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Herman Hesse; Siddhartha Excerpt


Enjoy this excerpt from this new translation of the beloved Herman Hesse classic Siddhartha.  Siddhartha chronicles the spiritual evolution of a man living during the time of the Buddha.  The following chapter is titled “Awaken”.

As Siddhartha left the grove, leaving the Buddha, the perfect one behind, leaving Govinda behind, he had the feeling he was also leaving behind in the grove his life, up to that time, and separating himself from it. He pondered this feeling, which completely filled him, as he slowly made his way. He pondered deeply, sinking down into the depths of this feeling as through deep water until he reached the point where the causes lie, for to know the causes, so it seemed to him, that is what thinking is, and only in this way, to feelings become knowledge instead of being wasted. In this way, they become meaningful and begin to radiate what is within them.

Going slowly along his way, Siddhartha deliberated. He realized that he was no longer a youth, but had become a man. He realized that there was one thing he had left behind, as a snake leaves behind its old skin. One thing that was no longer in him, that had accompanied him throughout his youth and been a part of him: the desire to have a teacher and to hear teachings. The last teacher he had encountered on the way he had left. Even him, the highest and wisest teacher, the holiest one, the Buddha, he had had to part from him. He had been unable to accept his teaching. Slower yet, the pondering man walked asking himself: “But now what is it that you are trying to learn from teachers and teachings, and what is it that they, though they taught you a lot, could not teach you?” And he found this: “It was the ego, whose meaning and essence of I wanted to learn. It was the ego that I wanted to get rid of, to overcome. But I was unable to overcome it, I could only trick it, could only elude it, only hide from it. In truth, nothing in the world has occupied my thoughts so much as my ego. This enigma that I am alive, that I am unique and separate and distinct from all others, that I am Siddhartha! And there is nothing in this world I know less about than about me than Siddhartha!”

The slowly walking thinker came to a halt altogether, captured by his last thought, and immediately from this thought another sprang. A new thought, which was this: “That I know nothing of myself, that Siddhartha remains so alien and unknown to me. There is one cause from this, just one: I was afraid of myself, I was running away from myself! I was looking for Atman, I was looking for Brahman, I was determined to tear my ego apart, to peel it layers y layer, in order to find in its unknown innards, the pith behind all of the husks, Atman, life, the divine, the ultimate. But in the process, I myself got lost.” Siddhartha opened his eyes and looked around him, a smile spread over his face and a profound sensation of awakening from a long dream filled him down to his toes. Immediately he resumed walking, walking fast like a man who knows what it is he has to do. “Oh,” he thought, taking deep breaths, “now I will not let Siddhartha slip away from me again! No more will the point of departure from my thinking and my life be Atman and the suffering of the world. I will no longer kill myself and tear myself to pieces, trying to find the secret beneath the rubble. The Yoga-Veda will teach me no longer, nor the Atharva-Veda, nor the ascetics, nor any other teaching. I will learn from myself, be my own student. I will learn about myself, about the mystery of Siddhartha.”

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