Themes in Siddhartha
In the novel, Siddhartha, Hesse portrays several different themes throughout his story of a man in search of self discovery. There is a father-son theme first portrayed among Siddhartha and his father. He learns early on that he can not rely on his father’s wisdom and decides to seek his own wisdom and truth. Later his own son leaves him to pursue other interests, like he did to his own father, which leaves Siddhartha to feel the pain that his own father felt when he left him.
Another theme is his quest for spiritual enlightenment. Siddhartha wants to reach a point where he is at peace with the world and he feel that in order to do this he needs to understand life and reach Nirvana. Siddhartha and Govinda are both on this quest, but have different approaches to achieving their goal. He wants to discover truth his own way, not from some teacher. Siddhartha backs out when things start looking a little rough or when his current path doesn’t seem like it will allow him to reach his goal. Siddhartha is willing to take each new path as it comes along and isn’t willing to give up on his ultimate goal. For example, Siddhartha decides to move in with the Samsara and falls in love with a woman. He becomes wealthy, but still doesn’t feel like he has reached his Nirvana. Govinda only lets himself into the spiritual worlds. Govinda is stuck in the world of Hinduism and Buddhism. He only wants these truths and does not want to look outside his box. Sihartha has learned early own that enlightenment can not be taught, it must be found. Siddhartha initially starts out like Govinda, where he relies on teachers to help him reach his goal of enlightenment, but soon finds out that this is not the case and will not help him reach his goal. He ventures in to the ‘real world’ with Kamala and Kamaswami, trying to learn wisdom from them which ends up failing him in the end, hence he learns that enlightenment can only be discovered within yourself. He decides to go to the river, where he can learn for himself, without outside forces telling him what to think. Vasudeva, one of Siddhartha’s teachers, tells him to listen to the river instead of telling him all the answers. Here he learns of the complexity of life through the river and meditates the greater meaning until he reaches his enlightenment. Govinda shows up later greatly frustrated that he can not find enlightenment, so Siddhartha shows him the way and teaches him that he must find it for himself and that it is not something that he can explain to him.

As members of the church most of us will go through a time when we find our testimony of the church and can be related to Siddhartha’s quest for spiritual enlightenment. We have to branch away from our parent’s knowledge and rely on our own experiences and knowledge to find what we truly believe in. I don’t live to far away from the beach and I love to go there and think things through when I’m try to decide something or am having a hard time understanding the purpose of things. The beaches in Oregon are fairly quiet and it’s easy to find a spot where there is no one else around and you can just watch the waves for hours. Life seems to make so much more sense there. It’s not something that can be explained, like when Siddhartha achieved his enlightenment at the river. We also have places like the temple to go and feel enlightened when we are struggling with decisions or with our testimony of the church.

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