Sunday, May 29, 2016

Hiking Meditation in Wind Gap, Pennsylvania

In his first published book, Nature, Ralph Waldo Emerson describes the spiritual and healing qualities of nature. Influenced by the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and the British Romanticists, Emerson joined in the concern over the loss of the individual to the industrialized, technologize, progress-obsessed, Enlightenment tradition. Where and how will humankind fill and express their spiritual needs in the age of "objective" science? When Friedrich Nietzsche read Emerson's words in a German translation, he quickly took Emerson to be the greatest of American thinkers. We find a great affinity between Nietzsche and Emerson.

As a young man I went to the woods to read Emerson. Atop the mountain in Wind Gap, Pennsylvania, overlooking my home, I read Emerson's Essays when I was fifteen. These essays, and Nature in particular, were important influences during my formative years of identity shaping. In my thirties I turned to studying the work of the Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung. One cannot study Jung without first reading Freud, so I did. When Freud advised the student of psychoanalysis to first read Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, I did so also. It was with Nietzsche that I re-discovered my interest in Emerson.

The New England Transcendentalists of Concord, Massachusetts were not the only transcendentalists in America. Pennsylvania was a second center for transcendentalism. With a strong German immigrant presence, the Pennsylvania Transcendentalists were less influenced by the British Romanticists, and more aligned with G.W.F. Hegel and German Idealism.

Hiking meditation is a product of Kantian philosophy and Emersonian Transcendentalism. It is an exercise in remaining in the now, and recognizing nature as our great teacher.

Interests in hiking meditation, questions, comments, and corrections should be direct to: