Jan 13, 2011

Book review: Siddhartha

Anyone who knows me, knows that I rarely tote books around. I rarely read them. My unimpressive list of books I've read remains in the teens. Oh I've started many books, but finished few. That being said; if I do read a book from front to back; it's got to be really good and speak to me in a relatable way. (What can I say? I'm, unapologetically, more of an internet & magazine reader) Though this year I've already read two books and am working on a third. Look out, I'm gettin' smarted!

Siddhartha was a Xmas gift I received this year and enjoyed, literally, every word of it. Hermann Hesse wrote Siddhartha in 1951. Originally written in German, my version was translated by Joachim Neugroschel. I took my time with it, soaked it in, took it to heart. I find myself going back to it, re-reading parts that especially speak to me. The story is simple; a moral allegory based on Buddhist philosophy. I found it thought provoking, introspective and entirely relatable. Nothing too deep or overly intellectual for my pea brain to comprehend.

Here's my interpretation of the novel. Siddhartha is a story of searching and life. Siddhartha searches for enlightenment by taking many paths throughout his life. He joins in many followings, seeks out and listens to many teachers, experiences suffering, pleasure, love and loss; life and death. He lives both nobly and dishonestly. But in the end, he realizes that you cannot find enlightenment. Nor can enlightenment be taught or imparted. Instead you arrive at enlightenment. It is a product of your experiences (positive and negative) through internalization of all things as a whole. It is the totality of life's sufferings and pleasures; the combination of it all. The individual events in life are meaningless when considered alone. Therefore, you cannot fully understand life until you consider all of life's events together.

This book has opened my eyes to the balance of life and a new way of looking at things. Without knowing suffering, we cannot fully know joy. It may sound cliche but there is truth in these words.

No comments: