The constant progress of Culture is to a more interior life, to a deeper Home.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Home”
THE INNERMOST LIFE
A Deeper Home
The Innermost House Foundation is a philanthropic organization dedicated to the transcendental ideal of "plain living and high thinking" at the heart of mature civilization. We seek a unity in nature, fine hand craft and the perennial ideals of the mind as a way home to the original wholeness and harmony of the individual human being.
I have one doctrine: the infinitude of the private man.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
1. to go beyond
The Innermost House Foundation renews that experiment. It is a legacy project undertaken to realize the world's hopes for the ideals of the American founders, the Concord philosophers, and the Western environmentalists. "I am ready to die out of nature and be born again," Emerson wrote, "into this new yet unapproachable America I have found in the West." It is the ideal of Emerson's America we would approach.
The radical idea that distinguishes the American aspiration is that of e pluribus unum: many voices into one. We seek to realize that promise of transcendental unity, where the many voices of East and West, ancient and modern, feminine and masculine, native and colonist, city and country, art and science, are resolved into the fundamental oneness of the individual human being.
To comprehend the nature of such an individual realization, we are assembling an international conversation of voices to speak for the diverse cultural and spiritual forms that converged to shape the American experiment. To make that conversation material and practical, we are conjoining the mythic landscape with archetypes of craft and ideals of the mind to form an individual culture deeply rooted in Place.
Innermost House is a modern-day "Walden West," seeking to realize the fullness of the "dream too wild" of Emerson and Thoreau. We are selecting cabin sites on which to articulate a mature culture of philosophic simplicity, to illuminate the sacred wilderness, and to restore the ideals with which the world invested the American founding.
We welcome all to join with us in satisfying this transcendental promise, one in which the whole world shares an interest. We seek together, in the words of Lincoln, "the last best hope of earth."
The Transcendental is that which transcends the limitations of ordinary life. It is Truth and Beauty, Goodness and Unity. It is the ideal, the immortal, the eternal. The Transcendental is the higher law and the deeper reality. It is the Word. It is Wilderness. It is the infinitude of the Soul.
Practical Transcendentalism is embodied in the ideal of "plain living and high thinking" at the heart of mature culture, an ideal with deep roots among the Native American peoples and the civilizations of Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. It is the woodland retreat of wisdom in all ages, and the heroic ethic of noble souls, by whatsoever name called, all over the world.
In America, this ideal is most often associated with the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and with the experiment in self-reliance he inspired by Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond in 1845. The American Transcendentalism of the 19th century sought to individuate the principles affirmed as universal and self-evident in the revolutionary Declaration of 1776. That same ideal took its concluding form with the closing of the American frontier in 1890 and the birth of the wilderness movement in the West.
In 2004, a group of friends came together to continue that search for the ideal by building a solitary, 12x12 foot cabin among the redwoods of California as a retreat for serious, reflective conversation. That prototype experiment became known as Innermost House.
Innermost House has since been described as "The Most Inspiring Small House Ever," and its published results have established it among the most widely known small structures of modern times, reaching thousands of people in every state and over a hundred nations of the world.