Henry David Thoreau : A Transcendentalist

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Henry David Thoreau: A Transcendentalist Religion and politics are perhaps the most important topics of discussion, and paradoxically, the ones least discussed. Our differences cause us to shy away from such depth in our conversations with others and it is a remarkable human being who can share her opinion honestly on the subjects, and even more so, transcend the current popular opinions of the time. Henry David Thoreau was a man such as this. He spoke out against an unjust society and challenged the comforts and distractions that society has become so accustomed to. He preached simplicity in daily life and peace in protest. His words of wisdom have influenced many great leaders since. Thoreau’s call for social reform, individualistic…show more content…
It is here where he met Ralph Waldo Emerson and began attending Hedge Club meetings in Emerson’s home (Olson, pg. 8), and history manifested to create the two fathers of Transcendentalism.
It is interesting that with the growth of Roman Catholicism and Christianity in general in America during this time, Emerson, a Unitarian minister, looked to the East for spiritual guidance; particularly to Hinduism. This wasn’t always the case, as early in his life, Emerson was dedicated to the Church and expressed animosity toward Eastern religion. The transcendental movement shared many beliefs with the Unitarian church, but digressed from the belief in the Trinity and a beneficent God toward an amalgam of the many different approaches and ideas of the time. It is later in his journals that Emerson quotes Hindu scripture and expresses interest in the Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavad Purana, and Upanishads, among other scriptures. Both Vedantic tradition and Emerson’s philosophies emphasize that, “self transcendence is central to self-actualization,” and that, “without transcending the passional ego, the true self cannot be revealed” (Versluis, pg. 67). It was thinking such as this that was at the heart of the transcendental movement in the 19th century. Gura (pg. 6) explains that during this period, transcendentalism was split between two ideologies. There were those that followed Emerson, such as Thoreau, who promoted introspection and being one with Nature, and another
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