What I’ve Learned From Hermann Hesse’s “Siddhartha”
Digging through my suitcase of books, I stumbled across a borrowed, happily worn copy of Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. Not having been incredibly far into the book, I started from the beginning and slowly became enveloped into Siddhartha’s world.
The book itself tells the journey Siddhartha goes through, from living a privileged life as the son of a well respected Brahmin, to enduring fasts with his companion as they choose the way of the Samanas…. Yet it is when Siddhartha and his well-loved companion come across the Holy One, Buddha, that Siddhartha’s journey to wisdom, and all the trials that come with it, begin. Being a lover of philosophy and enamored by dabbling in various aspects of it, I can say I was incredibly moved by what I’d learned so far within the book.
1. Always question your beliefs
Siddhartha, at the very beginning of the novel, slowly begins to question why he prays to the gods, attends teachings, and therefore begins to question exactly why he must pray – and even begins to question the meaning of being at peace with the Self, which then leads him to further question everything he’s known.
2. You may reject teachings and find flaws, but everything is up to you.
At a peaking point in the novel, Siddhartha begins to completely question the teachings he’s learned up until that point, yet he also accepts that there are flaws in every teaching. When having his conversation with Buddha, he says “I am going on my way—not to seek another or better doctrine, for I know there is none, but to leave all doctrines and all teachers and to reach my goal alone—or die.” To me, this shows that he is, indeed, forging his own path and finding his own way in the world.
3. People come and go
Very early on in the novel, Siddhartha and his “shadow,” his friend Govinda, show that their bond is incredibly devoted to one another, going as far as to leave their home and begin to seek Nirvana, and various, if any, teachings the Samana can teach them. Yet, it is only when Govinda must say goodbye to his longtime friend, that we see how deep a friendship can last between two souls.