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Hermann Hesse Quotes

40 of the best book quotes from Hermann Hesse
  1. #1
    Govinda said: “Still, oh Siddhartha, you love a bit to mock people, as it seems to me. I believe in you and know that you haven’t followed a teacher. But haven’t you found something by yourself, though you’ve found no teachings, you still found certain thoughts, certain insights, which are your own and which help you to live? If you would like to tell me some of these, you would delight my heart.”
    Quoth Siddhartha: “I’ve had thoughts, yes, and insight, again and again. Sometimes, for an hour or for an entire day, I have felt knowledge in me, as one would feel life in one’s heart. There have been many thoughts, but it would be hard for me to convey them to you. Look, my dear Govinda, this is one of my thoughts, which I have found: wisdom cannot be passed on. Wisdom which a wise man tries to pass on to someone always sounds like foolishness.”
  2. #2
    “Slower, he walked along in his thoughts and asked himself: “But what is this, what you have sought to learn from teachings and from teachers, and what they, who have taught you much, were still unable to teach you?” And he found: “It was the self, the purpose and essence of which I sought to learn. It was the self, I wanted to free myself from, which I sought to overcome. But I was not able to overcome it, could only deceive it, could only flee from it, only hide from it. Truly, no thing in this world has kept my thoughts thus busy, as this my very own self, this mystery of me being alive, of me being one and being separated and isolated from all others, of me being Siddhartha! And there is no thing in this world I know less about than about me, about Siddhartha!”″
  3. #3
    “You, Venerable One, may indeed be a seeker, for, striving toward your goal, there is much you do not see which is right before your eyes.”
  4. #4
    “In this hour Siddhartha ceased struggling with his fate, ceased suffering. On his face blossomed the serenity of knowledge, which no will opposes any longer, knowing perfection, in agreement with the flow of events, with the stream of life, full of compassion, full of sympathy, abandoned to the flow, belonging to unity.”
  5. #5
    “He had started to suspect that his venerable father and his other teachers, that the wise Brahmans had already revealed to him the most and best of their wisdom, that they had already filled his expecting vessel with their richness, and the vessel was not full, the spirit was not content, the soul was not calm, the heart was not satisfied.”
  6. #6
    “They knew everything, the Brahmans and their holy books, they knew everything, they had taken care of everything and of more than everything, the creation of the world, the origin of speech, of food, of inhaling, of exhaling, the arrangement of the senses, the acts of the gods, they knew infinitely much—but was it valuable to know all of this, not knowing that one and only thing, the most important thing, the solely important thing?”
  7. #7
    “Govinda spoke: “Nirvana, Friend, is not only a word. It is a thought.””
  8. #8
    “But where were the Brahmans, where the priests, where the wise men or penitents, who had succeeded in not just knowing this deepest of all knowledge but also to live it?”
  9. #9
    “Do you hear?” Vasudeva’s mute gaze asked. Siddhartha nodded.
    “Listen better!” Vasudeva whispered.
  10. #10
    “And—such is my thinking, o Exalted One—no one attains deliverance through teaching!”
  1. #11
    “Even in him, even in your great teacher, I prefer the thing to the words, his actions and his life are more important than his speech, the gestures of his hand more important than his opinions.”
  2. #12
    “Siddhartha learned a great deal from the Samanas; he learned many ways of losing the Self. He traveled along the path of self-denial through pain, through voluntary suffering and conquering of pain, through hunger, thirst and fatigue. He traveled the way of self-denial through meditation, through the emptying of the mind through all images. Along these and other paths did he learn to travel. He lost his Self a thousand times and for days on end he dwelt in non-being. But although the paths took him away from Self, in the end they always led back to it.”
  3. #13
    “He lived in friendship beside Vasudeva, and sometimes they would exchange words with each other, few and well-considered words. Vasudeva was no friend of words, Siddhartha seldom succeeded in inducing him to speak.”
