Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book fell in my hands as a simple coincidence. It was a gift. I’ve heard about Siddhartha, of course, but never expected a book to be so deeply grounded  and at the same time so ethereal.  Paulo Coelho, one of my favourite authors and who made introductions for this book, explains the troubles Herman Hesse —the German born author— had to go through in order to complete this book. When reading it, one can decipher why: This is a book about illumination, of looking for the One and Only, and finding It through the inner self. Of acknowledging the internal divinity, the infinite possibilities that connect the Universe with every human being. Hesse had discussed with acquaintances about his lack of guidance on how to finish the book. The task he had on his hands was too great and proved of enormous challenges.

But Coelho recalled that at the end this book was accomplished through a deep spiritual search that the author took upon himself. This fact raised infinite questions on me. Did Hess reach illumination himself? Reading Siddhartha one can think he might had, as this book couldn’t have been written by someone who has not seen The Light. In any case, and what I valued the most, was to notice that Siddhartha was not a god. He was not entirely pure. Not until the end at least. He struggled with his own self for years, especially on his youth. He abandoned his parents, his best friend, his masters, as he arrogantly thought nobody could teach him the things he needed to know. On the other hand he achieved great things. When he went into deep meditation trance, he could clearly see the cycle of life and death with detachment. He could live inside the life of animals, run as fast, eat as violent, and die feeling how de bodies merged back with nature. He flew as a bird. With his mind and soul he went beyond anyone could go. He was still not happy, so he went to interact with humans. He learnt the labyrinths of love. He became a business man, he learnt to trick people in order to get results. That made him miserable at the end. He went to the river, where he once met Vasudeva, the ferryman, who lived in the river, he taught him ‘…to listen with a still heart, with a waiting, open soul, without passion, without desire, without judgement, without opinions’, probably the most important lesson that one can take from this book. Siddhartha did so, completing the cycle of his own life.

It was by closing this cycle that Siddhartha realized some painful actions. Many of them there were part of being human and it was easier to accept and let go. There were also more hurtful memories, as when he went back to understand the pain that the abandonment of his son caused him and finally acknowledging that he caused the same pain to his father when he abandoned him and his mother to go an look for answers and never looked back. I identified myself with his mistakes. There were made with no intention of causing harm, but they were made in total unconsciousness, and this is where the mistake was. There were also a lot of teachings. About achieving one’s dreams, about walking through life not with knowledge, but with wisdom, about being present in the moment, about the inner and outer self. Waiting, thinking, fasting. This is what Siddhartha was good about. This is what one has to learn in order to live in this world. In order to see and understand the inner world.

Book a 100% recommended for those who are seeking The Light.


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