04 October 2008

- with the childlike people -

A precious friend reminded me of the beautiful passage of Hesse's "Siddhartha", the end of chapter 6 (link above, starting at "Once, he said to her..."). And yet Hesse seems to contradict himself, did you notice? "Others have it, who are small children with respect to their mind" implying Gotama (Pali spelling of Gautama), as well as Siddhartha & Kamala are "childlike". But at the end: "people of our kind can't love. The childlike people can."

Incidentally, does that mean that, as a Westerner, Hesse didn't fully understand buddhism and Eastern thought in general, although he had a profound outlook on it and was much inspired by it? My own Western understanding of Gotama's message is that we ALL have a pure unalterable true divine essence, buddhism only providing a method for us to connect (take refuge) into this divine. I recently read passages of a book of aphorisms and quotes from Hesse, also peppered with contradictions. That's not necessarily bad. Contradictions might be a simple reflection of language's limits to reflect reality/truth. They can be stimulating, as the koans of zen practice which are tools to reach enlightment when duly meditated on.

In any case, the astute reader may have noticed that the phrase "Others have it, who are small children with respect to their mind" doesn't necessarily mean they are "childlike" in the sense that dominates the chapter. Rather it ought to be a slight translation issue. Now on my way to get the German version!

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