Thursday, November 12, 2009

Book #2: Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

I hope that no one reading this (Very few people, in all likelihood) are expecting in depth analysis in this review, because I have to be honest: I just didn’t get it. It was almost certainly due to the fact that I know very little about eastern philosophy, or perhaps because I wasn’t reading critically enough. But for whatever reason, I couldn’t really divine any meaning out of this book.

Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse is set in India, and follows the titular character has he seeks enlightenment. The novel is set six centuries before the birth of Christ, which is the same time that the Buddha was alive. This is no coincidence, of course, as the life of Siddhartha is supposed to mirror the life of Buddha.

The plot follows Siddhartha through his many attempts at enlightenment, which vary widely between ideals such as asceticism and materialism. Ultimately, one of the core tenants of Buddhism (as I understand it) is revealed, in that Siddhartha finds what he is looking for when he stops looking.

Another strong idea in the novel is the idea that the path to enlightenment must come from within. Though Siddhartha crosses paths with Buddha, Siddhartha decides that he must carve his own path to enlightenment.

All in all, though I did not get as much out of this book as some would, I greatly enjoyed it. It illustrated much of the spiritual frustration I have had in life (having been raised Catholic) and presented interesting, relatable characters. In the end it was a quick read, and I was glad to have been able to read it.

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