Review of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha


July 17, 2015

Din Merican at his UC OfficeNote: I  read Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha a few years ago and re-read it last week. It is a fascinating philosophical novel of a young Brahmin who sought enlightenment. I was attracted by this statement which was attributed to Siddhartha.  It reads :Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One has to find it, be fortified by it, and do wonders through it — Din Merican

Review of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha

by Abhay Joshi of Pune

http://punejournalofphilosophy.com/?p=123

Hesse's SiddharthaA beautiful philosophical novel by a Nobel Prize winner. It’s a story of a young Indian Brahmin’s pursuit of enlightenment. The setting is the time period of Gautama Buddha. The story is rich with philosophy, but the language is so lyrical and the narration so vivid that it is difficult to separate the poetry and the deep philosophy. One flows with the story as if flowing with a peaceful river. The author seems to conclude that no amount of second-hand knowledge and learning can give you the real sense of peace or happiness unless it is enlivened by real first-hand experience.

Siddhartha, a Brahmin boy, is brought up in a devout and learned family, but he is restless and full of doubt about the routine of sacrifice, chanting, and meditation. So he leaves home and spends time with the ascetics who believe in hard renunciation and numbing of all bodily senses. But this route does not bring the salvation Siddhartha seeks. So, he goes and meets with Gautama Buddha to hear his teachings. He realizes that what he is seeking is the state Buddha has achieved for himself, but his teaching does not satisfy him. So, he decides to live an ordinary earthly life and try to discover his true “self”. A long time passes in the world of birds and flowers, sensuous pleasures and pains, and money and vices.

Initially, Siddhartha participates in ordinary people’s activities as if they were just games, and views ordinary people as children and laughs at their childish intensity in their material obsessions. He is able at will to return to the inward mental sanctuary of Siddhartha the ascetic and not be bothered by anything for too long. But sure enough he soon gets drawn into the whirlpool of Sansara and all but forgets his real pursuit. Eventually though, a bad dream awakens him and he returns to the river of his childhood and youth utterly shaken and bewildered.

He is saved from suicidal thoughts, and then he becomes the assistant of a wise old ferryman who has learnt the art of listening to the river and learning life’s secrets. Here, finally, Siddhartha achieves peace (although there is a brief period of torment when he experiences what it is to be a father).

He realizes that life is like a river – timeless, present everywhere at the same time, with no past and present, and when one conquers the unreality of time, one is happy and at peace. He realizes that the wisdom is in accepting things as they are.

The story is presented in a poetic and rhythmic language. A few examples:

Dreams and restless thoughts came flowing to him from the river, from the twinkling stars at night, from the sun’s melting rays.

His worthy father and … the wise Brahmins had already poured … their knowledge into his waiting vessel; and the vessel was not full, his intellect was not satisfied, his soul was not at peace, his heart was not still.

The Buddha went quietly on his way, … his face and his step … spoke of completeness, sought nothing, imitated nothing, reflected a continual quiet, an unfading light, an invulnerable peace.

Slowly, like moisture entering the dying tree trunk, slowly filling and rotting it, so did the world and inertia creep into Siddhartha’s soul; it slowly filled his soul, made it heavy, made it tired, sent it to sleep.

He looked lovingly into the flowing water, into the transparent green, into the crystal lines of its wonderful design. He saw bright pearls rise from the depths, bubbles swimming on the mirror, sky-blue reflected in them.

As time passed and the boy remained unfriendly and sulky, when he proved arrogant and defiant, when he would do no work, when he showed no respect to the old people and robbed Vasudeva’s fruit trees, Siddhartha began to realize that no happiness and peace had come to him with his son, only sorrow and trouble.

And here are some of the philosophical gems:

One can beg, buy, be presented with and find love in the streets, but it can never be stolen.

Gradually his face assumed the expressions which are so often found among rich people – the expressions of discontent, of sickliness, of displeasure, of idleness, of lovelessness.

When someone is seeking, he is unable to find anything, unable to absorb anything, because he has a goal, he is obsessed with his goal.

Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One has to find it, be fortified by it, and do wonders through it.

There shone in Siddhartha’s face the serenity of knowledge, of one who is no longer confronted with conflict of desires, who is in harmony with the stream of events, with the stream of life, full of sympathy and compassion, surrendering himself to the stream, belonging to the unity of all things.

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. Through my body and soul … I learned 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.

