I agree, Potter, with the possible exception of seeking refuge in the persona (the hut that ego built). When an individual establishes asylum in the persona, he may deceive himself into believing things are as they seem (according to his wish). However, in the search for truth, for gnosis, one must surrender the comfortable confines of persona and embark on the terrifying and terrific search for self. If one desires safe passage on this journey, we are advised to offer the persona on the sacrificial altar, before striking out to traverse the valleys of cultural conditioning. To move swiftly through the wilderness and negotiate the perilous and chaotic sea of Being, it is prudent to de-burden oneself of the refuse collected in the ego, to lighten our load. This “enlightenment” facilitates our adventure and increases the likelihood of success on our journey to find what is hidden, to “recover the pearl of great price”. Unless and until we meet with success in this timeless endeavor, we must be content ourselves to “seem” rather than to “be”.



By: Potter

Tue, 28 Aug 2007 19:16:29 +0000

So no matter how much we try to run away or disguise the truth, we cannot.



By: flow

Tue, 28 Aug 2007 17:41:12 +0000

I have a remark Iâ€(image) d like to offer concerning Reddingâ€(image) s question “”Where in the world does “disguise” come from if truth and Being are continually in abundant evidence? From my perspective, when seeking “spiritual laws” one must transcend the befuddlements of form and plumb the depths of self. In doing so, one will eventually arrive at “terra incognita”, the land enchanted with paradox and irony (and the place of origin of the “great doubt” referred to in Zen). One might regard “terra incognita” as the borderland between self and Self. Here words and rational thought begin loose their value and must be abandoned if one is to continue, to move forward, to move deeper in the internal adventure. I believe much of Emersonâ€(image) s insight in Spiritual Laws is conditioned by the paradox and irony consistent with the topology of this “land”. Accordingly, when viewed through the lens of paradox, it is easy to see how that which “appears continually in disguise, can never be concealed at all (i.e. is continually in abundant evidence). So when Redding asks, “is that in fact the burden, the through-line, of the entire essay: reassuring advice that despite the endless array of disguises for truth, they are indeed all the same and they share a common unity. Iâ€(image) m inclined by intuition to say, Yes!



By: Potter

Tue, 28 Aug 2007 12:21:12 +0000

I would love to have a better understanding of Emerson's God. Does anyone have any recommendations from his own writing ( first) and/or from anyone else?



By: Zeke

Tue, 28 Aug 2007 12:14:52 +0000

Fascinating, challenging post Redding. I have some thoughts, but can't reply right now. Your final postcript point interested me. I don't know Melvilles The Confidence-Man Is it possible to explain your reference without having to go to the trouble of retelling the whole story? [Fearing I may have to add Meliville to the growing pile of authors this summer's study is leading to!]



By: Potter

Tue, 28 Aug 2007 12:14:06 +0000

Redding regarding disguise- perhaps when we turn away from our own inner light, the truth is hidden, not reflected. We do tend to run away from our selves. Emerson talks about how we focus on the story of other lives in history, read books about Washington, Napoleon, Caeser, )Peter Paul and ( the Virgin) Mary etc, etc. Well, Emerson says, we have that potential in us: "the selfsame strain of thought, emotion as pure,wit as subtle, motions as swift, mounting,extravagant, and a heart as great, self-sufficing, daunting, which on the waves of it's love and hope can uplift all that is solid and precious in the world, palaces, gardens, money,navies, kingdoms,- marking it's own incomparable worth by the slight it casts on these gands of men;- these are all his, and by the power of these he rouses nations." "Let a man believe in God, and not in names and places and persons." The light that shines through in the woman who sweeps mops and scours will not be muffled or hid: "but to sweep and to scour will instantly appear supreme and beautiful actions, the top radiance of human life and all people will get mops and brooms; until lo suddenly the great soul has enshrined itself in some other form and done some other deed, and that is now the flower and head of all living nature" "We are the photometers, we the irritable goldleaf and tinfoil that measure the acccumulations of the subtle element. We know the authentic effects of the true fire through every one of it's million disguises".



