The second portion of the novel is harder Siddhartha gives up his ascetic way of life and now indulges in all the pleasures he formerly eschewed He learns all about sex from a courtesan, he becomes a wealthy businessman, eventually he becomes a conoisseur of fine food and wine, and a heavy gambler to boot He loses himself in this life and eventually realizes how unhappy he is His religious training, of course, always told him that these things were worthless, and he finds that these comforts do not, in fact, make him happy I figured the students would find this far harder to relate to than I did, but as so often I am, I was wrong By and large, they seemed to like this section as well as or better than the first Maybe it was all the sex not that it was even remotely graphic , even though they didn t actually know what a courtesan is Many of them come from wealthy backgrounds, so maybe they have first hand experience sort of in the ways that wealth isn t really satisfying Or maybe they ve just heard that over and over in our culture, that money doesn t buy happiness Anyway, they seemed to like it well enough.
The third section was almost certainly a harder sell It was hard for me to sell myself on it But Siddhartha leaves his life of luxury, nearly commits suicide over his unhappiness, and ends up becoming a simple or not so simple ferryman on a river This section is far full of or less eastern a touch of curry it s eastern flavored, with strong hints of Nietzsche as well thought and spirituality It s tougher to really understand or get into, though the essence isn t that hard you have to experience things for yourself, and real wisdom can be the result of this experience, but it s not really possible to communicate that wisdom That s your Reader s Digest condesnsed version, which I shouldn t even give because it s necessarily a distortion read the book if you want to know it Anyway, to round out my discussion of class discussion, I think the momentum from the earlier parts of the book carried us through, as they seemed to like the book as a whole and liked even the dense third section as well.
717 Siddhartha, Herman HesseSiddhartha is a novel by Hermann Hesse that deals with the spiritual journey of self discovery of a man named Siddhartha during the time of the Gautama Buddha The book, Hesse s ninth novel, was written in German, in a simple, lyrical style It was published in the U.
S in 1951 and became influential during the 1960s 2007 1340 160 1355 160 1362 1367 1373 1375 134 1381 1394 1373 155 1376 1381 1385 1387 9645509114 1388 9789643204143 1392 152 9786001760884 1374 225 1376 167 9646663044 1385 174 1386 1387 9789643116286 1394 144 9789642092338 My apologies if this review reeks of GUSHness However, it gave me that ONE OF A KIND reading experience that doesn t come along often and so I think it is certainly worthy of the praise I shall heep upon it Beautifully written and a deeply personal story, Hesse has created the ultimate expression of the journey of self discovery The book details the story of Siddhartha, the young and brilliant son of a Brahmin in ancient India The Brahmin are the uber revered caste comprised of poets, priests, teachers and scholarsQuick Side NoteHow refreshing is it that their most revered group is not made up of morally questionable athletes, morally suspect celebrities and morally bankrupt politiciansI m just saying At the beginning of the story, despite having absorbed all of the teachings of his father and followed all of the religious rites and rituals of his caste, Siddhartha is not content He knows deep inside that there is something missing and decides to leave his father and his future and seek enlightenment He sets out, along with his life long friend to find life s meaning A decision that makes Siddhartha s father less than a happy camper Thus begins one of the truly exceptional stories in modern literature Siddhartha s journey takes him from the elite of his people 1 First, to a group of ascetics who shun personal possessions and view the physical world as the source of all pain 2 Next to a beautiful courtesan who teaches Siddhartha the mysterious of physical love, to a world 3 Third, to a wealthy trader who teaches Siddhartha about profit, trade and worldly pleasures 4 Then to a life of hedonistic excess in which Siddhartha eats, drinks, gambles and indulges in numerous sexual conquests in a very SinCityesque way 5 Finally, back to an ascetic life, but one that embraces the world and everything in it as special and unique Throughout the various stages of his journey, Siddhartha finds something of value in everyone he interacts with and each stage brings him closer to his ultimate goal Through elegant and deeply evocative writing, Hesse demonstrates, through Siddhartha s journey, the fundamental value of each and every person on Earth Everyone has something special to contribute to the universe Siddhartha s final realization of his goal of finding enlightenment is simply amazing and one that I can not recommend strongly that everyone read.
I m a U.
