Jun 27, 2020

Posted by in BUDDHISM IN OTHER LANGUAGES | 26 Comments

BE “MINDFUL” AT THE “SIDDHARTHA” STORY! ( HÃY “TĨNH THỨC” VỀ “CÂU CHUYỆN DÒNG SÔNG”!)

At Café Mr. Bean on Le Duan Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, we had a chance to look back at each other. Mac Tri, a Tantric practitioner, was at his middle age. Dust and wind have left their traces on his gray beard and hair but could not take away his artistic manner. Mac Tri wore a classic white shirt tucked into Jeans, which made him look younger, but still could not conceal the trace of time. A pair of nearsighted glasses halfway down his nose was like teasing the eyesight of a man who had been a painter. Still that witty way of talking but sounded angry with the wrong view and arrogance of some men, as he called, “empty vessels with most noise” in the Buddhist arena.

cau chuyen dong song

Mac Tri voiced his grievance at the viewpoint of “attachment refutation” from a “hero” coming from Da Lat City: “All Buddhist rites are cast-offs.” Hearing this made my hair stand up. That “hero”, who is practicing Vajrayana, is said to read merely several books and cannot sit in lotus posture and has little knowledge about mudras, but he tries to imitate a “Dozgchen yogi” (Ati Yoga Tantra – the ultimate practice in Vajrayana). Suddenly I looked outside of the window. The sky was blue but several grey clouds were slowly rolling in, signaling the upcoming rain in the evening. So does the practitioner, especially those who practice Vajrayana. As they obtain a “virtual value” of a spiritual experience originated from a practice technique, they think it is supreme, then they begin to touch the edge of heathenism. Should the third floor be built on an unstable ground? Likewise, how can a practitioner skip spiritual rites and ceremonies taught by the Buddha 1500 years ago if he has yet proven his wisdom by “wisdom works”, his virtue by practical spiritual activities, his worldly success by personal life, education level, and an ashram with pure energy? That’s the spiritual status quo of some practitioners as Mac Tri said above. I shuddered to think of the consequence this evil and erroneous view might cause.

Mac Tri suddenly told an example of awakening to reason the attainment of enlightenment through a book by Hermann Hesse named “Siddhartha.” He showed agreement with the writer’s praise towards the character Siddhartha against the lack of awakening of Govinda. I disagreed with this viewpoint since what Hesse wrote in the book went against the Buddhist right view. Firstly, I would mention about what is called “awakening” in that book.

The story took place in the ancient India at the time the Buddha was travelling for Dharma propagation. In this story, Siddhartha met the Buddha but he refused to join the Sangha and went to seek the truth by himself. On the contrary, Govinda showed his boundless devotion to the Buddha right at the first sight and asked the Buddha to accept him as his disciple. Twenty years later, Govinda was leading a group of monks when he encountered Siddhartha by the river. Govinda admitted that he had yet got awakening and asked Siddhartha for help. Then Siddhartha asked him to kiss his forehead. At the end of the story, Govinda bowed before Siddhartha as a praise for his (Siddhartha) enlightenment (!).

In order to find the evil and erroneous view in this story, we need to learn about the writer who represents the view. Hermann Hesse is not a Buddhist master, thus his view does not rely on the right foundation of Buddhism. Therefore, the book should not be considered a Buddhist literary work in spite of its conveyance of a spiritual philosophy in the Buddha’s time. Why? According to Buddhist scriptures, before the Buddha’s time, none of the hermits had reached enlightenment. Therefore, Vesudeva (the ferryman) should not be called an enlightened saint; and accordingly, he does not have enough knowledge of liberation to point out the mistake of others. He definitely cannot teach Siddhartha to see his own true nature. It’s not by chance the Buddha taught in the Avatamsaka Sutra (The Flower Adornment Sutra): “My manifestation in this Saha world is to show you the knowledge of liberation.” A saint had already appeared, is it possible for two Buddhas to co-exist at the same time?

Readers have known that Govinda is quite intelligent. After twenty years of living a monastic life and being the one who leads the Sangha to walk for alms food, shall not he get enlightened? Under Buddhist rules, a bhikkhu like Govinda normally is considered a presbyter who got Arhatship (Asekha). Why should he learn Dharma from Siddhartha? On the other hand, a Buddhist presbyter should never bow before a heathen practitioner. This basic rule is known by every Buddhist, let alone Govinda!

