122+ Best Hermann Hesse Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Hermann Karl Hesse was a German-born poet, novelist, and painter. His best-known works include Demian, Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, and The Glass Bead Game, each of which explores an individual’s search for authenticity, self-knowledge and spirituality. In 1946, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature. Profoundly inspirational Hermann Hesse quotes will encourage growth in life, make you wiser and broaden your perspective.

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Famous Hermann Hesse Quotes

The tree does not die, it waits. – Hermann Hesse

For mountain and stream, tree and leaf, root and blossom, every form in nature is echoed in us and originates in the soul whose being is eternity and is hidden from us but none the less gives itself to us for the most part in the power of love and creation. – Hermann Hesse

A house without books is a poor house, even if beautiful rugs are covering its floors and precious wallpapers and pictures cover its walls – Hermann Hesse

Each man had only one genuine vocation to find the way to himself. – Hermann Hesse

He saw mankind going through life in a childlike manner… which he loved but also despised…. He saw them toiling, saw them suffering, and becoming gray for the sake of things which seemed to him to be entirely unworthy of this price, for money, for little pleasures, for being slightly honoured. – Hermann Hesse

Those who cannot think or take responsibility for themselves need, and clamor for, a leader. – Hermann Hesse

A person is never entirely holy or entirely sinful. – Hermann Hesse

The world is not imperfect or slowly evolving along a long path to perfection. No, it is perfect at every moment; every sin already carries grace within it, all small children are potential old men, all sucklings have death within them, all dying people — eternal life. – Hermann Hesse

There was once a man, Harry, called the steppenwolf. He went on two legs, wore clothes and was a human being, but nevertheless he was in reality a wolf of the steppes. He had learned a good deal of all that people of a good intelligence can and was a fairly clever fellow. What he had not learned, however, was this: to find contentment in himself and his own life. – Hermann Hesse

Was it not his Self, his small, fearful and proud Self, with which he had wrestled for so many years, but which had always conquered him again, which appeared each time again and again, which robbed him of happiness and filled him with fear? – Hermann Hesse

And gradually his face assumed the expressions which are so often found among rich people – the expressions of discontent, of sickliness, of displeasure, of idleness, of lovelessness. Slowly the soul sickness of the rich crept over him. – Hermann Hesse

The reason why I do not know anything about myself, the reason why Siddhartha has remained alien and unknown to myself is due to one thing, to one single thing–I was afraid of myself, I was fleeing from myself. I was seeking Atman, I was seeking Brahman, I was determined to dismember myself and tear away its layers of husk in order to find in its unknown innermost recess the kernel at the heart of those layers, the Atman, life, the divine principle, the ultimate. But in so doing, I was losing myself. – Hermann Hesse

All interpretation, all psychology, all attempts to make things comprehensible, require the medium of theories, mythologies, and lies. – Hermann Hesse

Love must not entreat,’ she added, ‘or demand. Love must have the strength to become certain within itself. Then it ceases merely to be attracted and begins to attract. – Hermann Hesse

It was morning; through the high window I saw the pure, bright blue of the sky as it hovered cheerfully over the long roofs of the neighboring houses. It too seemed full of joy, as if it had special plans, and had put on its finest clothes for the occasion. – Hermann Hesse

Words cannot express the joy of new life. – Hermann Hesse

I, also, would like to look and smile, sit and walk like that, so free, so worthy, so restrained, so candid, so childlike and mysterious. A man only looks and walks like that when he has conquered his Self. I also will conquer my Self. – Hermann Hesse

Painting is marvelous; it makes you happier and more patient. Afterwards you do not have black fingers as with writing, but blue and red ones. – Hermann Hesse

When dealing with the insane, the best method is to pretend to be sane. – Hermann Hesse

Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother. – Hermann Hesse

We fear death, we shudder at life’s instability, we grieve to see the flowers wilt again and again, and the leaves fall, and in our hearts we know that we, too, are transitory and will soon disappear. When artists create pictures and thinkers search for laws and formulate thoughts, it is in order to salvage something from the great dance of death, to make something last longer than we do. – Hermann Hesse

