Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Transcendental Tuesday: Emerson's Influences And Other Secular Buddhist Sources

"Emerson started with the traditional Christian notion of individual souls as unique and of God as a Person; yet, through his reading, he became intrigued by the old Pythagorean doctrine of anima mundi, "into which the Soul of the individual was absorbed and afterwards emanated again."  With this question of absorption-emanation continuing to haunt him, Emerson once again observed that moral law sanctions the Platonic notion that the individual soul is "but an emanation from the Abyss of Diety, and about to return whence it flowed." --Beongeheon Yu, from The Great Circle: American Writers and the Orient.

Beongeheon Yu's scholarship in tracing the origins of American Transcendentalism is amazing, especially as it was done long before the internet.  He has chapters on Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Yankee Pilgrims in Japan, Fenollosa, Hern, Babbitt, O'Neill, Eliot, Pound, and The Beat Generation: Salinger, Kerouac, and Snyder.

This week I reread his chapter on the secular buddhist motifs of Eugene O'Neill.  I had just read Barbara Hunt Watters review of O'Neill's personality and work, and this month's issue of Firsts: The Magazine for Book Collectors is entirely devoted to the O'Neill's works and the movies made from them.  A fine reading experience.

Of course, my list of favorite Secular Buddhist and Transcendental Novels and Interpretations is at Amazon, at this link.  I first published it long ago as a part of the Readerville site, a fine book world unfortunately now vanished into the ether.

Kimberly French at the Unitarian Universalist site published such a list in the spring of 2010 at this link.

There are, of course, a good many such works that don't appear on either of the above lists, above and beyond those works which, though not particularly Eastern, feature some Eastern concepts such as reincarnation.  I'll review some of them as time goes on.

No comments:

Post a Comment