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4.8 out of 5 stars96
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on 25 August 2015
I have loved this book for many many years, the first time I read it I was a doubting catholic, second a insecure agnostic, but every few years and at different stages of my life I have read it and everytime I rediscover it and it reconquers me; this time I sat to read this book with a little trepidation for I am a lifetime away from the young person that first read it, continents removed from where I first found Siddhartha and totally devoid from faith, I worried that my old friend would not speak to me, to my old heart. I had nothing to fear, for this book is universal and like the river it speaks of it is timeless.
“Truly, nothing in the world has so occupied my thoughts as this I, this riddle, the fact I am alive, that I am separated and isolated from all others, that I am Siddhartha! And about nothing in the world do I know less about than me, about Siddhartha!”
This is not religion or dogma, this is the eternal search of consciousness, the seeking of peace through understanding.
“It is not for me to judge another man's life. I must judge, I must choose, I must spurn, purely for myself. For myself, alone.”
A book that is beautiful and full of wisdom, an introduction to the most interesting ideas the orient has to offer. written in 1922 it influenced our culture greatly opened a door to a system of belief that does not require the submission of the self to dogma but the flowering of the self.
“Within Siddhartha there slowly grew and ripened the knowledge of what wisdom really was and the goal of his long seeking. It was nothing but a preparation of the soul, a capacity, a secret art of thinking, feeling and breathing thoughts of unity at every moment of life.
This thought matured in him slowly, and it was reflected in Vasudeva's old childlike face: harmony, knowledge of the eternal perfection of the world, and unity.”
A way of seeing the world and life without so much fear, and acceptance of the opportunity that is life not a call to make every action in this live a preparation for death, but a preparation for understanding for accepting the good and the bad without rancor without begging to a god.
“You will become tired, Siddhartha."
"I will become tired."
"You will fall asleep, Siddhartha."
"I will not fall asleep."
"You will die, Siddhartha."
"I will die.”
― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
“All this had always been and he had never seen it; he was never present. Now he was present and belonged to it. Through his eyes he saw light and shadows; through his mind he was aware of moon and stars (p. 38).”
So if you need a spiritual revival or a beautiful novel I can not recommend a better book, I who is a non believer recommend a little ॐ ( Om ).
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on 31 January 2011
In my opinion, these are the two most important teachings of Siddharta: time and divisions are illusions, everything is one and it is one at the same time. A powerful message of unity which supports the whole novel of Siddharta. A beautiful book.
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`Siddhartha' is one of those books that is both simple to read and yet powerful and profound at the same time. Following a young Brahmin's son as he tries to find his spiritual path in life, this book manages to weave a tale that is both captivating and enlightening. This book is so good I could read the first 30 pages alone and put the book down a happy man, the remainder is purely icing on the cake! Hesse manages to write in a deceptively simple style that belies the depth to the message he shows us and the skill behind his writing. He won the nobel prize for good reason. This may be a short book, but it is one that will stay with you long after you have read it and will bring you back to rediscover it's delights at regular intervals. Beautiful prose, beautiful message and highly recommended indeed.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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on 12 April 2013
1972, during my University studies I read this book.
I liked it, but didn't understand it fully.
Now, some months ago, I re-read it.
It's marvellous!
Buy it and enjoy it, either you get caught in studying more Buddhism, or just for the nice reading!

I really got caught, as you can see from two other books about Buddhism I reviewed,
and I have at last 10 more, on the shelf to read.
Now I''m reading Steve Hagen's other book, "Buddhism is not what you think".
I reviewed his "Buddhism plain and simple", which is marvellous in that it answers all your questions,
and when I realised that Buddhism is NOT a religion but a PHILOSOPHY, I truly got happy :-)

The wind is free!
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on 25 December 2010
There are some books everyone talks about but nobody reads. And then, there are books everyone reads but nobody understands. "Siddhartha" by Hermann Hesse seems to be one of those. I didn't expect much from this book after reading about it on the web. I expected it to be a really bad hippie book about some libertine who callously abandons his wife and kid, and then expects to "learn from the river", or whatever. I definitely didn't expect it to be Buddhist. Actually reading the book was therefore a pleasant surprise. Apparently, force-feeding high school students with "Siddhartha" is a really bad idea, LOL.

