The Internet age has brought in so many ‘Get success-quick!’ and ‘Get-rich quick!’ schemes by cheats, quacks and pseudo-celebrities that it’s sickening. They always make me wonder what happened to the wise masters and their simple wisdom we heard as kids? What happened to the solid teachings which our forefathers left behind??
This post is my humble effort to re-visit one of my literary heroes and share a few of his powerful lessons with you.
The name Ralph Emerson rings a familiar bell in our head. Most of us remember reading some or the other poem of his way back in school. But few among us are aware that he was also a great thinker who found the basis of Transcendentalism and one of the pioneers in the science of Life-Mastery.
Emerson wrote a collection of essays covering a wide array of topics ranging from ‘Intellect’ to ‘Nature’ to ‘Politics’. These essays contain in them some simple yet powerful secrets which have empowered countless individuals in achieving mastery of life.
1) “Towards all this external evil, the man within the breast assumes a warlike attitude, and affirms his ability to cope single-handed with the infinite army of enemies. To this military attitude of the soul we give the name of Heroism”
– Essays: First Series – Heroism
Real evolution occurs only when our very existence is challenged. We either grow stronger or we resign and die. This powerful principle has time and again proven itself to be true. Whether you consider the example of William Wallace burning his boats or Gandhi who decided to make non-violence his supreme weapon, Heroism of the soul always creates massive transformation in individuals.
This can be put to use by re-framing any extreme challenge you encounter. The moment you view the challenge as an adversary who is a threat to your very being, it loses more than half its power over you. Obstacles and challenges are nothing but triggers to awaken your inner-warrior. Show ’em who you are and awaken the hero within!
2) “Society is frivolous, and shreds its day into scraps, its conversation into ceremonies and escapes … Character is centrality, the impossibility of being displaced or overset …Character is this moral order seen through the medium of an individual nature … This is a natural power, like light and heat, and all nature cooperates with it”
– Essays: Second Series – Character
The importance of character is slowly dissipating in the world we live in. We have made heroes of wealthy individuals, cunning tricksters and boastful politicians who have gained their wealth and power through frivolous means. We are enamoured by short-cuts to success and spend a lifetime vainly seeking the next ‘quick-fix’ to our problems.
Emerson says the only way to conquer our weaknesses and rise above our present means is through development of a solid character. Character is that changeless entity which, once developed acts as a beacon for right decision making and also instills in us great confidence and clarity. It is the one must-haves if you want to attain success in any sphere of life.
3) “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string… And we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny; and not minors and invalids in a protected corner, not cowards fleeing before a revolution, but guides, redeemers and benefactors, obeying the Almighty effort and advancing on Chaos and the Dark” – Essays: First Series – Self-Reliance
What is your first response to adversity? Do you calmly assess the situation or just freak out? Most of us panic and start looking around for help. Usually this leads to a state of vulnerability where we are open to advice from almost anyone who is willing to help. More often than not, this impulsive panic leads to worsening of the condition. So what is one to do? Emerson simply says “Rely on yourself”
What we often forget is the power of our own potential! All it takes is a little self-reflection to realize that you are at this stage in your life only because you had the power to achieve it. And the strength to tackle any problem thrown at you is already present within you. But to tap this potential consistently, the habit of relying on yourself needs to be practiced. One of the fundamentals of mastering life is to be self-reliant. This is what makes you stand out as a leader and a self-made person. Go ahead. Be fearless and rely on yourself. You will be surprised at what you are capable of!
4) “Do not craze yourself with thinking, but go about your business anywhere. Life is not intellectual or critical, but sturdy. Its chief good is for well-mixed people who can enjoy what they find, without question” – Essays: First Series – Experience
You never know when you end up encountering elephantine problems! Emerson says that a sturdiness in approach is essential in order to survive this enigma we all call life. No matter how lucky or how prepared we may be, difficult times and roadblocks will always haunt us at sometime.
But by thinking about them too much will only end up giving a power over you. Nothing in life is worth worrying about to such great an extent that it ends up destroying your peace of mind or your health. Give each problem only the amount of attention it deserves and move on. Let the universe take care of the rest!
5) “The world exists for the education of each man. There is no age or state of society or mode of action in history to which there is not somewhat corresponding in his life. Every thing tends in a wonderful manner to abbreviate itself and yield its own virtue to him” – Essays: First Series – History
This almost common-sense sounding wisdom is often overlooked by us. We are so busy in blindly flitting between our routine tasks that we forget that there are countless individuals who have done the same in the past! And a few of them realized the futility of it all and left behind simple lessons for the rest to learn from. History is one of the greatest teachers! And it is often waiting for us to access it and seek answers to our questions. Don’t forget to learn from it and remember: ‘There is nothing new under the sun’.
I hope these pearls of wisdom help you in your journey of Life Mastery. Feel free to refer to them whenever you feel the need for hope and courage. And don’t forget to share it with your loved ones.