Tenets of Transcendentalism

1. Transcendentalism is a form of philosophical idealism (Platonic).

2. The transcendentalist  rises above the lower animalistic impulses in life, as well as the cultural restrictions of society, and moves from the rational to a spiritual realm.

3.  God or the Life Force in the universe can be found everywhere, thus no need for churches or holy places.

4. God can be found in both nature and human nature. God is not super human being but a spirit in us all.

5.  Every person possesses the “inner light” of  God, which must be nourished to sustain us.

6.  Every person possesses “intuition,” an essential and in-dwelling understanding of right and wrong  (moral action).

7. Culture and society tend to corrupt our intuition, establishing other determiners for morality and truth (church, government, peer groups,etc.) that deny us our own truths.

8.  Thinking helps us to actualize the authority of our intuition.  Thus, we feel what’s right/wrong; then we know what’s right/wrong.

9.  Learning can also aid intuition and connect us to nature, resulting in the drive for self-culture–learning new ideas and skills.

10. However, the past, in terms of learning and knowledge, should not limit or define who we are today.  The material world is in flux; the spiritual
realm  (fixed) manifests itself in different ways over time.  Hence, emphasis on the here and now.

11. We should live close to nature, for it is our greatest teacher.  Nature is emblematic, and understanding its “language” can bring us closer to the divine. Poets know this, and they write in the language of nature, helping us to connect our lives to the spiritual realm. They replace the priests and ministers of the church.

12.  Individualism lies at the heart of Transcendentalism.  Every individual needs to be self-reliant and thus not depend upon others if he or she is to be free and to live life fully.  Self-empowerment is attained by defying the authority of  “empty” conventions and senseless rules.

13.  The Bible was written for people in the past and may offer some transcending lessons.  But it is not the word of God or the
ultimate authority on how to live your life.

14. Jesus had God in him too, like all of us, but he was not God.  In many ways, though, he taught valuable lessons and lived a
transcendent life, which should be studied.  The miracles of the Bible are doubted in terms of specialness; the universe around us everyday is full of the miracles of nature.


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