Hermann Hesse's novel, first published in 1922, is obviously based on a close study of different Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Perhaps the author also studied Tantrism. The book is very clever, and contains allusions to both the Bhagavad Gita and the legend of the Buddha. "Learning from the river" turns out to be another allusion. Note also the deliberate confusion in naming the main character Siddhartha, while referring to the real Buddha as Gotama. According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha's full name was Siddhartha Gotama!

Whether the book is "Buddhist" or not is mostly a matter of definition. While Siddhartha rejects the Buddha, he eventually becomes enlightened himself by a path that could be accepted by some Hindu and Buddhist traditions. In the last chapter, Siddhartha realizes that samsara is nirvana, and grasps the concept of shunyata, fundamental tenets of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. More controversial are Siddhartha's libertine escapades. I think it all hinges on how you interpret his words that the libertinism was "inevitable". Was it inevitable in the sense that the path to enlightenment goes through rank antinomianism? Outside "left-hand" Tantrism, that would be a very controversial statement. Or was it inevitable in the sense of being fated and karmic? If so, I think most Buddhists would agree with Hesse. Some people just don't get it in the present lifetime... What the correct interpretation is, I honestly don't know.

Siddhartha seems to reject four purported paths to salvation. First, he rejects the empty ritualism of the Brahmins. Then, he rejects the extreme asceticism of the Samanas. His reaction to the Buddha is more complex. On the one hand, Siddhartha admires the Buddha, who is clearly an enlightened being. On the other hand, Siddhartha feels that one cannot become enlightened by a strictly logical philosophy, or by reliance on a teacher. He senses a dualism in the Buddha's teaching, a dualism between False and True he somehow suspects doesn't exist in reality. Also, he believes that the strict logic of Buddhist metaphysics cannot explain the existence of the Buddha himself! Enlightenment looks "illogical" in a self-contained, purely philosophical system. Interestingly, the Buddha seems to tacitly accept Siddhartha's criticism, as if a secret understanding existed between them. Exoteric versus esoteric teaching?

More difficult to fathom is Siddhartha's entanglement with Kamala and Kamaswami. To some extent, it sounds Tantric. Siddhartha indulges himself in sex, gambling and money without being affected by it, like an antinomian sage. And yet, in the end he *does* become affected, sinking deeper and deeper. My personal take on this, is that our hero rejects the Tantric path as well. Eventually, Siddhartha becomes a ferryman and "learns from the river". He realizes the essential emptiness and non-duality of all things, and finally reaches salvation. His friend, the Buddhist monk Govinda, experiences a mystical vision in Siddhartha's presence, similar to Arjuna's theophany in the presence of Krishna as recorded in the Bhagavad Gita. (Note the weird fact that the monk's name is Govinda, another name for Krishna!) Govinda reaches the conclusion that although Siddhartha's words are incomprehensible and doesn't sound Buddhist, he has nevertheless attained the same state as the Buddha. Govinda throws himself at Siddhartha's feet, and there, the story ends.

Perhaps I should point out that I'm not a Buddhist by any standard. Still, I found the book to be extremely cleverly written, and it's now one of my favourites. Five stars!
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on 4 November 2010
I have read many books around the area of enlightenment and themes about finding oneself and their path but none come close to this. This book manages squeezes down one man's life in what is really not much more than a short storey, with all the different paths and journeys he has along the way. The authors skill at understanding and conveying to the reader each one of these paths is amazing, you would be forgiven for thinking he actually had experienced these thoughts and feelings and was not just writing from imagination and the visual sense. I am not sure what a truly eastern enlightened mind would make of this book but from my western point of view this is one of the greatest books ever written.

