Search for a Spiritual Life
In Walden; or, Life in the Woods Henry David Thoreau presents his transcendental beliefs. His experiment of living in the woods and away from society was a way to test out his beliefs. Thoreau believed that by freeing himself from social restrictions, he could eventually gain spiritual relief. Similar to transcendentalism is the hippie’s view of life. They too also believed in a simpler way of living and wished to gain spiritual knowledge of nature and the world as a whole. Thoreau portrayed an alternative state of consciousness throughout the passages displayed in Walden. He continuously changed his narration from a literal view to a higher spiritual perspective. For instance, in “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For”, Thoreau wrote, “Olympus is but the outside of the earth everywhere…” Thoreau was viewing his cabin from an altered state of mind. In the previous sentences, he was comparing his cabin as a home fit for a god. Someone could clearly see that this cabin was most likely not worthy for a god or goddess, but Thoreau believed that a paradise fit for a god is everywhere, if one can perceive it. By altering his views into optimistic values, he changed his mediocre self-built cabin into an admirable residence. Another example of Thoreau perceiving an altered state of consciousness is in the “Higher Laws” when he wrote about how he felt savage and animal-like while walking home through the woods. Thoreau said, “I found in myself, and still find, an instinct toward a higher, or, as it is named, spiritual life, as do most men, and another toward a primitive rank and savage one, and I reverence them both.” Thoreau is showing that he views himself not only as a man, but also as an animal. He sinks into a level of pure hunger and power like an animal shows when it is hunting. Thoreau is not ashamed of his primitive instincts and even respects this side of him. By having a new perspective on what he views as raw emotion, he takes in...
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