PJOP: What can we, as ordinary men and women of the material world, take away from Siddhartha?

As a man of the real world, perfectly stuck in its vagaries and uncertainties, I found the section of the book that dwells on Siddhartha’s own participation in Sansara very helpful. He views every transaction as a game played by little children. He is not emotionally invested in the outcome of these games. He gambles with abandon – with amounts that astonish his more earthly mates. He treats his business partners – whether they are customers or vendors – as humans, and not as means of profit-making. He is as happy to win one big deal, as to lose another. There is a little episode narrated in the book of Siddhartha going to a distant marketplace ostentatiously to make money, but returns with empty hands. But, he had great fun, he says, with all those wonderful villagers feasting him, dancing with him, and what not. His logic is that these wonderful people would certainly help him make money in the future.

This detachment of Siddhartha from the fruits of his deeds is not a new idea – it’s one of the central tenets described in Gita. But, through the real-life examples the book provides it appeals even more and appears to be something that is not impossible to practice.

Siddhartha’s encounter with Gautama, the enlightened, is a must-read for those of us who I think mistakenly look for readymade recipes for everything. Listening to the great Gautama, whose fame is far and wide in alleviating the spiritual pain of millions, it is astonishing that Siddhartha comes away as a skeptic of Gautama’s cookbook for eternal happiness. Of course, it is not a comment specifically on Gautama’s ideas. Rather it is the realization that dawns on Siddhartha that he was not going to benefit from any doctrine, not even one as great and effective as Gautama’s. The author has timed this realization, wonderfully I think, during the encounter with Gautama, since the counterbalance to this sad realization is Siddhartha’s joy for finally getting to observe someone in flesh and blood who epitomized enlightenment. He is endlessly happy that he now knew what he was aspiring for all along. He wanted to be like Gautama – one whose limbs exhibited the perfect balance, one who walked in perfect peace, and one whose eyes emitted perfect happiness.

Hermann Hesse

Finally, this book is a feast for the literary aesthete. It is written in a lyrical fashion, and the story flows beautifully like the smoothly rolling river which is the central philosophical metaphor used towards the end of the book. It is interesting that many philosophical books have been written using the lyrical format. Gita is a great example, and so is the Marathi commentary on Gita by Sant Dnyaneshwar. Also Shankaracharya (aka Sankara) wrote couplets whenever he had spiritual inspirations. Looking at this philosopher-poet duality, it may be safe to conclude that philosophy is not the dry subject that many call it!

I think “Siddhartha” is really a journey of a seeker, and the most significant takeaway from this book is probably that there is no “one” path; everyone must undertake a similar journey of discovery of the ultimate truth. Siddhartha’s interaction with Gautama, the enlightened, beautifully portrays this message. Siddhartha is impressed with Gautama himself – by his serenity and his whole persona – and knows instantly that that is the state he wants to achieve himself. At the same time, Siddhartha has the intelligence to realize that Gautama’s teaching may not be the path leading to that state, and he, Siddhartha, must himself continue his quest. But, at least now he knows what he had been looking for all along. He now has a clear-cut goal personified in front of him in the shape of Gautama.

Siddhartha’s companion and friend, Govinda, travels with Siddhartha almost all throughout the journey, until they meet Gautama. At that point, Govinda decides for himself that he had reached his destination; he had found a home for his soul – the Sangha of Gautama’s disciples. And, so, Govinda separates from his lifelong friend and allows him to continue his journey.

Great works like the Bhagavad Geeta are clearly the result of accumulation of experiences of thousands of seekers – rishis and yogis – who explored different ways to enlightenment. Gita is a tome of this accumulated knowledge. Krishna, while answering Arjuna’s questions, suggests and expounds so many different means of reaching Him. And he informs Arjuna that there is no “recommended” or “preferred” way; one should follow a path that suits his/her temperament and liking.

It does not appear to me that there is any conflict between ‘Siddhartha’ and ‘Gita’ so far as this specific “truth” is concerned. Gita also believes in the timelessness of life, the unity of things, and that life flows endlessly like a river.

PJOP: What is the extent to which Siddhartha follows a typical path in his pursuit of self-knowledge. I mean he is the student, the employee, the family man, the ascetic as he progresses through life—is this supposed to be a typical path?

