Siddhartha Quotes About Life

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

''Siddhartha'' by Hermann Hesse is the story of a man on a journey towards enlightenment. At each step, he learns a little more about life. In this lesson, we will examine some of Siddhartha's discoveries through quotes from the novel.

Views Change Over Time

Imagine yourself at five years old, fifteen years old, thirty years old. How does your outlook on life change as you grow older? Throughout Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha grows spiritually as he seeks enlightenment. In this lesson, we will find out how his view on life changes by looking at some quotes from the story.

Siddhartha Decides to Learn About Life for Himself

Siddhartha is raised to be a Brahman, or Hindu priest. Through his father and the elders in the community, he learns a great deal about the holy books and about rituals, but he doesn't feel satisfied, so he leaves to join the Samanas. The Samanas believe in sacrifice. Siddhartha learns that he is able to push himself both physically and emotionally through fasting and by turning away from relationships and things. Eventually, Siddhartha's discontent grows and he leaves to join Gotama the Buddha. Through Gotama, Siddhartha discovers that true enlightenment doesn't come through a teacher. Each individual must learn by reflecting on his own experiences.

When Siddhartha realizes it is time for him to go to create his own path, he tells Gotama, 'It is not my place to judge another person's life. Only for myself, for myself alone, I must decide, I must chose, I must refuse. Salvation from the self is what we Samanas search for, oh exalted one. If I merely were one of your disciples, oh venerable one, I'd fear that it might happen to me that only seemingly, only deceptively my self would be calm and be redeemed, but that in truth it would live on and grow, for then I had replaced my self with the teachings, my duty to follow you, my love for you, and the community of the monks!'

Siddhartha recognizes that in order to grow he will have to put aside all of the teachings, opinions, and ideas about life that he has been fed by spiritual leaders. He will have to go back to the beginning and reteach himself to discover what works for him in his life.

Siddhartha Sees That All Life is Connected

Siddhartha spends twenty years abandoning his spirituality and falling into worldliness by immersing himself in a life of sex and business. When he is finally disgusted by his own behavior, Siddhartha leaves the city to become a ferryman where he lives in a hut with another enlightened ferryman, Vasudeva.

Through Vasudeva, Siddhartha learns to listen to the river. The narrator states, 'Often, they sat in the evening together by the bank on the log, said nothing and both listened to the water, which was no water to them, but the voice of life, the voice of what exists, of what is eternally taking shape.' Through Vasudeva, Siddhartha is beginning to learn that life is almost like a separate entity that speaks to them, however, it is not until Siddhartha experiences love and rejection from his son that he truly understands that voice consists of all of the joys and pain of all of those in the world, intertwined together to create 'the music of life.'

Siddhartha Concludes that Life is Love

Late in life, Siddhartha reunites with his childhood friend, Govinda, who has remained with Gotama the Buddha. Govinda and Siddhartha's views on life have gone in different directions. Govinda believes what Gotama has taught about showing '…benevolence, clemency, sympathy, tolerance, but not love; he forbade us to tie our heart in love to earthly things.'

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