HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO RALPH WALDO EMERSON, MAY 25, 1803
Once again Emerson wrestles with formulating the concept of ‘the one in the many, the many in the one,’ the Hindu principle enunciated in the Bhagavad Gita, which he was reading – – – and re-reading
Who shall define to me an Individual? I behold with awe & delight many illustrations of the One Universal mind. I see my being imbedded in it. As a plant in the earth so I grow in God. I am only a form of him. He is the soul of Me. I can even with a mountainous aspiring say, I am God, by transferring me out of the flimsy & unclean precincts of my body, my fortunes, my private will; & meekly retiring upon the holy austerities of the Just & the Loving — upon the secret fountains of Nature. That thin & difficult ether, I can also breathe. The mortal lungs & nostrils burst & shrivel, but the soul itself needeth no organs – it is all element & all organ. Yet why not always so? How came the Individual thus armed and impassioned to parricide, thus murderously inclined ever to traverse & kill the divine life? Ah wicked Manichee! Into that dim problem I cannot enter. A believer in unity, a seer of Unity, I yet behold two.
A Year With Emerson
by Richard Grossman
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