One of the fascinating aspects of Siddhartha’s story is that he does not follow the typical path an average person goes through in the pursuit of spiritual peace. The average person usually starts out in the material world and goes through a prolonged Sansara (family life). (S)He may then realize the need for spiritual study and enlightenment for him/her-self. At that point, (s)he has a variety of paths available to choose from, and so forth.

Siddhartha chalks out a different sequence in his life. He is brought up in a devout and learned family, which indulges in the routine of sacrifice, chanting, and meditation. Dissatisfied with this lifestyle, he leaves home and spends time with the forest ascetics who believe in hard renunciation and numbing of all bodily senses. But this route also does not bring the salvation Siddhartha seeks. So, he goes and meets up with Gautama Buddha to hear his teachings. He realizes then that what he is seeking is the state Buddha has achieved for himself, but his teaching does not satisfy him. So, he decides to live an ordinary earthly life and try to discover his true “self”.

Thus, Siddhartha enters the stage of “Sansara” much later in life – after spending considerable amount of time in spiritual pursuits. In fact, he decides to experience Sansara only to try it out as another means of finding the ultimate truth, and not as an inevitable step in life like other ordinary people. Therefore, his responses to the worldly events are also very unlike the ordinary people’s. This part of “Siddhartha” is one of the most fascinating sections to read.

Only after spending an extended period of time in Sansara, and after realizing that it was all like a long bad dream, he awakens from it and returns to the river of his childhood and youth utterly shaken and bewildered. There he continues his pursuit of the ultimate truth.

Note: You can contact Abhay Joshi at abjoshi@yahoo.com.

22 thoughts on “Review of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha

  1. > childhood and youth utterly shaken and bewildered. There he continues his pursuit of the ultimate truth.

    So much our nation needs to continue doing so.

    I am in my early 40s. I have spent my earlier part of my life feeling defeated by discovering histories hidden (aka May 13, NEP, etc) from him through books in foreign libraries. I have then spent recent decade helping the very little that I could to forge dreams with younger peers. Yet, recent events again has defeated so many of us. We seemed to be back to square one with all the recent happenings.

    Yes, shaken and bewildered we are. But, stop dreaming we would not, and could not.

    Thank you for so much of the sharing, Din!

  2. Since the subject takes us to a high aesthetic level , may I participate by taking excerpts from the book ‘ Veils And Keys ‘ written by John Herlihy ( Yahya Ahmed ) explaining divine beneficence : @ page 110 ….. ” evidenced by the words of God’s promise in Quranic scripture when He says : Call on Me , I will answer you (40 : 60 )
    Yahya Ahmed continues on this devotion , worship and praise ( which is ) at its most poignant moment of sacred feeling and the expression of human spirituality,

    ” Through the body, mind and heart , the soul can spread its wings and take flight to its original abode in the Divine Presence ….”

    The language of this particular Article is too abstruse , hence the Prophet say : All tongues are stopped from speaking : ‘ Through knowledge man can be ; through action man may become ; through virtue man is ‘

    Too abstruse here ( this article ) , BUT yes, the Prophet stressed :

    ” Whoever saw the form of the wave spoke of its secret , yet whoever saw the ocean was dumfounded ” –

    This is a sublime caution uttered by the 18th century Chinese philosopher , Tsao Hseuh – Chin , :

    ” When the unreal is taken for the real, then real becomes the unreal “, such the human mind can be deluded…..

    ( it will be good to know what Loa Tzu remarked in his Taoism , the way….in addition as well )

  3. Actually I am repeating what was said before by Lao Tzu in his teachings of the Tao ( the way ) :

    ” Those who claim to know The Toa , they do not know what it is. For those who know they CANNOT say it ” (emphasis added )

  4. Just one more @ page 273 :

    ” For such ( the faithful ) He has written faith in their hearts and strengthened them with a spirit from Himself ” ( 58 : 22 ) – Yahya Ahmed

    Recollect what Kahlil Gibran ‘ s Aphorism says :

    ‘ Those whom Love has not chosen as his followers , will not hear when Love calls ….. “

  5. A very interesting topic, Din.
    Is wisdom linked in anyway to enlightenment, besides the superficialities of being able to elucidate deep insights into the nature of ‘Being’? Or is it a side effect?

    The path taken by ‘Siddharta’ reminds me of a itinerant ‘Monk’ who was a successful engineer-entrepreneur, from OZ who landed on our shores many years ago, dressed in saffron robes and had all his worldly possessions in a small bag. He was discontented with wealth and possessions after a lifetime (he was in his early 60s’) of a very successful career. He gave it all up to contemplate the nature of ‘Self’ and to seek ‘Enlightenment’. So he up and left the world he so carefully nurtured and had craved for.