By: Bobby

Tue, 28 Aug 2007 04:28:40 +0000

Damn it, people! I'm gone for a week only to find this thread has doubled, and Chris has interviews Gibson! You guys stole my Adderall didn't you :) Haha! Well I guess me, Jack Daniels, and my fountain pen have a lot of catching up to do! Talk to you in a few days :)



By: Redding

Tue, 28 Aug 2007 02:53:22 +0000

One of the more arresting features of this essay is the way it closes with the issue of disguise. Most of the essay circles around the theme that "the truth will out." In fact, Emerson seems almost fatalistic about that eventuality in many of his arguments: A man passes for that he is worth. What he is engraves itself on his face, on his form, on his fortunes, in letters of light. Concealment avails him nothing; boasting nothing. But then toward the end of the essay, Emerson strangely begins to introduce issues of concealment, false modesty, and dissembling. He worries that people harbor "secret self-reproaches," and he draws a lesson that sounds more like an exhortation than an observation: "The lesson which these observations convey is, Be, and not seem." But with that line ringing in my ear, the final line of the essay seems stranger still: "We know the authentic effects of the true fire through every one of its million disguises." Now if it were just one disguise, Emerson might simply be saying that truth will be hidden on rare occasions. But he says that there are a million disguises-- which suggests that the "true fire" comes disguised more often than not. And, if so, is he implying that any given context should be seen as an unfolding series of disguises for the true fire (to hark back to a discussion of another essay, Joseph Campbell might see each event as the appearance of a single hero disguised in a thousand faces). So I encounter this surprise ending with a double reaction: 1. Where in the world does "disguise" come from if truth and Being are continually in abundant evidence? 2. Why, if truth appears frequently in disguise, has Emerson held back from giving advice on how to discern the truth when it comes disguised? Or, is that in fact the burden, the through-line, of the entire essay: reassuring advice that despite the endless array of disguises for truth, they are indeed all the same and they share a common unity. OR (third reaction) I am way off base and need to re-read the essay. OR perhaps the essay should serve as a counterpoint to Melville's The Confidence-Man.



By: Potter

Mon, 27 Aug 2007 14:14:14 +0000

Yes regarding the evangelicals of the time and maybe certain others as well. And remember Sinclair Lewis's Elmer Gantry which was "banned in Boston". I quote from that Bloom article in the NYRB in my intro to "Self-Reliance". After 20 years, it still lives... but you have to pay for it. Thanks for calling attention to the journals.



By: Zeke

Mon, 27 Aug 2007 03:02:19 +0000

I have not been able to find the journals online. I am using what seems to be the best one volume distillation that is currently available at any reasonable price. It is edited from the voluminous Harvard collection by Joel Porte. It is available used from online sellers for between ten and twelve dollars including shipping. Harold Bloom, in a1984 New York Review of Books article, was not satisfied with any of the collections available. But, then, he had access to the room full of journals Emerson left, which we don't! He did, however, explain their usefulness: His journals are his authentic work, and seem to me poorly represented by all available selections. Perhaps the journals simply ought not to be condensed, because Emerson's reader needs to be immersed in their flow and ebb, their own recording of the experience of the influx of insight followed by the perpetual falling back into skepticism. They move continually between a possible ecstasy and a probable shrewdness, while seeming always aware that neither demonic intensity nor worldly irony by itself can constitute wisdom. Incidentally, in the same article, Bloom quotes a journal entry that makes me think Emerson could be commenting on these popular television self-help types: As far as I notice what passes in philanthropic meetings and holy hurrahs there is very little depth of interest. The speakers warm each other's skin and lubricate each other's tongue, and the words flow and the superlatives thicken and the lips quiver and the eyes moisten, and an observer new to such scenes would say, Here was true fire; the assembly were all ready to be martyred, and the effect of such a spirit on the community would be irresistible; but they separate and go to the shop, to a dance, to bed, and an hour afterward they care so little for the matter that on slightest temptation each one would disclaim the meeting.



By: Potter

Mon, 27 Aug 2007 01:59:23 +0000

If I need to hear what is being said I'll take it from intellectual dexterity if there is no genius around. Hearing the right words spoken at the right time when one needs to hear it is much better than nothing in the absence of genius from this angle. It's those moments that make me want to believe that there something at work in the universe and we are variously instruments, even in our uninspiring moments and then recipients or subjects. Maybe you will think me nuts but at stressful times even a billboard can be saying the right things to me. For sure I meet it some of the way or it draws out of me my own genius ( assuming we all have one). That's about as close as I can get to believing, when it becomes so real, so essential to my peace. Thanks for digging that entry out Zeke. I don't have this. Is the Journal online? or what book do you recommend?



By: Zeke

Sun, 26 Aug 2007 20:15:47 +0000

Reverse "talent" and "genius" in my last sentence above.



