Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom

knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom

I have become aware of knowledge, just as one feels life in one's heart

Siddhartha said: “Yes, I have had thoughts and knowledge here and there. Sometimes, for an hour or a day, I have become aware of knowledge, just as one feels life in one’s heart. I have had many thoughts, but it would be difficult for me to tell you about them. But this is one thought that has impressed me, Govinda. Wisdom is not communicable. The wisdom which a wise man tries to communicate always sounds foolish.”

“Are you jesting?” asked Govinda.

“No, I am telling you what I have discovered. Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, be fortified by it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it. I suspected this when I was still a youth and it was this that drove me away from teachers.

by Hermann Hesse (July 2, 1877 – August 9, 1962)
from Siddhartha (1922)
Part 2 – Govinda
image – matze ott

Communicating Knowledge is Getting my Facts Straight

I had to post Hermann Hesse today, because I owe him a mea culpa, or better yet a mea maxima culpa – for you Starbucks fans, that’s a venti-sized oopsie. I’m a stickler about tracking down and confirming sources, including at least a reference to the original publication. I research every single quote. However, in yesterday’s Helen Keller post I mistakenly credited Siddhartha to Thomas Mann. A reader emailed to nudge me, otherwise I never would have caught it. At least Hesse and Mann have a few things in common. They were both born in Germany, awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and interested in Buddhism and the philosophical writings of Arthur Schopenhauer. And, Hesse and Mann knew each other: Hesse helped Mann escape Nazi Europe.

In honor of Hermann Hesse, today has been a re-reading Siddhartha day. Early this morning I started off thinking I’d scout out a few quotes, maybe one or two for each of the phases of Siddhartha’s life. I read. And read. Now, suddenly, it’s past time for dinner.

Tomorrow will be busy. Today, for most of the day I was like Siddhartha:

When you throw a rock into the water, it will speed on the fastest course to the bottom of the water. This is how it is when Siddhartha has a goal, a Hermann Hesse
from Siddhartha
Part 2 – Kamala

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