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Siddhartha

30 Jan 2016

I am not sure where I had first heard of Siddhartha, but it has been in the back of my head as a book that I should read at some point. Originally written in German in 1922, this is truly an odd book.

The entire story must have multiple layers of meaning otherwise it would really just be a boring story about the life of a guy in India. Much of the book is trying to tell you some deeper truth about life through metaphors, but also blantaly just saying certain ideas. Thus it is hard to really grapple with what is happening and what you are feeling unless you consciously take a step back and really think about the meaning behind what you are reading.

All that being said, I had two big takeaways from the book that were just said pretty clearly. Although you need to read the book and get the reasoning behind these ideas and the metaphors that go along with them, these two quotes capture a lot of the main essence of what I think the author was trying to get across. First,

Searching means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal.

The problem with trying to accomplish a goal as your search for meaning in life is that you will not be able to see the end of your search even if it is staring you in the face. You will not be open to having to goal while still searching and hence your search will be eternal and fruitless. Something like that. This comes across as contradictory or even leading to hedonism, but there is a deeper truth here that has some real wisdom, however the next bit will explain why this is hard to explain.

Wisdom cannot be passed on. Wisdom which a wise man tries to pass on to someone always sounds like foolishness. ... Knowledged can be conveyed, but not wisdom. It can be found, it can be lived, it is possible to be carried by it, miracles can be performed with it, but it cannot be expressed in words and taught.

So all is for naught then. This sentiment while extreme is backed up by my own experience so I found it believeable. It is a bit of a runaround though as this idea is wisdom in itself so it is almost like the contradiction "This sentence is a lie". I have found the wisdom I have gained over each year to be something that, even if told to me when I was younger, I would not have believed. I needed the experience to win the wisdom to fully internalize it. Now that I know that, I try to take a different view when I hear tidbits of information, try to see if it is something that I can learn now without having to learn myself the hard way. Even being aware of that possibility, it is a hard feat to accomplish.

Siddhartha was a good book for getting me to think about some ideas and ways of living. This particular edition was horrendous in terms of grammar and editing, so maybe steer clear of the Kindle edition. Additionally, it is short and to the point, so unlike some other philisophical stories, this did not put me to sleep as often.


Category: book