Hermann Hesse Quotes (154 Quotes)


    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. Although Siddhartha fled from the Self a thousand times, dwelt in nothing, dwelt in animal and stone, the return was inevitable; the hour was inevitable when he would again find himself in sunshine or in moonlight, in shadow or in rain, and was again Self and Siddhartha, again felt the torment of the onerous life cycle.


    What is wisdom and treasure to one man always sounds like utter foolishness to another. Siddhartha to Govinda

    I will not pretend to justify this espionage I carried on, and I will say openly that all these signs of a life full of intellectual curiosity, but thoroughly slovenly and disorderly at the same time, inspired me at first with aversion and mistrust. I am not only a middle-class man, living a regular life, fond of work and punctuality; I am also an abstainer and a nonsmoker, and these bottles in Haller's room pleased me even less than the rest of his artistic disorder.

    The way to innocence, to the uncreated and to God leads on, not back, not back to the wolf or to the child, but ever further into sin, ever deeper into human life.



    One can beg, buy, be presented with and find love in the streets, but it can never be stolen.

    Whether it is good or evil, whether life in itself is pain or pleasure, whether it is uncertain-that it may perhaps be this is not important-but the unity of the world, the coherence of all events, the embracing of the big and the small from the same stream, from the same law of cause, of becoming and dying.

    I would traverse not once more, but often the hell of my inner being. One day I would be a better hand at the game. One day I would learn how to laugh. Pablo was waiting for me, and Mozart too.

    There are always a few such people who demand the utmost of life and yet cannot come to terms with its stupidity and crudeness.

    He saw mankind going through life in a childlike manner... which he loved but also despised.... He saw them toiling, saw them suffering, and becoming gray for the sake of things which seemed to him to be entirely unworthy of this price, for money, for little pleasures, for being slightly honoured....

    One must find the source within one's own Self, one must possess it. Everything else was seeking -- a detour, an error.

    Whither will my path yet lead me? This path is stupid, it goes in spirals, perhaps in circles, but whichever way it goes, I will follow it.

    If I were wise, I shouldn't tell you. But I won't be wise, Harry, not for this time. I'll be just the opposite. So now mind what I say! You will hear it and forget it again. You will laugh over it, and you will weep over it. So look out! I am going to play with you for life and death, little brother, and before we begin the game I'm going to lay my cards on the table.


    He saw merchants trading, princes hunting, mourners wailing for their dead, whores offering themselves, physicians trying to help the sick, priests determining the most suitable day for seeding, lovers loving, mothers nursing their children-and all of this was not worthy of one look from his eye, it all lied, it all stank, it all stank of lies, it all pretended to be meaningful and joyful and beautiful, and it all was just concealed putrefaction. The world tasted bitter. Life was torture

    Opinions mean nothing; they may be beautiful or ugly, clever or foolish, anyone can embrace or reject them.

    With a secret smile, not unlike that of a healthy child,he walked along, peacefully, quietly. He wore his gown and walked along exactly like the other monks, but his face and his step, his peaceful downward glance, his peaceful downward-hanging hand, and every finger of his hand spoke of peace, spoke of completeness, sought nothing, imitated nothing, reflected a continuous quiet, an unfading light, an invulnerable peace.


    You learned people and artists have, no doubt, all sorts of superior things in your heads; but you're human beings like the rest of us, and we, too, have our dreams and fancies.

    I called the world of phenomena an illusion, I called my eyes and my tongue and accident, valueless phenomena. No, that is all over; I have awakened, I have really awakened and have just been born today.

    Siddhartha considered his circumstances. Thinking did not come easily to him. He didn't really feel like it, but he forced himself.

    You show the world as a complete, unbroken chain, an eternal chain, linked together by cause and effect.

    In fear I hurried this way and that. I had the taste of blood and chocolate in my mouth, the one as hateful as the other.



    Siddhartha has one single goal-to become empty, to become empty of thirst, desire, dreams, pleasure and sorrow-to let the Self die. No longer to be Self, to experience the peace of an emptied heart, to experience pure thought-that was his goal.

