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Henry David Thoueau's Zen experience

Posted: Fri Nov 26, 2010 10:18 pm
by zelph
In reading the Maine Woods it tells how Thoreau had what I deem a Zen experience when he encountered a phosphorecent light on wood. Here is what I found in print to give you and idea what I'm refering to:

Though of a different tribe, Polis shared Standing Bear's conception of nature as a home inhabited by many creatures, and, true to his pledge to teach Thoreau what he knew, he seems to have attempted to initiate Thoreau into this understanding. Early on the trip, Thoreau says, "I awoke in the night, I either heard an owl from deeper in the forest behind us, or a loon from a distance over the lake" (244-45). He got up to tend the fire and observed "partly in the fire, which had ceased to blaze, a perfectly regular elliptical ring of light" (245). He recognized it as "phosphorescent wood, which," he says, "I had so often heard of, but never chanced to see" (245). "The next day," he continues,

the Indian told me their name for this light, Artoosoqu', and on my inquiring concerning the will-o'-the-wisp, and the like phenomena, he said that his "folks" sometimes saw fires passing along at various heights, even as high as the trees, and making a noise. I was prepared after this to hear of the most startling and unimagined phenomena, witnessed by "his folks;" they are abroad at all hours and seasons in scenes so unfrequented by white men. Nature must have made a thousand revelations to them which are still secrets to us. (247)

[17] Thoreau describes his discovery of the phosphorescent wood as a highlight of his trip. He learns from this, he says, "that the woods were not tenantless, but chockfull of honest spirits as good as myself any day, not an empty chamber, in which chemistry was left to work alone, but an inhabited house and for a few moments I enjoyed fellowship with them" (248).

will-o-the-wisp

Re: Henry David Thoueau's Zen experience

Posted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 12:36 am
by realityguy
Thoreau was a lightweight backpacker..he had an Indian guide carry it all for him... :lol: ..except his journal. ;)

You still need to read about the Olympics press expedition...

Re: Henry David Thoueau's Zen experience

Posted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 3:53 pm
by zelph
You still need to read about the Olympics press expedition...


I agree, as soon as I absorb The Maine Woods :D

The Indian was quite the woodsman and backpacker. He packed that canoe every time they portaged. His sense of direction was amazing.

I had the same kind of feelings when I came across the glowing wood when I was stationed in France. Went back to the same place every evening for 3-4 days just to be in the presence of such a natural wonder.