Emerson vs. the logicians

Image: David Marcu

I love Emerson for more reasons than I can state here. He’s one of my main influences for the work I do today. In fact, the quote that drove me to naming this publication Higher Thoughts is this one…

“Prayer is the contemplation of the facts of life from the highest point of view.”
 — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Here’s what writer Harriet Martineau wrote about Emerson’s lectures back in 1848...

“The logicians have an incessant triumph over him, but their triumph is of no avail. He conquers minds, as well as hearts, wherever he goes; and without convincing anybody’s reason of any one thing, exalts their reason, and makes their minds worth more than they ever were before.”

When I read that, I had to close my eyes and soak it in. I meditated on it for a good ten or fifteen minutes.

That, right there, is so refreshing in today’s how-to, uber rational, Google-searched world.

It’s incredibly freeing as a creator to hear that Emerson didn’t let the ‘logicians’ silence him.

Their triumph was of no avail.

To them, they won. But in reality, their ‘winning’ did no good. His words snuck around the back door of the logical mind and made an impact from a deeper level.

He wasn’t working on the level of the intellect alone. He was working on the soul level. This is evident in his prose.

I hope you keep this in mind when you write. The logicians will say what they will. But if you’re speaking from conviction, it won’t matter.


Jonas writes short daily stories and preachments on the daily here in Higher Thoughts. Get one to enjoy with your coffee every morning by subscribing below.

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Beyond description

Image: frank mckenna

Instead of making vain, alienating attempts to describe the divine, what if the focus of religion was to stand in response to it instead?

Many humans have done this quite well without religion, no doubt, but what if there was an organized space designed around it?

Maybe then, instead of us humans sitting around dreaming up rules around the divine (a boring and fruitless endeavor, as proven throughout history), we’d be in a place where we let it speak in, through, and around us.

What if the point was not to know the answers of life, but to deepen into the experience of it?

What if we walked out of service being able to better stand in the mysteries of life rather than carrying a rigid, synthetic, pretentious, self-righteous air about ourselves?

We can spend another couple millennia arguing about what we believe about the divine. Or we can unite in the rapturous aftermath of it in every passing moment.

Here comes another wave.


Jonas writes short daily stories and preachments on the daily here in Higher Thoughts. Get one to enjoy with your coffee every morning by subscribing below.

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Dancing with the absurd

Image: Mark Asthoff

Experiencing something without trying to understand it is really hard for us to do. The human mind wants to understand everything. By ‘understand’, I mean that we try to fit it into our model of the world.

If we can’t do this, we deem it absurd. It proves impossible to understand. Since we can’t mold it into our structure of the world, we typically fight it or run from it.

Either way, we stay the same.

Experiencing the absurd without understanding it is an exercise in blowing up your old structures so you can rebuild anew.

It’s hard to dig your heels in and argue for the absurd. And that is where its beauty lies. When we allow ourselves to sit in the tension of not falling to one side of the argument or another, something in us deepens and makes room for more complexity than we could stomach before.

There’s a great virtue in sitting with a mystery without trying to solve it.

When we sit with the absurd and let it be as it is, we can’t help but stretch our limits and grow. A weight lifts off of our brains when we realize we don’t have to understand everything. It’s when we genuinely let go of understanding the absurd that we create space for new insight to be born.

Understand?…


Jonas writes short daily stories and preachments on the daily here in Higher Thoughts. Get one to enjoy with your coffee every morning by subscribing below.

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Today, I bounced a ball

Image: Vance Osterhout

It was a blue handball. Bounced it against our hardwood floor.

Once. Twice.

After a few times, I could hardly stand it. 
I was wasting time. I had a lot to do.

Three times. Four times.

I’m reeling. But I’m noticing it. Why am I doing this right now? 
Get back to work, slacker.

Five times. Six.

How absurd is this? I’m beating myself up right now. Whaaat?!

Seven times. Eight times. Nine.

This is wonderful. A transcendental experience, in fact. The ability to control space and time to manipulate the ball from my hand, off the ground, and back again. Amazing.

Ten times.

I’m in the flow now. Each bounce is a separate entity, but all meshed together as a singular action. Like life…

Eleven times. Twelve.

Okay, I’m quitting. But because I want to. Not out of shame.

Thirteen. Fourteen. Fifteen.

I can’t. Stop. This is great.

Sixteen. 
Seventeen.
Eighteen.

I have to pee now. But I’m definitely going to do this again.


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A philosophy of action

Photo: Yanko Peyankov

We all have a philosophy. A set of values. Some of us are conscious of what exactly it is. Some of us aren’t.

It helps to get that straightened away first. What do we deem as important? What do we deem as unimportant? And what do we deem as that fuzzy gray area that we’re still wrestling with?

What’s right? What’s wrong? What feels good? What seems like it feels good, but then feels gross afterwards?

What defines us?

