There are all degrees of proficiency in the use men make of this instructive world where we are boarded and schooled and apprenticed. It is sufficient to our present purpose to indicate three degrees of progress.One class lives to the utility of the symbol, as the majority of men do, regarding health and wealth as the chief good. Another class live about this mark to the beauty of the symbol; as the poet and artist and the sensual school in philosophy. A third class live above the beauty of the symbol to the beauty of the thing signified and these are wise men. The first class have common sense; the second, taste; and the third spiritual perception.I see in society the neophytes of all these classes, the class especially of young men who in their best knowledge of the sign have a misgiving that there is yet an unattained substance and they grope and sigh and aspire long in dissatisfaction, the sand-blind adorers of the symbol meantime chirping and scoffing and trampling them down. I see moreover that the perfect man - one to a millennium - if so many, traverses the whole scale and sees and enjoys the symbol solidly; then also has a clear eye for its beauty; and lastly wears it lightly as a robe which he can easily throw off, for he sees the reality and divine splendor of the inmost nature bursting through each chink and cranny.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The great minds, which from time to time have existed in this world, were like doors thrown wide to understanding. I don't mean just their brilliance or philosophy or even psychology. I mean that the spoken words that have endured are those uttered by men who understood with their hearts.No one on earth understands everything; that all-comprehensive function belongs to God alone. But we all try to understand a little. Most of us realize that too late. We look back and think: If only I'd tried to understand. Many failures in human relationships derive from this common failure.Watching the birds flock to discuss their travels among the brilliant leaves, listening to the slow turning of the earth upon her axis, meditating on Nature herself, never uncertain no matter how uncertain her manifestations may be, I think of the instinct that sends the birds from one locality to another, of the lengthening shadows as we face toward autumn and of the marvelous system that encourages the leaf to fall and nurture the soil. In the single flame of October it begins the lullaby that will put the roots of grass and flowers to sleep. This system, in the four seasons of my little world, will cover the ground with silent snow and at a later date will shout that spring is coming and awaken sleepers to new life.The sun in his glory, the moon in her phases, the stars in their courses, all these are part of the system; and Nature, turning the wheel of the seasons, understands what she must accomplish.Each in our own way, I suppose, we try to understand what we must accomplish. Perhaps the most important thing of all is the attempt to understand others.
Faith Baldwin