This singular teaching has been one of the most shining lodestars of my life. To some people in my near-orbit, it seems a thoroughly offensive or irritating orientation, even somewhat cruel. But however much I feel compelled to soften its natural expression in my action and speech, this command-from-inside is an irrevocable compass to me. It was always so, nearly from the beginning.
And why should such a Teaching seem so weird to people? Isn’t it one of the central declarations of the man to whom countless places of worship have been erected, the man who said:
N.B.: Emerson’s usage of the word “genius” is not our narrowed conventional sense of a type of exalted intelligence, but the emergent modern meaning cleaving closely to its classical root, as expressed in this Wikipedia entry:
In ancient Rome, the genius (plural in Latin genii) was the guiding spirit or tutelary deity of a person, family (gens), or place (genius loci).The noun is related to the Latin verbs "gignere" (to beget, to give birth to) and "generare" (to beget, to generate, to procreate), and derives directly from the Indo-European stem thereof: "ǵenh" (to produce, to beget, to give birth). Because the achievements of exceptional individuals seemed to indicate the presence of a particularly powerful genius, by the time of Augustus, the word began to acquire its secondary meaning of "inspiration, talent".The term genius acquired its modern sense in the eighteenth century, and is a conflation of two Latin terms: genius, as above, and Ingenium, a related noun referring to our innate dispositions, talents, and inborn nature.