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Ralph Waldo Emerson's experience of transcendence
by Craig Pearson, PhD
Transcendental Meditation - USA
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24 September 2010
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The article is another in a series of brilliant essays by Craig Pearson, PhD,* about great historical figures in American cultural life whose thinking, speech, actions, and written works have expressed a deep familiarity—based on direct experience—with the transcendental field of life.
Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay Nature, published in 1836, marked the beginning of a movement that came to be called American Transcendentalism. 'Emerson was considered one of America's foremost orators, and his journals form one of the world's great documents of spiritual growth. His primary source of inspiration was the Vedic literature, which gave expression to his own experience,' Dr Pearson writes.
As in articles on Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and others, Dr Pearson analyzes beautiful passages from Emerson's work, drawing on the knowledge and experience of the transcendent provided by Maharishi Vedic Science and the Transcendental Meditation Programme.
'American Transcendentalism is often regarded as an intellectual and social movement. But as Emerson and Thoreau (another founder of the movement) make clear in their writings, they were impelled by transcendental experience.' One example Dr Pearson gives, from Emerson's essay 'The Over-Soul':
'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, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are the shining parts, is the soul. . . .'
Dr Pearson explains that Emerson 'is describing not just an idea or an intellectual insight but a unique experience'—the experience of the fourth state of consciousness, a state beyond the familiar states of waking, dreaming, and sleeping' described by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi as transcendental consciousness, the simplest form of human awareness.
'Emerson's experiences of pure consciousness were apparently rare and fleeting,' Dr Pearson points out. 'He had no way of inducing them. . . . From Maharishi and from the ancient Vedic Tradition we now have a simple, natural, and effortless technique for having this treasured experience at will. The Transcendental Meditation technique allows the mind effortlessly to settle inward, to experience ''the wise silence,'' as Emerson calls it, twice each day. It is easily learned, easily practiced, and immensely valuable,' he concludes.
* Dr Pearson is Executive Vice-President of Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, USA. He has served the University for 33 years, also as Dean of Faculty, Dean of Students, Director of Maharishi University of Management Press, Director of Freshman Composition, and Professor of Professional Writing. He holds a PhD in Maharishi Vedic Science from MUM and is the author of books on the development of full human potential, including The Complete Book of Yogic Flying.
© Copyright 2011 Maharishi Foundation USA
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