  4. #14
    ″“Today, we’ll hear the teachings from his mouth.” said Govinda.
    Siddhartha did not answer. He felt little curiosity for the teachings, he did not believe that they would teach him anything new, but he had, just as Govinda had, heard the contents of this Buddha’s teachings again and again, though these reports only represented second- or third-hand information. But attentively he looked at Gotama’s head, his shoulders, his feet, his quietly dangling hand, and it seemed to him as if every joint of every finger of this hand was of these teachings, spoke of, breathed of, exhaled the fragrant of, glistened of truth. This man, this Buddha was truthful down to the gesture of his last finger. This man was holy. Never before, Siddhartha had venerated a person so much, never before he had loved a person as much as this one.”
  5. #15
    Quoth Siddhartha: “You know, my dear, that I already as a young man, in those days when we lived with the penitents in the forest, started to distrust teachers and teachings and to turn my back to them. I have stuck with this. Nevertheless, I have had many teachers since then. A beautiful courtesan has been my teacher for a long time, and a rich merchant was my teacher, and some gamblers with dice. Once, even a follower of Buddha, traveling on foot, has been my teacher; he sat with me when I had fallen asleep in the forest, on the pilgrimage. I’ve also learned from him, I’m also grateful to him, very grateful. But most of all, I have learned here from this river and from my predecessor, the Ferryman Vasudeva. He was a very simple person, Vasudeva, he was no thinker, but he knew what is necessary just as well as Gotama, he was a perfect man, a saint.”
  6. #16
    “Vasudeva rose. “It is late,” he said, “let’s go to sleep. I can’t tell you that other thing, oh friend. You’ll learn it, or perhaps you know it already. See, I’m no learned man, I have no special skill in speaking, I also have no special skill in thinking. All I’m able to do is to listen and to be godly, I have learned nothing else. If I was able to say and teach it, I might be a wise man, but like this I am only a ferryman, and it is my task to ferry people across the river.” ”
  7. #17
    “Did not Atman dwell inside him, did not the primal source flow within his own heart?”
  8. #18
    “I wish that you, oh exalted one, would not be angry with me,” said the young man. “I have not spoken to you like this to argue with you, to argue about words. You are truly right, there is little to opinions. But let me say this one more thing: I have not doubted in you for a single moment. I have not doubted for a single moment that you are Buddha, that you have reached the goal, the highest goal towards which so many thousands of Brahmans and sons of Brahmans are on their way. You have found salvation from death. It has come to you in the course of your own search, on your own path, through thoughts, through meditation, through realizations, through enlightenment. It has not come to you by means of teachings! And—thus is my thought, oh exalted one—nobody will obtain salvation by means of teachings! You will not be able to convey and say to anybody, oh venerable one, in words and through teachings what has happened to you in the hour of enlightenment! The teachings of the enlightened Buddha contain much, it teaches many to live righteously, to avoid evil. But there is one thing which these so clear, these so venerable teachings do not contain: they do not contain the mystery of what the exalted one has experienced for himself, he alone among hundreds of thousands. This is what I have thought and realized, when I have heard the teachings. This is why I am continuing my travels—not to seek other, better teachings, for I know there are none, but to depart from all teachings and all teachers and to reach my goal by myself or to die. But often, I’ll think of this day, oh exalted one, and of this hour, when my eyes beheld a holy man.”
  9. #19
    “And time after time, his smile became more similar to the ferryman’s, became almost just as bright, almost just as thoroughly glowing with bliss, just as shining out of thousand small wrinkles, just as alike to a child’s, just as alike to an old man’s. Many travelers, seeing the two ferrymen, thought they were brothers. Often, they sat in the evening together by the bank on the log, said nothing and both listened to the water, which was no water to them, but the voice of life, the voice of what exists, of what is eternally taking shape. And it happened from time to time that both, when listening to the river, thought of the same things, of a conversation from the day before yesterday, of one of their travelers, the face and fate of whom had occupied their thoughts, of death, of their childhood, and that they both in the same moment, when the river had been saying something good to them, looked at each other, both thinking precisely the same thing, both delighted about the same answer to the same question.”
