Reflective Essay On Siddhartha

Siddhartha’s Journey and Its Reflection of Real Life

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?Siddhartha’s Journey and Its Reflection of Real Life In Herman Hesse’s novel Siddhartha, the main character, Siddhartha, leaves home in a search for identity and the meaning of life. A journey many people may set out on in their lives and some may succeed. Many however, fail in their quest for truth. Along the way Siddhartha makes several stops, and each stop has a specific relation to his journey. Some are more significant than others, but that is the case in everyone’s life, there are important times of people’s lives and also irrelevant times.

In Siddhartha’s journey, each place represents a specific time in his life and also a significant point in his journey. The first step of Siddhartha’s journey comes in the form of the Samanas. At this point Siddhartha’s journey is just in its starting phases. As a result, this part of the journey can be likened to the infancy years of the life of real people. The Samanas take care of Siddhartha at this point and teach him what he should and should not do in life, much like what parents do for their children when they are infants.

The Samanas however are not quite the parental figures of Siddhartha; they are more like the workers in a preschool for infants in actual life. “Siddhartha sat upright and learned to save his breath” (Hesse 14), this was the type of lessons that were taught, and that Siddhartha took to heart. This stage of Siddhartha life continues until he needs to leave the Samanas and they have taught him all they can. Again this is very similar to real life as one can only spend so much time at a preschool before moving on to elementary school.

This causes Siddhartha to leave the group of Samanas and continue along the journey of life. The second stop he makes on his journey is at the Buddha’s camp. At this point Siddhartha is still rather young and usually the young need guidance and that is what Siddhartha gets. Siddhartha learns many significant aspects of life at the camp but one was more important than all others, it is better to be a leader than a follower. Siddhartha learns this during his time at the camp by speaking with the Buddha where he finds that you cannot find yourself while following in the footsteps of another.

Siddhartha knew that the Buddha spoke truth as he could see that the Buddha was a man who had found the true meaning of life. However, Siddhartha did learn various tricks of life from the Buddha besides this. The last lesson Siddhartha learned was to “Be on [his] guard against too much cleverness” (Hesse 35). Siddhartha finds this lesson to be relevant and imprints it into his memory as he is often too clever for his own good. The time Siddhartha spends with the Buddha is also rather short which reflects on how childhood is short lived.

As Siddhartha leaves the camp he also leaves his childhood behind. Next, Siddhartha comes to the town where he meets Kamala, but before this there is also a significant place he comes to, which is the river. Siddhartha does not actually spend that much time at the river during his first time there and most of its significance comes after his time in the town. It is however important that Siddhartha comes to the same river twice. The time Siddhartha spends in the town is what reflects the period of life when people mature into working adults, and this is exactly what Siddhartha does in the town.

He comes to the town knowing practically nothing about how to live in that type of environment, which is very similar to the way people are when they first start living on their own. Siddhartha however has a mentor who teaches him important lessons of life in towns and also lessons of love; this mentor is Kamala, one of the significant characters in the novel. Love is also the first lesson Siddhartha learns when he arrives in town, and is taught to him by Kamala. This lesson also had an underlying message of how much one must give for love, as to learn the lesson Siddhartha had to completely change his life style.

Kamala required him to fully integrate into city life, which had a rather steep cost though he only needed to be “in fine clothes, in fine shoes; [have a] scent in [his] hair and money in [his] purse” (Hesse 54). To do this Siddhartha had to get a job and the job he found was with a merchant that worked in the town. During his quest to get fine clothes, fine shoes, and money, Siddhartha forgot the purpose of his overall journey. The only memory of which was somewhere in his subconscious. He became so caught up with his life as a merchant that he no longer remembered what he had set out from home to do.

Siddhartha only began to remember his goals when he felt that nothing was being accomplished in the life he was leading. He was also having strange dreams, which supports the idea that his memories of the goals he had were hidden in his subconscious. Even though his goals had been obstructed he eventually realized that he lost track of the path he was following when he set out from home, like many people in real life do as well. However unlike the people in real life, Siddhartha was able to leave the life of the town behind along with all his wealth and his love for Kamala.

This decision to leave everything behind led Siddhartha to the final stop in the journey for self, the river. Like many people that live today that return to places they had been before in their lives, Siddhartha also returned to one of these places. By the banks of the river, with his life in the town behind him, Siddhartha would finally find what he had set out to so many years ago. He was now in a peaceful, serene place and was finally able to set his own path and follow it. Before in all other places Siddhartha had been he had been guided, but now he was finally able to guide himself.

One of the greatest symbols used in the book was also the river which along with other things also reflected the life of Siddhartha. The river, like Siddhartha, is guided most of its journey but then when it reaches a place it had been before, the ocean, it is able to guide itself for the first time in the journey. At the end of this journey Siddhartha achieves his goal and it is noted by his long friend Govinda that “this smile of Siddhartha was exactly the same as the calm, delicate, impenetrable, perhaps gracious, perhaps mocking, wise, thousand-fold smile of Gotama, the Buddha” (Hesse 151).

At this point the reader realizes that Siddhartha’s journey has come to a close and right after the novel ends. This reflects real life as when most people reach their overall goal after all the years of being sidetracked and not following the path to get to their goal, their journey is done and the story of it ends. That is exactly what happened in the novel. The places Siddhartha visited were reflections of the period of his life at the time. The first being the start of his journey as an infant and the last being the end of the journey as an old man, who finds himself.

Throughout each of the area in his life and in the physical aspect of the journey Siddhartha is guided and is not able to set his own path however once he reaches the river he is able to blaze his own trail to ultimately achieve his goals. Many people go through the same steps as Siddhartha through life though unfortunately there are also many people who find themselves stuck in the situation Siddhartha was in during his time in the town. People lose track of their goals but unlike Siddhartha they are unable to get out of the trap they walked into and pursue their goals.

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Those who are able to do this are the ones who truly succeed in life; they are also the ones who find true peace at the end of life, with no regrets for they lived fully. Those who find themselves trapped get lost, and at the end of their journeys they find that they missed out on achieving their goals. This realization makes them regret many decisions and that is how they feel when they pass on. Sadly this is the nature of life, and it is not always what we hope for. Word Count: 1,455 Bibliography Hesse, Hermann. Siddhartha. Toronto: Bantam, 1971. Print.

Author: Brandon Johnson

in Siddhartha

Siddhartha’s Journey and Its Reflection of Real Life

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Birth of the Buddha Shakyamuni


Buddha's First Sermon at Sarnath


The Death of the Buddha (Parinirvana)


Standing Buddha


The Great Departure and the Temptation of the Buddha


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Reliquary in the Shape of a Stupa


Head of a Buddha


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Plaque with scenes from the life of the Buddha


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“Devadatta,” Chapter 12 of the Lotus Sutra


Death of Buddha (Parinirvana)


Illustrated manuscript of the Lotus Sutra


Life of the Buddha: The Birth of the Buddha


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