By: Zeke

Sun, 26 Aug 2007 19:46:32 +0000

In his journal on Nov. 19, 1830, Emerson noted Coleridge's distinction between Talent and Genius. Talent "pursues by original & peculiar means vulgar conventional ends. 'Tis dexterity intellectual applied to the purpose of getting power and wealth. Genius on the other hand finds its end in the means. It concerns our peace to learn this distinction as quick as we can." Contrasting Emerson's journals and essays to the products of the self-help crowd provides a good illustration of the difference between talent and genius.



By: Potter

Sun, 26 Aug 2007 15:17:44 +0000

Yes- though an idea is a thought or series of thoughts, a thought is not necessarily an idea. This depends on what I mean or you mean by idea I know. I make a difference between them; an idea is more actionable. To have an idea you need at least a thought. Emerson actually said in this essay, "Spiritual Law", that the "ancestor of every action is a thought" ( well almost, what about impulsive action?) because he says we need to prove that we are "somewhat". I love this: "the rich mind lies in the sun and sleeps and is Nature" Then Emerson leaps to: "To think is to act". He starts with the act itself and works backward, then he comes forward with that generality which is kind of astonishing and I don't think he means it to be all encompassing. I certainly can think and not act. So does he mean that thinking is itself an act, not necessarily precipitating anything? Emerson might have meant that not acting or inaction is also an act, perhaps the act of just being, when he said: "I see action to be good when the need is, and sitting still to be also good."...." Action and inaction are alike to the true. One piece of the tree is cut for the weathercock and one for the sleeper of a bridge; the virtue of the wood is apparent in both".



By: Zeke

Sun, 26 Aug 2007 13:47:31 +0000

Thanks Potter. I think your experience with Chopra probably illustrates what Emerson was saying about the good ear that draws supplies of nutrient from an indifferent environment. The whole issue about the "substance" of our thoughts is one we are going to have to deal with if we continue this discussion in coming weeks. To me, Emerson is a Platonist who believes that our ideas are real and, in fact, that every material thing must be preceded by an idea. [This is a weak area for me so I am looking forward to seeing how others feel about this.] An aside. In the book Nature as an illustration of the way nature pervades out thinking Emerson cites our constant recourse to nature metaphors to describe states of being. He even notes that the etymology of several such descriptive words come from natural phenomena. [Sorry, I don't have my book handy and can't provide examples.] I smiled as I realized both potter and I had done this with "belly of the beast" and "into the lion's mouth" to describe the Divinity School Address. Lastly, for historical accuracy: The Divinity School Address came about a decade after he had left the pulpit of his church in a dispute about communion. Nevertheless, Potter's point is well taken. Although not a political leader, RWE is clearly did not seek to be a cloistered academic. This conversation has helped me see better that, despite their popularity, his lectures were of a different breed (another metaphor from nature!) from those of the televison crowd. One thing we can count on from Emerson: his yea will be yea and his nay will be nay!



By: Potter

Sun, 26 Aug 2007 11:57:08 +0000

Thanks Zeke, good and good quotes. That I could turn Dyer off the other night I take as a sign of health. I realize that I kept Chopra on years ago because I found something that I needed in what he was saying at that moment. In fact I remember it still. I should have known too: our thoughts are just our thoughts; they are not who we are. You can divide your thoughts into the future ( desires) and the past (fears). But when you truly let go of those "clouds", let them pass, you are in the present, the Now- which is a moment of pure potential or Pure Potential. It may sound funny to say but I find Emerson very transcendental. I mean he is very that. Perhaps it's better to say that I understand the meaning of transcendental through reading Emerson. As well, so long as you read him you travel with him, hitch a ride out of your zone, transcend. I agree Zeke that Emerson walked into the "belly of the beast" or the mouth of the lion. It would have been easier perhaps but less meaningful, ineffective and inconsequential, if we knew he avoided the pulpit, that his words were buried in some papers found after he passed. Still I feel perhaps instinctively that Emerson was moving spiritually, evolving, growing as he gave, as the spirit flowed though his mind. I am pshed forward in my reading because I want to understand the evolution of his beliefs. He seemed to be shedding, pruning. What remained at the core?