About Siddhartha, which practice does he follow? A hermit named Vesudeva taught him to listen to the holy Om in the sound of the water and become one with it. Finally, Siddhartha succeeded in attaining an enlightened state (!). Obviously, this is very illogical and subjective from a Buddhist point of view. This is not the “hearing” through which the Avalokiteshvara and 24 holy saints attained enlightenment, which are described clearly and in details in the Shurangama Sutra. Besides, in this story, the author just describes the “hearing” in a brief and even wrong way as he explains that OM symbolized for the Dharma in the unification with the universe. This seems come from Hinduism perspective, which uses the “OM” sound to merge the small self (being) with the great self (universe).

Let look at the mundane life of Siddhartha who was so indulged in worldly pleasures, which was the main reason that led to his undoing and the consequential suicide in the river – the place where he suddenly awakened! Meanwhile, enlightenment in Buddhism is a gradational process, in which the practitioner, though beholding the nature, still has to practice and live with it in a long period of time. A Buddhist practitioner is required to fulfill ten spiritual activities (bowing, repentance, making offerings, praying, listening to Dharma sermon, expounding Dharma, printing sutras, chanting Buddha’s name, reciting mantra, and meditation) to get enlightenment.  In methodological aspect, the practice of Siddhartha is considered illogical and spiritually undialectical. In the text structure, this is a fiction book and the 9th novel of Hesse, which is written in German – a simple but rhymed language. The book was first published in 1922, after Hesse had spent some time in India in the 1910s. It was published in the U.S. in 1951 and became influential during the 1960s.

He lived in India, but apparently, he is not a Buddhist practitioner, even the practitioner of any religion. The view of H.Hesse, therefore, is non-Buddhist and the “Siddhartha” novel which relates to the Buddha, Sangha, awakening and lack of mindfulness is a derailment from the Buddhist standpoint. The bad thing is that the reader easily sees a bhikkhu lower than a hermit by the river; or he can indulge in worldly pleasure as much as possible to have experiences for later awakening. Being a writer, not a spiritual practitioner, H.Hesse used his pen to make up fictitious characters, and unintentionally (or maybe intentionally) defamed Buddhism by creating a faint image of the Buddha and tarnished the image of the bhikkhu by letting Govinda bow before Siddhartha. If there existed a religion that is of such superiority to others, why didn’t H.Hesse show for the reader?

In the context, we found the word “Vesu” which relates the reader to the Vedas in Hinduism, together with the sound OM as the mergence with the universe. The method of Dharma teaching appears to be secret and far from spiritual reality, which makes us think that we must come to the river to obtain achievements, which refers to a bound of time and space. In the meantime, Buddhism has wonderfully broken all these bounds by its 84,000 practices available for everyone.

Someone named Phung Khanh, Phung Thang said:

“Upon reading the “Siddhartha”, we will find our life worth living and have lots of wonderful colors and scents, which we often forget and lose in our daily life. The “Siddhartha” is the story of every one of us; it is also the long-time image of the world and of the dream full of nice surprises…

The story of “Siddhartha” firstly is a literary work and any analysis concerned with the ideological aspect merely comes, more or less, from the subjectivity labeled by the reader. Hence, the idea that this book tarnishes or highlights Buddhism is considered impertinent.”  

Firstly, this remark, in my thought, is full of clichés and subjective idea, because they cannot impose their wish on the reader. Then I am definitely objected to the book because I am a Buddhist and I cannot accept or praise the book of a heretic or atheistic writer like H.Hesse, which mistakenly wrote about Buddha Dharma. If it is supposed to be a spiritual literary work, it should be clear and precise rather than the impulsive writing in the name of literature. It is like the “Journey to the East” by Baird. T. Spalding, which merely is the record by a crew of British scientists who know nothing about the core of liberation and the foundation of enlightenment. They had mistaken hermits and sorcerers to holy saints through their acts: “He not only could drink all chemical substances, even the strong acid, without being harmed, and he could stop breathing for hours..”. These merely are the concoction of illusions and mysteries, unlike the practicality of Buddhism which I will analyze in details when I have time.

Mac Tri totally agreed with my standpoint. It is clearly that the kalyamitras always praise or deny a thing basing on the teachings in Buddhist sutras while the papamitras are imbued with illusion dream and accidentally disseminate wrong view to others, thus hardly escaping from the circle of CAUSE and EFFECT. The author is just a writer but “does not know thoroughly what need to be known”, “relies on his subjective mind, “has not spiritual level but judge about spiritual matters”, obviously, Hermann Hesse would face the judgement of the causal court. THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE AWAKENING IN THE “SIDDHARTHA” STORY IS THE LACK OF MINDFULNESS OF THOSE WHO ARE THE BUDDHIST.

