The Book of Ralph Waldo Emerson


(1803 – 1882)

God enters by a private door into each individual. The highest revelation is that God is in every man. 

Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet. 

We early arrive at the great discovery that there is one mind common to all individual men: that what is individual is less than what is universal…. That error, vice and disease have their seat in the superficial or individual nature.

What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say. 

Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis. 

This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.

You are here to enjoy an original relationship with the universe.

Every being in nature has its existence so connected with other things that if set apart from them it would instantly perish. Nothing but God is self-dependent. 

Let us rejoice in life. The business… [of which] … is to Know Thyself.

Life is a journey not a destination. 

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. 

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be…. [And, in so doing,] … Make the most of yourself….for that is all there is of you. 

All lives, all friendships are momentary. Do you love me? Means at last Do you see the same truth that I see? If you do we are happy together: but when presently one of us passes into a new perception of truth, we are divorced and the force of nature cannot hold us together. 

The only reward of virtue is virtue; the only way to have a friend is to be one. 

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

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and make a trail…. [But]… beware of what you set your heart on for it shall surely be yours.

Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams… [So]…Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.

Most of the shadows in this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine. 

When it is dark enough, the stars appear. 

Even in the mud and scum of things something always, always, sings. 

Fear defeats more people than any one other thing in the world… [So] …A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer. 

Patience and fortitude conquer all things. 

We are wiser than we know. 

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up each time we fail. 

As we grow old … the beauty steals inward. 

What lies before us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. 

When you were born you were crying and everyone was laughing. Live your life so that at the end you are the one that is smiling and everyone is crying.

This new day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays. 

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.  He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety. 

Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. 

Success, says Emerson, is to laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; this to have succeeded.

Lastly, from his aunt, Mary Emerson: “Always do what you are afraid to do.”.