Govinda said: “It seems to me, Siddhartha, that you still like to jest a little. I believe you and know that you have not followed any teacher, but have you not yourself, if not a doctrine, certain thoughts? Have you not discovered certain knowledge yourself that has helped you lto live? It would give me great pleasure if you would tell me something about this.”
Siddhartha said: “Yes, I have had thoughts and knowledge, just as one feels life in one’s heart. I have had many thoughts, but it would be difficult for me to tell you about them. But this is one thought that has impressed me, Govinda. Wisdon is not communicable. The wisdom which a wise man tries to communicate always sounds foolish.”
“Are you jesting?” asked Govinda.
“No, I am telling you what I have discovered. Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, be fortified by it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it. I suspected this when I was still a youth and it was this that drove me away from teachers. There is one thought I have had, Govinda, which you will again think is a jest or folly: that is, in every truth the opposite is equally true. For example, a truth can only be expressed and enveloped in words if it is one-sided. Everything that is thought and expresses in words is one-sided, only half the truth, it all lacks totality, completeness, unity. When the Illustrious Buddha taught about the world, he had to divide it into Samsara and Nirvana, into illusion and truth, into suffering and salvation. One cannot do otherwise, there is no other method for those who teach. But the world itself, being in and around us, is never one-sided. Never is a man or a deed wholly Samsara or wholly Nirvana. Never is a man wholly a saint or a sinner. This only seems so because we suffer the illusion that time is something real. Time is not real, Govinda. I have realized this repeatedly. And if time is not real, then the dividing line that seems to lie between this world and eternity, between suffering and bliss, between good and evil, is also an illusion. ”
“How is that?” asked Govinda, puzzled.
“Listen my friend. I am a sinner and you are a sinner, but someday the sinner will be Brahma again, will someday attain Nirvana, will someday become a Buddha. Now this someday is illusion. it is only a comparison. The sinner is not on the way to Buddha-like state, he is not evolving, although our thinking cannot conceive things otherwise. No, the potential Buddha, already exists in the sinner, his future is already there. the potential hidden Buddha must be recognized in him, in you, in everybody. The world, Govinda, is not imperfect or slowly evolving along a long path to perfection. No it is perfect at every moment. Every sin already carries grace within it, all small children are potential old men, all sucklings have death within them, all dying people – eternal life. It is not possible for one person to see how far another is on the way, the Buddha exists in the robber and dice player, the robber exists in the Brahman. During deep meditation it is possible to dispel time, to see simultaneously all the past, present and future, and then everything is good, everything is perfect, everything is Brahman. Therefore, it seems to me that everything that exists is good – death as well as life, sin as well as holiness, wisdom as well as folly. everything is necessary, everything needs only my agreement, my assent, my loving understanding, then all is well with me and nothing can harm me. I learned through my body and soul that it was necessary for me to sin, that I needed to lust, that I had to strive for property and experience nausea and the depths of despair in order to learn not to resist them, in order to learn to love the world, and no longer compare it with some kind of desired imaginary world, some imaginary vision of perfection, but to leave it as it is, to love it and be glad to belong to it. These, Govinda, are some of the thoughts that are in my mind. ”
Siddhartha bent down, lifted a stone from the ground and held it in his hand.
‘”This is a stone, and within a certain length of time it will perhaps be soil and from the soil it will become plant, animal or man. Previously I should have said: this stone is just a stone, it has no value, it belongs to the world of Maya, but perhaps because within the cycle of change it can also become man and spirit, it is also of importance. That is what I should have thought. But now i think: This stone is a stone, it is also animal, God and Buddha. I do not respect and love it because it was one thing and will become something else, but because it has already long been something else, but because it has already long been everything and always is everything. I love it just because it is a stone, because today and now it appears to me a stone. I see value and meaning in each of its fine marking cavities, in the yellow, in the gray, in the hardness and the sound of it when I knock it, in the dryness or dampness of its surface. There are stones that feel like oil or soap, that look like leaves or sand, and each one is different and worships Om in its own way, each one is Brahman. At the same time it is very much stone, oily or soapy, and that is just what pleases me and seems wonderful and worthy or worship. But I will say no more about it. Words do not express thought very well. They always become a little different immediately they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish. And yet it also pleases me and seems right that what is of value and wisdom to one man seems nonsense to another.”
– HERMANN HESSE, Siddhartha