It's one of them books that you don't want to end, as I neared the last few pages my mind purposely read slower to try delay the evitable. I haven't read any of his other books but I am planning to now, I doubt they will live up to my first introduction to Hermann Hesse but then again I am not sure any other book ever will! (if anyone reads this and can recommended a book that is up there with this one please mention it in your review of Siddhartha)
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on 28 March 2010
The sources of this book include classics like Nietzche's Thus Spake Zarathustra, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita and elements of Buddhism. It is the story of a quest that mirrors the quests of several Indian sages from the Buddha to countless Sadhus since. It is important to let go of preconceptions when reading this book, it is however probably more suitable to westerners who don't appreciate Indian religions that don't bear comparison with monotheistic traditions that seek salvation using one totem. Indeed, Hess seems to treat Buddhism just like another totem to be ignored given that as a religion it implies "allegiance". Taking refuge with an open mind is not the same as swearing allegiance. Everyone has to discover realisation/s for themselves. The Buddha said this. Leaving this aside, Hess is deeply sympathetic to Buddhism but prefers instead an individualistic path based on love and a simple appreciation of the world, the way many human beings come to terms with the world. It is not necessarily the path to the realisation of ultimate truth, but more coming to terms with the problems of life. I was especially touched by the descriptions of listening to the soothing river. Chapter after chapter offers various teachers and the book as a whole is about the quest and not necessarily about answers.

Philosphically the book is about independence and individualism and makes the case for a lone seeker "fare lonely as a rhinoceros" as a Buddhits text has it. This means being wary of any religion or movement and understanding the limits of concepts. Many of us do have to join groups to come to understand this and it has to be borne in mind that Siddhartha, the protagonist finds his way by forming relationships, not by being entirely alone. Siddhartha asks questions and is keen to form bonds with sources of wisdom. In the end, he only has so much time and when he is old he has that much wisdom to offer. It may not be the whole realisation, but it is what is suitable for most readers of this book.

The book is a light and pleasant read and needs to be read slowly with enough time for digestion of each of the chapters. It is well thought out and enjoyable and though it may not be on the bestseller ranks, it is just the sort of book that someone may need and enjoy.
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on 16 September 2013
Siddhartha is a short and easy book to read but its message is 100% helpful and gave so much insight to the human condition of a restless mind to those who have too much already. To the people of the first world realize that we are over fed, waste water and have too much money. The rest of the world do not have time to wonder what will will make them happy and ease their restless minds as they have no water or food.
Give generously and wake up.
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on 18 December 2008
This book works on several levels and as a story is tightly written, simple and absorbing. However, it is the spiritual dimension of this novel that really touched me and acted as a catalyst towards a greater interest in Bhuddism.

This book deserves a place on any bookcase - after you've read it, of course.

I'd also recommend two other books for those that find this book interesting:

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying: A Spiritual Classic from One of the Foremost Interpreters of Tibetan Buddhism to the West

Diary of a Ghost
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on 26 October 2010
Siddhartha is a novel about a spiritual journey of a boy from India who goes from being an ascetic to a sinner and finally comes to a self realization at the end.It is a short novel but within its pages Herman Hesse has produced a gem of a novel,its simple words conveying a subtle yet deepful meaning.Apart from the the early mystics like William Blake,there is noone in my opinion who understands the human soul like Hesse.The way he describes the tug of war between the body and the soul,the good and the evil,is pure genius.Anyone who has gone through this transformation,this loss of innocence,the yielding to the temptations of the senses will strongly indentify with the thoughts of Siddhartha,who eventually comes to the realization of his futile and meaningless existence.This novel was written decades ago,but its themes:spiritual,the quest for an identity and the need to break away from the trappings of the material and temporal world,is more significant in this present day and age where contention seems to be the sole aim of the human race.
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