Siddhartha: Enlightenment of Buddhism

 

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The answer for truth and understanding is the focus of Siddhartha in the translated 1951 novel by Hilda Rosner. The original author is Hermann Hesse, which was published in 1922, who wrote several other books.

The book is based on Siddhartha a man who wants to know the meaning of life; the story is placed in India. He was born into the highest hierarchy of the caste system; he was meant to be a priest instead he leaves his family to become Samanas (bottom of the caste system) to see if he can find the answer his been looking for.

“The novel and process worked well together because they involved exploring the self, reflecting on life experiences, and searching fro enlightenment,” said Kelly Courtney-Smith and Michael Angelotti in The English Journal.

His friend Govinda goes with him, and they follow the teachings of the Samanas for three years. They both get separated from each other by following different paths of enlightenment and are trying to reach Nirvana. Buddhism even though we categorize it into religion is more a philosophical style of living.

“Is a religion which challenges some of our fundamental notions about religion and about man. It denies the existence of God and soul; it views all human experience as caught up in suffering,” said Melford E. Spiro in Buddhism and Society.

Siddhartha goes through some internal demons with gambling, depression, and lust. This leads him to a dark path; he even thinks of suicide as a way out. He finds a ferryman that brings peace and hope; Siddhartha asks him if he learn from him. The ferryman teaches him how to listen to the river and realizes that every spirit (human, rock, tree, animal etc.) is connected in some way to the cycle of life; it is like the current of the river that never ends.

“He no longer saw the face of his friend Siddhartha, instead he saw other faces, many, a long sequence, a flowing river of faces, of hundreds, of thousands, which all came and disappeared, and yet all seemed to be simultaneously, which all constantly changed and renewed themselves, and which were still all Siddhartha,” said Govinda as he finally understood life, Siddhartha.

The meaning of life, knowledge, enlightenment, and purpose is what felt after finishing the book. Reading the book made me realize how ignorant I was in the religion/philosophical life style of Buddhism.

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