|Our perception of nature and questions about mankind's relations with the Supreme Being have been pondered upon and well documented throughout history. Nature literature resembles a fountain of life irrigating the heart and soul of people. Even a spoon of such spring water can offer long-lasting refreshment.
In the long stream of Nature writing, leading figures such as R.W. Emerson, H.D. Thoreau, and A. Leopold served as the most solid rocks.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), a 19th-century orator, proposed in Nature (1836) that mankind and nature were one. “the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.” Transcendentalism and idealism, which he advocated, cast an enormous impact on the religious and cultural traditions of his time and became the precursor of American Liberalism.
A Lakeside Hermit's Experiment
A strolling companion, direct beneficiary of his teaching, was his student and friend, Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862).
In 1845, by Walden Pond, Concord, Massachusetts, Thoreau built a small hut and resided there over two years. At age 28, he defined it as a philosophical life experiment, on which he wrote the acclaimed Walden.
He wrote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
||“Every morning was a cheerful invitation”said Thoreau, who also realized, “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.” He called on the young ones,“I would have each one be very careful to find out and pursue his own way”
Shin Wang thinks that Thoreau's most precious lesson for us is the philosophy of simplicity and the break from modernity. Through nature, one can achieve spirituality through continuous self transcendence. Thoreau valued individuality and nonconformity, making him irreplaceable in American philosophy. Emerson once said,“No truer American existed than Thoreau.”
Adventure of "Wild" Muir
In 1903, a wholehearted guide accompanied the then President F.D. Roosevelt on a trip to Yosemite. He was John Muir (1838-1914). Muir's view of nature deeply influenced the President's conservation policies, leading to enlarged forest reserves and the birth of several national parks. Muir knew Emerson's and Thoreau's work by heart and believed God manifests through nature. What intrigued him were not only the suburban lakesides, but wilderness and uninhabited forests. He traveled on foot from Indiana to the Gulf of Mexico, went deep into the Sierra Nevada, devoting his life to protecting nature reserves.
In 1903, a wholehearted guide accompanied the then President F.D. Roosevelt on a trip to Yosemite. He was John Muir (1838-1914). Muir's view of nature deeply influenced the President's conservation policies, leading to enlarged forest reserves and the birth of several national parks.