In the 1830s and 1840s, a closely connected group of New England thinkers developed Transcendentalism, which blended spirituality and philosophy. Transcendentalists like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, and Bronson Alcott believed in individual liberty and tolerance, empowering people to be their best selves. They also felt that all living things are connected and that immersion in nature would lead to deep and useful insight.

Emerson offered the following description of finding cosmic oneness with nature: “All mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.”

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