I picked up ‘Siddhartha’ by Herman Hesse a couple of days back and have been completely engrossed with the thoughts expressed in the book. It is a very effusive prose that follows the life of Siddhartha as he travels on a quest for wisdom and enlightenment. It is a wonderful and still-relevant (it was written 1922) book with conflicts that many of us can relate to. I do not plan to write a review here, hardly equipped to do something of that nature. I wanted to write about one particular passage that left quite an impact on me:
““It is good,” he thought, “to get a taste of everything for oneself, which one needs to know. That lust for the world and riches do not belong to the good things, I have already learned as a child. I have known it for a long time, but I have experienced only now. And now I know it, don’t just know it in my memory, but in my eyes, in my heart, in my stomach. Good for me, to know this!” ”
Beautiful. True wisdom really comes with experience. Nothing else. As I stand today, twenty-six years old, nothing strikes me more true than what Siddhartha realizes. As long as I was being educated, told what to do, pressurized by peers, influenced by what I read, I never gained wisdom. As Siddhartha says, when you have grown wiser by the experience, it is not something you recall from memory but it becomes an integral part of who you are. And, only this can be true wisdom and nothing else. Just like how a thousand books on Goa cannot make you actually feel the magic of the place, nor can a thousand philosophies of others make you wiser. Here’s another passage that has Siddhartha thinking about how his life has been upto this point:
“Now Siddhartha also got some idea of why he had fought this self in vain as a Brahman, as a penitent. Too much knowledge had held him back, too many holy verses, too many sacrificial rules, to much self-castigation, so much doing and striving for that goal! Full of arrogance, he had been, always the smartest, always working the most, always one step ahead of all others, always the knowing and spiritual one, always the priest or wise one. Into being a priest, into this arrogance, into this spirituality, his self had retreated, there it sat firmly and grew, while he thought he would kill it by fasting and penance. Now he saw it and saw that the secret voice had been right, that no teacher would ever have been able to bring about his salvation.
Therefore, he had to go out into the world, lose himself to lust and power, to woman and money, had to become a merchant, a dice-gambler, a drinker, and a greedy person, until the priest and Samana in him was dead. Therefore, he had to continue bearing these ugly years, bearing the disgust, the teachings, the pointlessness of a dreary and
wasted life up to the end, up to bitter despair, until Siddhartha the lustful, Siddhartha the greedy could also die. He had died, a new Siddhartha had woken up from the sleep. He would also grow old, he would also eventually have to die, mortal was Siddhartha, mortal was every physical form. But today he was young, was a child, the new Siddhartha, and was full of joy”
How much I can relate to all this! I have not experience half of the world, but I have the impunity to talk about the whole of it as if it is on the back of my hand.
Since I have no resolutions drawn out for this year, I might add this for 2007 – Do and not think.