Transcendetalism The New Religion Essay Research Paper — страница 5

  • Просмотров 310
  • Скачиваний 5
  • Размер файла 23
    Кб

minister, with the desire to reveal more to his congregation, Thoreau was searching for the truth and the higher laws of life that was lost when the anxiety of industrial progress, technological advancement, social injustice and political tyranny obscured his vision for inner peace. From his exile, Thoreau was extracting from his intimate immersion with nature, tranquility, clarity, self-culture and moral answers for the masses. In a 1952 commentary by critic, Charles H. Nichols, Jr., he discusses Thoreau?s transcendental convictions, his pioneering fervor, and how he was able to alter and galvanize that conviction and revolutionary spirit into ground-breaking actions that would transform the way religions and other institutions would exercise their beliefs : Thoreau proposed to

reduce living to its simplest terms. Not only was his experiment on Walden Pond part of this process, but his entire life was devoted to the discovery of a more moral basis for human relations that exploitation in economics and expediency in politics. Thus, Thoreau faced the most fundamental problem of his time. He pioneered on a spiritual frontier ever seeking to bring the society into conformity with the fundamental moral law (NCLC, Vol. 21, 323). A 1960 essay by Don W. Kleine, he elaborates on this pervasive theme in Thoreau?s essays: Walden Pond was not an experiment at all, but ? like the night in the Concord Jail ? protest magnified into gesture. Going to the woods, going to prison each make formal a withdrawal from the community which has been effected long before. The

target of both gestures is the same: bondage of man to the instruments of civilization, whether machines or institutions. Walden arraigned the varieties of such bondage ? to houses, clothing, fire engines, railroads, religions, tenderloin steaks, cablegrams and governments (NCLC, Vol. 21, 350) Religious beliefs and action are present again. In ?Nature?, religious overtones are present as Emerson explicates the spiritual provisions of nature just as ministers explicate the holy provisions of church. Emerson implores all adherents of the Transcendental religion to quarry from nature?s (the Transcendental house of worship) bounty its mystical healing and restorative powers. He asks that while respecting the majestic beauty of nature, that one ought become unified with the wisdom and

exalting powers of God. First, the simple perception of natural forms is a delight. To the body and mind which have been cramped by noxious work or company, nature is medicinal and restores their tone. In their eternal calm, he finds himself. But in other hours, Nature satisfies the soul purely by its loveliness, and without any mixture of corporeal benefit (Nature, 1077). In 1837, Samuel Osgood confirms the folly of progress, and affirms the effectiveness of Emerson?s newfound Transcendental religion . He writes: In our own bustling country, where banks, steam boats and railroads seem to engross the nation?s attention, we are happy to find some spirits, who keep aloof from the vulgar melee, and in calm of soul, live for Nature and for God (NCLC, Vol. 1, 275). The final

indication that Transcendentalism had become a religion is found within its enduring qualities. The powerful elements of this religious persuasion have persisted and have influenced many modern civilizations. Thoreau?s values, ?It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right? (Resistance to Civil Government, 1762), have stirred nations into movements advocating for moral causes. Just as Christianity has propelled individuals to oppose homosexuality, Catholicism has propelled individuals to oppose abortion, and Mormons to propose bigamy, Transcendentalism has propelled individuals to oppose imperialism and oppression in India, racial discrimination in the Civil Rights Movement, mass genocide in the Vietnam War, slavery in the Pre-Civil War era,

anti-immigration sentiments in Texas, anti-affirmative action referendums in California, and propose insurgencies when needed. In 1969, John Aldrich Christie discusses a specific example of Transcendental appeal and influence. He writes: India has taken Thoreau with deadly seriousness as a social philosopher ever since Mahatma Gandhi first commenced offering extracts from ?Civil Disobedience? in his revolutionary journal Indian Opinion on September 7, 1907. Thoreau?s absence until recently from syllabi of American literature courses at the post graduate level in Indian universities stemmed not from his exclusion from the literary pantheon but from his solid inclusion in India?s more reputable one of philosophers. Not only has Indian thought taken his views on civil resistance to