Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Cosmic Consciousness II

Ralph Waldo Emerson:
One Universal Mind

Journal, May 26, 1837

Edited by Peter Y. Chou

Who shall define to me an Individual? I behold with awe & delight many illustrations of the One Universal Mind. I see my being imbedded in it. As a plant in the earth so I grow in God. I am only a form of him. He is the soul of Me. I can even with a mountainous aspiring say, I am God, by transferring my Me out of the flimsy & unclean precincts of my body, my fortunes, my private will, & meekly retiring upon the holy austerities of the Just & the Loving— upon the secret fountains of Nature. That thin & difficult ether, I also can breathe. The mortal lungs & nostrils burst & shrivel, but the soul itself needeth no organs— it is all element & all organ. Yet why not always so? How came the Individual thus armed & impassioned to parricide thus murderously inclined ever to traverse & kill the divine life? Ah wicked Manichee! Into that dim problem I cannot enter. A believer in Unity, a seer of Unity, I yet behold to. Whilst I feel myself in sympathy with Nature & rejoice with greatly beating heart in the course of Justice & Benevolence overpowering me, I yet find little access to this Me of Me. I fear what shall befall: I am not enough a party to the great order to be tranquil. I hope & I fear; I do not see. At one time, I am a Doer. A divine life I create, scenes & persons around & for me, & unfold my thought by a perpetual successive projection. At least I so say, I so feel. But presently I return to the habitual attitude of suffering.

I behold; I bask in beauty; I await; I wonder; where is my Godhead now? This is the Male & Female principle in Nature. One Man, male & female created he him. Hard as it is to describe God, it is harder to describe the Individual. A certain wandering light comes to me which I instantly perceive to be the Cause of Causes. It transcends all proving. It is itself the ground of being; and I see that it is not one & I another, but this is the life of my life. That is one fact, then; that in certain moments I have known that I existed directly from God, and am, as it were, his organ. And in my ultimate consciousness Am He. Then, secondly, the contradictory fact is familiar, that I am a surprised spectator & learner of all my life. This is the habitual posture of the mind— beholding. But whenever the day dawns, the great day of truth on the soul, it comes with awful invitation to me to accept it, to blend with its aurora. Cannot I conceive the Universe without a contradiction?

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journal, May 26, 1837

The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson
Volume V, 1835-1838, Edited by Meton M. Sealts, Jr.
Belknap Press of Harvard University Press,
Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1965, pp. 336-337

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