Ralph Emerson wrote many journals and essays dealing with the subject of transcendentalism. One of his most famous works is the essay Self-Reliance. In Self-Reliance, Emerson hit on the idea that the individual should be completely reliant on God, and that every person has been put into their certain life and position by God and that the person needs to trust themselves. He said that God has put the power to handle things, think, and act into each individual and that the individual needs to trust what God has put inside them to do things with their lives. The idea is almost that of predestination, except for the fact that we have the choice of which road to take. Predestination is the idea that a higher power, or God, has planned everything that will happen to a person in their life. Emersons idea is that God has put the choice to us, but he has given us all of our unique gifts for the paths we can choose to take. In Self-Reliance, Emerson wrote, Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contempararies, the connection of events (Runes 362).
Emerson also gave the idea of trusting ourselves through God. He said that you have to trust in God to tell you what to do and what to think. He said that if you do this that God will provide answers (363). Another quote from his popular essay, Self-Reliance, supports this. And we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny; and not minors and invalids in a protected corner, not cowards fleeing before a revolution, but guides, redeemers and benefactors, obeying the Almighty effort and advancing on Chaos and the Dark (363).
Emerson also had the idea that we need to be ourselves, especially in the things that we say. Again from the popular essay, Self-Reliance, he spoke about how we need to say what we think one day, and then speak what is on your mind the next day, even if you completely contradict what you said in the first day. Then he said that people will definitely not understand you if this happens (365). That goes along with the whole idea above about how transcendentalism was widely misunderstood because even the great minds that thought it up dont fully understand everything about the philosophy. Emerson concludes this thought to say that, To be great is to be misunderstood (365).
Emerson is obviously the father of transcendentalism, and his great ideas were conveyed in his brilliant essays, journals, and poems. He helped pass the philosophy on to other philosophers and writers. One of these writers is Thoreau. Thoreau studied under Emerson and also wrote many pieces dealing with the subject of transcendentalism. One of his most popular pieces of writing about transcendentalism is Walden.