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SIDDHARTHA

by: Hermann Hesse


He who ponderingly, of a purified spirit, loses himself in the meditation of Atman, unexpressable by words is his blissfulness of heart.

It was written that man in his sleep, in his deep sleep, would meet his innermost part and would reside in the Atman.

When you throw a rock into the water, it will speed on the fastest course to the bottom of the water. This is how it is when Siddhartha has a goal, a resolution. Siddhartha does nothing, he waits, he thinks, he fasts, but he passes through the things of the world like a rock through water, without doing anything, without stirring; he is drawn, he lets himself fall. His goal attracts him, because he doesn't let anything enter his soul which might oppose the goal. This is what Siddhartha has learned among the Samanas. This is what fools call magic and of which they think it would be effected by means of the daemons. Nothing is effected by daemons, there are no daemons. Everyone can perform magic, everyone can reach his goals, if he is able to think, if he is able to wait, if he is able to fast.

There is, so I believe, in the essence of everything, something that we cannot call learning. There is, my friend, only a knowledge — that is everywhere, that is Atman, that is in me and you and in every creature, and I am beginning to believe that this knowledge has no worse enemy than the man of knowledge, than learning.

The Buddha moved quietly, calmly, with a hidden smile, not unlike a healthy child. Just like all his monks he wore a robe and placed his feet precisely, according to precept. But his face and gait; his still, lowered gaze; his still, loose-hanging hand; and even every finger on his still, loose-hanging hand were expressions of peace, of perfection. Seeking nothing, emulating nothing, breathing gently, he moved in an atmosphere of imperishable calm, imperishable light, inviolable peace.

You are like me; you are different from other people. You are Kamala and no one else, and within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself, just as I can. Few people have that capacity and yet everyone could have it.

A true seeker could not accept any teachings, not if he sincerely wished to find something. But he who had found, could give his approval to every path, every goal; nothing separated him from all of the other thousands who lived in eternity, who breathed the Divine.

Although he had reached a high stage of self-discipline and bore his last wound well, he now felt as if these ordinary people were his brothers. Their vanities, desires, and trivialities no longer seemed absurd to him; they had become understandable, lovable, and even worthy of respect.

There was no goal anymore, there was nothing left but a profound, painful longing to shake off this whole vile dream, to spew out this stale wine, to make an end to this wretched and disgraceful life.

He had reached the end. There was nothing left for him to do but extinguish himself, to smash the ruined figure of his life, to throw it away at the feet of the sneering gods. This was the great retching he longed for: death, the shattering of the form he hated!

Cleverness is good, patience is better.

When Siddhartha listened attentively to this river, to the song of a thousand voices; when he did not listen to the sorrow or laughter, when he did not bind his soul to any one particular voice and absorb it in his Self, but heard them all, the whole, the unity; then the great song of a thousand voices consisted of one word: Om — perfection.

From that hour Siddhartha ceased to fight against his destiny. There shone in his face the serenity of knowledge, of one who is no longer confronted with conflict of desires, who has found salvation, who is in harmony with the stream of events, with the stream of life, full of sympathy and compassion, surrendering himself to the stream, belonging to the unity of all things.

Wisdom is not communicable. The wisdom which a wise man tries to communicate always sounds foolish.... Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.

Everything that is thought and expressed in words is one-sided, only half the truth; it all lacks totality, completeness, unity. When the Illustrious Buddha taught about the world, he had to divide it into Samsara and Nirvana, illusion and truth, into suffering and salvation. One cannot do otherwise, there is no other method for those who teach. But the world itself, being in and around us, is never one-sided. Never is a man or a deed wholly Samsara or wholly Nirvana; never is a man wholly a saint or a sinner. This only seems so because we suffer the illusion that time is something real.

This here is a stone, and will, after a certain time, perhaps turn into soil, and will turn from soil into a plant or animal or human being. In the past, I would have said: This stone is just a stone, it is worthless, it belongs to the world of the Maja; but because it might be able to become also a human being and a spirit in the cycle of transformations, therefore I also grant it importance. Thus, I would perhaps have thought in the past. But today I think: this stone is a stone, it is also animal, it is also god, it is also Buddha, I do not venerate and love it because it could turn into this or that, but rather because it is already and always everything.

Listen my friend! I am a sinner and you are a sinner, but someday the sinner will be Brahma again, will someday attain Nirvana, will someday become a Buddha. Now this "someday" is illusion; it is only a comparison. The sinner is not on his way to a Buddha-like state; he is not evolving, although our thinking cannot conceive things otherwise. No, the potential Buddha already exists in the sinner; his future is already there. The potential hidden Buddha must be recognized in him, in you, in everybody. The world, Govinda, is not imperfect or slowly evolving along a path to perfection. No, it is perfect at every moment; every sin already carries grace within it, all small children are potential old men, all sucklings have death within them, all dying people — eternal life.

I had to strive for property and experience nausea and the depths of despair in order to learn not to resist them, in order to learn to love the world, and no longer compare it with some kind of desired imaginary world, some imaginary vision of perfection, but to leave it as it is, to love it and be glad to belong to it. These, Govinda, are some of the thoughts in my mind.

Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately after they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish. And yet it also pleases me and seems right that what is of value and wisdom to one man seems nonsense to another.

He saw ... a flowing river of faces, hundreds, thousands, which all came and went, and yet all seemed to be there at once, which all constantly changed and became new ones.... He saw the face of a fish, a carp, with its maw opened in limitless pain, a dying fish with bursting eyes. He saw the face of a newborn child, red and covered with wrinkles, distorted by crying. He saw the face of a murderer, saw him stick a knife into a person's body. In the same instant, he saw this criminal kneeling in chains and his head being cut off by an executioner with a sword. He saw the bodies of men and women naked in the postures and battles of ravenous lovemaking. He saw corpses stretched out--still, cold, vacant. He saw animal heads, heads of boars, crocodiles, elephants, bulls, and birds. He saw gods--Krishna and Agni. He saw all these forms and faces in a thousand relationships to one another, each helping the others, hating them, destroying them, giving birth to them again. Each was a death urge, a passionate and painful confession of impermanence, yet none died; each only transformed.

He saw mankind going through life in a childlike or animallike manner, which he loved and also despised at the same time. He saw them toiling, saw them suffering, and becoming gray for the sake of things which seemed to him entirely unworthy of this price, for money, for little pleasures, for being slightly honoured ... he saw them complaining about pain at which a Samana would only smile, and suffering because of deprivations which a Samana would not feel.

The blind love of a mother for her child, the stupid, blind pride of a conceited father for his only son, the blind, wild desire of a young, vain woman for jewelry and admiring glances from men, all of these urges, all of this childish stuff, all of these simple, foolish, but immensely strong, strongly living, strongly prevailing urges and desires were now no childish notions for Siddhartha any more, he saw people living for their sake, saw them achieving infinitely much for their sake, travelling, conducting wars, suffering infinitely much, bearing infinitely much, and he could love them for it, he saw life, that what is alive, the indestructible, the Brahman in each of their passions, each of their acts.

To thoroughly understand the world, to explain it, to despise it, may be the thing great thinkers do. But I'm only interested in being able to love the world, not to despise it, not to hate it and me, to be able to look upon it and me and all things with love and admiration and great respect.

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