This is our philosophy. Our creed. The guidelines of our life. The story we tell to the world.

Having a philosophy is great. But it only gets us so far. If we don’t put those words and thoughts into action, it’s a dead philosophy.

I can philosophize all day and live a miserable life. But what good is that?

The most important thing is to live your philosophy.

Your actions are your measuring stick. The only thing that matters. Our philosophy should consist of actions rather than empty words or lofty, fluffy ideas.

I know. This is hard. The best part about being in Crossfit (from what I’ve observed) is telling EVERYONE about it… And about your diet… And your huge gainz…

Proselytizing is easy. It feels good to the ego.

But just simply living it? This is the challenge. We must make our lives our philosophy.


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To choose, or not to choose, are both choices

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There’s a lot of folks out there who live like they live because they think they have no choice.

They just react. They stay on the track they’re on because they think that if they jump the rails, they’ll fall into oblivion.

Been there.

But let me pose this question…

What if you realized that every moment is a choice?

What if choice is all there is?

A choice to choose. Or not to choose. But either way you slice it — a choice…

Would that terrify you? Or set you free?


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Waking up behind the speedboat of life

Yesterday, we talked about how it can sometimes feel like we’re a dog being drug behind the wagon of life (riffing on the concept of Stoicism).

Doesn’t seem like there’s much room for creativity in THAT situation, does it?

But what if you knew that this wagon was going in a direction that a Higher part of you wants to go?

It’s no mistake you’ve hitched a ride behind this wagon. There are no mistakes in the universe. Our lives are part of a grand intelligent design that our tiny human brains can’t often comprehend.

Today, I’d like to switch the analogy to meet a more modern view and compare this divine Force (‘Logos’ as the stoics call it) as a powerboat and us as the wakeboarder.

Here’s the situation we’re born into: Life has smeared that goopy stuff on our feet, slapped a board on, tossed us into the water, and taken off full steam ahead.

Now, it’s up to us.

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When we know that the speedboat of life is pulling us in a direction that we’ve been divinely appointed to go in, we can surrender to its power and glide happily along behind it.

(Or… We can drown.)


It’s simple, really. Two choices at all times. To resist. Or to ride this thing for all it’s worth.

When we harness the flow of life, we can glide on its wake with a maniacal smile. We can do backflips. We can use our minds to steer through obstacles. We can go barefoot and one-handed. We can gleefully jump off the ramp.

When we’re living from this place, we’ve given ourselves permission to freely use the unlimited creative license we were born with.

Or we can stop steering, give up, complain, ask God why we were put here, and thusly get tossed around like a rag doll.

That lake water tastes horrible, doesn’t it? How much of it must we inhale before we get it?

The choice is entirely up to us, individually. This is where the power of our minds come in. This is our free will.

Sure, we’re gonna eat it. We’re gonna land on our faces every now and again. But we’re never gonna pull off that 360 unless we endure.

I’m gonna go work on that backflip. Care to join me?


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Steering the wagon

Ponderings on the living philosophy of Stoicism

Stoicism says that man is like a dog tied to a moving wagon — the wagon being our ‘Logos’ — aka ‘God’, ‘Providence’, ‘Nature’, etc.

They say this logos is headed in a positive direction, albeit one that we may not be able to comprehend, and that which we can’t control the direction of. All we can control, and all we need to control — the stoics say — is our choice to A) run along with the cart or B) be drug along by it.

At first, this seems harsh. I’m a dog? Tied to the back of a wagon? That sucks…

But when you look at it with calmer eyes, it’s a beautiful analogy. When you really think of it, life is kind of like that, is it not?

You also realize that the dog has a lot of free will in what his destiny is. He can give up and be drug along in the gravel and the mud (been there). Or, he can run and leap and jump and do spins and flips (been there too).

She can surrender to the great force of the wagon and let it propel her forward as she flies through time and space towards an awesome, but unknown, destiny. She has full control over her faculties — her mind and her body. That’s pretty powerful.

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Instead of getting swept away by life, we can harness its incredible force to create an awesome experience.


This choice is fully available to us in any moment.

I love stoicism. It’s a philosophy that’s meant to be lived. It follows you through the grit and grime of life and can lift you out of it.

However, I’d like to append one little belief to the philosophy. Who says you can’t make your own, customized philosophy, right? We all do it unconsciously anyways, don’t we? Here’s my crack at it…

I believe that we can influence the direction of that wagon — maybe a little bit, maybe a lot — through our beliefs.

That our thoughts sink down into the soil of the Logos to create real things.

Maybe that’s not stoicism anymore. I don’t know. I’d love to hear your opinions.

I just know somewhere down deep that our thoughts can impress the logos. That we can shape — even in a small way — where that wagon is headed.

*Seriously, this is something I can’t stop turning over and over in my mind. Please add your notes. I need your help with this one.☺


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