Continuing my lecture-prep on Emerson, I have been drawn back to his essay, “The Over-Soul.” Here are a few quotations that rose to great me this morning:
“Man is a stream whose source is hidden. Always our being is descending into us from we know not whence” (p. 189).
“I am constrained every moment to acknowledge a higher origin for events than the will I call mine” (p. 189).
“When I watch that flowing river, which, out of regions I see not, pours for a season its streams into me, I see that I am a pensioner; not a cause, but a surprised spectator of this ethereal water; that I desire and look up, and put myself in the attitude of reception, but from some alien energy the visions come” (p. 189).
[One ought to] “speak from his character and not from his tongue” (p. 189).
“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” (pp. 189-190).
“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” (p. 190).
“When it breathes through his intellect, it is genius; when it breathes through his will, it is virtue; when it flows through his affection, it is love” (p. 191).
“All reform aims in some one particular to let the great soul have its way through us; in other words, to engage us to obey” (p. 191).
“The influence of the senses has, in most men, overpowered the mind to that degree, that the walls of time and space have come to look real and insurmountable; and to speak with levity of these limits is, in the world, the sign of insanity. Yet time and space are but inverse measures of the force of the soul” (p. 192).
“[The soul] converses with truths that have always been spoken in the world, and becomes conscious of a closer sympathy with Zeno and Arrian, than with persons in the house” (p. 194).
“Speak to his heart, and the man becomes suddenly virtuous” (p. 195).
“[The over-soul] arches over [individuals] like a temple, this unity of thought, in which every heart beats with nobler sense of power and duty, and thinks and acts with unusual solemnity. All are conscious of attaining to a higher self-possession” (p. 196).
“We distinguish the announcements of the soul, its manifestations of its own nature, by the term Revelation. These are always attended by the emotion of the sublime. For this communication is an influx of the Divine mind into our mind” (pp. 198-199, emphasis in original).
“The moment the doctrine of the immortality is separately taught, man is already fallen” (p. 201).
“The soul is true to itself, and the man in whom it is shed abroad cannot wander from the present, which is infinite, to a future which would be finite” (p. 201).
“No answer in words can reply to a question of things” (p. 201).
“The only mode of obtaining an answer to these questions of the senses is to forego all low curiosity, and, accepting the tide of being which floats us into the secret of nature, work and live, work and live, and all unawares the advancing soul has built and forged for itself a new condition, and the question and the answer are one” (p. 201).
“The intercourse of society, -- its trade, its religion, its friendships, its quarrels, -- is one wide, judicial investigation of character” (p. 202).
“That which we are, we shall teach, not voluntarily but involuntarily” (p. 203).
“Among the multitude of scholars and authors we feel no hallowing presence; we are sensible of a knack and skill rather than of inspiration” (p. 204).
“[The poet’s] greatest communication to our mind is to teach us to despise all he has done” (p. 205).
“Converse with a mind that is grandly simple, and literature looks like word-catching” (p. 206).
“Deal so plainly with men and woman as to constrain the utmost sincerity and destroy all hope of trifling with you” (p. 207).
“When we have broken our god of tradition and ceased from our god of rhetoric, then may God fire the heart with his presence” (p. 207).
“The heart in thee is the heart of all; not a value, not a wall, not an intersection is there anywhere in nature, but one blood rolls uninterruptedly an endless circulation through all men, as the water of the globe is all one sea, and truly seen, its tide is one” (pp. 208-209).
“More and more the surges of everlasting nature enter into me, and I become public and human in my regards and actions” (p. 210).
“The universe is represented in an atom, in a moment of time” (p. 211).