I am reading Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse and I am not able to understand this passage

But according to your very own teachings, this unity and necessary sequence of all things is nevertheless broken in one place, through a small gap, this world of unity is invaded by something alien, something new, something which had not been there before, and which cannot be demonstrated and cannot be proven: these are your teachings of overcoming the world, of salvation. But with this small gap, with this small breach, the entire eternal and uniform law of the world is breaking apart again and becomes void.

It is what Siddhartha said to Gotama as he found it an objection but I am unable to think with the depth to grab the gist of his objection. If anyone who have read this and can explain please help me.

As Sidhdhartha started admiring Gotama's thought of seeing world as unity and understanding that superior being regardless of gods or any other chance. But in the same concept he told there is something alien and new. I do understand he left teachings because salvation is something that can not be achieved by them but self exploration. Still he talked something different there (see bold above) that is puzzling me.

closed as off-topic by kiamlaluno, FumbleFingers, tchrist, phenry, Drew Nov 24 '14 at 1:30

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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about an obscure metaphysical concept being metaphorically articulated in the original German text. It's almost incidental that it's then been translated into English - the exact meaning is a matter of philosophy rather than language. – FumbleFingers Nov 23 '14 at 13:17
  • Litcrit? Could be OT. – Kris Nov 23 '14 at 15:40
  • so should i remove it and post in another community? i thought it is pure matter of perception of writer's view not actually the talk of a real budhdha but the views of hermann hesse isn't it? – Tab Nov 24 '14 at 6:52
  • Isn't there an overflow Buddhism forum, already? – Blessed Geek Nov 24 '14 at 9:08

It means, "there's a hole in your argument".

In the quoted paragraph he doesn't say what the hole actually is. I'd expect to find out in the text that follows - this para seems like it's an introduction to the hole. It's a very roundabout way of saying "I'm terribly sorry, but you're wrong".

So looking at the text that follows the section you quoted, it seems that Siddhartha's objection is that enlightenment cannot be taught but must be experienced:

thus is my thought, oh exalted one,—nobody will obtain salvation by means of teachings! You will not be able to convey and say to anybody, oh venerable one, in words and through teachings what has happened to you in the hour of enlightenment!


  • The following things were clear to me i was just wandering over meanings of these "this world of unity is invaded by something alien" is that just the part of Budhdha's teaching? and they are not talking about universe definitions of its origin? – Tab Nov 23 '14 at 10:34
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    My reading of the passage agrees with AE's: it is the teachings themselves which are the alien influence which creates the gap in unity. The objection is that S is trying to teach the unteachable: G's challenge is like the spiritual version of Godel's Incompleteness Theorem: it is impossible for any system of non-trivial complexity to talk about itself without leaving gaps or creating contradictions. S is part of the world, so he can't teach of overcoming it. – Dan Bron Nov 23 '14 at 12:17
  • Note the sneaky but utterly critical colon in the first sentence: "This world of unity is invaded by something alien, ... which cannot be demonstrated and cannot be proven : these are your teachings of overcoming the world, of salvation." – Dan Bron Nov 23 '14 at 12:19
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    @Tab, it might be worth you asking at buddhism.stackexchange.com – A E Nov 23 '14 at 12:21
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    Hesse was nothing, if not wordy. – Wayfaring Stranger Nov 23 '14 at 12:27

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