Essay on Emerson and Eastern Religion: A Bible-Based Analysis

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Religion is a guiding light that shines into all factors of life. It builds one’s character and personality, and affects one’s perspective on his surroundings. Religion wears many hats, as it can range from a loosely set philosophy to a strict, taxing code of conduct. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s religion was a non-traditional one which emphasized self-reliance (Rowe 5), individuality (St. John 6), and the natural goodness of man (Jue 7). He saw religion as a relative, personal set of beliefs which can change and vary widely between practitioners, and even within one person over a period of time. In fact, Emerson began his religious journey as a Calvinist in Harvard’s School of Divinity, then held a career as a minister of a Unitarian church in …show more content…
Most practice vegetarian or vegan diets and Jainists take extreme measures to avoid hurting animal life (Eliade 165). Generally, followers of eastern religions practice some form of meditation, and some believe in an enlightened state of higher consciousness such as moshka (Hagin 4) or nirvana (Hagin 3).
Emerson’s views on nature mirror the philosophies of eastern religion. He believes that people can grow closer to God by spending time in and meditating on nature (St. John 1). In fact, God and nature are the same entity to Emerson. In many of his works, including “Nature,” he personifies nature as a higher power than man. Emerson sees God everywhere in nature, and in a sense is omnipresent in this way. Nature is everywhere, therefore God is everywhere (Rowe 23). In “Earth-Song,” a part of the poem “Hamatreya,” Emerson describes the sheer power of nature over humanity. He writes, “They called me theirs/Who so controlled me/Yet every one/ Wished to stay, and is gone/How am I theirs/If they cannot hold me/But I hold them?” Here, he mentions how man passes away while nature remains infinite, and how man thinks he has power over nature, yet nature holds men in her own hands (St. John 11). This message is consistent with the eastern view of nature as a force that speaks to the soul and is more infinite and pure than man. Emerson found wisdom in observing and understanding nature, and he gained a higher sense of inner peace from resting

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