Oneness in Walden, Nature and American Scholar Essay

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Oneness in Walden, Nature and American Scholar

Some of the most prominent works which express a relationship between the individual and nature are undoubtedly Walden by Henry David Thoreau and the essays written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, specifically Nature and The American Scholar. In each of these works, an idea of wholeness, "oneness," with nature is expressed. Thoreau and Emerson both believe that man, in order to live a full, happy life, must live in harmony with nature. Both writers share several ideas as to how this oneness with nature can be achieved, and its significance.

Emerson, in his Scholar address, states that nature is the most important influence on man and his thinking. Because in nature there is no beginning
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Emerson and Thoreau both urge people to go out and experience life for themselves instead of merely reading about it. Reading is necessary for growth, but one should not depend on it to change their lives; for that, they have to live simply in nature. In this way, to both authors, books seem to be a direct hindrance to achieving the wholeness that nature offers because reading keeps man from experiencing nature himself. Once they experience life's richness through nature, they are better able to develop spiritually and experience the divine.

Emerson believed that man's mind is creative; he does not need only receive a sensory perception of God, but can actually create a consciousness of God. In creating this consciousness, man becomes god-like. In this way, man can experience God, know God, not just know of Him, and realize a way of life that is better (more god-like) than his own. Emerson believed that this ideal, this experiencing the divine, was possible through building a harmonious relationship with nature.

Thoreau saw this ideal way of life in nature as well. He believed that the key to this spiritually rich, ideal existence was to simplify one's life. If one were to give up all unnecessary and materialistic ties, and live with the bare necessities (fuel, clothing, shelter, food) then one may spend more time concentrating on developing spiritually.

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