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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Meditation | New England Style

Transcendentalism is an American philosophy. It grew out of the soil of the harsh Main woods, the rocky sedge fields of Massachusetts and the wild blueberry patches around Vermont lakes and streams. The cold, the harsh weather, and the short summers contributed to a philosophy that turned to the other world, away from reality, to inner so-called spiritual truths. In a way Transcendentalism was a perversion of Buddhism; or an offshoot of it. For Buddhism, which influenced numerous American authors, and the Vedantic tradition (which grew from the same Asian roots) also looked to another realm. Yet the Buddhists used meditation as a means of approaching this other world. The Transcendentalists use a hodgepodge of spirituality, self-reliance (Emerson's big theme), and Nature worship. In fact, Transcendentalism could be seen as meditation, New England style. But without the routines that made Eastern meditation so effective, Transcendentalism never had a chance of reaching deep into the psyche of most people. It remained an intellectual movement more than a widespread cultural and artistic force as it is often mistakenly portrayed.

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