S citizen of Irish heritage living in Las Vegas I was raised Roman Catholic and spent most of my undergraduate and graduate academic life learning about western philosophy, history and literature I mention the only because I was completely floored that I could identify so intensely with Siddhartha s story, despite a background that was as far from embracing an eastern viewpoint as you could possibly get I think its ability to completely suck me in demonstrates not only the brilliance and beauty of Hesse s prose, but also the universal nature of the story and its ability to transcend all barriers to understanding It is an amazing read but also a deeply personal one and I think that everyone will get something different out of reading it Hopefully it is something very, very positive 5.
0 stars HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION MY BEST BOOK OF 2017 In life we all look for meaning, we all look for something to give us a purpose and, in essence, a reason to actually be alive Nobody wants to get to the end of their journey and realise it was all for nothing, and that their days were utterly wasted So how do we find this meaningOne must find the source within one s own Self, one must possess it Everything else was seeking a detour, an error We must find our own peace Siddhartha followed the teachings of others and it granted him very little happiness He meets Buddha, or a Buddha, and he realises that the only way he can achieve the same degree of serenity is to find it himself The words of the man, as wise as they may be, are just air they are not experience they are not one s own wisdom granted through trial So he takes his own path, albeit an indirect one, and finally awakens his mind into a sense of enlightenment But, in order to do so, he must first realise the true state of emptiness And, of course, to understand emptiness one must first experience temporary fullness thus, he walks into the world of the everyday man He indulges in their pleasure, gains possessions and takes a lover He forms attachments and begets a household of servants and wealth Through experiencimg such things, he learns that they are shallow and transitory they will never create the feeling of lasting happiness within his soul, so he walks out once with the full realisation that peace can only come from one place himselfI have had to experience so much stupidity, so many vices, so much error, so much nausea, disillusionment and sorrow, just in order to become a child again and begin anew I had to experience despair, I had to sink to the greatest mental depths, to thoughts of suicide, in order to experience grace He experiences oneness with his own thoughts, with everyone else and anything that resides in nature he becomes enlightened, though only through returning from the darkest of times Suffering exists, suffering will always exist, and it is how we deal with this suffering that defines us it is how we pick ourselves up afterwards not letting it ruin our lives, and those around us, that makes us stronger In this Hesse capture something extremely difficult to put into words, which is something the novel frequently recognises How does one accurately define these vague concepts of belief He doesn t So we rely on allegories to teach us these ideals, to make us understand that happiness is not equitable with materialism, and to make us realise that seeking something too ardently may mean we miss it altogether Seeking the meaning of life is not the answer, living life, the life of peace and compassion, is Siddhartha follows the vibrations of his soul, the sound of the river, and it takes him exactly where he needs to go As a student of Buddhism, as a struggling practitioner, I found this book extremely helpful It cuts through all the rhetoric, the arguments and debates, and gets to the very heart of the matter itself This is a book I will carry with me through life this is a book that has so much wisdom to impart, and now the third book to truly impact me individually.
It was the book I read it four years back And to tell the truth I did not liked it much at the time I thought this guy has written a book for western audience who are not familiar with the philosophy of karma and dharma , or rather, in general, the basic philosophy of India, who after reading it will realize something esoteric And so it seemed to me a book containing wisdom that didn t touched me And I finished it with the verdict contains wisdom, but lacks depth, boring at times, and do not grabs your heart, and is not extra ordinary in any way But over the years I ve come to understand that it is this ordinary ness that which makes this work exceptional It is the story of common man, just like you and me, who goes through the struggles of life He is a man who have the qualities that we all, common man, possess, such as ambition, greed, possessiveness, lust, lying, and etc And it was one day when I was pondering over the book I came to know that it was Hermann Hesse s own life that inspired him to write Siddhartha And it became clear to me why he has written, the way it is written Then it dawned on me that it was all realistic happenings that the book pointed and not something esoteric Even the character Siddhartha, as I came to realize, was as fragile and incomplete imperfect as me or any common man Now I understand, after many years, that Hesse has written from the point of view of a common man, not a protege like Buddha or Adi Shankaracharya And it is in this light of the struggle of a lay man that this book comes in all its glory I mean in terms of wisdom, and not in terms of reading pleasure And as the time is passing by I m getting deeper and deeper into this book, and understanding it better.
If I could turn back time or perhaps pass through some portal which brings me face to face with my 14 year old self, there are so many books I would recommend to little me, grabbing my shoulders to shake my malnourished frame and insisting that I get to reading them as soon as effin possible instead of waiting until I m too old and cynical and hyper critical to appreciate and relate to what they have to say If this ever is was the case, this time warp, today I would probably see a lot novels as earth shattering and brain splattering magic rather than, well, pretty good stuff that I interrupted much better reading over the last two days to absorb for no good reason save for the mild satisfaction of completing a task.
