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, takes place in the time of Buddha, who is alternately referred to in the text as “Gotama” and the “Exalted One.” The story follows two friends, Govinda and Siddhartha, as they embark on a search for spiritual truth.The young men part ways when Govinda joins Gotama’s discipleship and Siddhartha continues along his own, self-guided spiritual path.Each one is Brahman, but at the same time and just as much, it is a stone, oily or soapy — and just that is what pleases me and seems wonderful to me, worthy of veneration. Then after a pause he asked hesitantly, “Why did you tell me that thing about the stone? Or perhaps I meant by it that I love the stone and the river and all these things that we look at and from which we can learn. For .” Govinda said: “Nirvana is not only a word, friend, it is an idea.” Siddhartha continued: “An idea it may be.
There were many ideas, but it would be difficult for me to express them to you. This is what I already sensed as a youth, what drove me away from teachers.
See here, Govinda, this is one of the ideas that I have come to: Wisdom is not expressible. I have come to an idea, Govinda, that you once more will take for a joke or some foolishness, but nevertheless it is my best idea.
“These, Govinda, are some of the ideas that have come to my mind.” Siddhartha bent over, picked up a stone off the ground, and weighed it in his hand.
“This,” he said playfully, “is a stone, and after a certain length of time, it will perhaps be earth, and from the earth a plant will come, or an animal or a person.
“Let things be mere appearances or not — if so, I too am a mere appearance, and then they are still my fellows and peers.
That is what makes them so dear and worthy of veneration: They are my equals. And here now is a teaching you will find laughable: Love, for me, Govinda, is clearly the main thing.
Frankly, I do not have a high opinion of ideas either. Here on this ferryboat, for example, I had a predecessor who was also my teacher, a holy man who for many a long year simply believed in the river and nothing else. But by the time this sainted man went off into the forest, he knew everything, knew more than you and I — without a teacher, without books, just because he believed in the river.” Govinda said: “But is that which you call ‘thing’ something real, part of the essential nature of reality?
He noticed that the voice of the river spoke to him. Is it not only the deception of Maya, only image and appearance?
The world, my friend Govinda, is not imperfect or confined at a point somewhere along a gradual pathway toward perfection. Every sin already contains grace within it, all little children already have an old person in them, every infant has death within it, and all dying people have within them eternal life.
It is not possible for any person to see in another how far along the way he is.