One Must Judge for Himself

Hermann_Hesse_Montagnlia_early_1950s

If one wants to achieve something essential for his life and understand the reason of his existence on this earth, he must judge for himself and must be true himself ultimately. One does not need someone else to lead him to his destiny, since he must become his own leader and must lead himself to his destiny. As soon as you follow someone else and start imitating someone else, you cease to be true yourself; you reject yourself. The most essential thing for one to archive is: become true himself unconditionally. Here is the passage from Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse:

The Buddha’s eyes were lowered; his unfathomable face expressed complete equanimity.

“I hope you are not mistaken in your reasoning,” said the Illustrious One slowly. “May you reach your goal! But tell me, have you seen my gathering of holy men, my many brothers who have sworn allegiance to the teaching? Do you think, O Samana from afar, that it would be better for all these to relinquish the teachings and to return to the life of the world and desire?”

“That thought never occurred to me,” cried Siddhartha. “May they all follow the teachings! May they reach their goal! It is not for me to judge another life. I must judge for myself. I must choose and reject. We Samanas seek release from the Self, O Illustrious One. If I were one of your followers, I fear that it would only be on the surface, that I would deceive myself that I was at peace and had attained salvation, while in truth the Self would continue to live and grow, for it would have been transformed into your teachings, into my allegiance and love for you and for the community of the monks.”

Half smiling, with imperturbable brightness and friendliness, the Buddha looked steadily at the stranger and dismissed him with a hardly visible gesture.

“You are clever, O Samana,” said the Illustrious One, “you know how to speak cleverly, my friend. Be on your guard against too much cleverness.”

The Buddha walked away and his look and half smile remained imprinted on Siddhartha’s memory forever.

I have never seen a man look and smile, sit and walk like that, he thought. I, also, would like to look and smile, sit and walk like that, so free, so worthy, so restrained, so candid, so childlike and mysterious. A man only looks and walks like that when he has conquered his Self. I also will conquer my Self.

I have seen one man, one man only, thought Siddhartha, before whom I must lower my eyes. I will never lower my eyes before any other man. No other teachings will attract me, since this man’s teachings have not done so.

The Buddha has robbed me, thought Siddhartha. He has robbed me, yet he has given me something of greater value. He has robbed me of my friend, who believed in me and now believes in him; he was my shadow and is now Gotama’s shadow. But he has given to me Siddhartha, myself.

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