image of the walk up to the Old Manse, with house in background (Concord, MA)

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Transcendentalist philosopher and critic of religion, was a popular lecturer in his day. Many have quoted him from his essays, journals, and speeches.

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The purpose of life seems to be to acquaint a man with himself and whatever science or art or course of action he engages in reacts upon and illuminates the recesses of his own mind. Thus friends seem to be only mirrors to draw out and explain to us ourselves; and that which draws us nearer our fellow man, is, that the deep Heart in one, answers the deep Heart in another, — that we find we have (a common Nature) — one life which runs through all individuals, and which is indeed Divine.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are always getting ready to live but never living.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you would lift me up you must be on higher ground.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. No man has learned anything rightly, until he knows that every day is Doomsday.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The real and lasting victories are those of peace and not of war.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Doing well is the result of doing good. That’s what capitalism is all about.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves, but deal in our privacy with the last honesty and truth.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is a happy talent to know how to play.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Most of the shadows of life are caused by standing in our own sunshine.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The man who can make hard things easy is the educator.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The meaning of good and bad, of better and worse, is simply helping or hurting.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The people fancy they hate poetry, and they are all poets and mystics.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Go put your creed into the deed,
Nor speak with double tongue.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

We wish to be self-sustained. We do not quite forgive a giver. The hand that feeds us is in some danger of being bitten.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

If the colleges were better, if they really had it, you would need to get the police at the gates to keep order in the inrushing multitude. See in college how we thwart the natural love of learning by leaving the natural method of teaching what each wishes to learn, and insisting that you shall learn what you have no taste or capacity for. The college, which should be a place of delightful labour, is made odious and unhealthy, and the young men are tempted to frivolous amusements to rally their jaded spirits. I would have the studies elective. Scholarship is to be created not by compulsion, but by awakening a pure interest in knowledge. The wise instructor accomplishes this by opening to his pupils precisely the attractions the study has for himself. The marking is a system for schools, not for the college; for boys, not for men; and it is an ungracious work to put on a professor.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, possibly erroneously attributed

Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The greatest wonder is that we can see these trees and not wonder more.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The highest compact we can make with our fellow is, — ‘Let there be truth between us two forever more.’

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

A political victory, a rise in rents, the recovery of your sick, or return of your absent friend, or some other quite external event, raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for you. Do not believe it. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

A cynic can chill and dishearten with a single word.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson
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