Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Jan 19, 2011 5:34 am

alan wrote:Hi meindzai. I also read Alan Watts as a teen and oh boy did I think he had it all figured out. He was my hero for a year or two. Embarrassing to admit it now...but it did inspire me on towards more serious study later. There must be some value in that.

Sorry, no Hesse quotes. Back to you, Hanzze.

I think, from comments that have come up from time to time, that many of the older members (mostly baby boomers? yep.) of DW first encountered Eastern religions and philosophy in general, and Buddhism in particular, through books and authors we can no longer take at all seriously. Can I mention a few names and see how many people cringe? Okay, here goes:
Lobsang Rampa (The Third Eye, etc), Alan Watts, I Ching (the version translated from Chinese to German to English), Persig (Zen and the Art of...), Krishnamurti, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Ram Dass (Be Here Now), Gurdjieff, ...
Not so specifically Asian, but of the same period: Carlos Castaneda, Aldous Huxley (The Perennial Philosophy and others) ...
Okay, that's ten. Is anyone (else :tongue: ) game to admit that they read all of them?
Before someone tells me I'm off-topic: Hesse's Siddhartha and Steppenwolf belong on that list.
And don't think I look down on all of them or regret reading them. They were important in the sixties and seventies, particularly for one very simple reason: they were around at the time, and very little else was readily available. Without them, it's quite possible there would be no DW today, no American Buddhism, no Theravada monasteries in the UK, etc, etc.

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

Postby PeterB » Wed Jan 19, 2011 8:40 am

I would imagine that covers many peoples Kindergarten of Buddhist or faux Buddhist literature Kim. I would add the works of Jung and of course Osho/Rajneesh, to the pile.

Perhaps we should be grateful to those works that first caught our interest...
It would be sad if anyone was still stuck in Kindergarten...peering out throgh the windows like Alice In Wonderland stuck in the little house after the biscuit with " Eat Me " written on it.....and I am afraid that the evidence is that that there are a number of such Alices among western Buddhists.
Last edited by PeterB on Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby PeterB » Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:52 am

Your mention of Krishnamurti reminds me that If one actually wants to stay in Kindergarten it is necessary to avoid meeting ones Kindergarten heroes. I went to the annual summer camp that Krishmamurti used to address each year. I had read a lot of his work and was fascinated by his story,,he was as is well kown groomed by the Theosophists to be Maitreya and Christ combined...and he couragously denounced all that and broke away from them and becamea teacher of a kind of Advaita...
On the platform he was very impressive, handsome and fluent. He emanated a Buddha like calm.
Off the platform it became obvious that he had learned that persona.It was a well honed act. In reality he was anxious, demanding, intolerant. He spoke in a rapid whining tone with no gaps, and showed no interest in the other person. He had a repertoire of nervous tics and curious movements of limbs and face..he was in short, a bit of a mess....
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:00 am

PeterB wrote:Your mention of Krishnamurti reminds me that If one actually wants to stay in Kindergarten it is necessary to avoid meeting ones Kindergarten heroes. I went to the annual summer camp that Krishmamurti used to address each year. I had read a lot of his work and was fascinated by his story,,he was as is well kown groomed by the Theosophists to be Maitreya and Christ combined...and he couragously denounced all that and broke away from them and becamea teacher of a kind of Advaita...
On the platform he was very impressive, handsome and fluent. He emanated a Buddha like calm.
Off the platform it became obvious that he had learned that persona.It was a well honed act. In reality he was anxious, demanding, intolerant. He spoke in a rapid whining tone with no gaps, and showed no interest in the other person. He had a repertoire of nervous tics and curious movements of limbs and face..he was in short, a bit of a mess....
And Trungpa was way to nice to him.
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 » Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:08 am

Wasnt he just...
After the dialogue was filmed K's people contacted CTR's people to suggest a follow up...Trungpa replied " No...the mans a fake".
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:10 am

:focus:
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


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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby Nibbida » Wed Jan 19, 2011 11:28 am

PeterB wrote:I think your hero was actually called Brian, Nibbida.... :smile: And I take your point....


Hah! I completely forgot about that movie.

