Siddhartha Hermann Hesse
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) is loosely based on the spiritual journey taken by Siddhartha Gotomaand deals with the complications, anxieties, and ultimate rewards of shaping one’s beliefs.
Siddhartha has sometimes been called a work of reverse missionary and colonial activity, bringing to the West the lessons of a typically Eastern story of spiritual searching and fulfillment. • Being the story of one man’s religious journey, readers should leave the novel aware of their own beliefs and where it is they are going in their own paths.
Ancient Hinduism, or Brahmanism, is based on the Vedas, an ancient group of prayers and hymns brought to India by the Indo-Aryans around 1500BC. • Hinduism is characterized by a strict caste system based on heredity. People are born into a caste and remain in that caste throughout their lives.
There are five castes • Brahmins: priests who guard the traditions and rites of Hinduism • Kshatriyas: the nobility or ruling class, military • Vaishyas: those who engage in commerce, such as farmers and merchants • Shudras: servant class established to meet the needs of the higher castes • The Untouchables: the lowest caste; homeless, criminals, sick
The Upanishads is a collection of philosophical texts that explains the Vedas and Hinduism. • These texts give insight into the following Hindu beliefs: • There is a universal soul called Brahman that constitutes the eternal, or the essence of everything. • Hindus spend their lives trying to become one with Brahman. This goal will be accomplished when one’s Atman, or individual soul, merges with the universal spirit.
Through prayer, sacrifice, and pilgrimage one can get farther away from Atman and closer to Brahman. • Until one becomes part of the universal essence, he or she will experience a cycle of rebirth, or reincarnation, based on the life he or she has lived. This cycle is called samsara. • The caste one is born into is based upon the karma, or actions & works, undertaken in a previous life.
Jainism is an ascetic faith that encourages fasting, meditation, and extreme abstinence. • According to Jains, one's highest goal should be moksha, the liberation from samsara. • To break ones earthly cycle, a soul has to be without attachment or self-indulgence. • This can be achieved only by ascetics who vow to uphold: non-violence, honesty, chastity, wealth, and attachment.
For many adherents, the caste system and constant struggle inherent in Hinduism made Buddhism more appealing. • Buddhism first appeared in the 5th century BC when a wealthy Brahmin’s son, Siddhartha Gotoma, left his family in search for a way to end human suffering, in part reinforced by the strict tenants of Hinduism.
Gotoma was a sheltered prince and one day left the safety of his palace compound to see the world. What he found was sickness, death, and poverty. • In an effort to find enlightenment and understand the world around him, he left the palace and found many teachers to help him understand and approach this world of inequality.
Through meditation, Gotoma learned that the path to Nirvana, the state of being free from the cycle of endless rebirth, could be found if one was to break ties with earthly love and desire. • Once Gotoma had achieved nirvana through his own prayer and meditation, he decided to spread his philosophy. His followers called him Buddha, or the enlightened one.
Buddha believed that if you lived your life a certain way, based on certain codes, nirvana could be achieved. • That code emerges from what Buddha called the Four Noble Truths: • Existence is suffering • Suffering is a result of desire • Suffering ends when desire ends • The way to end desire is to follow the Eightfold Path (guidelines for belief, conduct, occupation, effort, etc.)
Born in Germany, Hesse grew up as the son of Lutheran missionaries who spent time in India. • Hesse’schildhood was spent immersed in Eastern cultures and that affected his work. He was raised in a strictly religious household and could not participate in various social activites(including dancing and sports). • Hesse broke away from his parents at a young age after they expressed a desire for him to become a minister. Instead, he began his career as a scholar and writer by working in bookshops. • In 1916, Hesse’s wife was placed in a mental institution and his son became very sick. As a result of these pressures, Hesse was admitted to a sanitarium and underwent therapy.
A combination of his childhood and later adult experiences prompted him to write this novel about the shaping of beliefs and finding happiness. • Originally published in 1922, the novel didn’t become popular in the United States until the 1960’s.
Scholars have since studied this philosophical narrative of spiritual exploration as an allegory for Hesse’s experiences. • An allegory is a genre in which the text can be interpreted through a lens that reveals a hidden meaning. • Siddhartha is often seen as an allegory of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Psychoanalysis.
During the Vietnam War, the novel was embraced by young readers who found in his protagonist a reflection of their own search for meaning in a troubled world. • Hesse's focus on Eastern culture, as well as his persistent theme of the individual striving for integrity in opposition to mass culture, appealed to a generation in upheaval and in search of renewed values. That journey is still prevalent in youth today.
Atman/Self/Soul Brahman Om/Meditation/Perfection
Driving force in humans is that of achieving dominance over forces that try to control us: ambition, the striving to reach the highest possible position in life, independence, autonomy, etc. Power Driving force in humans is that of fulfilling our urges: from basic motivations like thirst and hunger, to more abstract needs such as desire and gratification. Pleasure Driving force in humans is that of finding meaning and purpose: this meaning is discovered through creating something lasting, and/or finding something to believe in through which one’s life becomes manifest. Meaning
Yellow: color of Earth/falling leaves, renunciation Lotus: flower that begins its life in the mud Ear lobes: elongated because of heavy earrings that were given up (wealth) Mudra: hand gestures, (banning negativity) Halo: inner peace, enlightenment.
