Comparison of Siddhartha to What the Buddha Taught

Topics: Gautama Buddha, Buddhism, Shramana Pages: 2 (741 words) Published: April 3, 2014

Sound in Siddhartha Compared to Absence in “What the Buddha Taught” It seems that important motifs in several works of literature consist of something very tangible. The repeated symbol has to be very potent, something one can see or touch—or even a very strong, particular smell. The idea or thing that is so important is made obvious in an especially physical way. This is what makes pieces of literature about how to obtain the good life from an Eastern perspective so fascinating. Repeated ideas in these tales are far more subtle. Though Siddhartha and the Buddha reach Enlightenment through different journeys (since wisdom must be discovered within), Siddhartha and “What the Buddha Taught” are more easily compared than contrasted because they possess less obvious ideas and motifs. “What the Buddha Taught” may considered as transcending tangibility and physicality in its ideas due to its overarching focus on absence. Buddha’s teachings enforce that allowing oneself to experience extremes throughout life is to allow suffering and the avoidance of Nirvana. Both hedonism (or “the indulgence in the sense pleasures”) and self mortification are considered “painful and unprofitable”, though in different ways. Thus, the Buddha teaches the middle path, the Cessation of Suffering. The importance of absence from worldly attachments, from extremes, from tangibility is underlined by its reward: Nirvana, a sweet, peaceful emptiness. This text, over and over, associates the absence, the cessation, the lack, and the emptiness with desirability. Meanwhile, attachment, ordinariness, greed and hedonism are to be avoided. This is all to achieve, again, a lack of existence, to refrain from “re-becoming” in the cycle of reincarnation. In the journey of Siddhartha, another subtle idea repeats itself frequently: the importance of sound. Though more tangible than the teaching of abstaining from sense pleasure, sound is overlooked since its significance is more difficult to suggest over...

Cited: Hesse, Hermann. Siddhartha. New York. Penguin Classics. Print. 1920.
Wahula, Rapola. “What the Buddha Taught: Setting in Motion the Wheel of Truth.” New York.
Grove Press. Print. 1974.
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