Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Have you ever had an experience with nature that transported you as Emerson describe? If not , please discuss the importance of such experiences and describe possible ways to transcend everyday reality in this way.

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Certainly there are many such incidents of discovering the beauty of nature in the everyday that I could quote, but I guess if I had to pick one, it would have to be when I climbed up a mountain in Scotland in Winter. It was a beautiful, clear day, but absolutely freezing (I was in Scotland, remember!). As we climbed up, we passed huge icicles and snow before finally reaching the top and having an uninterrupted view over the Scottish countryside towards Edinburgh. It was a true transcendent experience, and always standing on the top of mountains forces me to examine my life and my place in the universe.

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For three years I lived in a small town in the Midwest--and by small I mean 400 people. During the day it was just kind of an ordinary place, with nothing much to recommend it. At night, though, I could walk a block or two and feel as if I were alone in the world. The sky was glorious and the smells were earthy and rich. Even the sounds of pigs on the small hog farms in the area seemed natural and fitting. I'm not sure I would say it was a transcendent for me, but I certainly felt a connection to the natural world that I haven't felt much of anywhere else. Today I live with a view of the beautiful Smoky Mountains from my front porch, but I'm too far away and it is just not the same.

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I love nature and feel that there is something spiritual about it...Emily Dickinson , Emerson, Thoreau, among others have also expressed this feeling.

In Korea, there are many places that are so very natural and gorgeous--my visit to Cheju Island helped me to feel this way, as well as all the Buddhist temples I hiked forever up into the sky to see.  These places are situated in the middle of the most lovely and serene places on earth.

In addition, I can honestly say that my breath has been taken away witnessing scenes such as tsunamis, floods, tornados, volcanic eruptions, and other amazingly powerful examples of nature on TV. 

I imagine if Emerson were able to see what we are all able to see via our technologies today, he would have literally burst with words in an effort to express his feelings.

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I've experience that type of lost-in-nature feeling several times in my life. The ones that my mind goes to first are parts of various hiking trips. Hiking without a trail and coming out of the woods into a waterfall, for one. We sat on the edge of the waterfall looking out over the cliffs. It was magical. There was no one else around and no "civilization" anywhere in sight. I also clearly a wondrous morning on one of our hiking trips. Waking up by the dieing fire covered in leaves. The wind wasn't blowing down on the ground, but high up in the trees it was. The brown, fall leaves were falling like rain as I awoke. I don't know why I've always thought of it as a beautiful thing, but it really was.
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When I was in high school, a friend and I were lost in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State for three days.  While I don't know if I can characterize the experience as Emerson-esque, per se, there were several times during those three days where I felt so completely surrounded by, and at the mercy of, the natural world, that it was unlike any outdoors experience I have ever had.  It was probably as close to nature as I have ever felt, unsettling and frightening as it was.

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But if a man would be alone, let him look at the stars.  The rays that come from those heavely worlds, will separate between him and vulgar things. One might think the atmosphere was made transparent with this design, to give man, in the heavely bodies, the perpetual presence of the sublime.

Indeed, if one lives in the country away from the falseness of urban lighting, and the night is clear with the constellations visible along with even the smallest of stars, there is a sense of Emerson's "sublime."  The infiniteness of the dark sky with its designs of lights reminds one of one's insignificance in the universe.

"Nature always wears the colors of the spirit" Emerson also wrote in his essay Nature. Whenever one has a day that matches one's inner mood, it is truly a memorable day and one that is transcendent. A golden warm day in autumn, the sky a cornflower blue, a happy puppy on a blanket, a companion of one's heart beside, a lake glistening and softly lapping the shore--perfect!   

At one with Nature, a person feels as a part of its beauty. "a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows.  Certainly, nature is a solace whether it be the green and grandeur of the forest, the soothing breezes and lullaby of the ocean, the summit of a mountain.

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I well remember flying low over the glaciers of Alaska and absorbing the unbelievable beauty they presented; a beauty that no human could ever create. At that time, I felt myself transcended, one with nature, and overwhelmed with the essence of that beauty. I took pictures, of course, but each time I look at them, I am disappointed. They cannot capture the utter rapture of being there and experiencing it first hand. An experience I have not yet had but plan to in the near future which I think will be similar--I will be visiting my Grandson in Tokyo, and plan to climb Mt. Fuji. I hope for similar results.

I do not think this type of transcendental experience can be accomplished every day, unless one joins a monastery somewhere. In fact, the rarity of these experiences is part of their beauty; that they are once in a lifetime experiences.

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Emerson thinks of nature and ourselves as all part of one seamless whole.  I have been lucky enough to live and to visit places where this seemed very easy to feel.

For example, when I lived in Micronesia, up-close encounters with dolphins made me feel very much this way.  I would be on the front of our boat, about 2 feet off the water and, no more than 10 feet away, would be dolphins swimming along beside us and playing in our bow wave.  You could feel connected to them, like you and they were sharing an experience.

Since living in the States, I've had the chance to twice take backpacking trips all the way around (93 miles) Mt. Rainier.  Sitting up on a ridge at 7 AM when no one else is around, you feel like you are a part of nature and that there is no specifically human world.

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"Give All To Love"

'Tis a brave master,
Let it have scope,
Follow it utterly,
Hope beyond hope;
High and more high,
It dives into noon,
With wing unspent,
Untold intent;
But 'tis a god,
Knows its own path,
And the outlets of the sky.
'Tis not for the mean,
It requireth courage stout,
Souls above doubt,
Valor unbending;
Such 'twill reward,
They shall return
More than they were,
And ever ascending.

Many times I have found myself staring into a storm, admiring a flower, or felt the sun burn into my flesh. This is the power of nature. nature, when acknowledged, is something both terrible and fantastic. It can be both destructive and give new life.

In the poem above, I see the power of nature as being my "brave master".  Once one gives control over to the powers stronger than us is when we are able to have "hope beyond hope", soar with "wing unspent" (ready and strong wings), and have "courage stout" and "valor unbending".

For Emerson, he recognized the power of nature. Typical of the Transcendentalist, Emerson know the power of nature given that reality was spiritual.  Like Emerson, I believe that nature has power.  Once we open our eyes to the power of nature, the god of nature will show me the path to transcendentalism.


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