    During my conversations with him, his ‘wisdom’ was enriching, but i felt somehow his experiences’ would fall short of his goal. It was strange, if not paradoxical, in the sense that a Western ‘Gaiw-Lo’ was steeped in an Eastern religious tradition, while a sepet entity such as i was nudging him about very western notions of ‘Nihilism’ and ‘Dualism’.

    Therefore, it’s best that we first define ‘Enlightenment’ – besides the ‘Enlightenment’ that lead to the Age of Reason, in Western Civilization. Any takers?.

  6. PS

    No one whether religionist, philosopher, saints or sages, or even scientists can ever prove or DISPROVE about the existence/non-existence of the spirit ( soul ) ! !

    ( Quranic 17 : 85 ) ‘ They ask thee concerning the Spirit : ( tell them ) The spirit is from the Command of your Lord “

  7. I enjoyed reading this review . I found this review quite enlightening . Now i have to get the book.

    If this review is so enlightening , i am sure the book will be much better . And i am sure it will be even better then all this crap we read that is attributed to imbeciles like Mahathir, Najib , Rosmah and all these other imbeciles we have as ministers , politicians , hangers on and scumbags .

  8. CLF,

    This is the answer I found in response to your comment:

    Quote: Enlightenment (or brightening) broadly means the acquisition of new wisdom or understanding, enabling clarity of perception. However, the English word covers two concepts which can be quite distinct: religious or spiritual enlightenment (German: Erleuchtung) and secular or intellectual enlightenment (German: Aufklärung). This can cause confusion, since those who claim intellectual enlightenment often reject spiritual concepts altogether.

    In religious use, enlightenment is most closely associated with South and East Asian religious experience, being used to translate words such as (in Buddhism) Bodhi or satori, or (in Hinduism) moksha. The concept does also have parallels in the Abrahamic religions (in the Kabbalah tradition in Judaism, in Christian mysticism, and in the Sufi tradition of Islam).

    Wisdom is the ability, developed through experience, insight and reflection, to discern truth and exercise good judgment. Wisdom is sometimes conceptualized as an especially well developed form of common sense. According to the renowned Neuropsychologist and Neurobiologist Roger Wolcott Sperry though, Wisdom/Intuition is a right-brain activity while Factual and Mathematical analysis is a left-brain activity.

    Most psychologists regard wisdom as distinct from the cognitive abilities measured by standardized intelligence tests. Wisdom is often considered to be a trait that can be developed by experience, but not taught. When applied to practical matters, the term wisdom is synonymous with prudence. Some see wisdom as a quality that even a child, otherwise immature, may possess independent of experience or complete knowledge.The status of wisdom or prudence as a virtue is recognized in cultural, philosophical and religious sources. Some define wisdom in a utilitarian sense, as foreseeing consequences and acting to maximize the long-term common good.

    As such, in general, wisdom is looked at its ideals and principles that govern all actions and decisions. Applications of personal wisdom include one’s ethical and social guidelines in life that determines one’s unique personality, the particular nature of short and long-term goal(s) pursued in life (spiritual or materialistic for example), perspective on life, social attitudes, etc. (taken from Wikipedia for better understanding).–Unquote.

    During my stay in Phnom Penh (1992-1997) I had the opportunity to be one of the speakers at a peace forum at the Chaktomuk Theatre in some time in March, 1995 sitting beside Maha Ghosananda (full title Samdech Preah Maha Ghosananda – សម្ដចព្រះមហាឃោសានន្ទ) (1929 – March 12, 2007), a highly revered Cambodian Buddhist monk in the Theravada tradition, who served as the Patriarch (Sangharaja) of Cambodian Buddhism during the Khmer Rouge period and post-communist transition period of Cambodian history. His Pali monastic name, ‘Maha Ghosananda’, means “great joyful proclaimer” He was well known in Cambodia for his annual peace marches.

    We chatted briefly about Islam and Buddhism. I was awed by his knowledge of the Quran and Prophet Mohamed, Christianity and Hinduism. He told me in his gentle and soft spoken English that all these great religions and Buddhism taught us to ignore the EGO which he said was the main obstacle to peace and understanding among nations. I can think of George W. Bush and Tony Blair as recent examples.

