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Why You Should Read Siddhartha

The journey of enlightenment

By Emery St. WaynePublished 10 months ago 3 min read

"Siddhartha" is a novel by Hermann Hesse that follows the spiritual journey of a young Indian man named Siddhartha during the time of Gautama Buddha. The novel explores themes of self-discovery, enlightenment, and the pursuit of meaning. Spanning a lifetime of experiences and inner transformations, Siddhartha's story is a profound exploration of the human condition and the quest for spiritual truth.

The novel begins with Siddhartha, the son of a respected Brahmin in ancient India, feeling discontented with his life. Despite his privileged upbringing, Siddhartha yearns to find deeper meaning and purpose beyond the rituals and dogma of his society. Dissatisfied with the teachings of his father and the traditional path of the Brahmins, he decides to leave his home and follow the path of asceticism with the Samanas, a group of wandering ascetics.

Undergoing rigorous self-denial and meditation, Siddhartha seeks to transcend his physical self and attain spiritual enlightenment. However, after years of this austere lifestyle, he realizes that the Samanas' path does not lead him to true wisdom and fulfillment. He and his close friend Govinda decide to part ways, with Govinda joining the ranks of Gautama Buddha's disciples.

Feeling disillusioned, Siddhartha leaves the Samanas and embarks on a different path, one that is marked by indulgence and material wealth. He meets Kamala, a beautiful courtesan, and becomes infatuated with her. Determined to win her affection, Siddhartha becomes a successful businessman. In this world of material pleasures, he becomes rich and learns about love, wealth, and human desires. However, Siddhartha's wealth and pleasure-seeking lifestyle ultimately leave him feeling empty and unfulfilled, realizing that material possessions and sensual pleasures do not bring lasting happiness.

Deeply dissatisfied with his life once again, Siddhartha leaves Kamala and the material world behind. He encounters a humble ferryman named Vasudeva and decides to stay by the river, learning from its wisdom and serenity. Under Vasudeva's guidance, Siddhartha immerses himself in the simplicity of life by the river, working as a ferryman and gaining profound insights from the flowing water and the unity of nature.

One day, Kamala, who has given birth to Siddhartha's son, comes to the river seeking help after the death of her lover. She entrusts the boy to Siddhartha and then dies from a snake bite. Siddhartha raises the boy, but the son is rebellious and eventually leaves to live his own life.

As Siddhartha spends years by the river, his spiritual journey reaches its culmination. He experiences a moment of profound unity with all of existence while listening to the river, finally attaining enlightenment. In this state of oneness, Siddhartha gains clarity and wisdom, understanding the interconnectedness of all life and the significance of the present moment.

One day, Govinda, who has become a monk, visits Siddhartha by the river. Siddhartha shares his insights and experiences with his old friend, inviting him to stay for a while. Although Govinda does not fully grasp Siddhartha's enlightenment, he leaves with a newfound appreciation for his friend's wisdom.

In the end, Siddhartha reconciles with his son, who has now become a ferryman like Vasudeva. Siddhartha's son has also experienced his own journey of self-discovery, and the two part with mutual understanding and love. Siddhartha has finally found inner peace and has attained a state of wisdom and serenity, completing his spiritual journey.

"Siddhartha" is a profound exploration of the human spirit and the search for meaning. It delves into the complexities of life, the pursuit of truth, and the timeless quest for self-realization and enlightenment. Throughout the novel, Hermann Hesse weaves a tapestry of philosophical ideas and spiritual themes, inviting readers to contemplate the nature of existence and the paths to inner fulfillment. Siddhartha's journey serves as an inspiring reminder that true wisdom and enlightenment can be found within ourselves and the world around us.

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About the Creator

Emery St. Wayne

I write for freedom and creativity, to escape our world for something radically different. Why experience something that is expected, when the unexpected is so surreal.

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Comments (1)

  • Kendall Defoe 10 months ago

    My favorite Hesse book!

Emery St. WayneWritten by Emery St. Wayne

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