Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Emerson's Over-soul


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882 A.D.) coined the word OVER-SOUL while a divinity student at Harvard University. The word comes from the Greek word, Psyche, meaning "the Soul" and Huper, meaning "over" or "hyper." This name was readily acceptable to global students, of all faiths, as a generic, non-sectarian term meaning "over abiding presence" i.e., the Creator. The philosophical concept was developed by the Greek philosopher Plato (427-347 B.C.). He affirmed the existence of absolute goodness, which he characterized as something beyond description and as knowable ultimately only through intuition. Religious philosophers applied this concept of transcendence to Divinity, maintaining that God can be neither described nor understood in terms that are taken from human experience.

The belief in a "higher power" sometimes referred to as Supreme Intelligence, has been well established from the beginning of time, throughout all the civilizations of the world. The earliest cave drawings evidence the searching heart of Mankind in the intuitive visualizations of a "higher power" --- the unseen Creator and administrator of Nature. Every successive civilization of the world has asserted beliefs in an unseen reality transcending the known which they assert may be approached through a variety of prescribed means. How can one define that which is universal, yet not uniform?

Emerson believed that Reason, the highest capacity of mind, was a sensitive receiver of universal signals of meaning, that once we allow our understanding to inform our reason, we make Nature serve our character, which is expressed by the higher aspects of human life, namely philosophy, religion, art, morals, ethics and culture. It is only when human life in its guise as civilization ignores the Laws of Nature that we fail and fall into chaos. War, repression, depressions, plagues, and revolutions all result from this ignorance or denial of Universal Law as seen through the workings and symbols of Nature.

"What we commonly call man, the eating, drinking, planting, counting man, does not, as we know him, represent himself, but misrepresents himself. Him we do not respect, but the soul, whose organ he is, would he let it appear through his action, would make our knees bend. 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. And the blindness of the intellect begins, when it would be something of itself. The weakness of the will begins, when the individual would be something of himself. All reform aims, in some one particular, to let the soul have its way through us; in other words, to engage us to obey."

"Of this pure nature every man is at some time sensible. Language cannot paint it with his colors. It is too subtile. It is undefinable, unmeasurable, but we know that it pervades and contains us. We know that all spiritual being is in man. A wise old proverb says, "God comes to see us without bell"; that is, as there is no screen or ceiling between our heads and the infinite heavens, so is there no bar or wall in the soul where man, the effect, ceases, and God, the cause, begins. The walls are taken away. We lie open on one side to the deeps of spiritual nature, to the attributes of God. Justice we see and know, Love, Freedom, Power. These natures no man ever got above, but they tower over us, and most in the moment when our interests tempt us to wound them."

"The sovereignty of this nature whereof we speak is made known by its independency of those limitations which circumscribe us on every hand. The soul circumscribes all things. As I have said, it contradicts all experience. In like manner it abolishes time and space. 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. The spirit sports with time, —

"Can crowd eternity into an hour,
Or stretch an hour to eternity."

One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.
Carl G Jung

1 comment:

suZen said...

I certainly agree with Emerson that once we get away from nature's teachings, we don't do as well. I think he must have studied a lot of Native American philosophy. Interesting post!