My Re-introduction to American New Thought
My interest in the American philosophical tradition re-emerged a few years ago when Andrew Cohen – my spiritual teacher and the person for who I serve as personal assistant – was asked to speak at the Concord School of Philosophy. That school is a rustic wooden structure of one room with a small stage. It was built behind the house of Bronson Alcott a great American educational reformer of the 19th century who was also a close friend and associate of the American mystic Ralph Waldo Emerson.
In that building Allcott, Emerson (until he was too ill), and a host of other prominent thinkers met each summer between 1879 and 1888 to give lectures and discuss matters of philosophy and spirituality. Andrew and I arrived early and spent some time on our own inside the small room of the school. We both felt the physically tangible presence of the seriousness and profundity of the inquiry that had happened there so many years ago.
After this I began re-reading Emerson who had been one of my first spiritual heroes and I discovered the rich vein of alternative thought that has run a parallel course along side the more mainstream history of America. Even in Emerson’s time (1803 -1882) they were using the term “New Thought” to describe their ideas and ideals.
For the past few years my reading of American philosophy has moved from Emerson and the “Transcendentalists” of the 19th century, to William James and the “Pragmatists” of the early 20th century. And everything that I have read has helped me gain a deeper understanding of the teaching of Evolutionary Enlightenment that I practice today and to see that teaching in the context out of which it has emerged.
I hope that this blog will serve as a “virtual” Concord School of Philosophy for all who share my passion for Truth, Meaning and Purpose.