Every spirit builds itself a house; and beyond its house, a world; and beyond its world a heaven. Know then, that the world exists for you: build, therefore, your own world.

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But the mind requires a victory to the senses, a force of character which will convert judge, jury, soldier, and king; which will rule animal and mineral virtues, and blend with the courses of sap, of rivers, of winds, of stars, and of moral agents.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Character”

OUR PURPOSE


They found no example and no companion, and their heart fainted. What then?    
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Heroism"

We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. — Thomas Jefferson

We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. 
Thomas Jefferson

Male and female represent the two sides of the great radical dualism. But in fact they are perpetually passing into one another. — Margaret Fuller

Male and female represent the two sides of the great radical dualism. But in fact they are perpetually passing into one another. — Margaret Fuller

 
We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. — Abraham Lincoln

We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. — Abraham Lincoln

 
When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty. — John Muir

When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty. — John Muir

Why should a renewal of the transcendental spirit in America make a difference? Why should such a difference be desired? How does the Innermost House Foundation propose to open a path into the woods of the American memory and imagination to renew its inner life?

We live today in the long after-light of America's founding fire, kindled of the wilderness and sparked by enlightened thought. We are hardly conscious that the fire that lay behind us is the fire that smolders within us, for we have left the woods so far behind we do not know to recognize there is no fuel left for fire.  

Yet there is an ever-growing sense that something has gone missing. It has something to do with our founding ideals of independence, freedom and equality. It has something to do with the renaissance of those ideals as individuality, self-reliance and simplicity. It has something to do with an experienced unity of interdependence, a lost paradise of wilderness, and with an unrealized complexity of maturity.

The ideals with which the world associates the transcendental dream of America grew out of an identifiable circumstance, a marriage of Old World enlightenment culture and New World wilderness. Where those two great forces met in parity, "perpetually passing into one another," they yielded a spirit that transcended circumstance and satisfied a perennial human longing for paradise regained.

It is that paradise we propose to restore to the minds of people everywhere by the simple means of providing them with a “victory to the senses” as a companion and guide. It is the transcendental ideal of America we seek to renew, for we believe that hearts faint every day for want of nothing more than a single example of that ideal realized.

We believe that ideal lies in the tradition of “plain living and high thinking” at the convergence of enlightenment and wilderness, of idealism and realism, of the transcendental and the pragmatic. We believe that the idea of America is still the "last best hope of earth," and that regaining a living relation to the archetypal dimension of our experience is our best hope for renewing the inner spirit of American life, and through it, the world.

We believe that the Innermost House project can serve as an inlet to the eternal present of the American idea, that it can be used to draw the past forward and the future back, that through it our leading young people, who today are forming the shape of tomorrow, can be drawn into a creative relationship with our past to renew a transcendental expectation of the future.

We believe that the ideals that once rose before us now lay beneath our feet, and we are committed to the work of digging our foundations down to the bedrock of abiding principles. 

 

I have taught only one doctrine, namely, the infinitude of the private man. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have taught only one doctrine, namely, the infinitude of the private man. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

 
The West of which I speak is but another name for the Wild, and what I have been preparing to say is, that in Wildness is the preservation of the World. — Henry David Thoreau  

The West of which I speak is but another name for the Wild, and what I have been preparing to say is, that in Wildness is the preservation of the World. 
Henry David Thoreau

 

The man who is right is a majority. We, who have God and conscience on our side, have a majority against the universe.— Frederick Douglass

The man who is right is a majority. We, who have God and conscience on our side, have a majority against the universe.— Frederick Douglass

No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit. — Ansel Adams

No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit. 
Ansel Adams