In "Self-Reliance," what does "the eye was placed where one ray should fall" mean?

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In "Self-Reliance" by Ralph Waldo Emerson, the author encourages people to be self-reliant in seeking their future, as the title suggests. Each person is distinct and individual and must follow his or her own individual steps. Specifically, the author urges people to listen to their inner self and follow their own path rather than the path they see others following or the path they believe society dictates for them. Do not look at others, according to the author, and think their path is the right one and so envy them. The wise man understands this, as Emerson writes:

There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.

“[T]hat envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide”...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 988 words.)

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