For one of my classes I wrote a book report on Siddhartha the other day. It’s one of my favorite books; the themes are wonderful. Anyway, I like what I wrote so I decided to share it with all of you!
Siddhartha has many messages, but I think the prime motif is finding yourself or, as it is referred to in the book, enlightenment. No one can teach someone how to find themself. It is something which must be achieved individually because finding yourself is different for each and every person on an individual basis. Of course, others can help but in a way which prepares the taught to traverse the rest of the journey alone. For Siddhartha, he is told what he must do to reach enlightenment from the time he was born. It was part of his traditional role as a Brahmin. He tried two different extremes, asceticism and complete self-indulgence, but in the end neither was the path he was searching for. He also was taught by the Buddha, who had himself reached enlightenment, but he could not learn from another these final, crucial lessons. He realized this and moved on. During his time with Vasudeva, he is learning as Vasudeva’s assistant. However, Vasudeva never teaches Siddhartha the lessons which he learned from the river. He put Siddhartha into situations which he could discover the focal points of the river’s teachings on his own. Siddhartha learns this final lesson through his son; No matter how hard he tries to force his son to understand, he simply refuses. This is one of the last lessons which Siddhartha learns before his enlightenment, and it is an incredibly vital one
The lessons taught by Siddhartha are completely applicable to modern life. Not in a literal sense, or at least not usually, but the information is very valuable. Siddhartha uses the river as a tool which he compares to his own life, in order to glean as much information from as possible. In modern lives, this would probably not be the case. Information can now be attained from pretty much anywhere. IPhones have access to the internet, which is vast, bottomless well of information. However, the bottom line is that the most essential bits of knowledge must be attained individually. We cannot rely on others, or we will only end up as far as they have gone; and that’s a maximum amount. Especially in terms of enlightenment. One cannot stand on another’s shoulders to reach something so high. He or she has to learn to fly on their own. This lesson is not just important for the young, learning people to grasp, but the teachers as well. Many parents nowadays do not grasp this, and, unless they are lucky, their kids are too sheltered. They do not grow accustomed to thinking and making decisions for themselves, and therefore do not seize as much of life’s lessons as they could otherwise. On the other hand, many go crazy when they can finally make their own decisions. Of course, no parent in their right mind would give their baby drugs or pornography or any other type of harmful substance. However, kids should be taught. They should not be taught to fear these things. Kids should be taught to understand why they should not engage in negative activities. It’s beneficial to learn these things, so their thinking will become a habit and will be applied to other aspects of their lives. This way, life will be fuller, and they will actually have a chance at learning from it as they age and experience more and more of what life has to offer, as we experience it in one way or another. Everyone is a part of the river called life; now, it’s all about learning to swim.