So if you watched my first vlog, you will know that I read a book called Siddhartha. I picked it up (actually, I read it on my Kindle App on my Droid), based on a brief recommendation I read. Someone, I can’t remember who, said that the book helped give them a certain awareness about life. So i figured, what the heck, let me check it out, and I’m glad I did.
What’s It All About?
The book was about a man, Siddhartha, who was on a personal journey to find meaning in life. Sounds like most of us right? Well Siddhartha’s journey started out with him being the son of a religious father who he left to go into the woods living a monk-like life learning how to project his spirit, eat next to nothing, and all types of other cool/crazy spiritual stuff. That led him to meeting Gotama (Buddha) where instead of following Gotama, he became aware that he couldn’t just follow the ‘teachers’ he had to rely on his own experience. It is very important to know that for the better part of his life Siddhartha was accompanied (really, followed) by his good friend Govinda. Whereever Siddhartha went, so did Govinda. But when they went to see the Buddha, Govinda decided to become a follower of Buddha, while Siddhartha did not. Govinda was truly saddened, but Siddhartha knew that it was the right thing to do. From there he decided to experience a “normal” life (i.e. materialism) where he became a successful businessman, his lover was a beautiful prostitute, and he went on to a heavy gambler and ended up losing or giving away everything he owned. Not that he cared about possessions, because it was all like a game to him. From there he was led to a river where he befriended a ferry man.
Siddhartha and the River
Siddhartha ended up staying with the ferryman, began “listening” to th river, and not only started to find an inner peace, but he saw that eternal peace in his friend the ferryman. However, before Siddhartha could reach his ultimate heights, he found out he had a son by the prostitute. She dies from a snake bite, and Siddhartha attempts to care for the boy who is about 11 years old at this time. Much to his chagrin, the boy does not embrace him, no matter how much he tries. This pretty much breaks Siddhartha’s heart. The boy runs away back to the city. While Siddhartha grieves about his situation, the ferryman guides him to “listen” to the river again. This time Siddhartha makes the discovery that helps him finding his meaning in life.
Searching vs Finding: Words of Wisdom
One day Govinda decides to visit this old ferryman that he keeps hearing about. When he gets to the river he begins a discussion with the ferryman. Unbeknownst to him, that ferryman is his old friend Siddhartha. Govinda asks the ferry man about “searching” for the meaning of life to which Siddhartha responds:
“… Perhaps that you’re searching far too much? That in all that searching, you don’t find the time for finding?”
“When someone is searching, then it might easily happen that the only thing his eyes still see is that what he searches for, that he is unable to find anything, to let anything enter his mind, because he always thinks of nothing but the object of his search, because he has a goal, because he is obsessed by the goal. Seaching means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal. You, oh venerable one, are perhaps indeed a searcher, because, striving for your goal, there are many things you don’t see, which are directly in front of your eyes“. It is at this point Siddhartha tells his old friend who he is.
And A Final Bits Of Wisdom
I use the word “wisdom” although Siddhartha says he beleives that “wisdom can not be passed on”. He goes into a discussion with Govinda where he passes on these jewels:
“The opposite of every truth is just as true! That’s like this: any truth can only be expressed and put into words when it is one-sided. Everything one-sided which can be thought with thoughts and said with words, it’s all one-sided, all just one half, all lacks completeness, roundness, oneness. When the exalted Gotama, spoke in his teachings of the world, he had to divide it into Sansara and Nirvana, into deceptioin and truth, into suffering and salvation. It can not be done differently, there is no other way for him who wants to teach. But the world itself, what exists around us and inside of us, is never one-sided. A person or an act is never entirely Sansara or entirely Nirvana, a person is never entirely holy or entirely sinful. It does really seem like this, because we are subject to deception, as if time was something real.”
He goes on to say:
“The world, my friend Govinda, is not imperfect, or on a slow path towards perfection; no, it is already perfect in every moment, all sin already carries the divine forgiveness in itself, all small children already have the old person in themselves, all infants already have death, all dying people have the eternal life. It is not possible for any person to see how far another one has already progressed on his path; in the robber and dice-gambler, the Buddha is waiting; in the Brhman, the robber is waiting. In deep meditation, there is the possibility to put time out of existence, to see all life which was, is, and will be as if it was simultaneous, and there everything is good, everything is perfect, everything is Brahman. Therefore, I see whatever exists as good, death is to me like life, sin like holiness, wisdom life foolishness, everything has to be as it is, everything only requires my consent, only me willingness, my loving agreement, to be good for me, to be unable to ever harm me. I have experienced on my body and my soul that I needed sin very much, I needed lust, the desire for possessions, vanity, and needed the most shameful despair, in order to learn how to give up all resistance, in order to learn how to love the world, in order to stop comparing it to some world I wished, I imagined, some kind of perfection I had made up, but to leave it as it is and to love it and to enjoy being a part of it.”
Siddhartha is not a long book, and is a fairly simple read. However, don’t be fooled by the simplicity of it, because as you hopefully see, it contains some very powerful ideas. Pick up your copy(amazon link below), and come back and let me know what you think! I’ll be waiting!
Siddhartha (buy it here)