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Discovering Individuality

A journey is something that must be done in everyones life. The journey starts when the person is born and ends when they die. People are all searching for their own things. Some search for things like: money, power, fame, knowledge, peace, understanding, and a sense of who they are. Some people do just for the thrill of adventure. Siddhartha wants to find his individual place in society through personal experience and follow no one else’s ideas but his own. Siddhartha’s journey takes him through different worlds which are represented geographically through the three different parts of the story.

In the first part of the book he travels through the world of the spirit and intellect during his time with the Brahmins, Samanas, and the meeting with the Buddha. He journeys through the land with his friend Govinda in search of peace through the intellect. He learns all about a religion and after experiencing all that it has to offer; feels unsatisfied and moves on to find something new in hopes of finding peace. His meeting with the Buddha is where he truly begins to find his way. When he was listening to the Buddha he realized, “… ou have reached the highest goal which so many thousands of Brahmins and Brahmins’ sons are striving to reach.

You have done so by your own seeking, in your own way, through thought, through meditation, through knowledge, through enlightenment. You have learned nothing through teachings, and so I think, O Illustrious One, that nobody finds salvation through teachings. ” (Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse 33-34). Siddhartha realizes that the Buddha found enlightenment in his own way, and so Siddhartha realizes that he too must find his own way to true peace.

After departing from Govinda and the Buddha he crosses the river, which is the symbolic separator between the world of the intellect and the world of the physical, to see what a life in the city has to offer him. While there Siddhartha thoroughly indulges himself in all that the city has to offer. He becomes fat and wealthy and enjoys his time in the company of Kamala. Over the course of the twenty years he spent there he came to realize that the life of the senses brought him no closer to the peace that he had been seeking.

Hesse shows that it is time for Siddhartha to move on through one of his favorite stylistic techniques, the dream (Understanding Hermann Hesse 102). After the dream Siddhartha realizes that his inner voice that had been encouraging him to quest for answers has been silent for a long time (Understanding Hermann Hesse 102). With this realization he leaves the city without letting anyone know. The final leg of Siddhartha’a journey leads him back to the river he crossed so many years ago. Here he nearly commits suicide but is saved by the sacred word “om”.

After a chance meeting with Govinda he looks into the river smiling and sees the river smiling back at him. When he sees this he decides to stay by the river and asks the ferryman to become his assistant. Now Siddhartha will learn what it means to travel between the world of the intellect and the world of the senses, and listen while he does it (Understanding Hermann Hesse 104). The first thing Siddhartha learns from the river is that there is no such thing as time, and this metaphor is central to the theology that Hesse follows.

It expresses all of being as an eternal present: “Nothing was, nothing will be, everything is, everything has being and presence” (Understanding Hermann Hesse 104). Siddhartha’s journey is almost complete, but he still has one more thing to experience. That thing is love. Siddhartha gains this experience when Kamala, on a journey to see the Buddha before he dies, is poisoned by a snake and dies. This leaves young Siddhartha in the hands of Siddhartha and Vasudeva.

Vasudeva warns Siddhartha not to protect his son, because protection only delays the inevitable and makes the ultimate confrontation with life’s unpleasantness, pain, sin, contradiction, uncertainties, and disillusionment only more shocking or difficult. His son eventually runs away and Siddhartha realizes what it must have been like for his father when he left. Now he has learned what it means to love. Only now does he realize what his goal has always been: “nothing but a readiness of the soul, an ability, a secret art of being able, at any moment, in the middle of life, to feel and inhale the thought of oneness. (Understanding Hermann Hesse 105). Siddhartha and Vasudeva sit by the river one last time and listen to it very closely. Siddhartha hears thousands of voices, but only one word. That word is “om”. After listening to the river, Siddhartha’s eyes glow with the “serenity of knowledge. ” Siddhartha’s journey took him to many different places and he gained much from his different experiences, but he repeatedly went by the answer every time he crossed the river.

All of his journeys gave him a new perspective and new experiences, and in the end Siddhartha did find the peace that he was looking for and he was able to share that peace with his friend Govinda, who had been searching for nirvana and failing to find it for himself, whom he had began his quest with so long ago. Friends play a very important role in Siddhartha’s journey through life. He begins his journey with his childhood friend Govinda. As they journey through the world of the Brahmins and the Samanas Govinda is always as Siddhartha’s side comforting him and believing in his friend’s choices.

After he leaves Govinda with the Buddha, he meets his new “friend”, Kamala. Kamala shows Siddhartha how to live the life of the senses and teaches him how to be a good lover. He learns of true love from her because of the child she has with him. He also learns what it must have been like for his father when he left because young Siddhartha eventually runs back to the city. Then after he leaves the material world, and he befriends the ferryman Vasudeva. Siddhartha learns much from Vasudeva, who helps Siddhartha learn to listen, be pious, and, most importantly, find the readiness that he had been searching for his whole life.

When he sees all his friends again near the end of the book, all of them see the face of an enlightened man. When the 3 look upon his face they see “the aspect of godliness and repose” (Hesse Companion, Theodore Ziolkowski 80). Kamala sees Siddhartha before her death and tells him that even though she didn’t get to see Guatama, she sees that Siddhartha has obtained the same level of enlightenment as him. When Vasudeva sees that Siddhartha has obtained enlightenment, he decides that his time is over, and so he goes off into the woods to die a happy and peaceful man.