  10. #20
    “Knowledge can be conveyed, but not wisdom. It can be found, it can be lived, it is possible to be carried by it, miracles can be performed with it, but it cannot be expressed in words and taught.”

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  1. #21
    “We who bore the mark, felt no anxiety about the shape the future was to take. All of these faiths and teachings seemed to us already dead and useless. The only duty and destiny we acknowledged was that each one of us should become so completely himself, so utterly faithful to the active seed which nature planted within him, that in living out its growth he could be surprised by nothing unknown to come.”
  2. #22
    “Suddenly, a new image had risen up before me, a lofty and cherished image. And no need, no urge was as deep or as fervent within me as the craving to worship and admire. I gave her the name Beatrice….”
  3. #23
    “A stone had been dropped into the well, the well was my youthful soul. And for a very long time this matter of Cain, the fratricide, and the ‘mark’ formed the point of departure for all my attempts at comprehension, my doubts and my criticism.”
  4. #24
    “You knew all along that your sanctioned world was only half the world and you tried to suppress the second half the way the priests and teachers do. You won’t succeed. No one succeeds in this once he has begun to think.”
  5. #25
    “Perhaps you’ll need me again sometime, against Kromer or something. If you call me then I won’t come crudely, on horseback or by train. You’ll have to listen within yourself, then you will notice that I am within you.”
  6. #26
    “The inner, the essential line of our fate consists of such invisible experiences. Such fissures and rents consists of such invisible experiences. Such fissures and rents grow together again, heal and are forgotten, but in the most secret recesses they continue to live and bleed.”
  7. #27
    “For the first time in my life I tasted death, and death tasted bitter, for death is birthday, is fear and dread of some terrible renewal.”
  8. #28
    “Such fear can destroy us completely. You’ve got to get rid of it, you’ve simply got to, if you want to turn into someone decent.”
  9. #29
    “We have a wider scope, greater variety of choice, and wider interests than an animal. But we, too, are confined to a relatively narrow compass which we cannot break out of.”
  10. #30
    “That is the way leaves fall around a tree in autumn, a tree unaware of the rain running down its sides, of the sun or the frost, and of life gradually retreating inward. The tree does not die. It waits.”
  1. #31
    “I wanted only to try to live in accord with the prompting which came from my true self. Why was that so very difficult?”
  2. #32
    “I realize that some people will not believe that a child of little more than ten years is capable of having such feelings. My story is not intended for them. I am telling it to those who have a better knowledge of man.”
  3. #33
    “I now lived within a fire of unsatisfied long, of tense expectancy that often drove me completely wild.”
  4. #34
    “I was in the hands of fate and it was useless to try to escape.”
  5. #35
    “That which is within you and directs your life knows already. It’s good to realize that within us there is someone who knows everything, wills everything, does everything better than we ourselves.”
  6. #36
    “Each man’s life represents a road toward himself, and attempt at such a road, the intimation of a path. No man has ever been entirely and completely himself.”
  7. #37
    “My story is not a pleasant one; it neither sweet nor harmonious, as invented stories are; it has the taste of nonsense and chaos, of madness and dreams–like the lives of all men who stop deceiving themselves.”
  8. #38
    “Images, pictures, desires arose freely within me, drew me away from the outside world so that I had more substantial and livelier relationship with the world of my own creation, with these images and dreams and shadows, than with the actual world around me.”
  9. #39
    “My goal was not joy but purity, not happiness but beauty, and spirituality.”
  10. #40
    “Yet, what a real living human being is made of seems to be less understood today than at any time before, and men–each one of whom represents a unique and valuable experiment on part of nature–are therefore shot wholesale nowadays.”

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