The Glass Bead Game
· You recall the ancient Hindus – our teacher in Waldzell once spoke so beautifully about them. A people of suffering, of brooding, of penance and asceticism; but the great ultimate achievements of their thought were bright and cheerful; the figures in their profound, enigmatic mythologies are cheerful. The world these myths represent begins divinely, blissfully, radiantly, with a springtime loveliness: the golden age. Then it sickens and degenerates more and more; it grows coarse and subsides into misery; and at the end of four ages, each lower than the others, it is ripe for annihilation. Therefore it is trampled underfoot by a laughing, dancing Siva – but it does not end with that. It begins anew with the smile of dreaming Vishnu whose hands playfully fashion a young, new, beautiful, shining world. It is wonderful – how these Indians, with an insight and capacity for suffering scarcely equaled by any other people, looked with horror and shame upon the cruel game of world history, the eternally revolving wheel of avidity and suffering; they saw and understood the fragility of created being, the avidity and diabolism of man, and at the same time his deep yearning for purity and harmony; and they devised these glorious parables for the beauty and tragedy of the creation: mighty Siva who dances the completed world into ruins, and smiling Vishnu who lies slumbering and playfully makes a new world arise out of his golden dreams of gods.
Tales of Student Life – Friends
· “I’m sorry. I meant no harm by the word. Let’s say self-deceptions. That was true of your philosophical ideas. You were dissatisfied with yourself; you abused and tyrannized your friend, who’s a very nice boy. You experimented with the red cap, then with your studies of Buddhism, and finally with me. But you never really sacrificed yourself. You tried to, but you didn’t succeed. You still love yourself too much. Forgive me for saying all this. You thought you were in great distress, you were prepared to give up everything to find peace. But you were unable to give up yourself, and perhaps you’ll never be able to. You tried to make the greatest sacrifice, because you saw I was happy in doing so. You wanted to go my way, but you didn’t know that it leads to Nirvana. You wanted to enhance and sublimate your own life. I can’t help you do that, because my goal is to stop having a life of my own and to merge with the totality. I’m the opposite of you, I can’t teach you anything. Think of it this way: you’ve gone into a monastery and you’ve been disillusioned.”
· My yearning no longer paints dreamy colors across the veiled distances, my eyes are satisfied with what exists, because they have learned to see. The world has become lovelier than before.
· …-Why does this memory come back?
I know! It’s not Busoni I remember, or Zurich, or Mahler. They are just the usual tricks of memory when it comes to uncomfortable things; then harmless images thrust too easily into the front of the mind. I know now! With us in that restaurant sat a blond girl, shining, her checks glowing, and I never said a word to her. Angel! All I had to do was look at you, and it was suffering, it was all my delight, oh how I loved you for that whole hour! I was eighteen years old again.
Suddenly everything is clear. Beautiful, brilliantly blond, happy woman! I don’t even remember your name. For a whole hour I was in love with you, and today, on the sunny street in this mountain town, I love you again for a whole hour. No matter who has ever loved you, he never loved you more than I do, no man ever granted you more power over himself, unqualified power. But I’m condemned to be untrue. I belong to those windy voices, who don’t love women, who love only love.
· They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.
· Many people say they “love nature,” by which they mean they don’t dislike the charms nature displays before them. They go on outings, delight in the beauty of the earth as they trample meadows and tear off flowers and sprigs, only to discard them or let them wilt at home. That is how they love nature. This love overcomes them on Sundays when the weather is fine and they are moved by the goodness of their hearts. Actually they have no need for such feelings, for isn’t man “the crowning glory of nature”? Yes, of course, the crown!
· What was the meaning of my life? Why had so many joys and sorrows passed over me? Why had I thirsted for the true and the beautiful and why was my thirst still unquenched? Why had I been in love and suffered so much for these women – I whose head was bowed again in shame for an unfulfilled love. And why had God placed the burning need to be loved in my heart when in fact he had destined me to live the life of a recluse whom no one loved?