We said goodbye but both of us felt delighted with a talk full of right view. I will put that “Siddhartha” story aside but keep in my mind the talk with Mac Tri at Café Bean.

Phuoc Thanh Village, July 15, 2015

Master – Director THINLEY-NGUYEN THANH


Vietnamese version: HÃY “TĨNH THỨC” VỀ “CÂU CHUYỆN DÒNG SÔNG”!

  1. Tantra Mashita says:

    Dear compassionate guru,

    Thank you so much for sharing this article with us, I really liked it, in fact when I read your articles about the enlightenment, I feel that I’m more and more attached to the Buddhism and the enlightenment, honstely I wish I could achieve the enlightenment, under your supervision one day, thank you so much again!

    I bow my head down for you

    I devote myself to you

    I express my gratitude for you

    I bow my head down for your lotus feet

    May you have a good health and live long for the benefit of all sentient beings

    May all the sentient beings attain the happiness of Buddha’s nature

    May the pandemic caused by corona virus soon end

    Om Mani Padme hum

  2. Mật Thiền Đức (Nguyễn Vân Linh) says:

    Dear Guru,

    I have finished reading this article.

    Thank you for writing this article.

    May you and your consort have good health and live long for the sake of all sentient beings.

    May the Covid 19 pandemic soon ends.

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

  3. Mật Phước says:

    Dear Guru,
    I have read the article “BE “MINDFUL” AT THE SIDDHARTHA STORY !”.
    Thank you, Guru, for your interpretion helps me understand that, “has not spiritual level but judge about spiritual matters, make sure you must face the judgement of the causal court”, because the wrong views.
    May Guru and your consort have good health and longevity for the sake of all sentient beings.
    May the Covid 19 pandemic be soon over.
    May all sentient beings attain the happiness of Buddha’s nature.
    Om Mani Padme Hum.

  4. Mật Tấn Sơn (Đỗ Trường Giang) says:

    Dear Guru,

    I read this article.

    Thank you so much.

    May Guru have good health and live long for the sake of all sentient beings.

    May all sentient beings attain the happiness of Buddha’s nature.

    May Covid-19 pandemic soon be over.

    Om mani padme hum

  5. Mật Nhất Nguyên says:

    Dear Holy Guru,

    I have read this article. With my limited understanding, I learnt that I should be mindful when reading about Buddhism from different sources, even the popular ones. In this case, the author is not a Buddhist practitioner, the contents is mystical and far from spiritual reality.

    I realize that without practicing Right view through reading and comment on chanhtuduy.com, I will be vulnerable to such harmful writing. I pray:

    O Guru Padmasambhava, please turn my mind towards the Dharma.All-Knowing Ones, do not let me deviate into any wrong and inferior path.Compassionate Guru, who is not different from them, please look after to me.

    I pray for the longevity and good health of the Guru and His Consort for the benefit of all sentient beings. May all beings awake into the Enlightened state. May the Covid-19 pandemic will soon be over.

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

  6. Mật Thủy says:

    Dear Guru,

    Thank you for your clarifying about the wrong view of Hermann Hesse in “Siddhartha” story. Your arguments from Buddha’s point of view gave us a crystal clear understanding so that we will not mistake and defame Buddhism. I also learn that we should be careful in the source of reading not to absorb the wrong view while making efforts to accumulate merit and wisdom heading to enlightenment.

    May Guru and his consort good health and longevity for the benefit of all sentient beings.

    May the Covid-19 pandemic soon come to an end.

    Om mani padme hum!

  7. Mật Diễm says:

    Dear Guru ,

    I have read the article “BE “MINDFUL” AT THE “SIDDHARTHA” STORY! ( HÃY “TĨNH THỨC” VỀ “CÂU CHUYỆN DÒNG SÔNG”!)”. 

    I am thankul to Guru for compassionately equipping us with the right view about Buddha, which helps us to be more careful to the wrong views of the wrong orbit.

    I pray for the health and longevity of Guru and your consort for the sake of beings.

