Siddhartha's Spiritual And Intellectual Growth
In Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, a young Brahmin in the wealthier part of India, approximately three thousand years ago, decides to set a goal onto his life. He decides to journey along the path of enlightenment and reach Nirvana, a state of total bliss. His dear friend, Govinda, accompanies him on this journey. Siddhartha sets out to seek the path to enlightenment, but it is long and difficult. Along the way, he grows spiritually and intellectually from a young seeking Brahmin, to an old, wise, and content ferryman with the knowledge of enlightenment and possessing many insights on life.
When he first leaves his family, he takes to the path of the Samanas and goes to the forest to live with other Samanas and to learn their knowledge of the path to Nirvana. When he lives with them and abides by their teachings, "Siddhartha had one single goal - to become empty, to become empty of thirst, desire, dreams, pleasure and sorrow - to let the Self die. No longer to be Self, to experience the peace of an emptied heart, to experience pure thought - that was his goal"(14). When Siddhartha thought this, he believed that the only way to enlightenment was the way of the Samanas who starved, isolated themselves, and tolerated pain to kill their Self and senses so they could reach their inner Being. They believed that with no obstructions they could reach the inner subconscious Being and enlightenment. Along with Govinda, who had also chosen to follow the path of the Samanas, Siddhartha travels down this path for the next few years, and through repetition, learns the three essential skills; thinking, waiting, and fasting, and through them he escaped his Self to attempt to reveal his inner Being or god.
After three years, Siddhartha realizes that he is not progressing toward his goal. He had learned all the Samanas could teach, and "he lost himself a thousand times and for days on end he dwelt in non-being. But although the paths took him away from Self, in the end they always led back to it" (15-16). Siddhartha discovers this was not the path he sought; escaping from one's Self did not bring one to salvation. His wisdom grew when he accepted there was another path and this short escape from Self is experienced by others in a quite different way such as people who drink numbing their senses like he did with the Samanas. He sees that in truth, there is no learning and that his questioning and thirst for knowledge could not be satisfied by teaching. Seeking another path, Siddhartha hears of a Buddha named Gotama, and with Govinda, who also chooses to leave, ventures to see him.
After a short journey, Siddhartha and Govinda arrive at the resting place of the Buddha and meet many others...