Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

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Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby Hanzze » Sun Jan 09, 2011 1:12 pm

I found those novels and Theater production very useful to understand Buddhism, maybe somebody have the chance to read it or see it in a theater. I highly recommend them.

Siddhartha is a novel by Hermann Hesse that deals with the spiritual journey of a boy known as Siddhartha from the Indian subcontinent during the time of the Buddha.

The story begins as Siddhartha, the son of a Brahmin, leaves his home to join the ascetics with his companion Govinda. The two set out in the search of enlightenment.

Siddhartha goes from asceticism, to a very worldly life as a trader with a lover, and back to asceticism as he attempts to achieve this goal.

The story takes place in ancient India around the time of Gautama Buddha (likely between the fourth and seventh centuries BC[2]).

Experience is the aggregate of conscious events experienced by a human in life – it connotes participation, learning and knowledge. Understanding is comprehension and internalization. In Hesse’s novel Siddhartha, experience is shown as the best way to approach understanding of reality and attain enlightenment – Hesse’s crafting of Siddhartha’s journey shows that understanding is attained not through scholastic, mind-dependent methods, nor through immersing oneself in the carnal pleasures of the world and the accompanying pain of samsara; however, it is the totality of these experiences that allow Siddhartha to attain understanding.

Thus, the individual events are meaningless when considered by themselves—Siddhartha’s stay with the samanas and his immersion in the worlds of love and business do not lead to nirvana, yet they cannot be considered distractions, for every action and event that is undertaken and happens to Siddhartha helps him to achieve understanding. The sum of these events is thus experience.


Siddhartha (novel) - info on wiki
also an online book and there was also a movie



Steppenwolf (orig. German Der Steppenwolf) is the tenth novel by German-Swiss author Hermann Hesse. Originally published in Germany in 1927, it was first translated into English in 1929. Combining autobiographical and fantastic elements, the novel was named after the lonesome wolf of the steppes. The story in large part reflects a profound crisis in Hesse's spiritual world in the 1920s while memorably portraying the protagonist's split between his humanity, and his wolf-like aggression and homelessness.[1] The novel became an international success, although Hesse would later claim that the book was largely misunderstood.


Steppenwolf - info on wiki
there was also a movie, didn't saw it. Here a trailer: the magic theatre - for mad man only and a illustrated screenplay on american-buddha.com
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby ground » Sun Jan 09, 2011 3:21 pm

Hanzze wrote:I found those novels and Theater production very useful to understand Buddhism,


You must be joking

Kind regards
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby PeterB » Sun Jan 09, 2011 3:25 pm

I'm glad someone else said it first. What a pretentious yawnfest. And Steppenwolf is even worse.
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby Hanzze » Sun Jan 09, 2011 3:59 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Jan 23, 2011 2:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby Annapurna » Sun Jan 09, 2011 4:29 pm

Hanzze,

of course Hermann Hesse uses a simply breathtaking, spellbinding melody, choice of words and grammar.

I don't think it has been captured in the translations.

But this is just the beautiful form.

Unfortunately it is too long ago that I read it, to say a lot about the content, but it got me interested in Buddhism as a teenie.

And I know it was the "entry" for many others too.

After Siddharta, a lot of people moved on and studied Buddhism in depth. :thumbsup:

Great merit for Hermann Hesse, probably more merit than most of us here will ever make, when it comes to attracting people to the Buddha.

:anjali:
Last edited by Annapurna on Sun Jan 09, 2011 4:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby PeterB » Sun Jan 09, 2011 4:31 pm

Or something.
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Jan 09, 2011 10:54 pm

Hello, Hanzze,
Me experience of Hesse is closer to Anna's (although I can only read his books in translation) than to Peter's. I read them both as a young adult, in the early 1970s, and got a lot out of them. It was the time I was reading Alan Watts, DT Suzuki, Eric Berne, RD Laing, Carlos Castaneda and so on - all quite out of fashion now but important to many baby-boomers and remembered with affection.
Siddhartha is a very beautiful book and a very gentle, romanticised look at Buddhism. Now Westerners mostly know more about Asia and Buddhism and we hardly need a book like that. I never even knew the film existed.
Steppenwolf was good in the same way, introducing a very straight society to the idea that there were lots of different kinds of experience they know nothing about. Again, it belongs very much to the first half of the twentieth century.

:namaste:
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby Kare » Sun Jan 09, 2011 11:26 pm

I would not read Siddhartha to learn about Buddhism.

But apart from that, it is a beautiful book, and Hermann Hesse is a fine author whom I have enjoyed very much. I was first captivated by his Das Glasperlenspiel, and subsequently I read most of his writings in German. But this was more than 30 years ago ... so maybe I ought to read him again and see if he gives me the same impression today as when I read him at that time.
Mettāya,
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jan 10, 2011 12:01 am

Greetings,

Kare wrote:I would not read Siddhartha to learn about Buddhism.

