Emerson and the Katha Upanishad

by Estéban Trujillo de Gutiérrez

“The first stanza of Emerson’s poem “Brahma, Song of the Soul,” runs as follows:

“If the red slayer thinks he slays,

Or if the slain thinks he is slain,

They know not well the subtle ways

I keep, and pass and turn again.”

Could the strange ideas and hardly less strange language of this verse have been drawn elsewhere than from the 19th verse of the Second Valli, of the Katha Upanishad, which reads?:

“If the slayer thinks I slay; of the slain thinks I am slain, then both of them do not know well. It (the soul) does not slay nor is it slain.”

–Alvin Boyd Kuhn,  A Modern Revival of Ancient Wisdom, pg. 16.