    Moderation (The Golden Mean) was the path we should pursue so that we could be at peace with ourselves and others. I have yet to meet another man of faith who was calm and compassionate and devoid of any pretenses. Wisdom was a man’s journey in search of that truth he said to me. Like Hesse, Maha Ghosananda felt that the path was each person’s quest. in other words, “knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One has to find it, be fortified by it, and do wonders through it.” (attributed to Siddhartha).

    My encounters with learned monks and others of various faiths as I waded through the maze of life’s journey make me reject the views on ulamas like Harussani, Harun Din, Abdul Hadi Awang and others. The late Nik Aziz was probably the only religio-politikus who could come close to the thoughts of the late Sangharaja of Cambodian Buddhism.

    Nobody can tell me how I should practice my religion. I do not need an intermediary between my God and I. I also do not make my living selling my religion as a snake oil salesman would. I am sure Pak Kassim Ahmad has a view on this.–Din Merican

  9. Thanks Din, for the clarification.
    So we are speaking of spiritual enlightenment, which many seek and will not find because of the Duality, so prevalent in our psyche.

    A true seeker will first have to forget about convergence and mere methodology. To seek does not mean the journey or it’s experience – but the destination – that is Love, Grace and Truth.

    There is no such thing as ‘getting to heaven’. Heaven is nowhere. It is only knowing that you are already there. Yet we leave heaven in order to get to heaven. And go straight to Hell. Why?

    Enlightenment is understanding that there is nowhere to go, nothing to do, and nobody you have to be. It is the sudden realization, that you are NowHere.

    When you are present unto yourself, either by deep introspection or through training (by whatever practices or doctrines you believe in) you become an observer of your mind, perceptions and its sequelae. That becomes the Hard Problem of Consciousness. You are then God. Or as Christians like me say, achieved kenosis/theosis. My “Dark Night of the Soul” appeared when i was contemplating Quantum Reality. Good Grief! And like a String, it vanished, yet made me seek my own Faith (Entrusted Belief System) to catch glimpses of it.

    Yes, it is temporary – that sensation of Being. Forget about Yoga and other uncomfortable postures. The Temporoparietal junction, which mediates the Self, gets bombarded with all sorts of memories, experiences, perceptions and sensations. But , sometimes we find that quiet solitude within.

    A good summation of the problems of remaining Awake/Enlightened:

  10. “This can cause confusion, since those who claim intellectual enlightenment often reject spiritual concepts altogether.”

    Any claims to enlightenment either intellectual or spiritual should be viewed with extreme scepticism. Discussions on Enlightenment always seems to revolve around binary opposites when it should really be viewed as a continuum.

    Ultimately enlightenment is about transcending ideas, the most human and fallible of constructs.

  11. “Discussions on Enlightenment always seems to revolve around binary opposites when it should really be viewed as a continuum.”

    Nope. “Enlightenment” in the spiritual sense, transcends Dualism or Binaries. It cannot be compared with anything else. It is a divergent or altered form of consciousness or Awareness, where ‘knowing’ takes on a different form. Some call it ‘cosmic awareness’ (especially the New Age kooks, who dabble in hallucinogenics) or hyper-religiosity. Some researchers like Dr. Beauregard (University of Montreal) using fMRI are stymied when it came to interpreting results on Carmelite nuns in deep prayer.

    Some have maintained that the Human Brain is a Quantum computer – without binary algorithms, but ternary. Whether that is true is debatable, but modern quantum computers are working on alogs that run on 0, 1 and 0 or 1..

    Melding the Western perspectives with Eastern esotericism is not insurmountable, as Fr Anthony de Mello (SJ), the anathematized Jesuit Psychologist has revealed. Here’s a short segment from youtube, which i put up years ago on Din’s:

  12. From my personal experience, I felt greatly ‘ enlightened ‘ by what this great Spiritualist , the Dalai Llama , spoke when a Westerner asked him about ” the meaning of life ? ” – he said :

    ” The meaning of life is the Embodiment of all things Transcendent ” –

    But what a paradox, I thought : How can a tiny little Man embody all things Transcendent . And all things Transcendent , as my little brain understands it , is the Attribute of Manifestations of the Creator which is IDENTIFIED with our known Material Universe , so incomprehensible and almost as large as ‘ Eternity ‘ , so how to embody the Transcendent ? –

    Well friends, you figure it out , and you be the judge of this Awesome little Man , who exudes Confidence that it is possible ?