By: Zeke

Sat, 25 Aug 2007 22:08:55 +0000

Can anyone imagine Dyer --or Anthony Robbins or Dr. Phil-- writing anything like a contemproary version of the following in their youthful journals (or blogs)? Shall I embroil my short life with the vain desire of perpetuating its memory when I am dead & gone in this dirty planet?....When my body shall be in the clods my triumphant soul, glad of any deliverance, will think no more of it or its habitation. Am I then to give my days and nights to a gnawing solicitude to get me a reputation, a fame forsooth among these worm-eaten, worm-eating creatures of clay, these boys of the universe, these infants of immortality as they all must be as they live on earth? (March 1824) I can't speak to the issue of est, knowing little of it. But it seems to me that Emerson starts from a position of metaphysical inquiry that would hold no interest to the denizens of the self help movement and, arguably only peripheral interest to the preachers at many mega-churches. Giving them the benefit of the doubt they are attempting to tell people how to live more successfully in society: deal with troublesome partners, get a better job, feel better, etc. Emerson's interest, to the contrary, is about eternal truths. This might be a good time to bring his Harvard Divinity School Address into the discussion. I really admire the way he walks into the "belly of the beast," the heart of the established Unitarian Church, and challenges its fundamental precepts and practices. While he concedes that even the commonplaces of proforma preaching (which is how I wouold characterize the performances of those cited by myncoturama and potter) can have value, he quickly qualifies that the value is determined by the congregant not the preacher: I am not ignorant that when we preach unworthily, it is not always quite in vain. There is a good ear, in some men, that draws supplies to virtue out of very indifferent nutriment. There is poetic truth concealed in all the common-places of prayer and of sermons, and though foolishly spoken, they may be wisely heard; These popular preachers seem to feel they have a lock on the truth. Emerson might smile indulgently--if he was feeling charitable. He concedes that every truth seems universal if it is seen from only one side. The lesson of the transcendentalists is that every truth also has innumerable sides. Their certitude about the universality of their own singular perspective is not the only difference between the TV gurus and Emerson. Our celebrities also depend on what they would argue are time tested natures of their truth. That is anathema to Emerson; he comes to argue that even the revelations of the Bible must be tested in light of personal experience. After conceding the sincere motives of some exemplary preachers, he argues that fashion, and the reliance on the past, has become the prevailing style: tradition characterizes the preaching of this country; that it comes out of the memory, and not out of the soul; that it aims at what is usual, and not at what is necessary and eternal; that thus, historical Christianity destroys the power of preaching, by withdrawing it from the exploration of the moral nature of man, where the sublime is, where a[...]



By: Potter

Sat, 25 Aug 2007 11:27:42 +0000

Funny you should mention self-help gurus. Last night I tuned in expecting to get ( that all too rare person, the unretired and wonderful) Bill Moyers and found another fundraiser program (it seems like public TV is fundraising all the time now) starring that self-help guru Wayne Dyer. I would have turned it off but he was talking this time about the Tao Te Ching. I am the proud owner of half a dozen translations of that book by Lao Tzu. I love the differences in each. Above I quoted Chuang Tzu. So obviously this has appeal for me. As I listened to Dyer I slowly began to focus, not on what he was saying which was, between the Lao Tzu quotes, his common application/translation/transmission as he felt it pertained to his and our lives. It was a "rap". You know, you listen for awhile and then go your way. It seemed to me that he was taking some potent "material" and watering it down so that it might penetrate the audience. He spoke to us as wayward children, sleepy, dulled misdirected folks. And maybe we are. But for it to have meaning, to penetrate, you need to meet this -not have it laid on. It's not entertainment ( with applause expected) for which you buy a ticket and get to see a well dressed celebrity. That we have these gurus and their shows must mean that there is plenty of hunger for it and money to be made. As I listened, it became more obvious that this was about Dyer himself, not me, not Lao Tzu. What part seemed to be about Dyer kept increasing to the point where I turned the TV off. I have nothing against Dyer- he's making a living. And for sure he must be inspiring some. But I could not help thinking that maybe Dyer, after running out of fresh material for his next show, came upon this book and decided to mine it. True or not- I felt that way. I did go to my copies of Lao Tzu last night after that. A coincidence, my kind of convergence. I had another, much more profound experience years ago but I needed it. I tuned into Deepak Chopra during a low spot in my life. He happened to be saying just what I apparently needed to hear. That would change my way of thinking and get me out of a mental hole I was sinking into. That in turn precipated some real changes in my life over the next five years and in fact forever. But I was desperate at that moment and I was listening, wanting for something, someone, to help me out of my discomfort and there it was - the perennial philosophy, waiting for an opening in me. And Deepak Chopra happened to be there with it. But Emerson does not do that ( call attention to himself). It's not about Emerson. Nor does Lao Tzu.