The main wrong idea I had about this novel which had quite a bit to do with it taking so long for me to get around to reading it is that it s specifically about the Buddha I don t have to explain the reason for that misconception, right Cool, moving on I thought maybe it was like a biography or some sort of weird Hessian alt history or, wellhonestly, I didn t think about it very far beyond that, and even those assumptions were fuzzily formed and essentially microscopic Fortunately, Hesse takes his novel in a much engaging direction by focusing in on a formerly devout and self restricting member of the Samana movement who falls in love with a real Playboy Bunny of a gal, a lusty little obsession which quickly moves him away from his faith and into her privates Drugs, drink, gambling, greed, and fornication ensue for years And years And years And years.
Some of you may be familiar with the place he eventually finds himself remorse, self hatred, what if s, what if not s, physical illness, years of wasted time, obsessive reflection i.
e largely pointless yet still horrifyingly circular cap D Dwelling, nothing to show for your indulgences, spiritually crushing and tooth grinding depression, et mofuggin cetera Was there still any kind of filth he had not soiled himself with, a sin or foolish act he had not committed, a dreariness of the soul he had not brought upon himself Was it still at all possible to be alive A dark place, no doubt Unfortunately, this is the point where the book I was at first mildly bored with and then fully engaged in suddenly became just really fucking irritating Hesse takes the word slash concept Om and uses it as the ultimate and probably shortest named deus ex machina of all time in my personal brain library s dusty archives After spending unnumbered decades living like Robery Downey Sheen, our protagonist sits by a river for, I dunno, a couple of minutes reciting Om before it just miraculously all comes back to him and he s all enlightened and at peace again and shit this is not even remotely the end of the novel, so please don t spoiler mark me out of spite So wait, what Not for nothin , but if I have even a mildly snaggle toothed hangover, I practically require endless supplies of coffee and 800mg ibuprofen, an animal and or person to cuddle with, liquid b12 drops, at least an entire season of some television drama to fall into, and various plush surfaces to flail about on as I frantically loop Stuart Smalley quotes in my head just to keep the demons at bay Sure, I am not enlightened and I know I sound like a total wimp right now, especially compared to one so self disciplined as a monk type, but I d say his story of basically spending half a lifetime dipped in chocolately booze pools with naked bodies slithering all around him while he passed the glass n rolled up dollar bill around gives new meaning to the phrase falling off the wagon Then again, I guess being at one with the spiritual path could be sorta like riding a bike, maybe I don t suppose my hair turns white from shock every time I hear about an Amish kid returning to his village apr s Rumspringa Anyway, my point is that everything just happened so fast and I wasn t ready.
All this nitpicking makes it sound like I didn t like the book, even though I pretty much did Trite as the whole setting free the bird image was as in, one character literally sets free a bird on the day her lover decides to leave her because it s symbolic , my heartstrings did play a purdy song when Siddhartha and his gal split ways, and everything that happened after the whole Om Affair did snap me back into the story I particularly dug the ending, as there was ambiguity in a lot of the right places, and the very last scene was quite lovely read it, young me read it right after you get the almanac back from Biff Oh, and speaking of the almanac, you re definitely gonna want to hold on to that thing because, honey, let me tell you a little something about the world economy in the early 21st century Haha, Cher s totally stuck in your head now Sucker.
Most religions know of it as Enlightenment when the individual transcends himself and sees himself as one with the ultimate reality It can be theistic the Aham Brahma Asmi I am the Brahman or Tat Tvam Asi Thou Art That of Hinduism or atheistic the Buddhist Nirvana, based on the Anatman non soul but the person who achieves it, according to all sources, is caught up in profound rapture To reach this stage, one has to tread an arduous path Carl Gustav Jung called the process individuation Joseph Campbell called it the hero s journey Herman Hesse s eponymous protagonist of Siddhartha is a man who embarks on this enterprise.
Siddhartha, the handsome Brahmin youth who apparently has everything, is dissatisfied with life with the whole pointlessness of it He leaves home with his friend Govinda and joins a group of ascetics the Samanas who have made renunciation a way of life However, the true seeker he is, Siddhartha finds that simple renunciation does not work for him he joins the Buddha in pursuit of enlightenment However, he soon understands that whatever knowledge he must possess, must be experiential Leaving Govinda to become a Buddhist ascetic, Siddhartha buries himself in the sensual world across the river, where Kamala the courtesan trains him up in the pleasures of the flesh and Kamaswami the merchant instructs him in the secrets of commerce Siddhartha soon tires of these too he returns to the river in penury not knowing that his child is growing within Kamala , and is taken up by the aged boatman Vasudeva as a helper.
