Herman Hesse

Life in the Spiritual Fast Lane

Spiritual fasting. What do you think about it? Does it intrigue you? Personally, the thought of it makes me hungry, a bad sign. Fasting is definitely not my strong suit.

Recently, I read Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse. The second book of Hesse’s I’ve read, and admittedly my first on Buddhism, Siddhartha follows a fictional character (paralleling the real Siddhartha Gautama) who throughout his life searches for oneness and truth.

My upbringing has taught me to read all non-Christian, even non-evangelical, religious material with a filter. This filter acts less like a screen door and more like an actual door. Closed all the time.

As I’ve aged in spirit and body, I’ve come to realize that much can be learned from other religions. We all yearn for God. If a life-long monk wanted to take me out for coffee, or better yet, donuts, then you can bet I would take his offer. I’d probably even have to pay and I would still take his offer. I love donuts. I love talking about God with donuts.

This theoretical monk has spent his life learning to fast, learning to think, learning to be less. I would love to hear his insight, wouldn’t you? Just because religious roads differ, this doesn’t mean travelers can’t bump into each other every now and then. And get donuts.

Consumerism, Buddhism, & Ism-ism

Fasting was never pushed on me. I’m not blaming anyone else for my ignorance towards it, but let’s just say that the culture I grew up in simply didn’t value it. “It’s more of an Eastern thing,” I would hear or, “Just don’t tell any one about it.”

Regardless of how I got here, I’m here now. I believe that Americans have much to gain from learning to fast.

Our eyes have been purchased by the cinema of must-have.

Our hearts foster inward desires over the outward love of Christ.

Our bodies sleep best in a commonplace of complacency.

What if consumerism was just another powerless foe? What if we could break the paradigm? I wonder about a world where Western Christians could chose others before themselves, every day, with every dollar and every minute.

In the book, the young adult Siddhartha wishes to go into business with a merchant. The merchant asks Siddhartha what he can do. Siddhartha replies, “I can think. I can wait. I can fast.”

“… fasting, what good does it do?”

This is my favorite part:

It is very good, sir. If a person has nothing to eat, then fasting is the wisest thing he can do. If, for instance, Siddhartha had not learned how to fast, he would have to accept any service today, whether with you or with someone else, for hunger would force him to do so. But now Siddhartha can simply wait, he knows no impatience, he knows no plight. He can stave off hunger for a long time and he can laugh at it. That, sir, is what fasting is good for.

So what do you think, is it time Westerners start fasting? Can we still have donuts? Since I’m new to this whole thing, I hope to learn one or two things in the comments.

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I Love Goooollldd… mund (and Narcissus)

urlLast night, I finished my first Herman Hesse novel, Narcissus and Goldmund. A friend gave me this over Christmas; I may or may not be a slow reader.

Lay off me.

It was amazing. Not an easy read for me. It’s more detail oriented than plot focused, which means it had to win me over. Despite the book’s slow start, Narcissus and Goldmund is a beautiful tale worth every bit of your time.

Instead of a full review you probably won’t read, I’ll just share my favorite passage. If you feel interested in reading it, just google the book and you’ll find the synopsis.

For those needing to be sold, here you go: It has tons of sex! Also, death, traveling, and philosophical discussion regarding the difference between artists and thinkers.

My favorite passage (kind of grim, but beautiful still):

Perhaps, he thought, the root of all art, and perhaps also of all intellectual activity, is the fear of death. We fear it, we shudder at the ephemeral nature of all things, we grieve to see the constant cycle of fading flowers and falling leaves and are aware in our own hearts of the certainty that we too are ephemeral and will fade away.

So when as artists we create images, and as thinkers we search for laws and formulate ideas, we do so in order to salvage something from the great Dance of Death, to create something that will outlast our lifetime.

-Herman Hesse

That’s all for today folks. Are there any fans of this book out there? I’m still processing it, and would love to hear other thoughts regarding its themes.

Have a great weekend everybody!

The Waiting Game #worstgameever

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Get outta here. Just happen already. Let’s DO this.

Do you ever struggle with patience? I do. For many, patience is a virtue. For me, it just virtually sucks. I guess I’ve just never been very good at it.

A focus of mine, as a blogger, is to turn negative issues into positive.

I hope to leave my readers inspired and give them something tangible for their lives.

Spoiler alert: there is no lesson here, I’m just complaining. Leave while you can.

The Waiting Room of Life

Last September, I sent transfer applications to five universities all over the country. The schools span from Hawaii to New York. I thought, why not? With my wife, it’s our chance to roam.

The applications were finished. In the words I wrote, I staked my future. As an artist it was my heaviest project yet. It was the best epic I could muster.

In the end, these forms held my linguistic DNA. I put everything into them—everything but the impatient part, I guess. That was left with me to suffer, to yearn.

Narcissus & Goldmund 

I’ve been reading Hermann Hesse lately, specifically the novel Narcissus and Goldmund. Last night, I came upon a passage I quite liked—a discussion between two artists.

Be patient! I’m well aware of what it is like to have completed a piece of work that was of great personal significance. I know that empty feeling. It will pass, believe me.

This soothed my soul. I’m not exactly sure why, I submitted college applications over six months ago. My problem is patience, not art. But still, as an artist, I never confronted the emptiness I was left with after submitting these papers.

Yet another reason to hate the waiting game.

I’d appreciate any good stories or tales of impatience. Can you relate? Help me out here!

 [photo cred: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8398214@N05/3214687264/]