Hermann Hesse (July 2, 1877 – August 9, 1962) was a German-Swiss poet, novelist, and painter. He is best known for his literary works which express the spirit of an individual’s search for truth and are set upon diverse backgrounds ranging from Europe to the Far East. In 1946, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. His best known books are Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, Narcissus and Goldmund and Magister Ludi.

Herman Hesse on As Above so Below

It is the same indivisible divinity that is active through us and in Nature, and if the outside world were to be destroyed, a single one of us would be capable of rebuilding it: mountain and stream, tree and leaf, root and flower.

Here Hesse echoes the Hermetic meaning of As Above so Below, which states that parallel cosmoses are identical, albeit of different scales. Man is a micro-cosmos and as such, contains internally all the principles of the worlds above and below himself.

Herman Hesse on As Within so Without

Every natural form is latent within us: originates in the soul whose essence is eternity, whose essence we cannot know but often intimates itself to us as the innate power to love and create.

The practical consequence of ‘as within so without’ is that man can learn about himself by looking outside himself. Accordingly, Hesse professes that the essence of the soul is unknowable, but that it can be intimated by experiencing love and engaging in creation. Whatever the creator materializes is a mirror for his own being; a modern expression of God creating man in His image.

The things we can see are the same things that exist within us. There is no reality except the one contained inside. This is why many people live in delusion. They take images outside as sole reality, never realizing that they are linked to internal causes.