Siddhartha

Siddhartha

Herman Hesse's classic novel has delighted, inspired, and influenced generations of readers, writers, and thinkers. In this story of a wealthy Indian Brahmin who casts off a life of privilege to seek spiritual fulfillment. Hesse synthesizes disparate philosophies--Eastern religions, Jungian archetypes, Western individualism--into a unique vision of life as expressed throug...

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Title:Siddhartha
Author:Hermann Hesse
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Edition Language:English

Siddhartha Reviews

  • Stephen

    My apologies if this review reeks of "GUSHness." However, it gave me that

    reading experience that doesn't come along often and so I think it is certainly worthy of the praise I shall heep upon it. Beautifully written and a deeply personal story, Hesse has created the ultimate expression of the journey of self-discovery.

    The book details the story of Siddhartha, the young and brilliant son of a Brahmin in ancient India. The Brahmin are the uber revered caste comprised of poets, pri

    My apologies if this review reeks of "GUSHness." However, it gave me that

    reading experience that doesn't come along often and so I think it is certainly worthy of the praise I shall heep upon it. Beautifully written and a deeply personal story, Hesse has created the ultimate expression of the journey of self-discovery.

    The book details the story of Siddhartha, the young and brilliant son of a Brahmin in ancient India. The Brahmin are the uber revered caste comprised of poets, priests, teachers and scholars***.

    [***

    : How refreshing is it that their most revered group is not made up of morally questionable athletes, morally suspect celebrities and morally bankrupt politicians...I'm just saying!!]

    At the beginning of the story, despite having absorbed all of the teachings of his father and followed all of the religious rites and rituals of his caste, Siddhartha is not content. He knows deep inside that there is something missing and decides to leave his father and his future and seek enlightenment. He sets out, along with his life long friend to find life’s meaning. A decision that makes Siddhartha’s father less than a happy camper.

    Thus begins one of the truly exceptional stories in modern literature. Siddhartha’s journey takes him from the elite of his people:

    1. First, to a group of ascetics who shun personal possessions and view the physical world as the source of all pain;

    2. Next to a beautiful courtesan who teaches Siddhartha the mysterious of physical love, to a world;

    3. Third, to a wealthy trader who teaches Siddhartha about profit, trade and worldly pleasures;

    4. Then to a life of hedonistic excess in which Siddhartha eats, drinks, gambles and indulges in numerous sexual conquests in a very SinCityesque way...

    5. Finally, back to an ascetic life, but one that embraces the world and everything in it as special and unique.

    Throughout the various stages of his journey, Siddhartha finds something of value in everyone he interacts with and each stage brings him closer to his ultimate goal. Through elegant and deeply evocative writing, Hesse demonstrates, through Siddhartha's journey, the fundamental value of each and every person on Earth. Everyone has something special to contribute to the universe. Siddhartha's final realization of his goal of finding enlightenment is simply amazing and one that I can not recommend more strongly that everyone read.

    I'm a U.S. citizen of Irish heritage living in Las Vegas. I was raised Roman Catholic and spent most of my undergraduate and graduate academic life learning about western philosophy, history and literature. I mention the only because I was

    that I could identify so intensely with Siddhartha’s story, despite a background that was as far from embracing an "eastern" viewpoint as you could possibly get.

    I think its ability to completely suck me in demonstrates not only the brilliance and beauty of Hesse’s prose, but also the universal nature of the story and its ability to transcend all barriers to understanding. It is an amazing read but also a deeply personal one and I think that everyone will get something different out of reading it. Hopefully it is something very, very positive.

    5.0 stars. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!

  • Bookdragon Sean

    In life we all look for meaning, we all look for something to give us a purpose and, in essence, a reason to actually be alive. Nobody wants to get to the end of their journey and realise it was all for nothing, and that their days were utterly wasted. So how do we find this meaning?

    We must find our own peace. Siddhartha followed the teachings of othe

    In life we all look for meaning, we all look for something to give us a purpose and, in essence, a reason to actually be alive. Nobody wants to get to the end of their journey and realise it was all for nothing, and that their days were utterly wasted. So how do we find this meaning?

