Hermann Hesse wrote Siddhartha during a period in his life in which he suffered what he described as a “sickness with life.” He claimed to be unable to complete the book because he had not experienced the kind of nirvana that Siddhartha, the main character, wants to achieve—so Hesse surrounded himself with sacred Buddhist and Hindu teachings and lived as a recluse in order to complete this work.
Siddhartha is a short, simple tale of a man’s quest to achieve enlightenment and happiness. Over twelve short chapters the reader follows Siddhartha through his time as a young adult, to his exploration of spirituality as a traveling ascetic, to his delvings in lust, business, and greed, to his time as an old man. At each stage of his life Siddhartha yearns for nirvana, finally achieving it only after realizing that it’s all of life’s experiences that form it, not the teachings of any one man.
Today Siddhartha remains an influential text in new Western spirituality.
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Read this book twice. You will miss Hesse's point the first time.
A Singular Spirituality
The meandering path to a peaceful life is truly a personal one. What will leave one person content and at peace, will only fan the flames of longing in another. That individuality makes wisdom something that cannot be passed from one person to the next. I think this insights are what Hesse is trying to get at in Siddartha.
Moreover, even the individually selected journey to a heightened personal spirituality will always be incomplete. Accepting the inability to know all, see all, feel all things, is still live a life worth living, may in fact be the true nirvana. A freedom from in its own way.
Hesse is also asking, no, searching for the delicate balance of nirvana. Personal growth through feeding the soul, improving the mind, and satisfying the body. Each awakening requires a death and rebirth of a part of the self. That process is so singularly spiritual and what makes Siddhartha a compelling read.
A book that begs a reread!!
So, read it, then, read it again.
A book of “words” that may contain something for someone who is....seeking, searching...nay, finding...