"Always look on the bright side of life."
"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby Nibbida » Wed Jan 19, 2011 11:45 am

PeterB wrote:I would imagine that covers many peoples Kindergarten of Buddhist or faux Buddhist literature Kim. I would add the works of Jung and of course Osho/Rajneesh, to the pile.

Perhaps we should be grateful to those works that first caught our interest...
It would be sad if anyone was still stuck in Kindergarten...peering out throgh the windows like Alice In Wonderland stuck in the little house after the biscuit with " Eat Me " written on it.....and I am afraid that the evidence is that that there are a number of such Alices among western Buddhists.


I'd like to coin the term Buddhish for this literature. It's Buddist-ish, but not quite. It's also a portmanteau of "Buddhism" and "rubbish."

I'm reminded of this gem from Bruce Lee, master of Buddhist wisdom, who then proceeds to kick the crap out of everyone. Wisdom? Sure. Compassion? Feh!

"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby meindzai » Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:09 pm

alan wrote:Hi meindzai. I also read Alan Watts as a teen and oh boy did I think he had it all figured out. He was my hero for a year or two. Embarrassing to admit it now...but it did inspire me on towards more serious study later. There must be some value in that.

Sorry, no Hesse quotes. Back to you, Hanzze.


His scholarship of Buddhism is atrocious, but what we're left with is a kind of Wattsism, whether he's proporting to talk about Zen, Buddhism, or Daoism. He often made some very good and witty points about life in general. I always liked his teaching on "prickly people vs. wiggly people." (or prickles and goo). He also had some good metaphors to describe certain Mahayana concepts. I also like the metaphor about the flashlight, (perceiving reality by breaking it down) vs. the floodlight (perceiving reality as a totality). Again, there's more of a Mahayana bias there, but it's also just a good general point about how we perceive things.

Let's keep something else in mind here, with regard to Watts, Hesse and any other of the light dharma, at least that which came in the previous generation. Most of these people did not have access to the information that we do. They did not have accesstoinsight.org, an in fact they probably didn't have access to much or any of the Pali canon in English. They would have to have left their houses (OMG!) studied pali, visit other countries, etc.

In my case I have benefited enormously from the efforts of Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Bhante Gunaratana, and Bhikkhu Bodhi, all of whose works are accessible for free, including hours and hours of audio you can listen to on a commute, run, etc. For a price that is negligible you can have hard copies of the major Nikayas. (I say negligible compared to having go make the above efforts and learn it the old fashioned way.) Probably half of the members of this forum have more knowledge of Buddhism than Hesse and Alan Watts put together, in the same way that a first year physics student already knows more physics than Isaac Newton.

Having said that, the dharma-light teachers of *today* have no excuse.

-M
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby PeterB » Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:12 pm

Nor do Dharma- Lite students Meindzai....you make a number of good points and make them well.
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby Hanzze » Fri Jan 28, 2011 5:37 am

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:35 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 VeganLiz » Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:52 pm

I enjoyed Siddhartha. I read it when I was about 18...

I don't know enough about Buddhism to know if it's really a good understanding of Buddhism- apparently it isn't....But I liked it.

Also, I liked Dharma Bums....not a lot to do with Buddhism there, but enjoyable nevertheless.
"My actions are my only true belongings." Thich Nhat Hanh
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby Jhana4 » Sun Feb 06, 2011 12:30 pm

Hanzze wrote: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.


I read Siddhartha in college and loved it. I've reread it several times over the years.

After I finished school I got into meditation and sitting with a Thich Nhat Hanh group. I came across an interesting piece Thich Nhat Hanh wrote comparing the "Buddhism" in Hesse's novel to what "Buddhism" actually is. My opinion is that Buddhism and Buddhists are a lot more cheerful than what Hesse's novel was about.

I *think* Theravada had waned a great deal and shrunk to the point of being on its deathbed when it went through a "revival" in the 19 th century which got continental Europeans very involved with it then and in the earlier parts of the 20th century. Hesse's enthusiasm, I am told was part of that wave of European enthusiasm. The novel is interesting as an examination of what Europeans of that time possibly thought of Buddhism. As a novel, it is a great novel. I've reread the book several times because several times I felt like Siddhartha at the various stages of his life........in my life ( not so much the fictional conception of the dhamma ).