Here, ferrying people across the river, Siddhartha finally attains enlightenment not from a great teacher, not from years of penanace and not even from the kindly Vasudeva even though he points the way but from the river Kamala s death and his son s abandonment of the stranger father completes his education, as distress turns to peace Then it s time for Vasudeva, the mentor, to disappear leaving his student alone with the river What the river told Siddhartha The river flows, and becomes one with the ocean The vapour from the ocean form into clouds, and descend on the mountains, becoming the river The river keeps on flowing it is inconstant, ever renewing, never the same yet it is eternal The river flows, and the river is On its surface, you can see the faces of all your loved ones whether alive, dead or yet to be born In the roar of the river, if you listen carefully, you can hear the sacred AUM the first syllable outward, the second one inward, the third one silenceand the fourth one, the all encompassing silence which bears the sound of the cosmic ocean in its womb.
By the latter part of the 19th Century, the colonial spread of European powers across the world was in full swing The British ruled India and Australia and had gone to war with China to force opium on the population Africa, South America, and the Philippines had been portioned out for Western rule and control of resources.
But tyranny does not travel only in one direction, from conqueror to subject When Medieval European knights returned from the crusades, they brought with them mathematical principles, Greek and Roman texts, and thus was the European Renaissance kindled by the Light of Islam Africans were brought to America as slaves, but even being scattered and mistreated did not prevent them from changing the culture, gifting us with blues, jazz, and African descended words like funk , mojo , boogie , and cool.
It was the same with the colonial powers of the fin de si cle , who brought back stories, myths, fashions, art, and philosophies from all over the world Many Europeans grew obsessed with these foreign religions, finding in them both universal truths of human existence and completely new modes of thought Organizations like the Theosophical Society were formed to explore these religions it was all the rage.
But there was a problem they got almost all of it wrong.
A Frenchman could spend his entire life learning the intricacies of Greek and Hebrew in order to study Catholicism its origins, philosophies, schisms, heresies, and history and still find that, in the end, there is much he does not know, and that he d made many errors along the way This, despite the fact that his culture is already steeped in it, he can go and speak to one of hundreds of experts any time he has a question, and has access to a complete library of texts on the subject written in his own language, and by people of a similar culture.
Now, imagine our 19th Century Gascon trying to do the same thing with Buddhism, where not only the original texts on the subject but the histories and analyses are in not merely a foreign language, but a completely different language branch, where the experts are from a different culture and speak a different language, and where the complexity and depth of history are just as vast.
It s no wonder that the Theosophists and similar groups ended up with garbled, mistranslated, simplified versions that combined opposing schools of thought haphazardly As an old philosophy professor of mine once said You can learn a great deal about German Protestantism from reading Siddhartha, but almost nothing about Buddhism.
What ultimately emerged from the Theosophist movement was not a branch of Western Buddhism, but the New Age Movement a grab bag of the same old Western ideas dressed up as mystical Oriental wisdom Indeed, the central idea of the inane self help book The Secret and of Siddhartha are the same the Law of Attraction , which is not a Buddhist principle.
Like most of Hesse s work, it belongs in the Spiritual Self Help section, where vague handwaving and knowing looks are held in higher esteem than thought or insight It s the same nonspecific mysticism he shows us inThe Journey To The EastandThe Glass Bead Game , where the benefits of wisdom are indistinguishable from the symptoms of profound dementia.
If you want to understand Buddhism, start somewhere else, because you d just have to unlearn all of Hesse s incorrect arguments and definitions Happily, we have come a long way since Hesse s time, with experts and commentaries in many different languages available to the avid student But, if you d like to see someone try to explain the principles of Lutheranism using only misused Hindu terms, this may be the book for you.
Herman Hesse S Classic Novel Has Delighted, Inspired, And Influenced Generations Of Readers, Writers, And Thinkers In This Story Of A Wealthy Indian Brahmin Who Casts Off A Life Of Privilege To Seek Spiritual Fulfillment Hesse Synthesizes Disparate Philosophies Eastern Religions, Jungian Archetypes, Western Individualism Into A Unique Vision Of Life As Expressed Through One Man S Search For True Meaning