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A Path to Seeing
Reflections on Creating Waldens

By Winston Langley, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Many are the volumes that have been written on Walden, on the American Renaissance, on Thoreau, on Emerson, and on Whitman. Many, too, have been the conversations that these three important shapers of the American Renaissance have invited.

Ronald Bosco, Distinguished Professor of English and American Literature at the University of Albany, State University of New York, Joel Myerson, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of American Literature at the University of South Carolina, and Daisaku Ikeda, President of Soka Gakkai International, a lay Buddhist organization with 12 million members worldwide, have given us a special volume encompassing Walden, Thoreau, Emerson, Whitman, transcendentalism, Buddhism, and conversation.

In their conversation, one is brought “face to face,” in a most compelling way, with the relationship between individuals and nature, the ecosystem—as a whole—indeed, one’s place in the universe. That self, however, is not so much the physical self, but the interconnectedness between the inner, expansive and transcending spiritual self that we find in poetry, painting, and music, and the evocative pull and signaling of nature. It is also the self, in the words of Mr. Ikeda, “which can expand into unity with the cosmos.”

This interconnectedness forges outer linkages such as those that find themselves in cross-cultural influences which course themselves through the lives, works, and examples of human beings such as Emerson, Thoreau, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Makiguchi, but it also expresses a more profound feature of the universe—one which modern sciences, from the life sciences to the brain sciences: each life form signals to the other in all of nature. A proper understanding of the inner world that define us is part of gaining an understanding of nature, of finding ourselves, and of discovering or individual and collective possibilities.

The book is a path to seeing.







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