Hermann Hesse was a German-Swiss Poet famous for transforming the world with novels such as Damian and Siddhartha. He imparted his wisdom, and made his mental and spiritual evolution available to people through the art of story telling. He was able to do so with such skill that he was awarded The Nobel Prize for his writing in 1946.
Three life skills he found valuable enough to center a novel around are the skills of thinking, waiting, and fasting. At first glance they seem simple, however mastering them can be quite a challenge. Accepting that challenge can have a supercharging effect on your life. Here is how these skills can be developed and utilized:
Thinking. This skill is the hallmark of western society. Thousands of organizations exist to promote the development of this skill, which can be done through traditional classes among other methods (while money is required, it can be very inexpensive; many California city colleges offer classes for as little as 12 dollars per unit). Because of society’s emphasis on education, the techniques the individual can use to become a better thinker are often overlooked. The two most powerful techniques are reading and writing. When reading enlightening books has been cultivated into a habit; you will find your intellect growing to astounding proportions.
Don’t just read the easy stuff. You may be entertained by it, but you will never grow from it. Jim Rohn
Writing is something you can do to develop your ability to communicate; to re-synthesize information, thus making it your own. You don’t have to be a good writer in the beginning; you will get better by doing it, and by reading and editing what you have written.
I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand. Chinese Proverb
Challenge yourself to form these two activities into a habits; your thinking will never be the same.
Waiting. This is the antithesis of thinking. When all important thoughts have been crystallized, and all critical actions performed, then it is time to wait for the results. Many people sabotage their own efforts by thinking too much and not waiting enough. In fact, when you try too hard to do well, which is usually manifested by over-thinking, your performance suffers. I’ve personally found this to be true on the basketball court, the rugby pitch, and in romance, but it applies to every endeavor. Most western academics currently suffer from too much emphasis on thinking. In other words, they have trained their brains so much that they have forgotten how to control their stream of thought. Mastery of waiting can be achieved through simply sitting and breathing; a process known as meditation. When combined with mastery of thought, you now have control of the two extremes; activity and relaxation. You will have greater control over your mind than those who only know how to think, and think, and think, but who have not yet learned how to simply be.
We are human beings, not human doings. Unknown
Fasting. Fasting in essence is detachment from your desires. It is allowing yourself to be hungry, but choosing not to eat. It is allowing yourself to be jubilant, but choosing not to drink. It is allowing yourself to feel passionate, but choosing not to have sex. What is wrong with choosing those things? Absolutely nothing. However, most people do not make the choice. They eat because they are hungry, drink because they are jubilant, and have sex because they feel passionate. Their body has made the choice for them. It is important to be able to make a conscious decision in spite of your bodily urges, and that is exactly what mastery of fasting allows you to do. Fasting also teaches you to be content with what you have. Many people I know become cranky when they miss a meal. If you have had the experience of not eating for three days, would skipping one meal bother you much?
The best of all medicines is resting and fasting. Benjamin Franklin
If a man has nothing to eat, fasting is the most intelligent thing he can do. Hermann Hesse
Put these skills together, and master your life. Make sure of course, that both extremes are trained. When lifting weights, one is not made stronger by the lifting, but by the recovery after the workout. Thus action and relaxation are balanced to produce optimum performance. Keep this concept in mind as you train yourself in the arts of Thinking, Waiting, and Fasting.