Sunday, February 15, 2009

Thoreau: On Man & Nature

I have always been a great fan of the writings of Henry David Thoreau, the great American author, naturalist, philosopher and advocate of vegetarianism.

I just finished reading a small book compiling his views on certain topics, called "Thoreau: On Man & Nature". I'd like to share a few of my favourite quotes from it. Please note that the term God is used with a pagan viewpoint.

"I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite - only a sense of existence. My breath is sweet to me. O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment."

"My profession is to be always on the alert to find God in nature, to know His lurking places, to attend all the oratories, the operas, in Nature. To watch for, describe, all the divine features which I detect in Nature."

"No humane being, past the thoughtless age of boyhood, will wantonly murder any creature which holds its life by the same tenure that he does."

"We can only live healthily the life the gods assign us. I must receive my life as passively as the willow leaf that flutters over the brook. I must not be for myself, but God's work, and that is always good. I will wait the breezes patiently, and grow as they shall determine. My fate cannot but be grand so. We may live the life of a plant or animal without living an animal life. This constant and universal content of the animal comes in resting quietly in God's palm. I feel as if I could at any time resign my life and the responsibility into God's hands and become as innocent and free from care as a plant or stone."

Next up I'm going to re-read his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay, Civil Disobedience, an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state.

3 comments:

Hannah Lee Jones said...

Seelan, I loved that small book "Thoreau on Man and Nature." It was one of my favorites in my library, until I gave it away to a friend who didn't have the money to buy it. Now I wonder whether that was a bad decision!

Also love the first quotation about being thankful for what you have. In this season of harvest it's very appropriate.

-Hannah

Seelan Palay said...
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Seelan Palay said...

I'm glad there are others who see the timeless wisdom and worth in Thoreau's philosophy. And you have a great blog there Hannah!