Buddhists must think about the kind of life that they lead, in order to live a caring and unselfish life. • Buddhists must train their minds to be calm and positive and to be able to concentrate without getting distracted. • Buddhists must do a job to the best of their ability, that does not harm others and is helpful. • Buddhists must understand that life involves suffering and change. This must be overcome. • Buddhists should behave and act in ways that respect living things, other people’s property, other people’s feelings and themselves. Buddhists should be able to control their minds to see things clearly. They should try to avoid and prevent evil and make an effort to do good to others as well as to encourage others to be good. They must never tell lies, or hurt others or themselves by the things that they say.
“O Illustrious One, in one thing above all I have admired your teachings. Everything is completely clear and proved. You show the world as a complete, unbroken chain, an eternal chain linked together by cause and effect…the unity of the world, the coherence of all events, the embracing of the big and small from the same stream, from the same law of cause, of becoming and dying: this shines clearly from your teachings.” p 32
Interconnectedness: Four Noble Truths Suffering is result of desire Living is suffering Live in a way that eliminates suffering Desire ends when suffering ends
He knew how to recognize Atman within the depth of his being, indestructible, at one with the universe. p.4 Where was Atman to be found, where did He dwell, where did his eternal heart beat if not within the Self? p.6 Your soul is the whole world. p.7 Om is the bow, the arrow is the soul, Brahman is the arrow’s goal at which one aims unflinchingly. p.8 SELF
Siddhartha had one single goal– to let the Self die…when the self was conquered, ….the last must awaken, the innermost of Being that is no longer Self– the great secret! p.14 [The world] was not worth a passing glance, everything lied, everything stank of lies, they were all illusions of sense, happiness and beauty. The world tasted bitter. p.14 What is fasting?...the holding of the breath? It is a flight from the Self. It is a temporary palliative against the pain and folly of life. p.17 I wished to destroy myself, to get away from myself, in order to find the unknown innermost, the nucleus of all things...but by doing so I lost myself on the way. p.38 SELF
TheAwakened “Yes he thought breathing deeply, I will no longer try to escape from Siddhartha. I will no longer devote my thoughts to Atman…mutilate and destroy myself in order to find a secret behind the ruins…He looked around him as if seeing the world for the first time…beautiful, strange, and mysterious…Meaning and reality were not hidden somewhere behind tings, they were in them, all of them.” p.39-40
Fig: sweet, perishable. Christianity- Garden of Eden Islam- Mohammed to followers Buddhism- Bodhi tree
“I have learned from the river…everything comes back.” 49 “He saw that the water continually flowed and flowed and yet it was always there; it was always the same and yet every moment it was new.” 102 “The river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere, and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past, nor the shadow of the future.” 107 [The voices of the river] were all interwoven and interlocked, entwined in a thousand ways. All the voices, all the goals, all the yearnings, al l the sorrows, all the pleasures, all of the good and evil, all of them together was the world.” 135
“You are clever , O Samana…You know how to speak cleverly, my friend. Be on your guard against too much cleverness.” 35 “Be clever brown Samana!...I don’t want you to be his servant, but his equal.” 59 “How I hated myself, thwarted, poisoned, and tortured myself…Never again, as I once fondly imagined, will I consider that Siddhartha is clever.” 97 “He now regarded people in a different light than he had previously: not very clever, not very proud and therefore all the more warm, curious and sympathetic.” 129
“He had never seen a man look, smile and sit like that he thought. I, also, would like to look and smile, sit and walk like that, so free, so worthy, so restrained, so candid, so childlike and mysterious…A man only looks like that when he has conquered his Self.” 35 “As time went on his smile began to resemble the ferryman’s, was almost equally radiant, almost equally full of happiness, equally lighting up through thousands of little wrinkles, equally childish, equally senile.” 108 “And Govinda saw this mask-like smile, this smile of unity over the flowing forms, this smile of simultaneousness over thousands of births and deaths—this smile of Siddhartha—was exactly the same as the calm, delicate, impenetrable, perhaps gracious, perhaps mocking, wise, thousand-fold smile of Gotama.” 151
“When you throw a stone into the water, it finds its quickest way to the bottom…goes through the world like a stone through water, without doing anything…drawn by a goal.” 60 “This is a stone…I see value and meaning in each of its fine markings…” 145 “Then the father realized that Siddhartha could no longer remain with him at home—that he had already left him.” 12 “His face resembled that of another person, whom he had once known, loved, and even feared. It resembled the face of his father…Was it not a comedy, a strange and stupid ting, this repetition, this course of events in a fateful circle?” 132 “The love of his father and mother, the love of Govinda, would not always make him happy…” 5
“You cannot love either…Perhaps people like us cannot love. Ordinary people can, that is their secret.” 73 “He envied them the one thing he lacked…the sweet happiness of their continual power to love.” 77 “I think it is only important to love the world…to regard the world and ourselves and all beings with love, admiration, and respect.” 147 “Most people, Kamala, are like a falling leaf that drifts and turns in the air, flutters, and falls to the ground. But a few others are like stars which travel a defined path: no wind reaches them, they have within themselves their guide and path.” 72
“At the same moment he was horrified and his heart ached as if he had thrown away with the dead bird all that was good and of value in himself.” 82 “He realized something had left him, like the skin an old snake sheds..” 37 “In that moment he stood still, as if a snake lay in his path…” 40 “It is not good to sleep in such places where there are often snakes…” 91 “From under her clothes, a small black snake crawled away…” 111
Jenny, I don't know if mama was right or if it's Lieutenant Dan. I don't know if we each have a destiny, or if we're all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze. But I...I think maybe it's both. Maybe both is happening at the same time. But I miss you, Jenny. If there's anything you need, I won't be far away.