    A girl had bidden me eat and drink and sleep, and had shown me friendship and had laughed at me and had called me a silly little boy. And this wonderful friend had talked to me of the saints and shown me that even when I had outdone myself in absurdity I was not alone.

    In the beginning his dream and his happiness, in the end it was his bitter fate...But in the midst of the freedom he had attained Harry suddenly became aware that his freedom was a death and that he stood alone.

    His way had therefore come full circle, or rather had taken the form of an ellipse or a spiral, following as ever no straight unbroken line, for the rectilinear belongs only to Geometry and not to Nature and Life.




    All the women of this fevered night, all that I had danced with, all whom I had kindled or who have kindled me, all whom I had courted, all who had clung to me with longing, all whom I had followed with enraptured eyes were melted together and had become one, the one whom I held in my arms.

    Man is an onion made up of a hundred integuments, a texture made up of many threads. The ancient Asiatics knew this well enough, and in the Buddhist Yoga an exact technique was devised for unmasking the illusion of the personality. The human merry-go-round sees many changes: the illusion that cost India the efforts of thousands of years to unmask is the same illusion that the West has labored just as hard to maintain and strengthen.

    People know, or dimly feel, that if thinking is not kept pure and keen, and if respect for the world of mind is no longer operative, ships and automobiles will soon cease to run right, the engineer's slide rule and the computations of banks and stock exchanges will forfeit validity and authority, and chaos will ensue.

    Alas, Siddhartha, I see you suffering, but you're suffering a pain at which one would like to laugh, at which you'll soon laugh for yourself.


    So she thoroughly taught him that one cannot take pleasure without giving pleasure, and that every gesture, every caress, every touch, every glance, every last bit of the body has its secret, which brings happiness to the person who knows how to wake it. She taught him that after a celebration of love the lovers should not part without admiring each other, without being conquered or having conquered, so that neither is bleak or glutted or has the bad feeling of being used or misused.


    My resolve to die was not the whim of an hour. It was the ripe, sound fruit that had slowly grown to full size, lightly rocked by the winds of fate whose next breath would bring it to the ground.

    There is truth, my boy. But the doctrine you desire, absolute, perfect dogma that alone provides wisdom, does not exist. Nor should you long for a perfect doctrine, my friend. Rather, you should long for the perfection of yourself. The deity is within you, not in ideas and books. Truth is lived, not taught.

    And all the voices, all the goals, all the yearnings, all the sorrows, all the pleasures, all the good and evil, all of them together was the world. All of them together was the stream of events, the music of life.

    I have had to experience so much stupidity, so many vices, so much error, so much nausea, disillusionment and sorrow, just in order to become a child again and begin anew. I had to experience despair, I had to sink to the greatest mental depths, to thoughts of suicide, in order to experience grace.


    By degrees during the afternoon he warmed and became alive, and only towards evening, on his good days, was he productive, active and, sometimes, aglow with joy.

    Oh, if I had had a friend at this moment, a friend in an attic room, dreaming by candlelight and with a violin lying ready at his hand! How I should have slipped up to him in his quiet hour, noiselessly climbing the winding stair to take him by surprise, and then with talk and music we should have held heavenly festival throughout the night!

    Times of terror and the deepest misery may arrive, but if there is to be any happiness in this misery it can only be a spiritual happiness, related to the past in the rescue of the culture of early ages and to the future in a serene and indefatigable championship of the spirit in a time which would otherwise completely swallow up the material.

    And here is a doctrine at which you will laugh. It seems to me, Govinda, that love is the most important thing in the world.

    It taught him how to listen -- how to listen with a quiet heart and a waiting soul, open soul, without passion, without desire, without judgment, without opinion.


    More Hermann Hesse Quotations (Based on Topics)


    Life - World - Man - Love - Time - Wisdom & Knowledge - Pleasure - Happiness - Soul - Truth - Mind - Death & Dying - Secrets - Self - Suffering - Night - Liberty & Freedom - People - Sense & Perception - View All Hermann Hesse Quotations

    More Hermann Hesse Quotations (By Book Titles)


    - Demian
    - Siddhartha
    - Steppenwolf
    - The Glass Bead Game

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