    We must find our own peace. Siddhartha followed the teachings of others and it granted him very little happiness. He meets Buddha, or a Buddha, and he realises that the only way he can achieve the same degree of serenity is to find it himself. The words of the man, as wise as they may be, are just air; they are not experience: they are not one’s own wisdom granted through trial. So he takes his own path, albeit an indirect one, and finally awakens his mind into a sense of enlightenment.

    But, in order to do so, he must first realise the true state of emptiness. And, of course, to understand emptiness one must first experience temporary fullness; thus, he walks into the world of the everyday man. He indulges in their pleasure, gains possessions and takes a lover. He forms attachments and begets a household of servants and wealth. Through experiencimg such things, he learns that they are shallow and transitory; they will never create the feeling of lasting happiness within his soul, so he walks out once more with the full realisation that peace can only come from one place: himself.

    He experiences oneness with his own thoughts, with everyone else and anything that resides in nature: he becomes enlightened, though only through returning from the darkest of times. Suffering exists, suffering will always exist, and it is how we deal with this suffering that defines us: it is how we pick ourselves up afterwards not letting it ruin our lives, and those around us, that makes us stronger. In this Hesse capture something extremely difficult to put into words, which is something the novel frequently recognises.

    How does one accurately define these vague concepts of belief? He doesn’t. So we rely on allegories to teach us these ideals, to make us understand that happiness is not equitable with materialism, and to make us realise that seeking something too ardently may mean we miss it altogether. Seeking the meaning of life is not the answer, living life, the life of peace and compassion, is. Siddhartha follows the vibrations of his soul, the sound of the river, and it takes him exactly where he needs to go.

    As a student of Buddhism, as a struggling practitioner, I found this book extremely helpful. It cuts through all the rhetoric, the arguments and debates, and gets to the very heart of the matter itself. This is a book I will carry with me through life; this is a book that has so much wisdom to impart, and now the third book to truly impact me individually.

  • Kemper

    So there’s a damn dirty hippie in India named Siddhartha who is supposed to be seeking spiritual enlightenment, but instead of going to a good Christian church like a normal person, he wanders around the woods for a while with some other damn dirty hippies. After he meets Buddha, he finally gets tired of being broke-ass and homeless, and he goes into town where he makes a pile of money. This is good because everyone knows that engaging in capitalism is the only proper way to go through life. As

    So there’s a damn dirty hippie in India named Siddhartha who is supposed to be seeking spiritual enlightenment, but instead of going to a good Christian church like a normal person, he wanders around the woods for a while with some other damn dirty hippies. After he meets Buddha, he finally gets tired of being broke-ass and homeless, and he goes into town where he makes a pile of money. This is good because everyone knows that engaging in capitalism is the only proper way to go through life. As a bonus, he also meets a beautiful woman.

    Then, just when he’s having a good ole time; doing business, drinking, gambling and making time with the woman, the dang fool’s hippie ideas pop up again, and he walks away from all of it. Remember that Chris Farley routine on Saturday Night Live where he’d scream that someone would end up living in a van down by the river? Well, this hippie ends up living in a hut down by the river. And that’s even worse, because at least you could play the radio in a van.

    Finally, Siddartha thinks that the river is god. Or something stupid like that. It just didn’t make any sense. Give me one of them Lee Child novels any day over this hippie dippie crap. That Jack Reacher is a man’s man!

    Just kidding.

    Actually, this is an elegant allegory about a guy going through different phases as he pursues a lifelong quest to rid himself of his ego so that he can know true peace and enlightenment. It’s filled with incredible writing, and it’s short and smart enough to hold the attention of even a doofus like me. I’d put this in the category of books that everyone should read at least once.

