American Transcendentalism and Asian Religions

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Oxford University Press, Sep 16, 1993 - Religion - 368 pages
The first major study since the 1930s of the relationship between American Transcendentalism and Asian religions, and the first comprehensive work to include post-Civil War Transcendentalists like Samuel Johnson, this book is encyclopedic in scope. Beginning with the inception of Transcendentalist Orientalism in Europe, Versluis covers the entire history of American Transcendentalism into the twentieth century, and the profound influence of Orientalism on the movement--including its analogues and influences in world religious dialogue. He examines what he calls "positive Orientalism," which recognizes the value and perennial truths in Asian religions and cultures, not only in the writings of major figures like Thoreau and Emerson, but also in contemporary popular magazines. Versluis's exploration of the impact of Transcendentalism on the twentieth-century study of comparative religions has ramifications for the study of religious history, comparative religion, literature, politics, history, and art history.

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Contents

Transcendentalism and the Orient
3
The First Meetings of East and West
16
3 Emerson Thoreau Alcott and the Orient
51
Melville and Brownson
119
Orientalism in GeneralInterest American Magazines
139
6 Ambience and Embodiment of Transcendental Dreams
172
7 Transcendentalist Periodicals and the Orient
184
The Orient and the Second Cycle of Transcendentalism
235
9 Conclusion
305
Bibliography
329
Index
351
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Page 32 - They sin who tell us Love can die. With life all other passions fly, All others are but vanity. In Heaven Ambition cannot dwell, Nor Avarice in the vaults of Hell; Earthly these passions of the Earth, They perish where they have their birth ; But Love is indestructible. Its holy flame for ever burneth, From Heaven it came, to Heaven returneth...
Page 67 - It is a secret which every intellectual man quickly learns, that beyond the energy of his possessed and conscious intellect he Is capable of a new energy (as of an intellect doubled on itself), by abandonment to the nature of things; that beside his privacy of power as an individual man there is a great public power, on which he can draw by unlocking, at all risks, his human doors, and suffering the ethereal tides to roll and circulate through him...
Page 14 - She is of a wonderful sweetness, calmness and universal benevolence of mind, especially after this Great God has manifested Himself tc her mind. She will sometimes go about from place to place, singing sweetly; and seems to be always full of joy and pleasure, and no one knows for what. She loves to be alone, walking in the fields and groves and seems to have someone invisible always conversing with her.
Page 87 - Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it ; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I would drink deeper ; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars.
Page 63 - Dream delivers us to dream, and there is no end to illusion. Life is a train of moods like a string of beads, and as we pass through them they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue, and each shows only what lies in its focus.
Page 57 - ... and trance and prophetic inspiration, — which is its rarer appearance, — to the faintest glow of virtuous emotion, in which form it warms, like our household fires, all the families and associations of men, and makes society possible. A certain tendency to insanity has always attended the opening of the religious sense in men, as if they had been "blasted with excess of light.
Page 75 - With the views I have intimated of the oneness or the identity of the mind through all individuals, I do not much dwell on these differences. In fact, I believe each individual passes through all three. The boy is a Greek ; the youth, romantic ; the adult, reflective.
Page 87 - Little is to be expected of that day, if it can be called a day, to which we are not awakened by our Genius, but by the mechanical nudgings of some servitor, are not awakened by our own newly acquired force and aspirations from within, accompanied by the undulations of celestial music, instead of factory bells, and a fragrance filling the air — to a higher life than we fell asleep from...
Page 34 - Atlantic clouds — this Whole Of suns and worlds and men and beasts and flowers. With all the silent or tempestuous workings By which they have been, are, or cease to be, Is but a vision; — all that it inherits Are motes of a sick eye, bubbles and dreams...
Page 95 - Think of our life in nature, — daily to be shown matter, to come in contact with it, — rocks? trees, wind on our cheeks! the solid earth! the actual world! the common sense/ Contact/ Contact/ Who are we? where are we?

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