  13. “Nope. “Enlightenment” in the spiritual sense…”

    Which is why I was careful in disassociating from specifics (spiritual) less I fall into the trap which I was attempting to highlight.

    “Other” types of consciousness in the nomenclature of spiritualist merely demonstrates how little we know of how the brain functions as opposed to evidence that there is a separate distinguishable “reality ”

    Dr Beauregard’s work is an example of this (which truth be told, I’m pretty obsessive about these types of research):

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1527563/Nuns-prove-God-is-not-figment-of-the-mind.html

    “The main goal of the study was to identify the neural correlates of a mystical experience,”

    “In other words, mystical experiences are mediated by several brain regions and systems normally implicated in functions such as self-consciousness, emotion and body representation.

    In the past, some researchers went as far as to suggest the possibility of a specific brain region designed for communication with God. This latest research discredits such theories.”

    “Melding the Western perspectives with Eastern esotericism is not insurmountable…”

    And part of the problem in my opinion. I don’t think these perspectives are necessarily estranged.

  14. “….as opposed to evidence that there is a separate distinguishable “reality ”

    This should be, “as opposed to evidence that there is a separate distinguishable phenomenon. “

  15. Good to know that there’s folk like you as interested as i am, Conrad
    The UK Telegraph’s article mentioned De Mike Persinger’s experiments with Transcranial Electric Stimulation (TMS) – the so called God’s Helmet, where he sent 3 min magnetic pulses into the temporal lobe. As reported in Scientific American:
    “During the 3 minute bursts of stimulation, the affected subjects translated this perception of the divine into their own cultural and religious language – terming it God, Buddha, a benevolent presence, or the wonder of the Universe.”
    Since this effect is reproducible on demand, it indicates that the brain is hardwired in the some way to respond to religious feelings.

    In which case, i wonder what emotive response, will those Fundamentalists and Hard Core Fundamentalists of all stripes, experience? Absolute petrification of a Vengeful God or Sheer Orgasm..? Haha.

    The on-going research, also reveals the presence of a God gene (Dean Hamer, 2005) – VMAT2, which predisposes humans to mystical or spiritual experiences. That also opened up a can of worms, but Hamer responded that it was not about the existence of God but whether God’s genes existed..

  16. Abnizar, do you remember our conversations about the reality of the universe – and that i mentioned that only information, energy and perhaps observer (humans and other sentient beings) are required?

    Wigner’s concept of the collapse of wave particle duality and Searle’s concept of Information Theory etc seem to point to the presence of Universal Consciousness as the determinant for our reality. That Consciousness is the Transcendence that is within and without of us. So everyone of us can recognize a bit of the Supernatural, God or the Monad. How we react to that is in line with our traditions, culture, life experiences, education and intellect (individuation).

    John Wesley (Anglican preacher who founded Methodism), intuitively called it Prevenient Grace in the 17th century, but he was hammered black and blue by the Calvinists who eschewed Freewill – as do many Muslims. But i think the Shias and Sufis accept it. That is another story, my friend.

  17. “Since this effect is reproducible on demand, it indicates that the brain is hardwired in the some way to respond to religious feelings.”

    I find this stuff fascinating.

    Dawkin’s (as an atheist , he is my high priest after all) dislikes the term “God gene” and frames it as a predisposition to certain things – authority, death, or running into the arms of a parental figure etc which culminates into some kind of religious feelings.

    I find this thinking conveniently reductionist.

    Personally I am not comfortable with the term “God” gene because I think it simplifies matters and narrows the discourse but more importantly the enquiry.

    I think there is evidence that as human beings we are hardwired/ predisposed to metaphysical possibilities – I may be articulating this wrong…

    Relying on rationalism alone is akin to being the one eyed king in the land of the blind. , but this gene whatever it means , is evidence that the phantom limb of religious experience or whatever you choose to call it in humanity, is not really an illusionary or psychological condition.

    I choose to interpret this as we are predisposed to seek out something more, hence Enlightenment is a journey with no end.

    Forgive my rambling. As I said fascinating stuff.

