Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Way is not a path. A path is a prescribed road, a defined direction. In my life prescribed paths – the conventional yellow brick roads to happiness have often disappointed me.
The clear avenues to the pinnacle of existence are often graphically displayed in magazines. The picture consists of a pool somewhere in the Caribbean or some such place. If you are a man you are in a pool next to a woman who has had her breasts augmented. Between you and this beauty is a floating coaster with a mixed drink on it, maybe a daiquiri, perhaps there is a little umbrella in it – O.K. the little umbrella is cool. You are both smiling. You have incredible dentists.
The question becomes: how are we paying for all this? Often, spending our lives working in some structure (path) that we probably don’t really believe in and doesn’t give us joy. Squandering our lives in “quiet desperation.”
Emerson and Thoreau saw all this a long time ago. They were among the first Americans to be interested in Transcendentalism and Buddhism. They didn’t care to waste their lives. Paths can choke the life out of you. Even Zen and Buddhist paths.
Emerson didn’t practice Zen. He certainly wasn’t interested in the hierarchy, politics and authoritarianism that seem to have been added to Zen. He did practice following his own heart and conscience. He had integrity.
He was a follower of the Way.