Siddhartha by Herman Hesse


Ok, so I didn’t really read this book _per se_, but I did listen to it through the “Audible.com”:http://www.audible.com service.

This is the story of a wayfarer, whose travels took him to the opulent riches of the Brahmans (ancient Hindu priests), the austerity of the ascetic “_sramanas_”:http://www.angelfire.com/realm/bodhisattva/sramana.html, the materialistic world of the merchants, and finally to a river.

Listening to the book is much like listening to an opera. Sure, there is plot, but the plot really only exists for a few important events. Years pass in one sentence, but then a whole chapter is spent on a conversation. This really takes some getting used to. What also takes getting used to is the cycle of hope, imperfection, and dragging down into despair that marks Siddhartha’s life, at least until the end. Yet despite the strange flow of the book, it’s not hard to relate to Siddhartha. After all, we are all striving for happiness and peace, are we not? We all think that if we can just get that promotion, or save up enough money, or graduate from school, we’ll have it made. And then we get to that point and see that we are only at a plateau, that there is a lot more work to do.

In time, maybe we decide that it’s not the milestones that are important, but the journey, the striving, the becoming of something better than we are or even the realization of perfection or union with God. Or perhaps we don’t want the journey to end, because that would mean death. And such are the decisions that Siddhartha has to face, and feels that he has to face them alone.

Whether you agree with the philosophy in _Siddhartha_ or not, an examination of the ideas within, and your own reactions to them, make the book well worth the time and effort, especially if you are interested in the Hindu and Buddhist philosophies (but even if you’re not).

I heartily recommend this book.

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