Fatima Barahona English / Ms. MattssonSiddhartha Essay16 January 2018  Question: Did Siddhartha reach enlightenment by himself, or were there others that helped him guide him to his path of achieving enlightenment? Thesis: Siddhartha had many teachers along the way that helped him reach his ultimate goal of enlightenment. A Different Path In many parts of the world, people desire their fulfillment is to achieve enlightenment. In Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse, it describes the journey of the protagonist, Siddhartha and his journey to reach his enlightenment. Throughout the book, Siddhartha has a different perspective on how to reach enlightenment, rather that it is not taught but that it is reached within one’s own experiences. Contrary to his initial ideas, Siddhartha had many teachers along the way that helped him reach his ultimate goals of enlightenment. Without the guidance of the other characters in the book, Siddhartha would have taken longer, or might have not even reached enlightenment. Throughout the book, it is evident siddhartha gained his enlightenment through the different characters and their interactions with him, while guiding him. Kamala, being one of those characters, taught him what enlightenment truly is by showing him that he can love someone, but he can live a life without it. An illustration would be  in chapter 10, while talking about his son, Siddhartha talks about how much Kalma influenced his life. “Once, when the boys face gently reminded him of Kamala, Siddhartha suddenly was forced to recall something Kalma said to him once in days gone by, in the days of their youth. ‘You cannot love,’  she had said to him, and he told her she was right and had compared himself to a star; the child people, however, he compared with falling leaves, and yet he had also felt a reproach in her words. Indeed he never had been able to lose himself entirely, to commit follies of love on account of another; never had he been able to do this, and it seemed to him back then that this was the great divide separating him from the child people.” (Hesse, 96)This exemplifies the idea that Siddhartha knew his role, even when Kalma told him what he already knew, she was just putting him back on track. Another example of Kalma being Siddhartha’s guide throughout all of his experiences, is when he was listened to Kalma and followed her opinions on what she said when doing daily activities.  He decided to take life slowly and not over appreciate items, like Kalma told him. “Mindful of Kalama’s words he never subordinated himself to the merchant, they compelled him to deal with him as his equal, as more than his equal. Kamaswami pursued his business interests with great solicitude and often with passion, but siddhartha regarded it all as a game whose rules he took pains to lean precisely, but whose substance did not touch his heat”. (Hesse, 55)Here, it shows that Siddhartha values what Kalma says and that while listening to her, his path to enlightenment unravels. Another main character in this book that also influences Siddhartha’s  path to enlightenment would be his son, Siddartha Jr.. Siddhartha’s son plays a huge role in his life, because not only when he came back, he figured out that Kalama passed, but that he had a son that he didn’t know after when he left Kamala. This is significant to his life, because he left his house when he was a young boy, and he didn’t have a father figure to show him how to achieve adulthood. Siddhartha’s son showed him that life needs balance. “He had called himself rich and fortunate when the boy had come to him. But as time flowed on, and the boy remained alien and gloomy, exhibiting a proud and stubborn heart, disdaining to work, showing no respect for his elders, stealing from Vasudeva’s fruit trees, Siddhartha gradually understood this was not good fortune and peace that had come to him with the boy, rather pain and sorrow. He loved him nonetheless, preferring loves pain and sorrow to good fortune and joy without him.” (Hesse, 93)This quote demonstrates , it shows that Siddhartha has struggles with his son, and that his son is a burden on him, while also exhibiting life has negative aspects that we can overcome. Another time that Siddhartha Jr. guides Siddhartha enlightenment is when Vasudeva talks to him about how he treats Siddhartha Jr. He doesnt think that showing his son endless love without consequence is a great way to mentor and educate his son. “‘I knew that. You do not coerce him, you do not strike him, you do not give him orders, for you know that soft is stronger than hard, water is stronger than rock, love is stronger than force. Very good, I praise you. But do you not err in supposing that you are not coercing him, that you are not punishing him? Does your love not blind him with bands? Do you not shame him everyday, making it even more difficult for him with your benevolence and your patience? Are you not  forcing an arrogant and spoiled boy to live in a hut with two old banana-eaters, whom rice is a delicacy, whose thoughts cannot be his, whose hearts are old and quiet and beat differently from this? Is not all this coercion and punishment to him?'”. (Hesse, 94)Here it makes evident that Siddhartha needs to balance out how he treats his son, that not every part of his son’s life is going to be easy and that it isn’t healthy for him to grow up “child-like”. Although Siddhartha’s son doesn’t treat him with respect, Siddhartha learns that there has to be a balance in life, showing him a path to enlightenment. The last influential figure in this book is Vasudeva and the river. When they met, Vasudeva tells him that he will learn by nature and he will be taught by the river. “‘You will learn how,’ Vasudeva said, ‘but not from me. The river taught me how to listen, from the river you too will learn how. It knows everything, the river, one can learn everything from it. Look here, from the water you have already learned it is good to strive for the bottom, to ,sink, to seek our depths. The wealthy and elegant Siddhartha will be a galley slave, the learned Brahmin Siddhartha will become a ferryman: this too the river has told you. You will also learn the other thing from it. “. (Hesse, 84) This supports Vasudeva is just a human and that the river is one of his mentors, but he will try to show him the way. Another time Vasudeva and the river were mentors to Siddhartha was when they mentioned that time is infinite and that one day he will reach enlightenment, but it will take effort and patience. “‘Have you,’ he asked once, ‘Have you also learned this secret from the river: that time does not exist?’ A bright smile spread over Vasudeva’s face. ‘Yes Siddhartha,’ he said. ‘But do you mean not mean that the river is everywhere at once, at its origin and at sits mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the rapids, in the dea, in the mountains, everywhere at the same time, and for it only the present exists, no shadow of the past, no shadow of the future?'” (Hesse, 85)This not only reveals that time around them is nothing but a number, but Vasudeva is there to be a mentor to help Siddhartha reach his enlightenment. Ultimately, Vasudeva and the river were just mere mentors to help Siddhartha reach enlightenment, and that he just needed a push to reach it. Although Siddhartha’s objective of reaching enlightenment was achieved, it was done through the navigation and the advice of other characters in the book. For the duration of the book, Siddhartha was confused with what his overall intentions were, and without the push of the other characters, he wouldn’t have reached enlightenment. It is evident Siddhartha’s journey was not only completed by his determination, but the guidance of others in the book, motivating him to have the right path. In the end, Siddhartha did reach enlightenment, to its full potential, even though he struggled, but he had the guidance of others to help him strive forward.


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