  18. Dear CLF , let me state in a matter of factly saying things here ( am only s pseudo scientist ) , that I can only comprehend up to the point of the workings of the ‘magical ‘ Energy ( matter & non matter at the same time ) – magical because no scientists can explain its behavior pattern, winking in and out of our physical Universe in split seconds, it appears , disappears & reappears , for what ? But yes , ‘ information ‘ imbedded in each photon of energy ( which, to me , constitute ” Intelligence ” , right down the quantum level of the atomic and sub-atomic particles) , are they not the primordial ‘ building-blocks ‘ of our manifested or physical universe ? ) – it has ‘ intelligence ‘ , but when it disappears to & fro into the Ineffable Reality no scientists know what it does there, but here it functions intelligently as information embedded into it.

    Only up to that for me, but I must say that I am skeptical, nay I would not accept , if what present day Scientist are doing all kinds of research into the human brains with all sorts of Experiment , although unlike Energy which ‘ returns ‘ to the Ineffable Reality , WE AS HUMANS ARE STUCK IN THIS LEVEL OF EPHEMERAL REALITY – unable to ‘cross ‘ the barrier or the Chasm between the ephemeral to Ineffable Reality.

    So, in the Scientific research being undertaken to try and explain the deepest-most ‘ secrets ‘ of the human brain , by which I see how human or scientific language fails, I would not accept if (IF) what the Scientists are undertaking to try and ‘Explain ‘ everything in human or scientific language, I will never accept it, because my suspicion is Science is attempting to OUT-DO the concept of ” God ” ……

    Well, this one then. Can Science explain, what the Witnesses beheld when they ‘ witnessed ‘ the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ (pbh ) on the Mount, to literally ‘see’ the Numinous body of Christ ( it wasn’t Enlightenment, but Illumination ? Whose power ? – not of his own will, but a Miracle from above . )

    In the Quran, same experience of Prophet Moses on ‘Bukit Tursina ‘ , of experiencing Illumination. To Prophet Muhammad too, on the mount….before passing off….. (pbh on all of them)

    No, I would not accept if I feel the wayward motive of Scientific research being currently undertaken to ‘ explain ‘ and out-wit the Creator of our vast and Limitless Universe….

  19. Dawkins, Conrad?

    This is what my guru said about him. Watch it to the end, cuz there’s something about Bolehland:

  20. Abnizar, there is no problem with being a scientist, loving science and a being religious. But i can’t speak for those not of my faith.
    The key word in Information is Consciousness – not Intellect.
    I tend towards a ternary aspect of how we perceive the Universe and Matter, as i mentioned in the first line. Without the ‘Observer’ there is no Universe, much less God.

  21. Eh, with all due respect to Ravi Zacharias (predictably I’m more familiar with the articulations of C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton) claiming that Dawkins is lucky that Christianity’s civilizing process shields him from repercussions as opposed to the fascist imperatives of countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, is not really the best argument to make merely because that very civilizing process also ensures that anybody else who dissents against whatever Christian doctrines is shielded from repercussions.

    Furthermore, Christian bashing as a left leaning sport has been overshadowed by the polemics of atheist like Sam Harris and Hirsi Ali, who mock Islam and attack the left for finding Christianity an easy target – never mind the fact that the Christian Right now dominates conservative politics in the Western world.

    But yeah, Dawkins is a wanker. Even Hitchens (who was a bit of a dick himself) cringed at some of the things his fellow Horsemen said, the most egregious was calling people who believed in God, “dims”.

  22. Agreed CLF – Science not only good, but beneficial to Man in his earthly existence !

    Consciousness , two parts – one , Energy is programed and inclined towards the Creator, its the natural proclivity of Man in his primordial self.
    Two, Energy’s intelligence, again programed to do its function in each of its atom : an apple tree produces only apples, it can’t produce oranges !

    In Man, trillions of energy , in the brain, in the arteries & veins, in the stomach, hands and legs, everywhere. Example, the Heart. From inside the womb to its birth, all life long, it NEVER stops , the heart beat goes on and on…..pumping blood, carrying oxygen in its ‘cells ‘ , Non-stop even when man sleeps, heart beat never stops UNTIL
    ‘death ‘ – Isn’t that a Miracle in creation ?

    So, all things are ‘ programmed ‘ , that part of Consciousness is ” intelligence ” – the other, constantly Conscious of the Maker – the Quranic word is ‘ SHUHUD ‘ , silently in worship in recognition thereof….

    Blessed is the creature called ‘ man ‘ …..a miracle of Creation ( Tawhid )…..

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