Discovering Individuality

Topics: Hermann Hesse, Gautama Buddha, Siddhartha Pages: 5 (2230 words) Published: May 2, 2002
A journey is something that must be done in everyone‘s 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, " 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,...
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