    I pray for the wisdom torch to light all places through the Guru’s transport channel,

    Pray for the coronavirus disease soon to be eradicated

    OM AH HUM

  8. Mật Diễm says:

    Dear Guru ,

    I have read the article “BE “MINDFUL” AT THE “SIDDHARTHA” STORY! ( HÃY “TĨNH THỨC” VỀ “CÂU CHUYỆN DÒNG SÔNG”!)”.

    I am thankful  Guru for compassionately equipping them with the right view about Buddha, which helps us to be more careful to the wrong views of the wrong orbit.

    I pray for the health and longevity of Guru and your consont for the sake of beings.

    I pray for the wisdom torch to light all places through the Guru transport channel,

    Pray for the coronary disease soon to be eradicated ,

    OM AH HUM

  9. tantra mahavita says:

    Dear Holy Guru: Thank you very much for sharing this article. May the Guru be in good health and live long for the benefit of all sentient beings. May all sentient beings attain the true Nature of Buddha. May the pandemic end soon. OM MANI PADME HUM

  10. Mật Huệ Bích (8 tuổi) says:

    Dear Guru,

    I have read the whole article,

    Thank you, Guru,

    I pray for the health and longevity of Guru and your consort for the sake of all sentient beings,

    Pray for the coronavirus disease soon to be eradicated,

    I pray that all sentient beings attain the happiness of Buddha nature,

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

  11. Mật Giác Đăng says:

    Dear Guru,

    I am delighted to read this article.

    Thank you so much, Guru for making us clear about the wrong views at “Siddhartha story” written by Herman Hesse – a non Buddhist wrote about awakening in Buddha Dharma! This writer surely will not escape from the judgement of the causal court, I pray that the readers who have mistakenly believed in this book will soon have chances to approach this your beneficial article to recorrect their stainpoints, for avoiding the bad karma of defaming Buddhism. I also learn by heart the crucial importance of source for reading and understanding, and I feel so fortunate to day by day access the castle of right view – chanhtuduy.com built by Guru. I pray for myself and other dharma brothers will always appreciate and keep diligence in reading and commenting.

    I am grateful to Guru. May Guru and your consort have good health and longevity for the sake of all sentient beings.

    May the covid -19 pandemic will be soon eliminated.

    May all sentient beings attain the happiness of Buddha’s nature.

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

  12. Mật Thúy says:

    Kính Bạch Thầy .
    Con đã đọc xong bài này rồi ạ.
    Con rất hoan hỉ với với công hạnh luận vải của vị Thầy , con cầu nguyện sức khỏe và sự trường thọ của Thầy cô vị lợi lạc của chúng sanh con cầu nguyện cho vi khuẩn corona xóm ngày được tiêu trừ Om Ah Hùm.

  13. Mật Khả Phúc says:

    Dear Holy Guru,

    I have read this beneficial article. I am so thankful to read another enlightened article of Guru. Through these strong proof, evidences and Buddha’s point view, you have shown us the wrong view of H.Hesse and his book. He is not a Buddhist, he doesn’t understand anything about Buddha’s lesson or Dharma but he wrote the article base on his subjective mind and spread out the wrong views. H.Hesse of course will face the judgment of casual court because he mistook and defamed Buddhism but also thousands of people who fall into his fiction would face horrible consequence too. So I feel so lucky and grateful for following Guru in this life so that I have prepared right view through reading and commenting on chanhtuduy.com and not fall in a heretic or atheistic writer like H.Hesse. I’m happy for Mac Tri who finally agreed with Guru’s standpoint and got right view just right in time so he will not be dragged in the terrible outcome.

    I sincerely pray for the health and longevity of Guru and your consort for the sake of all sentient beings.

    May Covid-19 pandemic will eliminate soon.

    May all sentient beings attain the happiness of Buddha nature.

    Om Mani Padme Hum

    • Nguyên Thành
      Nguyên Thành says:

      He don’t know but he write, he don’t understand but he does comment?! I think he drop to trap “botay.com”!

  14. Mật Ngữ says:

    Dear Guru.

    Thank you, Guru for showing us the wrong view of Siddhartha story, helping me be awake in reading and understanding to avoid losing merits.

    I pray for health and longevity of Guru and your consort.

    Pray for all beings attain the happiness of Buddha’s nature.

    Pray for corona epidemic soon be eliminated.

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

  15. Mật Diễm says:

    Dear Guru,

    I am thanhkful to your encouragement.

    I pray the heard and longevity of Guru and your consonrt for the sake of being’s,

    OM AH HUM.