By: mynocturama

Sat, 25 Aug 2007 05:37:59 +0000

Iâ€m jumping in here a little late – hopefully thereâ€s more discussion to be had. Thanks for the opening Bobby. Emerson, of course, would wholly approve of fastening these essays to your own personal experience, of finding where they fit for you. Others have spoken to the resonance with eastern philosophy and religion, better than I can hope to. Iâ€ll just venture to say that the kinship between Emerson and eastern thought might have something to do with the insistence on an intimate continuity between being and doing. Whatever that means. Thereâ€s another issue, though, that your opening touches on, an issue thatâ€s been something of an itch to my mind for quite some time. You referenced the book “Flow,” which Iâ€m somewhat familiar with, and which seems to me to be one of the better examples of what might broadly be called the “Self-Help” genre. And so my itch is this: How does the writing of someone like Emerson – who quite clearly, I think, strives to “raise and cheer,” as he himself says is the duty and office of the American Scholar – relate to Self-Help books and the Self-Help industry in general? Or the writing of anyone else, for that matter, who seeks to advise and counsel and encourage? Or psychologists or cognitive scientists who try to describe the mind and self in their optimal states, working most efficiently and energetically, and try to describe to the reader how he or she may better achieve those states? I guess my question is loaded, in that I, and I assume many or most of us here, tend to think of self-help books in negative terms, to look down on them as simplistic, silly, or flat-out stupid, or at the very least not doing justice to the complexity of human being - or sinisterly manipulative, playing on peopleâ€s desperation. As if a life could be led according to some simple recipe, and holding out that false premise and promise for desperate consumption. Iâ€m thinking here of something like Dr. Philâ€s multiple-step “Self-Matters,” or whatever the hell he hucksters to a credulous American public. And yet I canâ€t deny some continuity between what Emerson and “self-help” authors are trying to do – “Self”, a word Emerson is as much responsible as anyone else for thrusting into the popular discourse. And yet I canâ€t acknowledge a sameness between someone like Emerson, or Thoreau, or Whitman, or Marcus Aurelius, and someone like Anthony Robbins. Thereâ€s a deep difference there. So, what is it? Literary quality? Yes. Most definitely. But, then, what constitutes that? Linguistic inventiveness? An acknowledgement of human complexity? Yes, Iâ€d say so. Emerson delves into darkness, even as he strives to lift out of it, whether directly in the beautiful and disturbing “Experience” from the second series, or even in “Self-Reliance,” however explicitly affirmative that essay may be. So I guess one of my questions is: To what degree is Emerson himself responsible for what we now call the self-help genre? I remember reading an article in “The Believer” a few years[...]



By: Zeke

Fri, 24 Aug 2007 23:55:44 +0000

Richardson on Emerson's sentences: "The secret of his prose is the sentence...Emerson's essays are collections of great sentences on a single topic--just as Plutarch's and Montaigne's are collections of vivid anecdotes around a topic. His style has been described as 'an army all officers,' and as a 'bag of duck shot held together by canvas.' Emerson understood this aspect of his style, and he also used the language of projectile and propellent. 'I am a rocket manufacturer,' he said. He understood early that, 'He who can make a good sentence can make a good book.' He knew perfectly well that his essays had very little formal structur--beyond the taut logic of the individual sentence--and that the very force and closure of each sentence set it off from all the others. I fear that Emerson would scorn my way of studying him (by reading Richardson and others) but would heartily approve Potter's ("just take" what strikes his mood each time he reads it).



By: Potter

Fri, 24 Aug 2007 20:52:27 +0000

I finished "Spiritual Law" and I think I get it but I am still scratching my head a bit about some passages that were obscure. Emerson would probably say not to mind- just to take what comes. I notice that if I go back in another mood what was obscure suddenly ( sometimes) clears up. I find much in this essay connects to "Self-Reliance" for instance, "faces never lie" but so much more underlying the words and metaphors. Emerson gets the reward for the most aphorisms per page--( "pretension never feigned an act of real greatness...." "never a sincere word was utterly lost" "Be and not seem." "the ancestor of every action is a thought" [therefore] "to think is to act" As I take notes, I find so many sentences or groups of sentences can stand alone as gems in their own right. It's almost funny; it tickles the mind. I like this, of course: "This is that law whereby a work of art, of whatever kind, sets us in the same state of mind wherein the artist was when he made it" (the artist's act is authentic; his work reflects his spirit which is transmitted to us).



