Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Ralph Waldo Emerson - Brahma

Here's a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson, titled "Brahma". It's remarkable that at the time that it was written, a devout and studied Christian minister such as Emerson, would engage his thoughts on Eastern religion/philosophy. He seems to have been truly a learned man who dedicated himself fully to religion and his belief in God, but not being single-minded or only inwardly focused. Emerson sought the teachings and wisdom of other religions to ease his peradventures: not strictly adhering to fideism, or believing solely in faith--over reason--to find spirituality.

[For those interested in the egoist Essey:] This is moving to me because I believe that most of the religions in the world all stem from the same divinity. This God or spirit being the same, or drawing from the same well, is evident in the overlapping notions of most of the major world religions. At the root, most religions and philosophies commonly agreed upon by man share a common ethos at their cores. Emerson seems to share this sentiment when he told his Western readers--largely unfamiliar with Eastern religion and confued by terms such as Brahma--that they may substitute "Jehovah" for "Brahma" to help them understand the poem.

Here's the poem, but perhaps it would better be entitled "Brahman," which is the idea of the world-soul, as opposed to Brahma, one of the Hindu God trinity {Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva}. Although perhaps Emerson is thinking of Brahma as being the deification/personification of Brahman, the world-spirit.

Ralph Waldo Emerson - Brahma

If the red slayer think he slays,
Or if the slain think he is slain,
They know not well the subtle ways
I keep, and pass, and turn again.

Far or forgot to me is near,
Shadow and sunlight are the same,
The vanished gods to me appear,
And one to me are shame and fame.

They reckon ill who leave me out;
When me they fly, I am the wings;
I am the doubter and the doubt,
And I the hymn the Brahmin sings.

The strong gods pine for my abode,
And pine in vain the sacred Seven;
But thou, meek lover of the good!
Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.

[egoist again] And for my amusement, I juxtapose the poem of the divine, warm, memoriless notion of world-spirit in Brahman, with the world-weary concept of weltsmertz in the lyrics by the band Enthral.


Watching as the Walls of the City (of Dreams) Crumbles into Dust
Every Pagan Wiped away by the Sword of the Righteous
In Tears I Realize that there is nothing more to Conquer
Chained to Mortality …Now exposed to Eternity
Gazing at the Sky screaming; How can You do this to Me?
Leaving Me Faceless to the World …A Target for Every Arrow
Pointing at Me From every Shadow, slowly dissolving,
Becoming one with the Earth…
Dragged through the Streets by Angry Hands, A Soul trapped at the Threshold
Ashes Spread on a River…
An Instrument in the Hands of a god Singing; <>
I've Burned the Bridges behind Me, Leaving no Retreat
All I have Left is the Dust From A Thousand Dreams, not even Mine,
I am merely a drop of Water, in an Everflowing Stream…
You see the World through Dead Eyes… Sleeping through the Ages
Gazing at the Earth From a Distant Star
Knowing that what You see has already Happened… You are My Lord of Flies
The Dead who carved for Life …I know not why they lie there Floating
The lie there Devoid of Thought ..Bereft of Life and Drowned in Sorrow
You are the Lord of Flies
The Bane of Mankind is all that He is until He dies,
is a Pawn that is expected to live by the Lies of Tradition
Existing only as Flies crushed by a Mighty Hand
You are the Lord of Flies

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