Thumbs up for Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. Literature.
How do I put this delicately? I think the reason why this book is so beloved is because it’s the first introduction to Buddhism for many high schoolers, and (rightfully) their minds are blown. And it is a pitch-perfect, elegantly-written introduction to Buddhism and the wisdoms beyond it. I’d happily give it to anyone as such. But it’s really more of a didactic parable than a novel, and as I mentioned in my review of The Little Prince, I am personally not fond of parables. I like a book with meat on its bones. So this, too, falls into the category of books I admire rather than adore.
“This,” he said, handling it, “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: That stone is 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 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 one of its fine markings and 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 of worship. But I will say no more about it. Words do not express thoughts 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.”
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