Siddhartha

By Herman Hesse

Summary

Slick, insightful, and intriguing: Siddhartha is concise and consistent. The book follows the life of Siddhartha, an exceptionally bright young man raised as a brahmin. In his youth he feels spirituality unfulfilled. In response, Siddhartha sets out on an exciting, fresh, and yet ironically stagnant journey. Decades later, after falling victim to a secular existence, nausea takes firm hold over him. He then has to reconnect with feelings of his youth to regain a hold on his life. Siddhartha is a poignant glimpse into the journey all of us experience: love and loss; life.

Life Lessons

The essence of life is unity (144).


No human, nor other mortal creature, can resist life's due process. Both holiness and wicked sin are necessary, perfect, and everlasting (144).


Unlike knowledge, wisdom is not communicable. Trial and error are necessary for all (142).


No creature or thing is either inferior or superior to another; we're all pieces of the same puzzle (144).


Stones can become men; men can become stone. Physical life is transitory (145).

My Connection

I'm very glad --and quite relieved-- that I chose to read Siddhartha. Hesse's writing is clear, concise, and intriguing. Siddhartha is a refreshing representation of human life. It proved beneficial to me that the story is set thousands of years ago in India. The simpler context allowed for a potent presentation of eternal truths. With so much noise in modern culture, the stark simplicity and peaceful environment portrayed really resonated with me. I learned so much, and yet --according to Siddhartha-- maybe I didn't learn anything at all.


When discussing life with his friend Govinda, Siddhartha makes a number of mind-bending comments worth assessment. The statements that had the greatest impact on me are as follows:

"...perhaps you seek too much, that as a result of your seeking your cannot find."

"...I came to distrust doctrines and teachers and to turn my back on them."

"Wisdom is not communicable. The wisdom which a wise man tries to communicate always sounds foolish."

"...in every truth the opposite is equally true... Everything that is thought and expressed in words is one-sided, only half the truth; it all lacks totality, completeness, unity."

"The sinner is not on the way to a Buddha-like state; he is not evolving, although our thinking cannot perceive things otherwise. No, the potential Buddha already exists in the sinner..."


Finally, my a-ha moment came as I read,

"...we suffer the illusion that time is something real... And if time is not real, then the dividing line that seems to lie between this world and eternity, between suffering and bliss, between good and evil, is also an illusion."

This final quote sealed the deal for me and allowed me to fully appreciate Hesse's perspective. Siddhartha pushed me to consider other ways of thinking, and I couldn't ask for more.

Diary Entry

My son left me several weeks ago. He left in the night and took my valuables with him. He went back to the city in search of his lost life. I was disappointed then. I'm disappointed now. I didn't know him well. He never let me get close to him. However, his absence still leaves a deep, festering wound.


I listen to the river and it tells me a great deal. It tells me to let go. It tells me to leave him alone. It tells me to move on. It tells me to be patient. It doesn't tell me when my suffering will end. I've become common since meeting my son. No longer do I have control over my emotions. I suffer at the hand of love as everyone else does. I know this, but I can't stop it. Maybe one day I will look back and laugh... Maybe. Maybe one day my son will grow to love me as I do him... Maybe.