By: Potter

Fri, 24 Aug 2007 12:03:57 +0000

Emerson may have meant by "spiritual law" something similar to natural law- law that just is- that cannot be broken. If you get your will out of the way, you will be on the right path. Of course you cannot dispense with your will- but I think he means to be aware or so connected, beyond your will. There are meanings for "logos, one pertaining to or coming from Greek philosophy: the rational principle that governs and develops the universe, or the fundamental principal (from the earliest of Greek philosophers). That seems more in keeping with Emerson ( for me). I was confused by other meanings for "logos" that I am not familiar with ( the Christian) but I welcome the opportunity to learn. The "normal" way I think of logos is as rational discourse or argument from reason. This differs from my idea of "spiritual law" as I read Emerson. So I barely understand the Christian meaning: ( from wikipedia) the Logos as God (theos), providing scriptural support for the trinity. It is this sense, the Logos as Jesus Christ and God, that is most common in popular culture which may be in line with Emerson's meaning for "spiritual law". Somehow I don't think so. As I posted above, I tend to go to eastern religion/philosophy such as Taoism for my understanding of Emerson- (so sue me!). I am not sure we should be bringing in the word "logos" here as equivalent to what Emerson means though I appreciate the discussion. By the way I find Emerson so rich that, like eating too much high calorie food in one sitting, I have to break from it to digest or I cannot absorb anymore or so well. You cannot read this like a novel.



By: Bobby

Thu, 16 Aug 2007 22:27:51 +0000

Loyalty and devotion lead to bravery. Bravery leads to the spirit of self-sacrifice. The spirit of self-sacrifice creates trust in the power of love. Morihei Ueshiba
Flow, Ineffable. What a great word! Reminds me of the poet Rumi who said this about trying to put into words what God spoke to Moses: It's foolish of me to try and say this. If I did say it, it would uproot human intelligences. It would shatter all writing pens. Law is also an interesting term. The difference between “law” and “logos” (as Iâ€m attempting to define it here) is that law can be broken, logos can not. I agree, Flow. Thatâ€s why I didnâ€t like referring to Truth as a law. (BTW, I believe Logos and Truth are identical) When you seek the logos of your being, you arrive at the indwelling scintilla. As Iâ€ve contemplated Emersonâ€s Spiritual Laws and this thread, a question arises, is RWE conception of spiritual law synonymous to logos? Thatâ€s how Iâ€ve come to understand it. To quote myself: I concluded that for Emerson, there is only one law. This law is called Truth. :) isnâ€t that the very thing that got us evicted in the first place? that prevents us from dwelling with God? The quote above from Morihei Ueshiba is one way reading/answering that question. peggysue, My yoga teacher says.. “there is no need to struggle” then she smiles and adds, “but donâ€t be lazy.” Your yoga teacher reminds of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, who said, “The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body, and polish the spirit.” davispeter Itâ€s the search not the meaning that matters. Amen :)[...]



By: davispeter

Thu, 16 Aug 2007 19:13:47 +0000

...Even if there is none--meaning, that is...



By: davispeter

Thu, 16 Aug 2007 18:52:06 +0000

It's the search not the meaning that matters.



By: peggysue

Thu, 16 Aug 2007 17:47:11 +0000

My yoga teacher says.. "there is no need to struggle" then she smiles and adds, "but don't be lazy".



By: flow

Thu, 16 Aug 2007 16:53:01 +0000

oops - the prior post should read "isn't that the very thing that got us evicted in the first place"



By: flow

Thu, 16 Aug 2007 14:42:00 +0000

bobby - "Itâ€(image) s only man that labels something either ‘goodâ€(image) or ‘evilâ€(image) ." isn't that the everything that got us evicted in the first place? that prevents us from dwelling with God? what was the name of that tree in the garden? In Buddhism, the gateway to nirvana is obstructed by delusion. Delusion is created by attachement. Attachment is a consqence of judment. Judgment is characterized by calling one thing good and another bad.



By: flow

Thu, 16 Aug 2007 12:41:11 +0000

I have been giving a great deal of consideration recently to the concept of logos. Logos seems to be a very loaded term. Depending on who you talk to, who you query, you are likely to get a different answer. The definition Iâ€(image) ve come to embrace is “cosmic ordering principle”. In the beginning was chaos and out of chaos, all that is emerged (ex-IS-tence). Logos is the intellect that orders chaos, that commands chaos (“intellect” as I intend it here suggests “the word within”). Under this conception, one might regard logos as the primary emanation of the Ineffable. The Book of John suggest that in the beginning was logos. But perhaps he meant that in the beginning was chaos (as the Big Bang theory suggest) and the original signification is logos. Law is also an interesting term. The difference between “law” and “logos” (as Iâ€(image) m attempting to define it here) is that law can be broken, logos can not. When you seek the logos of your being, you arrive at the indwelling scintilla. As Iâ€(image) ve contemplated Emersonâ€(image) s Spiritual Laws and this thread, a question arises, is RWE conception of spiritual law synonymous to logos?