The opposite of every truth is just as true. – Hermann Hesse

You can ride, you can travel with a friend of your own; The final step you must take alone. No wisdom is better than this when known: That every hard thing is done alone. – Hermann Hesse

What I am in search of is not so much the gratification of a curiosity or a passion for worldly life, but something far less conditional. I do not wish to go out into the world with an insurance policy in my pocket guaranteeing my return in the event of a disappointment, like some cautious traveller who would be content with a brief glimpse of the world. On the contrary, I desire that there should be hazards, difficulties and dangers to face; I am hungry for reality, for tasks and deeds, and also for privation and suffering. – Hermann Hesse

To hold our tongues when everyone is gossiping, to smile without hostility at people and institutions, to compensate for the shortage of love in the world with more love in small, private matters; to be more faithful in our work, to show greater patience, to forgo the cheap revenge obtainable from mockery and criticism: all these are things we can do. – Hermann Hesse

I will no longer mutilate and destroy myself in order to find a secret behind the ruins. – Hermann Hesse

I realize today that nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself. – Hermann Hesse

My goal is this: always to put myself in the place in which I am best able to serve, wherever my gifts and qualities find the best soil to grow, the widest field of action. There is no other goal. – Hermann Hesse

Siddhartha has one single goal-to become empty, to become empty of thirst, desire, dreams, pleasure and sorrow-to let the Self die. No longer to be Self, to experience the peace of an emptied heart, to experience pure thought-that was his goal. – Hermann Hesse

Should we be mindful of dreams? Joseph asked. Can we interpret them? The Master looked into his eyes and said tersely: We should be mindful of everything, for we can interpret everything. – Hermann Hesse

I began to understand that suffering and disappointments and melancholy are there not to vex us or cheapen us or deprive us of our dignity but to mature and transfigure us. – Hermann Hesse

And all the voices, all the goals, all the yearnings, all the sorrows, all the pleasures, all the good and evil, all of them together was the world. All of them together was the stream of events, the music of life. – Hermann Hesse

The bourgeois prefers comfort to pleasure, convenience to liberty, and a pleasant temperature to the deathly inner consuming fire. – Hermann Hesse

The world, Govinda my friend, is not imperfect, not to be seen as on a slow path toward perfection: No, it is perfect in every moment, all transgression already bears grace within itself, all little children already have the aged in themselves, all the sucklings death, all the dying eternal life. – Hermann Hesse

An enlightened man had but one duty – to seek the way to himself, to reach inner certainty, to grope his way forward, no matter where it led. – Hermann Hesse

When trying to remember my share in the glow of the eternal present, in the smile of God, I return to my childhood, too, for that is where the most significant discoveries turn up. – Hermann Hesse

The best weapons against the infamies of life are courage, wilfulness and patience. Courage strenthens, wilfulness is fun and patience provides tranquility. – Hermann Hesse

Look: We hate nothing that exists, not even death, suffering and dying, does not horrify our souls, as long as we learn more deeply to love. – Hermann Hesse

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. . . . Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all. – Hermann Hesse

You must find your dream, then the way becomes easy. – Hermann Hesse

All suicides have the responsibility of fighting against the temptation of suicide. Every one of them knows very well in some corner of his soul that suicide, though a way out, is rather a mean and shabby one, and that it is nobler and finer to be conquered by life than to fall by one’s own hand. – Hermann Hesse

When you like someone, you like them in spite of their faults. When you love someone, you love them with their faults. – Hermann Hesse

Within you there is a stillness and sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself – Hermann Hesse

That’s the way it is when you love. It makes you suffer, and I have suffered much in the years since. But it matters little that you suffer, so long as you feel alive with a sense of the close bond that connects all living things, so long as love does not die! – Hermann Hesse

Every phenomenon on earth is symbolic, and each symbol is an open gate through which the soul, if it is ready, can enter into the inner part of the world, where you and I and day and night are all one. – Hermann Hesse

