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Motifs In The Path To Enlightenment

1227 words - 5 pages

Siddhartha, by Herman Hess, is an inspiring story of a Bhramin's son who finds restlessness and discomfort with the teachings of his elders. The quest for enlightenment burns within his Self. Siddhartha goes through many trials and mentors on his journey to find inner peace. Throughout the book there are three recurring motifs that support the theme of a man's passage to enlightenment. Trees, river, and celestial objects are the motifs that highlight the path to enlightenment.When Siddhartha is near trees, it usually is a time when he feels confused or saddened. The trees symbolize change. When Siddhartha becomes dissatisfied with his Bhramin life, he says to his friend. "Govinda, come with me to the banyan tree. We will practice meditation" (8). Under the banyan tree Siddhartha tells Govinda about his yearning for enlightenment. He explains his concern that he will never reach Nirvana, because none of his teachers have obtained Nirvana. Siddhartha also goes to the trees for comfort. He has to leave his friend of many years, because Govinda found his true calling following the illustrious Buddha. Siddhartha feels that he needs to find his inner peace by himself, not with a teacher telling him how to obtain it. At this point, "Siddhartha wandered in deep thought through the grove" (31). Siddhartha, like the tree, branches off in many directions throughout his life. Trees symbolize change and each new path that Siddhartha finds himself starting usually begins in the trees. When he decides to leave his life as a merchant he is brought back to the trees. "Siddhartha wandered in the forest already far from the town, and knew only one thing that he could not go back, that life that he had lived for many years was past, tasted and drained to a degree of nausea" (84). Siddhartha sees flashes of his former life and is saddened by all the mistakes and arrogance of his former life. During his life as a merchant Siddhartha finds a mentor of love, Kamala. For years they show their love for each other and when he leaves the town he doesn't know that he has fathered a child. The Illustrious Buddha is about to die and Kamala and her son go off in search of the Great One, a lethally poisonous snake near the river, where Siddhartha resides, bites Kamala. He hears her cries of pain and he takes her to his home. There he finds out that his son is the child with her. Siddhartha is distraught that his son doesn't love him and has run away, hoping not to be found. In search of his son, Siddhartha returns to Kamala's garden, which is now a meditation sanctuary for the monks. "He saw monks walking about under the beautiful trees. He stood there a long time looking at the monks, saw in there place the young Siddhartha and Kamala walking through the tall trees... Siddhartha realized that the desire that had driven him to this place was foolish, that he could not help his son, that he could not force himself on him" (126). Siddhartha is inspired to follow a new direction in...

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