  16. Mật Huệ Pháp
    Mật Huệ Pháp says:

    Dear Guru

    I’ve read this article. It is a warning bell on spiritual illusion and wrong view. I also feel shuddered with the statement of that man as he denied all Buddhist rites. This man is said to read just several Buddhist books, don’t know much about mudras or cannot sit in lotus posture. This is like building a house on sand as he has yet got a stable foundation on Buddha Dharma. Regarding the book “Siddhartha” written by H.Hesse, it is dangerous for anyone who intends to learn about Buddhism through this book. They may misunderstand that a heathen like Siddhartha is higher than Govinda because he got enlightened, while as you analysed, in the Buddha’s time, only the Buddha was the one who attains ultimate enlightenment. On the other hand, the spiritual development of Siddhartha is clearly illogical against the Buddhist standpoint because the process of enlightenment in Buddhism is gradational and a Buddhist practitioner needs accomplish ten spiritual activities to get enlightenment. The same wrong view was written in the “Journey to the East” by Baird. T. Spalding and pitifully, still many people believe in what he described about Buddhism through such magical phenomena. My gratitude to you for having equipped us with Bodhiyanga of discrimination to protect ourselves from wrong view and spiritual illusion.

    May Guru and your consort live long for the sake of all sentient beings

    May all sentient beings always stay in awakening state

    May Covid-19 pandemic end soon

    Om Mani Padme Hum

  17. Mật Hồng Liên says:

    Kính Bạch Thầy

    Bài này con đã đọc rồi ạ

    Con xin hoan hỷ và tán thán công hạnh bồ đề tâm của vị Thầy đã từ bi luận giải cho chúng con hiểu qua đó  cho chúng con hiểu rõ và thấy rõ hơn những  quan niệm sai lầm trong câu chuyện Siddhartha

    Con xin cầu nguyện cho sức khỏe và sự trường thọ của Thầy và Cô vì lợi lạc của chúng sanh

    Cầu nguyện cho dịch bệnh covid 19 sớm được tiêu trừ

    Cầu nguyện cho tất cả chúng sanh thành tựu hạnh phúc của Phật tánh

    om mani padme hum

  18. Mật Đức says:

    Dear holy Guru,

    I have read the article “BE “MINDFUL” AT THE SIDDHARTHA STORY !”

    Thank you for giving me this valuable and useful article.

    May Guru and your consort have good health and live long for the sake of all sentient beings.

    May the epidemic of Covid-19 come to end soon.

    May all sentient beings attain the happiness of Buddha’s nature.

    OM MANI PADME HUM.

  19. Mật Hoàng Trúc says:

    Dear Guru

    I have read the article.

    Thank you, Guru.

    May Guru and your consort have good health and live long for the sake of all sentient beings.

    May all sentient beings attain the happiness of Buddha’s nature.

    May the covid-19 pandemic and soon.

    Om mani padme hum.

  20. Mật Tuấn Nguyên says:

    Dear Guru,

    I am deligtted to read this article.

    May Guru and his consort have good health and live long for the sake of all beings.

    May all sentient being attain the happiness of buddha’s nature.

    May the covid .19 pandemic and soon.

    Om mani padme hum

     

  21. Mật Khánh Ngân says:

    Dear Holy Guru,

    I have read the article Be “mindful”at the “Siddahartha” story (Hãy “tỉnh thức’ về “câu chuyện dòng sông”).

    Thank you for your clarifying about the wrong view of H.Hesse in the story. Through your article, I understand that, we should always be “mindful” otherwise we will easily fall into the wrong view. To do that, reading and comment on Chanhtuduy.com is the only way for us to follow. 

    May Guru and your consort  live long for the sake of all sentient beings.

    May all sentient beings always stay in awakening state.

    May covid 19 will be soon over.

    OM MANI PAD ME HUM.

  22. Mật Thanh Phương says:

    Dear Guru,

    I am delighted to read this article. I learn that we shouldn’t read Buddhism from different sources without recommendation of Guru, because we haven’t have enough knowledge to detect the wrong views from many sources out there, it’s very dangerous. The easiest way is read from chanhtuduy.com, Guru have selected and wrote down in a simple way for us to absorb the right views.
    We are very lucky to follow Guru in this life.

    May Guru and his consort have good health and live long for the sake of sentient being.
    May all sentient beings attain the Buddha nature’s happiness.
    May all sentient beings free from suffering and get enlightened.
    May the Covid-19 end soon.
    Om Mani Padme Hum.

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