As a body everyone is single, as a soul never. – Hermann Hesse

Only the ideas that we really live have any value. – Hermann Hesse

Everyone can perform magic, everyone can reach his goals, if he is able to think, if he is able to wait, if he is able to fast. – Hermann Hesse

There is truth, my boy. But the doctrine you desire, absolute, perfect dogma that alone provides wisdom, does not exist. Nor should you long for a perfect doctrine, my friend. Rather, you should long for the perfection of yourself. The deity is within you, not in ideas and books. Truth is lived, not taught. – Hermann Hesse

All life was a breath exhaled by God. All dying was a breath inhaled by God. – Hermann Hesse

I call that man awake who, with conscious knowledge and understanding, can perceive the deep unreasoning powers in his soul, his whole innermost strength, desire and weakness, and knows how to reckon with himself. – Hermann Hesse

Whoever wants music instead of noise, joy instead of pleasure, soul instead of gold, creative work instead of business, passion instead of foolery, finds no home in this trivial world of ours. – Hermann Hesse

You say yes to the sunlight and pure fantasies, so you have to say yes to the filth and the nausea. Everything is within you, gold and mud, happiness and pain, the laughter of childhood and the apprehension of death. Say yes to everything, shirk nothing. – Hermann Hesse

Every man is more than just himself; he also represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world’s phenomena intersect, only once in this way, and never again. – Hermann Hesse

If I know what love is, it is because of you. – Hermann Hesse

The true profession of a man is to find his way to himself. – Hermann Hesse

He had loved and he had found himself. Most people love to lose themselves. – Hermann Hesse

Love of God is not always the same as love of good. – Hermann Hesse

Loneliness is the way by which destiny endeavors to lead man to himself. – Hermann Hesse

When someone is seeking, it happens quite easily that he only sees the thing that he is seeking; that he is unable to find anything, unable to absorb anything, because he is only thinking of the thing he is seeking, because he has a goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: to have a goal; but finding means: to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal. You, O worthy one, are perhaps indeed a seeker, for in striving towards your goal, you do not see many things that are under your nose. – Hermann Hesse

No permanence is ours, we are a wave that flows to fit whatever form it finds. – Hermann Hesse

Not in his speech, not in his thoughts, I see his greatness, only in his actions, in his life. – Hermann Hesse

We kill at every step, not only in wars, riots and executions. We kill when we close our eyes to poverty, suffering and shame.In the same way all disrespect for life, all hard-heartedness,all indifference, all contempt is nothing else than killing. – Hermann Hesse

Man’s life seems to me like a long, weary night that would be intolerable if there were not occasionally flashes of light, the sudden brightness of which is so comforting and wonderful, that the moments of their appearance cancel out and justify the years of darkness. – Hermann Hesse

Each man’s life represents a road toward himself, an attempt at such a road, the intimation of a path. No man has ever been entirely and completely himself. – Hermann Hesse

It is not for me to judge another man’s life. I must judge, I must choose, I must spurn, purely for myself. For myself, alone. – Hermann Hesse

People with courage and character always seem sinister to the rest. – Hermann Hesse

Love must neither beg nor demand.Love must be strong enough to find certainty within itself.It then cease to be moved and becomes the mover. – Hermann Hesse

Opinions mean nothing; they may be beautiful or ugly, clever or foolish, anyone can embrace or reject them. – Hermann Hesse

The voices of all creatures are in the voices of the river. – Hermann Hesse

There is no reality except the one contained within us. That is why so many people live such an unreal life. They take the images outside them for reality and never allow the world within to assert itself. – Hermann Hesse

Wisdom is nothing but a preparation of the soul, a capacity, a secret art of thinking, feeling and breathing thoughts of unity at every moment of life. – Hermann Hesse

Life is waiting everywhere, the future is flowering everywhere, but we only see a small part of it and step on much of it with our feet – Hermann Hesse

Perhaps people like us cannot love. Ordinary people can – that is their secret. – Hermann Hesse

Like one who has eaten and drunk too much and vomits painfully and then feels better, so did the restless man wish he could rid himself with one terrific heave of these pleasures, of these habits of this entirely senseless life. – Hermann Hesse

