Homework Help

Where does Emerson say, follow your father's religion, you'll lead a calm life but if...

user profile pic

brabbrab | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 4, 2011 at 12:52 PM via web

dislike 0 like

Where does Emerson say, follow your father's religion, you'll lead a calm life but if you're a truth seeker life will be chaotic but honest.

I read Emerson over 60 years ago and that paragraph always stayed with me. I'd like to read the paragraph once again.

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

readwriteteach | High School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted March 4, 2011 at 9:47 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 0 like

You will find sentiments to that effect in both "The American Scholar" and "Self Reliance."

The following excerpt from "Self Reliance" discusses the need to be true to oneself, not one's family.  You might also want to consider reading Thoreau's "Walking," which calls for going out into the world with no obligations to the present or the past for the purpose of exploration and transcending.  It's a lovely essay.

"Why should we assume the faults of our friend, or wife, or father, or child, because they sit around our hearth, or are said to have the same blood? All men have my blood, and I have all men's. Not for that will I adopt their petulance or folly, even to the extent of being ashamed of it. But your isolation must not be mechanical, but spiritual, that is, must be elevation. At times the whole world seems to be in conspiracy to importune you with emphatic trifles. Friend, client, child, sickness, fear, want, charity, all knock at once at thy closet door, and say, — 'Come out unto us.' But keep thy state; come not into their confusion. The power men possess to annoy me, I give them by a weak curiosity. No man can come near me but through my act. "What we love that we have, but by desire we bereave ourselves of the love."

. . . . Live no longer to the expectation of these deceived and deceiving people with whom we converse. Say to them, O father, O mother, O wife, O brother, O friend, I have lived with you after appearances hitherto. Henceforward I am the truth's. Be it known unto you that henceforward I obey no law less than the eternal law. I will have no covenants but proximities. I shall endeavour to nourish my parents, to support my family, to be the chaste husband of one wife, — but these relations I must fill after a new and unprecedented way. I appeal from your customs. I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. If you can love me for what I am, we shall be the happier. If you cannot, I will still seek to deserve that you should. I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, that I will do strongly before the sun and moon whatever inly rejoices me, and the heart appoints. If you are noble, I will love you; if you are not, I will not hurt you and myself by hypocritical attentions. If you are true, but not in the same truth with me, cleave to your companions; I will seek my own. I do this not selfishly, but humbly and truly. It is alike your interest, and mine, and all men's, however long we have dwelt in lies, to live in truth. Does this sound harsh to-day? You will soon love what is dictated by your nature as well as mine, and, if we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last. — But so you may give these friends pain. Yes, but I cannot sell my liberty and my power, to save their sensibility. Besides, all persons have their moments of reason, when they look out into the region of absolute truth; then will they justify me, and do the same thing."

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes