This contribution discusses the third extended reference to the Bible in Hermann Hesse’s ‘Demian’: Jacob’s struggle with the angel from the Book of Genesis.
The following contribution discusses the second extended reference to the Bible in Hermann Hesse’s ‘Demian’: the Story of the Good and Bad Thieves from the Gospel of Saint Luke.
When Hesse’s ‘Demian’ comes to an end, European civilization has become a wasteland. A bird-of-prey circles on the edge of the reader’s mind. This is the Gnostic deity, Abraxas, who is looking for another Emil Sinclair foolish enough to give him bodily form. In the following, an attempt is made to examine the significance Hesse ascribes to Abraxas in his novel.
We have them in the family, in the neighbourhood. We used to know them at school. People who chose the wrong professions, if they chose at all, and were not simply pushed around by force of circumstances. Chance puts them beside us, and when the going gets rough, they just throw in the towel and go home. About such a man these lines are concerned: Fr. Maurice Bellière, who was adopted by Saint Thérèse of Lisieux as her ‘little brother.’
What is the meaning of Bodhidharma’s coming from the West? Thus begins one of the teaching dilemmas, or koans, through which practitioners of Zen Buddhism strive for Enlightenment. If a student imagines he has the answer to the question, the master may well rise up and clout him with a stick. If the answer is a good one, he might clout the student even harder.