Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Relation Between Man and Vegetable

"More servants wait on man than he'll take notice of." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many over the eons have conceived of, and written of a conception of nature, herself. However in 1848 the American thinker, Ralph Waldo Emerson, engaged himself in the "Free Soilers" movement with other contemporaries such as the future president, Abraham Lincoln and emerged with an expanded notion of Nature. He wrote about the subject of nature and the soul in his book, Nature, in 1836 to form the early ideas of Transcendenalism. Nature expressed Emerson's theories that the imagination of man is shaped by nature herself, most plainly and most cleanly.

Quickly he emerged as a central figure in the nascent American Transcendentalist movement. Now, before you laugh too hard over the title of this post, read a bit further into the mind of one of our Nation's great thinkers. Emerson wrote of Nature that:

"To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society. I am not solitary whilst I read and write, though nobody is with me. But if a man would be alone, let him look at the stars. The rays that come from those heavenly worlds, will separate between him and what he touches... The stars awaken a certain reverence, because though always present, they are inaccessible; but all natural objects make a kindred impression, when the mind is open to their influence. Nature never wears a mean appearance. Neither does the wisest man extort her secret, and lose his curiosity by finding out all her perfection.
Nature never became a toy to a wise spirit. The flowers, the animals, the mountains, reflected the wisdom of his best hour, as much as they had delighted the simplicity of his childhood... The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister, is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me, and I to them. The waving of the boughs in the storm, is new to me and old. It takes me by surprise, and yet is not unknown. Its effect is like that of a higher thought or a better emotion coming over me, when I deemed I was thinking justly or doing right."

Monday, July 23, 2018

Heretics and Buddhas

"During the time of the Buddha, there were some who slandered him and became disciples of heretics and demons." -- Mud & Water by Bassui, edited by A. Braverman

While some might wish to think of  "Heretics" in conjunction with an event such as the Christian-fueled Spanish Inquisition or the Crusades of Europe, fewer would bring the name of the Buddha to mind. Yet the great Zen master, Bassui does. It seems that all thinking souls are moved to discernment. He writes:

"Today's students of the Way go to teachers everywhere, but they don't want to penetrate all the way to the bottom of the great matter. They journey to the east, to the west, north and south, and take pride in having met many teachers. They try to surpass others with Zen stories and they collect paradoxical words and clever expressions from old masters. These are the ways of Heretics."

Writing further on the subject, Bassui delves into the value of knowledge. He writes of the karmic affinity for the way. Stating that some people have an affinity for the way while others do not, so if your karma does not discern a natural attraction, one that is immediate and affected, then you  neither trust nor believe what is taught. If, on the other hand, affinity is present, then that person will form a natural and easy bond with you. "Whether you follow the right path, or the path of heretics, depends upon your karmic inclination....A truly good teacher...does not destroy people's sight."