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Tag Archives: Hermann Hesse

Sometimes

It is the end of a busy week. It might be the busiest since I came home from Spokane. I don’t coach ice hockey any more, but I help in several ways. For example, I am helping a young man who coached with me several years ago get a hockey related business off the ground. I also facilitate coaching clinics which help coaches with their work. In Canada, this is a time of the year when hockey is busy. It is important to take a break, a Sabbath from the busyness and business.

I came across this poem by Hermann Hesse who is better known as an author of fiction such as Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, and The Journey to the East. He was a wonderful writer of prose writing in a poetic and mystic voice.

The poem reminds me to stop and pause, to listen attentively to the world and my self. It is in the mindfulness that I hear the questions being asked by the world and me. It is in those silences that the world and I create together speaking to each other in richness in our silences.

Sometimes, when a bird cries out,
Or the wind sweeps through a tree,
Or a dog howls in a far off farm,
I hold still and listen a long time.

My soul turns and goes back to the place
Where, a thousand forgotten years ago,
The bird and the blowing wind
Were like me, and were my brothers.

My soul turns into a tree,
And an animal, and a cloud bank.
Then changed and odd it comes home
And asks me questions. What should I reply?

I love Hermann Hesse

I love Hermann Hesse.

Hermann Hesse’s book The Journey to the East set the stage for Robert Greenleaf writing about servant leadership. The quote in the post is about the character that unfolds, revealed in living life, not as a planned, linear project, but a dynamic journey. We do not know what is about to happen and it is in the joy, sadness, exhilaration, and disappointment our humanity is revealed.

We live in a world which is can be paradoxically forgiving and unforgiving. It is the attitude of letting go which helps us overcome, moment-to-moment, the unforgiving part. It is in these challenges that the character lines are revealed in the continuous sculpting of our faces which appear over time.

Chuang Tzu And The Butterfly

Li Po wrote poems that asked questions. A common theme was drinking alcohol, but, when I read his poetry, I wonder if it was alcohol or his intoxication with the world he lived in? What is real and not real sometimes blurs boundaries and we ask questions about what is real and not real. Who is the leader and who is not appears in Li Po’s poetry.

Herman Hesse blurred the lines between Leo as a leader and Leo as a servant in Journey to the East. Who serves who? What does it mean to lead and serve? There is a Taoist quality in those questions.

Chuang Tzu in dream became a butterfly,
And the butterfly became Chuang Tzu at waking.
Which was the real—the butterfly or the man ?
Who can tell the end of the endless changes of things?
The water that flows into the depth of the distant sea
Returns anon to the shallows of a transparent stream.
The man, raising melons outside the green gate of the city,
Was once the Prince of the East Hill.
So must rank and riches vanish.
You know it, still you toil and toil,—what for?

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