Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"Siddhartha" by Herman Hesse

In Ancient India, a young son of a Brahmin leaves home in the hopes of attaining enlightenment by becoming a wandering ascetic.  He seeks out the famous Buddha but upon meeting and learning from him he decides that in order for him to continue on his quest he must do it alone, rather than following the Buddha.

But soon after he meets the most beautiful woman he has ever seen and she leads him into a life of material, riches, and passion.  He soon realizes that his lifestyle has left him empty and void of spiritual fulfillment.  And so he leaves, thinking of ending his life but instead comes to a river that leads him into the spiritual experience of the holy word Om.  From there his life is about peace and the wisdom he has gained with it.

Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, is the story of a spiritual journey during the time of Buddha.  The young man, Siddhartha, spends his life looking for enlightenment through traditional means but instead comes to learn that it comes through a complete understanding and experience of the events of one's life.

No matter what your religious beliefs, you will find lessons in this book.  When something is missing in your life, it requires a personal journey of soul-searching and faith to find what you are looking for.  The book is a product of Hesse's own journey to self-discovery and search for enlightenment.  Though written in a very simple language, this short novel packs quite the punch.  It is not a simple read and requires a great deal of attention.  

For me, this was an interesting look at Buddhism, a religion I don't know very much.  And knowing that it stems from Hesse's own life path, made it more enjoyable.  But it is a book that probably deserves more attention than I had to give.  I greatly appreciate the message that everyone has their own journey, that what we're looking for doesn't always come from the scholastic medium and that we need to break out on our own sometimes to find what we're looking for.  My religious beliefs are different from those in the book so that's probably why I didn't find this book as groundbreaking or life-changing as others have.  However, this isn't a book that I would warn people off of based on religious belief.  I would include this as an important historical read.
 
This book is included in my Classics Club list of 50 classic books to read in 5 years.

5 comments:

  1. Lovely review. Sometimes you can enjoy a book even when you don't completely buy into its philosophy.

    I've been curious about Hesse's work and was thinking of reading Steppenwolf this year. hope I can get to it.

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    1. This has definitely intrigued me to look into his other work, though maybe not for a little bit! I need something lighter!

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  2. Sounds like it might be a good book for book club discussion.
    Ann

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    1. That is very true Ann. There is a lot in this book that can be discussed passionately.

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  3. This is definitely one I want to read. It's on my Classics Club list too. :-)

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