Reading clever, chimp books

“Om is the bow, the arrow is the soul
Brahmin is the arrow's goal
At which one aims unflinchingly.”

“Siddhartha had one single goal  to become empty, to become empty of thirst, desire, dreams, pleasure and sorrow  to let the Self die. No longer to be Self, to experience the peace of an emptied heart. When all the Self was conquered and dead, when all passions and desires were silent, then the last must awaken, the innermost of Being that is no longer Self the great secret!”

Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse is one of those New Age books filled with cleverly-worded mysterious-sounding statements. “Om is the bow” sounds chim or chimp, meaning profound, pretentious and fakey, like a chimp deep in thoughts, according to cynical Hokkien Singaporeans.

As any widely-read but mindless person will tell you, om is supposed to be a sacred sound related to God or Brahma when he was creating the world. But it’s more likely the sound he mades when he burps or farts (fang-pi) after a heavy sacrificial meal presented by devotees.

Herman Hesse is one of a handful of authors admired in the West, with slim volumes of poetic-sounding writings about divine love and other pretentious bullshit. Another equally famous bloke is Khalil Gibran who wrote The Prophet, using similar wordcraft.

When we first read Hesse or Gibran, we nodded in agreement and thought how wise the author was, even though another part of our mind was asking, What the fuck does he means by “Om is the bow, the arrow is the soul”?

By the way, Hesse confuses brahmin with Brahma. A brahmin is the man who wanders around barefooted and semi-naked in India, looking for Brahma the god who thinks that he is no.1 because no one else seems to have existed before him.

After you have read such books, what happens? Nothing!

You continue living and behaving as stupidly as before. Your life, conduct and attitudes towards your parents, fellow neighbours, friends, enemies and relatives are unchanged, untransformed. Only your conversation has taken a turn for the worse as you add Hesse's jargon to your speech repertoire.

In the book, Siddartha, Hesse’s main character, pretends to find something useful in Buddha's teaching but, because Hesse himself has no spiritual or mental understanding, he made his character reject Buddha and go on searching for whatever he was searching.

A book’s character is only as smart as its author. So Siddartha is no different from the modern self-indulgent Westerner roaming the world, with plenty of cash, leisure and angst, in search of gurus mouthing Hesse-like formulas and pious statements.

Life is short and we have no time for crap, no matter how om they sound. As the late Mao Zedong used to say, it's all fang-pi (fart).

Stick to the writings, thoughts and teachings of honest, authentic and compassionate teachers, who give you only straight answers, without om, without craft, and without monetary agenda.

Buddha's teaching, for example, offers a practical, straightforward and step-by-step rigorous method to achieve enlightenment and ultimate liberation from suffering. It has no mystery, no smart-ass expressions. In fact, in all his discourses, Buddha uses such plain language he often sounds tedious to the Hollywood-excitable minds. However, for millions of individuals the world over who have followed Buddha's instructions and guidance, many have achieved insight into reality, eliminated craving and experienced pure joy.

The essence of Buddha’s teaching is in the Dhammapada and the various Sutras.

Other similarly beneficial writings that are relevant and useful in daily living include the Meditations of Marcus Aerulieus Caesar, the Analects of Confucius, and the instructions of Epictectus. They are all in plain words but they sing to the heart with their uncommon insight, genuine sentiments and vivid expressions.

For modern writing, read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.

Contents

Chimp thinking