what lesson does the anecdote of the farmer at the end of Higher Laws teach

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Thoreau knows he risk speaking obscenely but finds it strange that there are matters of human nature considered improper to discuss and finds this to be a symptom of human degradation. "Every man is the builder of a temple, called his body, to the god he worships." John Farmer sits in his door one September evening and hears a flute. He thinks of work but the flute awakens parts of his mind that are slumbering, asking him why he leads such a mean life when a glorious one is possible? He decides to practice austerity, to let his mind redeem his body and to treat himself with more respect.

John Farmer, who like John Field, is a symbolic representation of all men of a certain class and occupation, provides the example of a man awakened in spirit. In "Economy," Thoreau has spoken about how most men's spiritual lives slumber. Here, he suggests that the animal life should slumber while the spiritual life revive. Farmer's realization, through overhearing flute music, that there is more to his life than his work illustrates Thoreau's belief that he can, through writing Walden, show his townsmen the possibility of exchanging their "mean" lives for "glorious" ones. The flute, of course, is the instrument that Thoreau plays at the pond, and this artistic creation, flute music, represents Thoreau's other artistic creation ­ the book Walden.