Indeed. It should not be forgotten that it is just a novel - not an accurate historical account, and certainly not 'sutta'.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jan 10, 2011 12:20 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Kare wrote:I would not read Siddhartha to learn about Buddhism.

Indeed. It should not be forgotten that it is just a novel - not an accurate historical account, and certainly not 'sutta'.

Metta,
Retro. :)
And it really is not about the Buddha or his teachings.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby alan » Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:45 am

It's one of those books that smart people read in their teens. If some of them are motivated to explore Buddhism (and eventually mature enough to go beyond Hesse's simplistic portrait), well then so much the better.
It was the 50's. Most people had no idea. Put into context, it was a precursor to a new way of thinking in the West, and for that alone Hesse deserves respect.
Does it say anything to us now?
No.
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby Hanzze » Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:50 am

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Jan 23, 2011 2:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby christopher::: » Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:52 am

I read "Siddhartha" in college (early 1980s) as part of a Literature course. There were a lot of very helpful ideas presented, I thought. By observing the river silently (as the old boatman had) Siddhartha seems to learn from Nature the importance of not clinging to this ever changing world. I've noticed this idea to be something many Buddhist teachers have talked about.

In Dhamma Nature Ajahn Chah talks about an experience Buddha had in a previous life as a king where he observed some mango trees in a grove that were practically destroyed because of the delicious fruit they bore, that attracted people. Another tree carried no fruit, and was left unharmed...


If a tree has no fruit nobody disturbs it and so its leaves and branches are not damaged. This lesson kept him absorbed in thought all the way back to the palace: ''It is unpleasant, troublesome and difficult to be a king. It requires constant concern for all his subjects. What if there are attempts to attack, plunder and seize parts of his kingdom?'' He could not rest peacefully; even in his sleep he was disturbed by dreams.
He saw in his mind, once again, the mango tree without fruit and its undamaged leaves and branches. ''If we become similar to that mango tree'', he thought, ''our ''leaves'' and ''branches'', too, would not be damaged''.

In his chamber he sat and meditated. Finally, he decided to ordain as a monk, having been inspired by this lesson of the mango tree. He compared himself to that mango tree and concluded that if one didn't become involved in the ways of the world, one would be truly independent, free from worries or difficulties. The mind would be untroubled. Reflecting thus, he ordained.

From then on, wherever he went, when asked who his teacher was, he would answer, ''A mango tree''. He didn't need to receive teaching all that much. A mango tree was the cause of his Awakening to the Opanayiko-Dhamma, the teaching leading inwards. And with this Awakening, he became a monk, one who has few concerns, is content with little, and who delights in solitude. His royal status given up, his mind was finally at peace.

In this story the Buddha was a Bodhisatta who developed his practice in this way continuously. Like the Buddha as King Mahajanaka, we, too, should look around us and be observant because everything in the world is ready to teach us.



This is an important idea, imo, that the lessons of dhamma are all around us, that we can learn a lot simply by observing everything, mindfully. One doesn't need to have exact conceptual understanding of all terminology the Buddha taught. Watch your mind, observe your emotions, observe how suffering arises and falls away, mindfully observe the way the world is- and the nature of Dhamma can become clearer, over time.


With even a little intuitive wisdom, we will then be able to see clearly through the ways of the world. We will come to understand that everything in the world is a teacher. Trees and vines, for example, can all reveal the true nature of reality. With wisdom there is no need to question anyone, no need to study. We can learn from nature enough to be enlightened, as in the story of King Mahajanaka, because everything follows the way of truth. It does not diverge from truth.

Associated with wisdom are self-composure and restraint which, in turn, can lead to further insight into the ways of nature. In this way, we will come to know the ultimate truth of everything being ''anicca-dukkha-anattā''2. Take trees, for example; all trees upon the earth are equal, are One, when seen through the reality of ''anicca-dukkha-anattā''. First, they come into being, then grow and mature, constantly changing, until they die finally die as every tree must.

In the same way, people and animals are born, grow and change during their life-times until they eventually die. The multitudinous changes which occur during this transition from birth to death show the Way of Dhamma. That is to say, all things are impermanent, having decay and dissolution as their natural condition.

If we have awareness and understanding, if we study with wisdom and mindfulness, we will see Dhamma as reality. Thus, we sill see people as constantly being born, changing and finally passing away. Everyone is subject to the cycle of birth and death, and because of this, everyone in the universe is as One being. Thus, seeing one person clearly and distinctly is the same as seeing every person in the world.