By: Bobby

Thu, 16 Aug 2007 08:21:13 +0000

peggysue Thatâ€(image) s how I read it too. Itâ€(image) s why I particularly like the quote above by Cecil B. deMille. You canâ€(image) t break the law. You can only break yourself. It reminds me of the following lines in “Spiritual Laws” when Emerson says: In like manner, our moral nature is vitiated by any interference of our will. People represent virtue as a struggle, and take to themselves great airs upon their attainments, and the question is everywhere vexed, when a noble nature is commended, whether the man is not better who strives with temptation. But there is no merit in the matter. Either God is there, or he is not there. A little consideration of what takes place around us every day would show us, that a higher law than that of our will regulates events; that our painful labors are unnecessary, and fruitless; that only in our easy, simple, spontaneous action are we strong, and by contenting ourselves with obedience we become divine. I love this idea/observation Emerson makes. That to struggle is a sign that our will is fighting the law, so don't be too impressed. I remember a Bill Cosby skit about 20 years ago. He was talking about the six creation days. He said that after the end of each day, God saw that it was good, and said it was good. However, after creating mankind, God didnâ€(image) t say anything, that already he knew there was going to be problems :)



By: peggysue

Thu, 16 Aug 2007 05:29:57 +0000

RWE references to nature make me think he is talking about spiritual law as the law of nature including the whole spectrum of life, death, light, darkness, energy, water, gravity, sound - not a law in terms of judgment good or bad but to break a law being like to break from reality.



By: Bobby

Thu, 16 Aug 2007 00:54:14 +0000

It is impossible for us to break the law. We can only break ourselves against the law. - Cecil B. deMille Nature never breaks her own laws. - Leonardo da Vinci
Zeke, In an earlier post you mentioned four types of law: Legislative, Scriptural, Customary, and Natural; then you asked what type Emerson was referring to at anyone time. What a great question. Itâ€s definitely something Iâ€ve been trying to wrap my head around. In the end, I concluded that for Emerson, there is only one law. This law is called Truth. Now laws are often thought of as obstructions, a catalog of rules designed to prevent us from getting what we want. And for better or worse they carry a negative connotation. Itâ€s also why I have hard time referring to Truth as a law. Nevertheless, a law – in the best sense of the word – is beautiful; itâ€s dependable; we can rely on it. And thatâ€s where the idea of Truth comes in. Now to say something is true is to simply acknowledge it exists. It is not to label it ‘good†or ‘evilâ€. This is important to remember; itâ€s why, as you pointed out in your latest post, Emerson can say: “Truth has not single victories; all things are its organs–not only dust and stones, but errors and lies. The laws of disease, physicians say, are as beautiful as the laws of health.” So a disease is true simply because it exists; itâ€s real; itâ€s authentic. Itâ€s only man that labels something either ‘good†or ‘evilâ€. Simple put, I believe Emerson is saying that Truth is all there is, that everything is a conduit through which Truth is expressed. However, Emerson says we should observe Nature because itâ€s the best representative of Truth, and though we can also see it in religion, society, etc. we should do so knowing that it will be tainted with agenda, ego, fears, etc: “A little consideration of what takes place around us every day would show us, that a higher law than that of our will regulates events; that our painful labors are unnecessary, and fruitless; that only in our easy, simple, spontaneous action are we strong, and by contenting ourselves with obedience we become divine.”[...]



By: Zeke

Wed, 15 Aug 2007 17:18:02 +0000

Much as been made of the salubrious aspects of Emerson's Spiritual Laws. Buried in the essay is an important recognition about "the genius of nature" that I want to call attention to as well. Truth has not single victories; all things are its organs--not only dust and stones, but errors and lies. The laws of disease, physicians say, are as beautiful as the laws of health." The same natural "divinity" that creates a country stream or flowering field also creates childhood cancer. To me this opens the door to the challenge of Emerson. He will not allow us to pick-and-choose those elements of his philosphy that suit us. It is all or nothing. This marks the distinction between the Hallmark Greeting Card Emerson and the real deal.