Beautiful book.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby Jhana4 » Sun Feb 06, 2011 12:34 pm

VeganLiz wrote:I enjoyed Siddhartha. I read it when I was about 18...

I don't know enough about Buddhism to know if it's really a good understanding of Buddhism- apparently it isn't....But I liked it.

Also, I liked Dharma Bums....not a lot to do with Buddhism there, but enjoyable nevertheless.


I didn't know that was a book. My first big wave of enthusiasm for learning about Buddhism and meditation was back in the 1990s when email lists and Usenet groups were the dominant way people communicated. I remember that there was a troll, aptly named "DharmaBum" ( or maybe it was "DharmaTroll" with a few others, who was making his rounds of these places.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby Jhana4 » Sun Feb 06, 2011 12:42 pm

Hanzze wrote:_/\_


What does this symbol or emoticon mean?
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Feb 06, 2011 9:49 pm

Greetings Jhana4,
Jhana4 wrote:
Hanzze wrote:_/\_


What does this symbol or emoticon mean?

As well as the specific meaning of "Hanzze has decided to retrospectively butcher one of his posts", it has the more general meaning on Buddhist forums of hands pressed together in the following form.

:anjali: :namaste:

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


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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby Buckwheat » Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:00 pm

The first time I read Siddhartha, I knew only the very basics of Buddhism and Hinduism. Since Siddhartha is a common Indian name (or at least I've heard of it) and all spiritual concepts in the book seemed like Hinduism, I did not associate it as a "Buddhist" book in the slightest, especially since he meets and rejects the Buddha in the course of the novel. I still fail to see how people confuse it as a biography of the Buddha. You would have to turn off your mind to get that impression.

No, for me, Siddhartha the novel is simply a novel that is inspiring - a translation of the "Book of the Heart" that transcends dharma, history, and all the sankara's we generally attach to any combination of ink and paper (or pixels now-a-days). It did however, give my abstract spiritual feelings some form that I could work with. I looked into Hinduism, but quickly found my true home in Buddhism.

There are levels of dhamma - the formal teachings of the Buddha, which are not at all part of Herman Hesse's novel - and the real heart of the wisdom-compassion, which Hesse does a fine job in bringing to life IMO.

Does anybody find it ironic that Siddhartha's one and only criticism of the Buddha's doctrine is that because enlightenment can not be taught the description is inadequate, yet Siddhartha goes on to have many informal teachers (including a river and a whore) and a semi-formal teacher in the ferryman that he lives with by the river? I don't believe this is an irony that Hesse left in by neglegence. It shows that we do need teachers, even when they are not formal. We all learn from experience and from people. A few rare individuals can do it without a formal teacher (Siddhartha, the Buddha, the ferryman), but the rest of us need formal methods to cut off our coarser defilements. Even then, we must realize that a good teaching only narrows the search, and genuine Truth lies outside the domain of a formal teaching.

And let us not forget that Siddhartha's training was not complete until he learned how to love. Only then could he see the people he ferried across the river, not as children, but as humans full of dignity and suffering. Though he was respectful and free of ill-will throughout the novel, it is only after losing his son that he develops compassion. That was his final humility, losing the pride of dignity and conceit, and he never would have gotten there without the ferryman (a good companion).

Anyway, that's my take. I'm not expecting to change any minds about the novel. And yes, I read it again just a couple months ago and I was just as moved as the first five times I read it. It is not a book about Buddhism. But it is a book about sila, samadhi, and panna.
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:13 pm

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

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:27 pm

At least one person I know will disagree... but I think it probably contains a very accurate pen portrait of what the Buddha was actually about, stripped of subsequent deification and hyperbole.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: Siddhartha (novel) & Herman Hesse

Postby Ben » Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:38 am

Buckwheat wrote:I did not associate it as a "Buddhist" book in the slightest

Interestingly, our local 'good' bookshop has a copy of Siddhartha in the religion section with a smattering of HHDL's books, ostensibly representing Buddhism.
kind regards,

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