Essay about The Quest for Self Discovery in Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha

Essay about The Quest for Self Discovery in Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha

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The Quest for Self Discovery in Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha


“Then he [Siddhartha] suddenly saw clearly that he was leading a strange life, that he was doing many things that were only a game, that he was quite cheerful and sometimes experienced pleasure, but that real life was flowing past him and did not touch him. Like a player who plays with his ball, he played with his business, with the people around him, watched them, derived amusement from them; but with his heart, with his real nature, he was not there” (Hesse 57-58).

Siddhartha journeys through a backward discovery of the Self. He begins life as a handsome Brahmin’s son, admired and loved by family and friends. This life does not satisfy him, so he continues his search for the Self. He becomes a poor ascetic who relinquishes the material comforts of life. After many years, Siddhartha discovers that he cannot understand the Self by denying the Self. He awakens his senses by indulging in life’s pleasures. Soon, however, he becomes dependent on riches to give him happiness. The Self is buried underneath a burden of possessions. Success has only blocked his journey. Siddhartha travels to a peaceful riverbank and listens to the sounds of the water. The Self is quietly hidden in the voice of the river. The holy Om is bound to the Self and the waters in an indistinct pattern of perfection. Time lapses as Siddhartha recognizes the river as both the cause and culmination of his journey.

Siddhartha’s entire life is a quest for the Self. He is led down many paths before he discovers the essence of true happiness and contentment. On his journey, he is blinded by superficial pleasures. He is tempted to believe that he has discovered the Self, but he must continue his sear...


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...isode. Instead of resigning my mind to automatic pilot, I can turn the TV off. With one interruption unplugged, I’m tempted to check my e-mail or blare my favorite music, but I must leave behind these frivolities. When I follow through on my initial efforts, I can always create a rare moment for myself. It takes dedication and perseverance to willingly remove myself from life’s distractions; yet, when I conquer my tendency toward possessions, I find that the subsequent harmony is extremely rewarding.

Siddhartha journeyed his entire life to discover the Self when he could have uncovered the Self anywhere. Sometimes Siddhartha neglected to open his eyes. As I travel on life’s path, I must remember to be present to the moment, lest I too forget to remain vigilant.

Work Cited

Hesse, Hermann. Siddhartha. New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1951.

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