Demian - by Hermann Hesse

I must not call myself one who knows. I was a seeker and am still, but I seek no more in the stars or in books; I am beginning to listen to the promptings of those instincts which are coursing in my very blood.

People with courage and character are always called peculiar by other people.

Nothing in the world is so distasteful to man as to go the way which leads him to himself!

I have a simple means at my disposal. I look at him very, very fixedly in the eyes. Hardly anyone can bear that. They always get restive. If you want to get something out of a person, and you fix him unexpectedly with your eyes, and if he doesn't get restive, then give it up! You won't get anything out of him, ever!

"I see that you think more than you can express. But if that is so, then you also know that you have never lived in experience all that you have thought, and that is not good. Only the thought that we live through in experience has any value. You knew that your ‘world of sanction' was simply one-half of the world, and yet you tried to suppress the other half in you, as do the parsons and teachers. You will not succeed. No one succeeds who has once begun to think."

There is that in you, which orders your life for you, and which knows why you are doing it. It is good to realize this; there is someone in us who knows everything, wills everything, does everything better than we do ourselves.

I wanted only to try to live in obedience to the promptings which came from my true self. Why was that so very difficult?

When quite a child I had from time to time the propensity to watch bizarre forms of nature, not observing them closely, but simply surrendering myself to their peculiar magic, absorbed by the contemplation of their curling shapes. Long dignified tree-roots, colored veins in stone, flecks of oil floating on water, flaws in glass--all things of a similar nature had had great charm for me at that time, above all, water and fire, smoke, clouds, dust, and especially the little circulating colored specks which I saw when I closed my eyes. The contemplation of such shapes, the surrendering of oneself to these irrational, twisting, odd forms of nature, engenders in us a feeling of the harmony of our inner being with the will which brought forth these shapes; we soon feel the temptation to look upon them as our own creations, as if made by our own moods; we see the boundary between ourselves and nature waver and vanish; we learn to know the state of mind by outside impressions, or by inward.

When from time to time I used to compare myself with others, I was often proud and conceited, but just as frequently I felt depressed and humiliated. I had often looked upon myself as a genius, often as half mad. I could not share the pleasures and life of the fellows of my age, and often I heaped reproaches on myself and was consumed with cares, thinking I was hopelessly cut off from them, and that life was closed to me.

"When we hate a man, we hate in him something which resides in us ourselves. What is not in us does not move us."

A man has absolutely no other duty than this: to seek himself, to grope his own way forward, no matter whither it leads. The true vocation for everyone was only to attain to self-realization. His business was to work out his own destiny, not any destiny, but his own, to live for that, entirely and uninterruptedly. He who will fulfill his destiny has neither examples nor ideals, he has nothing dear to him, nothing to comfort him.

What is now called community is merely a formation of herds. Mankind seeks refuge together because men have fear of one another--the masters combine for their own ends, the workmen for theirs, and the intellectuals for theirs! And why are they afraid? One is only afraid when one is not at one with oneself. They are afraid because they have never had the courage to be themselves.

We, who bore the sign, were probably justly considered by the world as peculiar--yes, mad even, and dangerous. For we were awake, or were waking, and our endeavor was to be more and more completely awake, whereas the others strove to be happy, attaching themselves to the herd, the opinions and ideals of which they made their own, taking up the same duties, making their life and happiness depend on common interests. Our whole duty, our destiny, was, we felt, to attain to self-realization, in order that in us nature might find scope for its full activities, and that the unknown future might find us ready to fill any role which should be allotted us.