“Western Introduction to Eastern Philosophy” Although I can understand the longing to separate oneself from the frustrations and hypocrisy of human life, it does seem like an abandonment rather than an accomplishment to me. Maybe because of this, and because I had been exposed to the tenets of both Buddhism and Hinduism prior to reading this novel, I didn’t find it as life-altering and uplifting as many others find it. If you’re new to eastern philosophy, this could be a good general introduction.
In the shade of a banyan tree, a grizzled ferryman sits listening to the river. Some say he’s a sage. He was once a wandering shramana and, briefly, like thousands of others, he followed Gotama the Buddha, enraptured by his sermons. But this man, Siddhartha, was not a follower of any but his own soul. Born the son of a Brahmin, Siddhartha was blessed in appearance, intelligence, and charisma. In order to find meaning in life, he discarded his promising future for the life of a wandering ascetic. Still, true happiness evaded him. Then a life of pleasure and titillation merely eroded away his spiritual gains until he was just like all the other “child people,” dragged around by his desires. Like Hermann Hesse’s other creations of struggling young men, Siddhartha has a good dose of European angst and stubborn individualism. His final epiphany challenges both the Buddhist and the Hindu ideals of enlightenment. Neither a practitioner nor a devotee, neither meditating nor reciting, Siddhartha comes to blend in with the world, resonating with the rhythms of nature, bending the reader’s ear down to hear answers from the river. In this translation Sherab Chodzin Kohn captures the slow, spare lyricism of Siddhartha’s search, putting her version on par with Hilda Rosner’s standard edition. –Brian Bruya
This classic novel of self-discovery has inspired generations of seekers. With parallels to the enlightenment of the Buddha, Hesse’s Siddhartha is the story of a young Brahmn’s quest for the ultimate reality. His quest takes him from the extremes of indulgent sensuality to the rigors of ascetism and self-denial. At last he learns that wisdom cannot be taught–it must come from one’s own experience and inner struggle. Steeped in the tenets of both psychoanalysis and Eastern mysticism, Siddhartha presents a strikingly original view of man and culture, and the arduous process of self-discovery that leads to reconciliation, harmony and peace.
A must read for any spiritual seeker
A journey through the life of a man with a single purpose: to find his own truth.
Knowing that the only way to discover life’s greatest mysteries is to go through the heart of them alone, he finds himself living one extreme after another until he finally rests in the balance.
The ending will either leave you glowing or pondering, but either way you will not regret taking the time to read this remarkable tale….
A rambling spiritual adventure…
I was a little put off initially with the way Hesse wrote, kind of flighty with nothing too concrete or definite. Is it a spiritual quest, a personal quest and so on. Then as Siddhartha grows older within the book we begin to see the natural progression from one mental/spiritual situation to the next. We see him go from spiritual, to rich, gambling, to being poor to a heightened spiritual state and so on.
All in all, after I worked my way into the flesh of Hesse’s writing, I began to enjoy Siddhartha. You feel as though you are on the spiritual voyage with him and can understand where he is coming from. I am glad that there were only 150 pages and it was a fast read, because I most certainly would not want to read this style of writing for very long. I would recommend.