“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
This video TED talk by Dan Buetter lends empirical evidence and (ted.com/talks/dan_buettner_how_to_live_to_be_100?) further extends our intuitive sense of this truth with a finding that those communities with highest life expectancy have a word for lifelong purpose (raison d’etre / ikigai). No surprise that they are happier too but it is the happy by product of having a meaningful life.
Transcendentalism’s RW Emerson and Henry David Thoreau have a deep association with Concord, the historic suburb of Boston, which was also a hub of Freemasonry well before these two Masonic brothers Emerson and Thoreau joined the world’s oldest fraternal organization.
In their day, the duo succeeded as radical religious mavericks in many ways. While Emerson’s writings differ from the wisdom offered in Freemasonry by showing pronounced Eastern influence and a strong bond to nature, Thoreau is most famous for his thinking regarding civil disobedience and living close to nature at Walden Pond. The two believed in the importance of understanding that intuitive thinking can be beyond the limits of a rational or modern scientific approach.
Transcendentalists believed that society and its institutions—particularly organized religion and political parties—corrupt the purity of the individual. They have faith that people are at their best when truly “self-reliant” and independent. It is only from such real individuals that true community can form. Even with this necessary individuality, transcendentalists also believe that all people are outlets for the “Over-soul.” Because the Over-soul is one, this unites all people as one being.
The above Over-soul link is to wikipedia.org which has become overwhelmed by volunteer editors who impose this rationalist scientific belief system on us.
“Modern science tries to enforce a narrow, reductive view of our consciousness. It tries to convince us of the unreality of elements, even quite persistent elements in experience, that it cannot explain. These include the shadowy power of prayer, premonitions, the feeling of being stared at, the evidence for mind-reading, out-of-body-experiences, meaningful coincidences and other things swept under the carpet by modern science. And much, much more importantly, science in this reductive mood denies the universal human experience that life has a meaning.” The Secret History of the World by Mark Judge
Emerson’s successful career as a paid speaker was effectively launched at the first Boston Masonic Temple in 1835, and he lectured there repeatedly for many years, finding a captive audience for his ideas which embraced new religious thinking. There is much to be gained by exploring these ideas as shared universal wisdom found in ancient teachings. You can call this Speculative Masonry when done by Ancient Free and Accepted Masons.