I have taught one doctrine, namely, the infinitude of the private man.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
1. one and indivisible; whole
At the foundations of modern life lies the transcendental idea of Individualism: the individual human soul as one, indivisible, and whole. We mark the beginning of our new world by declaring the independence of the individual, the freedom of the individual, the sanctity of the individual, the essential equality of all individual souls. In the soul originate all the powers of society, all that has been or shall be. The signal revelation of modern history is simple this: “the individual is the world.”
Transcendental Individualism is embodied in the heroic ideal of "plain living and high thinking," a wisdom-ethic with deep roots among the American Indian peoples and the civilizations of Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. It is an unfolding conversation of many voices, seeking that harmony within us each we can all call home.
In America, this ideal is often associated with Ralph Waldo Emerson and the experiment in recovered origins undertaken by Henry Thoreau at Walden Pond in 1845. The transcendentalists of the American Renaissance sought to individuate the truths affirmed as self-evident by the founders in 1776. With the closing of the American frontier in 1890, that same ideal went to earth to give rise to the wilderness preservation movement in the West. It is one ideal in many guises.
The Innermost House Foundation® triangulates those three incarnations of the Ideal in America in quest of their essential spirit. Innermost House has been described as "The Most Inspiring Small House Ever," and its published record has established it among the most widely known small structures of modern times, reaching hundreds of thousands of people from every state and over a hundred nations of the world.
The house forms a microcosmos to enclose a culture of individuation, dedicated to seeking out the sources of an authentic relation to wild nature in the Mythic Landscape, to creative art in the Archetypes of Craft, and to original thought in the Ideals of the Mind. We seek the renewal of our world, not by turning from it, but by turning inward of it toward the individual. We seek a marriage of nature, art and thought in the infinitude of the soul.
In an ever more divided world, Innermost House is a pioneer outpost research station in human unity. We are engaged in a continuing experiment in "Life in the Woods," undertaken to cultivate a deeper and richer expectation of life in the world. We are building a culture of individuality where male and female, black and white, rich and poor, East and West, young and old, are truly one in the soul. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, we seek an abiding union in spirit as "the last best hope of earth."