Beauty does not bring happiness to the one who possesses it, but to the one who loves and admires it. – Hermann Hesse

I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value. – Hermann Hesse

All I really wanted was to try and live the life that was spontaneously welling up within me. Why was that so very difficult? – Hermann Hesse

Good that you ask. You should always ask, always have doubts. – Hermann Hesse

I have no right to call myself one who knows. I was one who seeks, and I still am, but I no longer seek in the stars or in books; I’m beginning to hear the teachings of my blood pulsing within me. My story isn’t pleasant, it’s not sweet and harmonious like the invented stories; it tastes of folly and bewilderment, of madness and dream, like the life of all people who no longer want to lie to themselves. – Hermann Hesse

The highest art… sets down its creations and trusts in their magic, without fear of not being understood. – Hermann Hesse

Happiness is love, nothing else. A man who is capable of love is happy. – Hermann Hesse

We must become so alone, so utterly alone, that we withdraw into our innermost self. It is a way of bitter suffering. But then our solitude is overcome, we are no longer alone, for we find that our innermost self is the spirit, that it is God, the indivisible. And suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of the world, yet undisturbed by its multiplicity, for our innermost soul we know ourselves to be one with all being. – Hermann Hesse

Everything that is thought and expressed in words is one-sided, only half the truth; it all lacks totality, completeness, unity. When the Illustrious Buddha taught about the world, he had to divide it into Samsara and Nirvana, illusion and truth, into suffering and salvation. One cannot do otherwise, there is no other method for those who teach. But the world itself, being in and around us, is never one-sided. Never is a man or a deed wholly Samsara or wholly Nirvana; never is a man wholly a saint or a sinner. This only seems so because we suffer the illusion that time is something real. – Hermann Hesse

So she thoroughly taught him that one cannot take pleasure without giving pleasure, and that every gesture, every caress, every touch, every glance, every last bit of the body has its secret, which brings happiness to the person who knows how to wake it. She taught him that after a celebration of love the lovers should not part without admiring each other, without being conquered or having conquered, so that neither is bleak or glutted or has the bad feeling of being used or misused. – Hermann Hesse

Happiness is a how; not a what. A talent, not an object. – Hermann Hesse

Within us there is someone who knows everything, wills everything, does everything better than we ourselves. – Hermann Hesse

He has robbed me, yet he has given me something of greater value . . . he has given to me myself. – Hermann Hesse

A man who is ill-adjusted to the world is always on the verge of finding himself. One who is adjusted to the world never finds himself but gets to be a cabinet minister. – Hermann Hesse

All higher humor begins with ceasing to take oneself seriously. – Hermann Hesse

The only reality is the one we have inside us. What makes most people’s lives so artificial and unworthy is that they falsely regard outside images as reality and they never allow their own inner world to speak. – Hermann Hesse

I hope death will be a great happiness, a happiness as great as that of love, fulfilled love – Hermann Hesse

Things are going downhill with you!’ he said to himself, and laughed about it, and as he was saying it, he happened to glance at the river, and he also saw the river going downhill, always moving on downhill, and singing and being happy through it all. – Hermann Hesse

To achieve the possible, we must attempt the impossible again and again. – Hermann Hesse

This day will never come again and anyone who fails to eat and drink and taste and smell it will never have it offered to him again in all eternity. The sun will never shine as it does today…But you must play your part and sing a song, one of your best. – Hermann Hesse

Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go. – Hermann Hesse

The many-voiced song of the river echoed softly. Siddhartha looked into the river and saw many pictures in the flowing water.The river’s voice was sorrowful.It sang with yearning and sadness, flowing towards its goal … Siddhartha was now listening intently…to this song of a thousand voices … then the great song of a thousand voices consisted of one word: Om – Perfection …From that hour Siddhartha ceased to fight against his destiny. – Hermann Hesse

The river has taught me to listen; you will learn from it, too. The river knows everything; one can learn everything from it. You have already learned from the river that it is good to strive downwards, to sink, to seek the depths. – Hermann Hesse