By: Potter

Tue, 14 Aug 2007 10:54:43 +0000

For over an hour last night I searched for this little story that, once I heard it a while ago, penetrated deep. It is with me all the time, it is so meaningful. From Chuang Tzu, it describes the Tao, the Way, which I think is what Emerson means by spiritual law. Cook Ting was cutting up an ox for Lord Wen-hui. As every touch of his hand, every heave of his shoulder, every move of his feet, every thrust of his knee — zip! zoop! He slithered the knife along with a zing, and all was in perfect rhythm, as though he were performing the dance of the Mulberry Grove or keeping time to the Ching-shou music. “Ah, this is marvelous!” said Lord Wen-hui. “Imagine skill reaching such heights!” Cook Ting laid down his knife and replied, “What I care about is the Way, which goes beyond skill. When I first began cutting up oxen, all I could see was the ox itself. After three years I no longer saw the whole ox. And now — now I go at it by spirit and donâ€t look with my eyes. Perception and understanding have come to a stop and spirit moves where it wants. I go along with the natural makeup, strike in the big hollows, guide the knife through the big openings, and following things as they are. So I never touch the smallest ligament or tendon, much less a main joint. “A good cook changes his knife once a year — because he cuts. A mediocre cook changes his knife once a month — because he hacks. Iâ€ve had this knife of mine for nineteen years and Iâ€ve cut up thousands of oxen with it, and yet the blade is as good as though it had just come from the grindstone. There are spaces between the joints, and the blade of the knife has really no thickness. If you insert what has no thickness into such spaces, then thereâ€s plenty of room — more than enough for the blade to play about it. Thatâ€s why after nineteen years the blade of my knife is still as good as when it first came from the grindstone. “However, whenever I come to a complicated place, I size up the difficulties, tell myself to watch out and be careful, keep my eyes on what Iâ€m doing, work very slowly, and move the knife with the greatest subtlety, until — flop! the whole thing comes apart like a clod of earth crumbling to the ground. I stand there holding the knife and look all around me, completely satisfied and reluctant to move on, and then I wipe off the knife and put it away.” “Excellent!” said Lord Wen-hui. “I have heard the words of Cook Ting and learned how to care for life!” Translated by Burton Watson (Chuang Tzu: The Basic Writings, 1964) and here is another translation slightly different ( I love to compare translations). Ting the cook was cutting mea[...]



By: peggysue

Mon, 13 Aug 2007 19:27:47 +0000

Here are a few excerpts from the Spiritual Laws essay paired with a Buddhist poem and prayer. Not that they are the same but I feel they compliment each other. excerpt from: Spiritual Laws Let us draw a lesson from nature, which always works in short ways. When the fruit is ripe it falls. When the fruit is dispatched, the leaf falls. The circuit of waters is mere falling. The walking of man and all animals is a falling forward. All our manual labor and works of strength, as prying, splitting, digging, rowing and so forth, are done by dint of continual falling, and the globe, earth, moon, comet, sun, star, fall forward forever. ~ RWE The wild fertility of nature is felt in comparing our rigid names and reputations with our fluid consciousness. ~ RWE Mountain Falling Flowers We accept the graceful falling Of mountain cheery bloosoms, But it is much harder for us To fall away from our own Attachment to the world. ~ Buddhist Nun Rengetsu. excerpt from: Spiritual Laws Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which flows into you as life, place yourself in the full center of that flood, then you are without effort impelled to truth, to right, to perfect contentment. ~ RWE Tibetan Prayer Free from mental creation, it is Mahamudra. Free from extremes, it is the Great Middle Way. Being all-inclusive, it is also called the Great Perfection. May we gain certainty that by knowing one, all meanings are realized. ~



By: Zeke

Sun, 12 Aug 2007 13:25:02 +0000

Types of laws: 1. Legislated (whether by parents, despots or representative bodies, etc.) 2. Scriptural (similar to one, but legislated by the "big Guy or Gal" depending on the faith.) 2. Customary (accretions over time. Anathema to Emerson) 3. Natural And, according to Emerson, "Spiritual." As I read the essay I am trying to distinguish which type of law he is discussing at any given time. And, most importantly, how spiritual law differs from selected others and/or is unique.



By: peggysue

Sun, 12 Aug 2007 09:18:58 +0000

I have not read the entire essay yet but have skipped around reading different bits. This is the first thing I underlined... For it is only the finite that has wrought and suffered; the infinate lies streched in smiling repose. A sentence like that looks like a smiling reclining Buddha to me.