[Book Review] “Siddhartha”

This book is the core of my writing. Is the spark of my belief in a better world and is the book that took me to the peak of my personal development search. This book was recommended to me by a very dear friend of mine, in times of deep troubles of mind. He said: “Read this. You may find your way”.

I read it breathless… Every day, on my way to work, with my headsets on, I would lose myself in the world of the young seeker, just to learn more of his adventures.

Even from the first paragraphs of chapter 1, the reader discovers the depth of our hero’s mind and his thirst for knowledge. I was intrigued by the life of an Indian young man who, from early ages, knew that something greater was waiting for him. He was not pleased with the life he had; there was always something missing; even though “He already knew how to speak the Om silently, the word of words, to speak it silently into himself while inhaling, to speak it silently out of himself while exhaling, with all the concentration of his soul (..) one with the universe”.

With all the practices and wise men around him, Siddharta started questioning the nature of gods and the purpose of life.

Consequently, he left his parents’ home and started the journey of self-discovery, accompanied by his best friend – Govinda.

As you may be able to tell, that was the exact moment I let myself entangled by the story; the moment I said the first:”A-ha!”; and the moment I knew that book was, indeed, meant for me to read. And the timing was perfect!

So, here he is, a young man that could have had everything in life (as the son of a Brahman), leaving everything behind, in search of a higher purpose. In search of answers the wise men could not have provided. In search for… himself.

He goes from giving up everything he has for living in the forests – with the Samanas – to becoming a very wealthy businessman, to meeting the wise ferryman. A life journey, that happens within the span of just a few years.    

When someone asked him: “What can you do?” he answered: “I can think. I can wait. I can fast. (…) I also know magic spells, but I do not want to speak them any more. I have read the scriptures (…)”. What a magnificent answer! Some may think it is shallow, yet – digging below the surface – some great amount of wisdom may be revealed within these words.

When he met the ferryman for the second time and had the chance of telling his tale to the old man, Siddhartha was astonished by his new companion’s silence.

Cartoon created by the author of this review

When he finished the story of his life, he said to the ferryman: “And I also thank you for this, Vasudeva, for listening to me so well! These people are rare who know how to listen. And I did not meet a single one who knew it as well as you did. I will also learn in this respect from you.”

Siddhartha” was written by the German-Swiss multi-talented novelist, poet and painter Hermann Hesse and first published in 1922. The quotes in this review are from the free on-line version of the book I was fortunate to find and read here. There is also a beautifully narrated audio-book version, here.

By the time I finished reading it, I knew why my friend told me those words. And I knew something different was ahead of me. As a result, I am now writing this, in hopes someone will get curious enough to visit the links above and learn what I learned.

This book has, literally, changed my life. And I hope it will change many more !

*****

Article originally posted on LinkedIn, on July 31st, 2018

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