I live in my dreams — that’s what you sense. Other people live in dreams, but not in their own. That’s the difference. – Hermann Hesse

Man is not by any means of fixed and enduring form (this, in spite of suspicions to the contrary on the part of their wise men, was the ideal of the ancients). He is nothing else than the narrow and perilous bridge between nature and spirit. His innermost destiny drives him on to the spirit and to God. His innermost longing draws him back to nature, the mother. Between the two forces his life hangs tremulous and irresolute. – Hermann Hesse

Those who are too lazy and comfortable to think for themselves and be their own judges obey the laws. Others sense their own laws within them. – Hermann Hesse

Love your suffering. Do not resist it, do not flee from it. It is only your aversion to it that hurts, nothing else. – Hermann Hesse

I have always thirsted for knowledge; I have always been full of questions. – Hermann Hesse

The call of death is a call of love. Death can be sweet if we answer it in the affirmative, if we accept it as one of the great eternal forms of life and transformation. – Hermann Hesse

Because the world is so full of death and horror, I try again and again to console my heart and pick the flowers that grow in the midst of hell. – Hermann Hesse

We are not going in circles; we are going upwards. The path is a spiral; we have already climbed many steps. – Hermann Hesse

Learn what is to be taken seriously and laugh at the rest. – Hermann Hesse

Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately after they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish. – Hermann Hesse

Once you are able to make your request in such a way that you will be quite certain of its fulfillment, then the fulfillment will come. – Hermann Hesse

All the books of the world full of thoughts and poems are nothing in comparison to a minute of sobbing, when feeling surges in waves, the soul feels itself profoundly and finds itself. Tears are the melting ice of snow. All angels are close to the crying person. – Hermann Hesse

Man is an onion made up of a hundred integuments, a texture made up of many threads. The ancient Asiatics knew this well enough, and in the Buddhist Yoga an exact technique was devised for unmasking the illusion of the personality. The human merry-go-round sees many changes: the illusion that cost India the efforts of thousands of years to unmask is the same illusion that the West has labored just as hard to maintain and strengthen. – Hermann Hesse

Every experience has its element of magic. – Hermann Hesse

Passion is always a mystery and unaccountable, and unfortunately there is no doubt that life does not spare its purest children; often it is just the most deserving people who cannot help loving those that destroy them. – Hermann Hesse

The truth has a million faces, but there is only one truth. – Hermann Hesse

I have had to experience so much stupidity, so many vices, so much error, so much nausea, disillusionment and sorrow, just in order to become a child again and begin anew. I had to experience despair, I had to sink to the greatest mental depths, to thoughts of suicide, in order to experience grace. – Hermann Hesse

Let me say no more. Words do no justice to the hidden meaning. Everything immediately becomes slightly different when it is expressed in words, a little bit distorted, a little foolish…It is perfectly fine with me that what for one man is precious wisdom for another sounds like foolery. – Hermann Hesse

Gentleness is stronger than severity, water is stronger than rock, love is stronger than force. – Hermann Hesse

She stood before him and surrendered herself to him and sky, forest, and brook all came toward him in new and resplendent colors, belonged to him, and spoke to him in his own language. And instead of merely winning a woman he embraced the entire world and every star in heaven glowed within him and sparkled with joy in his soul. He had loved and had found himself. But most people love to lose themselves. – Hermann Hesse

Each of us is merely one human being, merely an experiment, a way station. But each of us should be on the way toward perfection, should be striving to reach the center, not the periphery. – Hermann Hesse

Seriousness is an accident of time. It consists of putting too high a value on time. In eternity there is no time. Eternity is a moment, just long enough for a joke – Hermann Hesse

Meaning and reality were not hidden somewhere behind things, they were in them, in all of them. – Hermann Hesse

For what I always hated and detested and cursed above all things was this contentment, this healthiness and comfort, this carefully preserved optimism of the middle classes, this fat and prosperous brood of mediocrity. – Hermann Hesse

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