In the same way, everything is Dhamma. Not only the things we see with our physical eye, but also the things we see in our minds. A thought arises, then changes and passes away. It is ''nāma dhamma'', simply a mental impression that arises and passes away. This is the real nature of the mind. Altogether, this is the noble truth of Dhamma. If one doesn't look and observe in this way, one doesn't really see!

~Ajahn Chah


:anjali:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby PeterB » Mon Jan 10, 2011 8:17 am

i
tiltbillings wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Kare wrote:I would not read Siddhartha to learn about Buddhism.

Indeed. It should not be forgotten that it is just a novel - not an accurate historical account, and certainly not 'sutta'.

Metta,
Retro. :)
And it really is not about the Buddha or his teachings.

As I recall through memories of saccherine purple prose Siddharta actually meets the Buddha and REJECTS his teaching with many a sigh, and instead substitutes his own dumbed down practice thus anticipating the New Age movement by 2500 years..There is a long passage decribing the Buddha as a really nice bloke..but ultimately one that cant meet Siddharthas own highly refined sensibilities....organised religion is not for one who moves in such rarified mental circles as he does.
Here of cpurse we can detect the authors own stance...he would like to really explore Buddhism but cannot shed the weight of the western Intellectual Tradition. and so turns instead to something that appears to ecshew that tradition, but he is unable to commit to another tradition.
So there we leave our hero. Stuck in spiritual limbo, frozen in indecision by the side of the river. Attempting to find Enlightenment by recourse to a kind of DIY Nature Religion. Unable to find a satisfactory relationship on the one hand and unable on the other to surrender his subjective musings to the Teacher of the Age.
One meets the sons and daughters of ( Hesse's ) Siddhartha quite frequently on Buddhist websites.
A footnote,
The writer Miguel Serrano was a friend of both Hesse and Jung. The two had not met so Serrano arranged a meeting. He was sure that they would hit it off. He describes in tragicomic terms* his dismay as these two men sat awkwardly in glum semi silence, each isolated in Mittel European self consciousness resenting visibly the fame of the other.

*In his collection of essays called " The Serpent Of Paradise".
Last edited by PeterB on Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:10 am

This is a fair assessment.
PeterB wrote:As I recall through memories of saccherine purple prose Siddharta actually meets the Buddha and REJECTS his teaching with many a sigh, and instead substitutes his own dumbed down practice thus anticipating the New Age movement by 2500 years..There is a long passage decribing the Buddha as a really nice bloke..but ultimately one that cant meet Siddharthas own highly refined sensibilities....organised religion is not for one who moves in such rarified mental circles as he does.
Here of cpurse we can detect the authors own stance...he would like to really explore Buddhism but cannot shed the weight of the western Intellectual Tradition. and so turns instead to something that appears to ecshew that tradition, but he is unable to commit to another tradition.
So there we leave our hero. Stuck in spiritual limbo, frozen in indecision by the side of the river. Attempting to find Enlightenment by recourse to a kind of DIY Nature Religion. Unable to find a satisfactory relationship on the one hand and unable on the other to surrender his subjective musings to the Teacher of the Age.
One meets the sons and daughters of ( Hesse's ) Siddhartha quite frequently on Buddhist websites.
A footnote,
The writer Miguel Serrano was a friend of both Hesse and Jung. The two had not met so Serrano arranged a meeting. He was sure that they would hit it off. He describes in tragicomic terms his dismay as these two men sat awkwardly in glum semi silence, each isolated in Mittel European self consciousness resenting visibly the fame of the other.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby Hanzze » Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:34 am

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Jan 23, 2011 2:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby PeterB » Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:39 am

He did Hanzze, and that is laudable, But it was several decades before substantial numbers of westerners were able to approach Buddha Dhamma on its own terms rather than theirs.
And many still cant.
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:43 am

Hanzze wrote:I see it is more a case of justice :-)
Its like the Christian use to call: "You are a bad christ, you do not go to church and do not worship." It is not that easy to leave the western habit, but Hesse give it a try.
What?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby PeterB » Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:55 am

Buddha Dhamma really started to come west when substantial numbers of people started to say
" Buddham Saranam Gachami
Dhamam Saranam Gachami
SANGHAM Saranam Gachami "
And actually mean it.
With their foreheads touching the ground to symbolise the fact that they were accepting what is actually taught,by actual flesh and blood teachers who can metaphorically kick arse when necessary... rather than their own subjective ideas.
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby Hanzze » Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:59 am

»Bei mir selbst will ich lernen, will ich Schüler sein, will ich mich kennenlernen.«
Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

"With in my self I will learn, I will be a disciple, will get to know my self."
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Jan 23, 2011 2:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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