Siddhartha: The Journey to Enlightenment
Siddhartha is a book that opens the reader’s mind to different cultures, finding the meaning of life and the hardships on the path of true enlightenment. It is about a young boy named Siddhartha who becomes aware of the fact that the people around him aren’t truly enlightened. He then goes on a journey of spirituality to find the meaning of life and achieve nirvana. Somewhere along this journey, he loses his way and goes on a path of drinking, sex and gambling. He finally realizes how much he’s lost himself and leaves all his belongings behind to reinvent himself. The numerous journeys Siddhartha went on display how much of an impact culture has on oneself and how he found spirituality.
He wanted to achieve true enlightenment, and in doing so he left all attachments and possessions he had behind. He started off on his journey going along with the Samanas but soon realized that the way to be one with his soul was to go on the journey alone, ‘It is a good thing to experience everything oneself…As a child I learned that pleasures of the world and riches were not good. I have known it for a long time, but I have only just experienced it.” (Hesse 80) as shown in this quote. He believes that for a human to be truly happy, they must be spiritually enlightened and the only way to achieve this is to let go of all possessions and relationships. He knew that someone with a mind full of negative thoughts could never achieve true spirituality since they aren’t at peace with the world and themselves. Siddhartha himself went through this phase where he became greedy and the only things on his mind were alcohol, gambling and sex. He realized how he had run astray from his path and corrected himself by leaving all his possessions and personal attachments behind. He had many superiors who taught him the ways of spiritual enlightenment, but he never followed any doctrines and eventually left them since he couldn’t achieve spirituality unless he was alone. ‘You have renounced home and parents, you have renounced your own will, you have renounced friendship. That is what the teachings preach, that is the will of the Illustrious One. That is what you wished for yourself. Tomorrow, Govinda, I will leave you.’ (Hesse 25). He says that he has learned whatever Govinda taught him, but he had to leave Govinda in order to find himself and his own form of spirituality.
There were many different cultures that Siddhartha encountered during his journeys to find himself. At first, he was with the Brahmin, where he learned the teachings of the religion and what religion said would make him happy, but he was still dissatisfied. He then encountered the Samanas, who taught him to let go of all his physical desires and torture his body until he lost himself. He still was dissatisfied, so he went on another journey and met the Buddha. The Buddha taught Siddhartha about peacefulness and the eightfold path. He took the Buddha’s teachings into account but still questioned how to embrace the unity of everything since they are also being told to overcome the unity of the world. He then realizes that religion would never give him the enlightenment and answers he’s looking for, so he goes on a different path, a path that doesn’t rely on religious instruction. On his journey to explore the material world, Siddhartha meets a ferryman who teaches him how to listen and connect to the river and the river is somewhat like life and how it flows and connects. When Siddhartha went into town, he saw that love was blinding many people from seeing anything other than love. He then starts gambling and quickly gets addicted to the feeling of victory and he loses himself in the culture of winning. ‘It was true that he had never fully lost himself in another person to such an extent as to forget himself; he had never undergone the follies of love for another person. He had never been able to do this, and it had then seemed to him that this was the biggest difference between him and the ordinary people…[now] He was madly in love.’ This shows how going into town corrupted Siddhartha’s mind and how love makes him see nothing other than the person he’s in love with.
This story reminded me of when my uncle used to be addicted to gambling just like Siddhartha did. He had lost a lot of money and he had fallen so far into the void that was his gambling addiction that he had lost touch with himself. He then realized how bad his addiction was, so he corrected himself and his ways. The way my uncle felt while gambling, like nothing else mattered around him, his one and only focus was gambling, was exactly how I feel when I play video games. I have one set goal that I need to accomplish when I start the game, and I don’t stop until I reach my goal. Nothing else matters to me since my mind is focused purely on completing my goal. This is like Siddhartha when he was on his path to spirituality and he cleared his mind until his only goal was to achieve total spiritual enlightenment. While Siddhartha is with the ferryman, he isn’t focused on anything other than the river and his mind is completely at ease. It is the same case with me, when I go to the beach with my dad and sister, my mind is completely relaxed and at ease. It’s like nothing else matters and I can just peacefully relax my mind and soul at the beach.
In conclusion, the story of Siddhartha focuses on his journey to spiritual enlightenment and all the different cultures he found while on his path to enlightenment. Siddhartha let go of all his possessions and relationships so that they could reach true spirituality. It focuses on the different cultures he encountered and that he had lost his way but then regained his sense of direction. He had many hardships on this journey, but he eventually found himself and reached true spiritual enlightenment at the end.
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