I have taught one doctrine, namely, the infinitude of the private man. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals
And this deep power in which we exist and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are one. We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are shining parts, is the soul. Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Over-Soul”
in·di·vid·u·al 1. one and indivisible; whole
At the foundations of modern life lies the revolutionary idea of transcendental 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 originates all the powers of society, all that has been or shall be. The signal revelation of modern history is simply this: “the individual is the world.”
Transcendental Individualism is embodied in the heroic ideal of "plain living and high thinking," a wisdom tradition with deep roots among the American Indian peoples and the civilizations of Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Solitude and simplicity, silence and self-trust are its broad supporting limbs. It unfolds into a 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 on Emerson’s land 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.
Innermost House stands for that solitude that lies at the foundation of all true creation, all original thought, all legitimate leadership: an integrity of soul that is ever more difficult to achieve in a world made of, by, and for the forces of distraction and dis-integration.
The physical Innermost House forms a microcosmos to enclose a culture of individuation, dedicated to renewing a humanly authentic relation to wild nature in the Mythic Landscape, to creative art in the Archetypes of Craft, to original thought in the Ideals of the Mind, and to sacred experience in Infinities of Spirit. 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, craft, thought, and spirit in the infinitude of the individual soul.
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."
There is no chance and no anarchy in the universe. All is system and gradation. Every god is there sitting in his sphere. The young mortal enters the hall of the firmament; there is he alone with them alone, they pouring on him benedictions and gifts, and beckoning him up to their thrones. On the instant, and incessantly, fall snow-storms of illusions. He fancies himself in a vast crowd which sways this way and that and whose movement and doings he must obey: he fancies himself poor, orphaned, insignificant. The mad crowd drives hither and thither, now furiously commanding this thing to be done, now that. What is he that he should resist their will, and think or act for himself? Every moment new changes and new showers of deceptions to baffle and distract him. And when, by and by, for an instant, the air clears and the cloud lifts a little, there are the gods still sitting around him on their thrones,—they alone with him alone.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Illusions”
IMAGES ”Misty Morning on Lake,” Getty Images 473168848