Govinda returns to meet with his old friend once again and sees the many faces that now echo through Siddhartha. Each of his friends sees him at the beginning of a particular phase of his journey, but all come together and recognize that his quest is at its completion in the end of the story. The story also seems to pull from a lot of different legends that have existed in different cultures. There is the obvious use of the Buddhist traditions, and the story of Siddhartha seems to parallel Buddha’s journey for enlightenment.

He comes from a relatively well set family, but is unhappy with where he is, so he leaves on a journey of self-discovery. The funny thing is that Hesse himself was openly opposed to Buddha and his “attempt to postulate an established pattern of development” (79). Hesse has done this with any religious dogma that he encountered in his life. The story is really a “glorification of the man Buddha, who went who went his way just as doggedly as Christ and Nietzsche” (Hermann Hesse, Theodore Ziolkowski 26). There are also the Hindu traditions in the story.

The search for the Self, the mention of Atman, Brahma, Maja, and the Brahmins themselves. Hesse even has Christian imagery in the form of Siddhartha’s “reunification with the All at the end of the book corresponds to the miraculous union with God in Christian legends” (Hesse Companion, Theodore Ziolkowski 80). When later asked about his use of religious symbols and various other things, Hesse responded, “Siddhartha glorifies not cognition, but love; it rejects dogma and revolves around the experience of unity” (Hermann Hesse, Theodore Ziolkowski 26).

Siddhartha can be a good teaching tool for young people who are on their own journey of personal fulfillment. They can see Siddhartha’s journey as something that will have to eventually do themselves. They will have to leave their parents and go out and try to find their own place in the world. Siddhartha, the character, goes on a journey of self-discovery. Achieving self-awareness is one of the major obsessions of teenagers; thus, the innate appeal of Siddhartha as a character is readily apparent (http://www. aasianst. rg/EAA/Siddhartha. htm). Siddhartha has appeal to young people also because of his continual unhappiness with his life, which is something every teenager goes through at some point in his or her life. Teachers could also use Siddhartha as a helpful learning tool for how connect with their students. There are a number of qualities that can be learned from in this book. Such as, an appreciation for all students. They must realize that every student has the potential to show improvement, and that everyone can be something great.

It’s just like Siddhartha says, “the potential hidden Buddha must be recognized in himin everybody” (116). The ability to listen is essential. Listening makes the other person think, reflect, and solve things for themselves, but more importantly, it gives someone a feeling that someone really does care about them and understands what they have to say. Vasudeva teaches this to Siddhartha by listening and absorbing all that he says, but it is also important to know when to speak and how to be helpful when you do speak.

Siddhartha continually seeks to find his own path just like the Buddha did. He realizes that you can’t teach the wisdom that the Buddha received when he gained enlightenment, and that everyone has to go about finding enlightenment in their own unique way. Siddhartha realizes that you can be taught knowledge, but you can’t be taught wisdom. Wisdom is something that you have to discover for yourself. When he meets Govinda again at the end of the book and he asks Siddhartha to teach him what he has learned, Siddhartha tells him that wisdom can not be taught.

Knowledge can, but wisdom is something that you must find on your own. Siddhartha first realizes this when he meets with the Buddha, and after carrying on a conversation with him comes to the conclusion that he has to learn about Siddhartha. He says that he is through with teachers and teachings and dogmas, and that he is going to find his own way. He gives up on teachings after hearing the Buddha speak, and Siddhartha tells the Buddha, “To nobody, O Illustrious One, can you communicate in words and teachings what happened to you in your hour of enlightenment” (34).

After the Buddha leaves, Siddhartha thinks to himself, “no other teachings will attract me, since this man’s teachings have not done so” (35). The odd thing though is that once he decides to stay with Vasudeva, he asks him to become his teacher. Vasudeva then tells Siddhartha that the river has taught him everything, and to listen to it if you want to learn. When Siddhartha tells Vasudeva that he learn from him, Vasudeva tells him, “You will learn, but not from meThe river knows everything; one can learn everything from it” (105).

So, in the end Siddhartha ends up getting another teacher in spite of the fact that he promised himself that he would not have anymore teachers since the Buddha’s teachings had not attracted him. Part of what made Siddhartha such a good book was the fact that it was taken from personal experiences that Hermann Hesse had experienced, and his personal set of beliefs. Hesse went through a phase where he doubted the belief in religion in general and he follows no set code of religious beliefs. Hesse found a Christ in everyone and, is Siddhartha, he finds a Buddha in everyone (Understanding Hermann Hesse 101).

He used this part of his life to write the first part of Siddhartha. However, the second part proved to be quite a bit more challenging than the first. Hesse took time off from writing Siddhartha and began to study Lao Tse which was described as “the liberating experience that permitted him to finish the book” (102). For the second part he wrote about his experiences in the world around him. He described things that he had witnessed and experienced while living in the big city. Both of those parts came to him easily because they were things he had seen and experienced for himself.

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