The following passage was written by a 10th grader
“Will you not also tread the path of salvation?” (Hesse 29). Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, shows the path of Buddhism and self-enlightenment as well as the teachings and experience of unity and how they can be achieved. The Buddha taught life is suffering and salvation is the means to end the suffering. “There was salvation for those who went the way of the Buddha” (Hesse 29). As Siddhartha tries to reach enlightenment, he realizes that the “way of the Buddha” lies not in his teachings, but in the Buddha’s actions, which he tries to emulate. Siddhartha taught me that salvation is achieved in its fullest through humility, patience, and self-experience.
An essential trait for salvation is humility and the Buddha is humility personified. In Siddhartha, it is evident that there is a lack of humility present in Siddhartha himself. Siddhartha frequently refers to regular people as ordinary and childish. “He had always watched them, a little scornfully, with a slightly mocking disdain” (Hesse 77). This is a prime example of Siddhartha’s lack of humility and his attitude towards regular people. Throughout the text, Siddhartha demonstrates a sense of supremacy over “ordinary people.” “He had always felt different from and superior to the others” (Hesse 77). Siddhartha’s lack of humility in the novel restrains him from achieving enlightenment because he is unable to feel the unity of all things. His arrogance makes him feel different from the others and he is unable to love anyone. His humility does not surface until his son humbles him “with his moods” (Hesse 95). When his son runs away, he is finally able to identify with regular people and accept them as his brothers. Siddhartha’s humility was not present throughout and held him back, much unlike his patience.
While Siddhartha lacks humility for most of his life, his patience was steady continuously. Siddhartha’s patience is a tremendous benefit towards his achieving enlightenment. Simply, “He is not impatient” (Hesse 65). His calm composure and attitude keep him on his path throughout the novel. His patience is the only constant that is guiding him throughout. Buddhism teaches patience as a guide towards self-enlightenment as well. “Buddha preached…patience” (Hesse 147). The use of patience and calm composure demonstrated how essential patience was for Siddhartha to reach his goal of experiencing self-enlightenment.
Self-experience is an aspect that cannot be taught and Siddhartha is eager for that experience. He realizes at a very young age that his father and the priests in his village are not enlightened and neither are the Samanas. He reasons that if they have not experienced enlightenment, then they will be unable to teach him the same. The Buddha, he recognizes instantly, has achieved Nirvana, yet even Gotama is unable to teach him how to experience it. “It does not contain the secret of what the Illustrious One himself experienced” (Hesse 34). After his meeting with the Buddha, Siddhartha comes to the conclusion that there is no set way or method in which this could happen. It is solely dependent on experience. As he stops resisting life and simply experiences it, he comes to the realization that he is one with Gotama. “I know I am one with Gotama” (Hesse 148). Siddhartha’s determination in experiencing rather than being taught brought about a realization that the experience cannot be taught, only achieved.
Siddhartha achieved self-enlightenment, and he learned the most efficacious methods throughout his life. When he finally was one with his Atman, it was his modesty, his patience, and the experience that completely enlightened Siddhartha. Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha teaches that the road to unity may not necessarily be reached from lessons and teachings, but rather the experience.