Corey Saunders's Reviews > Siddhartha

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
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Apr 26, 2010

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Read in April, 2010

"Above all he learned to listen, to hearken with a quiet heart, with a soul that waited, open, without passion, without desire, without judgment, without opinion." To me this pretty much sums it up. One review included in the back of the book calls Siddhartha superfluous, "decoratively poetic," and "...trivial." In my humble opinion, to read this book and come away with only a critic's cynical sneer is superfluous, ignorant, and... you guessed it... trivial.

Of course there is a place for philosophy for even the everyday Joe - for what is a man who does not exercise his God-given gifts? But more importantly, if one takes in this book solely as a philosophical exercise, they're losing out on the spiritual value that was Hesses' intent. But being a Christian, how can I read Siddhartha and derive spiritual value? Am I denouncing Christ and adopting Buddha? Hardly. But what I am doing is drawing parallels between the ever-present Christian Sunday School story that recounts Christ's parable of the compassionate father. Indeed the Buddhist bent does tend to focus Siddhartha on the priority of finding one's own peace - the essence of the Om for the sake of the Om, so to speak - the bent of Christ's parables is to find the selfsame peace but with the end of then passing that peace on to others... to the world. Which leads to my next favorite quote from Hesse (not by priority, but rather simply by chronology in the book...).

"But the one thing that concerns me is the ability to love the world, not to hold it in contempt, not to hate it and myself, to be able to regard it and myself and all beings with love and admiration and reverence."

To find peace with yourself, existence, and circumstance, frees your heart, mind, and soul to be useful to those around you. As simple as it may seem, the more we let ourselves get bogged down, tied down, with concerns, cares, and commitments of the world, the more we're continuously sapped of our very soul for the gain of others. There's no getting around it - the more indebted we are to others, the more we're consumed by the effort it takes to satisfy those debts, (whatever they may be), and thus the less able we're able to add value to others. It's a simple correlation, really, and one that flows ever so naturally from the passage above.

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05/27 marked as: read

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