Jana's Reviews > Siddhartha

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
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Mar 11, 08

bookshelves: fiction, spirituality
Read in June, 1989

Frank and I were having a conversation the other night in which we were discussing one of our usual topics: religion / spirituality... though I guess the other favorites (art, film, food, books, money woes, professional woes, traffic rants, geography, bad weather, family woes, music, soccer, our friends and our beloved cats) were probably discussed as well... But we were both expressing our mistrust of inexperience, and how we'd never want to take "wisdom" from someone who hadn't lived a bit. Specifically, Frank was talking about years of Catholic schooling as a contrast to the gay-friendly Episcopal community we've been spending more time with of late. Anyway, he said, "As long as you have a clergy that doesn't have sex, they'll give you narratives of sexual repression."

I guess what he said is an obvious point, but it really resonated with where I am right now in my thinking and belief and also with the rereading of this book, Siddhartha. I'm pretty much a novelty seeker by nature so I don't tend to run away from experience... but more toward it. And I've often had a difficult time respecting those who shut down from experience only to tell others how to live (when they themselves are not open to life and bodies, the particular beauty or ugliness of a place or person or food... and all that other messy stuff of existence). When it comes down to it, I believe that wisdom and even holiness come through experience and not detachment, which is what I glean from this book as well. I like the below quote very much; it comes near the end of the book.

When the illustrious Buddha taught about the world, he had to divide it into Samsara and Nirvana, into illusion and truth, into suffering and salvation. One cannot do otherwise, there is no other method for those who teach. But the world itself, being in and around us, is never one-sided. Never is a man or a deed wholly Samsara or wholly Nirvana; never is a man wholly a saint or a sinner. This only seems so because we suffer the illusion that time is something real. Time is not real… And if time is not real, then the dividing line that seems to lie between this world and eternity, between suffering and bliss, between good and evil, is also an illusion.

Also, I'm changing my rating of this book from 4 stars to 5 as I was quite young the first time I read it (18 years ago).
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message 5: by Don (new) - rated it 5 stars

Don I love this book. I think I'm going to find it in my stacks and re-read it too.

d.


Jana I just found it again on one of my shelves this morning. I've been wondering how reading it at this point in my life (with a daily yoga practice) will change my experience of it.


message 3: by Don (new) - rated it 5 stars

Don similar questions here. I read it before I knew anything about eastern notions, in fact, it was the maidenhead of my easternaffection.

Will post a re-review.

don


Cheryl Kennedy I'm reading Siddhartha now...thanks for your perspective!


Mary Ellis try experiencing life with a detached self, just witness without judgement.
That's what message is... live your life consciously and you'll see the meaning, otherwise it's all blather and bollocks.


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