  • Paquita Maria Sanchez

    If I could turn back time*or perhaps pass through some portal which brings me face-to-face with my 14-year-old self, there are so many books I would recommend to little me, grabbing my shoulders to shake my malnourished frame and insisting that I get to reading them as soon as effin possible instead of waiting until I'm too old and cynical and hyper-critical to appreciate and relate to what they have to say. If this ever is/was the case, this time-warp, today I would probably see a lot more nove

    If I could turn back time*or perhaps pass through some portal which brings me face-to-face with my 14-year-old self, there are so many books I would recommend to little me, grabbing my shoulders to shake my malnourished frame and insisting that I get to reading them as soon as effin possible instead of waiting until I'm too old and cynical and hyper-critical to appreciate and relate to what they have to say. If this ever is/was the case, this time-warp, today I would probably see a lot more novels as earth-shattering and brain-splattering magic rather than, well, pretty good stuff that I interrupted much better reading over the last two days to absorb for no good reason save for the mild satisfaction of completing a task.

    The main wrong idea I had about this novel--which had quite a bit to do with it taking so long for me to get around to reading it--is that it's specifically about the Buddha. (I don't have to explain the reason for that misconception, right? Cool, moving on.) I thought maybe it was like a biography or some sort of weird Hessian alt-history or, well...honestly, I didn't think about it very far beyond that, and even those assumptions were fuzzily formed and essentially microscopic. Fortunately, Hesse takes his novel in a much more engaging direction by focusing in on a formerly devout and self-restricting member of the Samana movement who falls in love with a real Playboy Bunny™ of a gal, a lusty little obsession which quickly moves him away from his faith and into her privates. Drugs, drink, gambling, greed, and fornication ensue for years. And years. And years. And years.

    Some of you may be familiar with the place he eventually finds himself: remorse, self-hatred, what-if's, what if not's, physical illness, years of wasted time, obsessive reflection i.e. largely pointless yet still horrifyingly circular cap-D Dwelling, nothing to show for your indulgences, spiritually crushing and tooth-grinding depression, et mofuggin' cetera.

    A dark place, no doubt. Unfortunately, this is the point where the book I was at first mildly bored with and then fully engaged in suddenly became just really fucking irritating. Hesse takes the word-slash-concept "Om" and uses it as the ultimate--and probably shortest named--deus ex machina of all time in my personal brain library's dusty archives. After spending unnumbered decades living like Robery Downey Sheen, our protagonist sits by a river for, I dunno, a couple of minutes reciting "Om" before it just miraculously all comes back to him and he's all enlightened and at peace again and shit (this is not even remotely the end of the novel, so please don't spoiler-mark me out of spite). So wait, what? Not for nothin', but if I have even a mildly snaggle-toothed hangover, I practically require endless supplies of coffee and 800mg ibuprofen, an animal and/or person to cuddle with, liquid b12 drops, at least an entire season of some television drama to fall into, and various plush surfaces to flail about on as I frantically loop Stuart Smalley quotes in my head just to keep the demons at bay. Sure, I am not enlightened and I know I sound like a total wimp right now, especially compared to one so self-disciplined as a monk-type, but I'd say his story of basically spending half a lifetime dipped in chocolately booze pools with naked bodies slithering all around him while he passed the glass n' rolled up dollar bill around gives new meaning to the phrase "falling off the wagon." Then again, I guess being at one with the spiritual path

    be sorta like riding a bike, maybe? I don't suppose my hair turns white from shock every time I hear about an Amish kid returning to his village après Rumspringa. Anyway, my point is that everything just happened so fast and I wasn't ready.

    All this nitpicking makes it sound like I didn't like the book, even though I pretty much did. Trite as the whole "setting free the bird" image was (as in, one character literally sets free a bird on the day her lover decides to leave her

    ), my heartstrings did play a purdy song when Siddhartha and his gal split ways, and everything that happened

    the whole Om Affair did snap me back into the story. I particularly dug the ending, as there was ambiguity in a lot of the right places, and the very last scene was quite lovely. Read it, young me. Read it right after you get the almanac back from Biff. Oh, and speaking of the almanac, you're definitely gonna want to hold on to that thing because, honey, let me tell you a little something about the world economy in the early 21st century...

    *Haha, Cher's totally stuck in your head now. Sucker.

  • Michelle

    Whatever. Blah blah blah Samana. Blah blah blah Kamala. Blah blah blah Samsara. Blah blah blah River. Blah blah blah Om.

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