The Middle Path: Siddhartha’s Road To Enlightenment
Why do people suffer? Buddhists believe that suffering is caused by desire. There are things and people in life we all want and desire, and when we lose them Buddhists believe we suffer. Buddhists want to attain non-attachment so they can be at peace with themselves; they want to reach Nirvana, the state of breaking the cycle of rebirth. They believe that you are reborn when you die, which is called Samsara, and the only way to break that cycle is to find enlightenment. Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse, is a novel about a man’s journey to finding his inner self, to be enlightened. Siddhartha was born a Brahmin, the highest of the caste system in Hinduism, but he felt that he had to find his own path to enlightenment. As a Brahmin, he was expected to reach Nirvana. He joined the Samanas, listened to the Buddha, lost himself in riches and pleasures, and found himself again at the brink of suicide. Siddhartha finds himself when he looks into the river he is about to jump in. The river awakens him. The novel centers on Siddhartha’s journey through experiencing the extremes of deprivation and excess and leads the reader to understand how he found peace. Hermann Hesse uses the river symbolically to represent Siddhartha’s final understanding of the meaning of life; he lived through the extremes and found the middle path, which put him at peace with himself. Through Siddhartha’s journey, he experienced the extremes in order to find the middle path. One of the extremes he went through was depriving himself of all desires and pleasures. Siddhartha became a Samana, which are groups of people who roam around trying to attain non-attachment. This represents one of the extreme experiences because Siddhartha deprived himself of everything in order to reach non-attachment because he tried to be at peace at with himself by getting rid of suffering and desires. “’Well, Govinda, are we on the...
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