“I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.“
Author: Hermann Hesse
Genre: Philosophical Fiction
Publisher: New Directions
Goodreads blurb: Herman Hesse’s classic novel has delighted, inspired, and influenced generations of readers, writers, and thinkers. In this story of a wealthy Indian Brahmin who casts off a life of privilege to seek spiritual fulfillment. Hesse synthesizes disparate philosophies–Eastern religions, Jungian archetypes, Western individualism–into a unique vision of life as expressed through one man’s search for true meaning.
My view: I started reading the book thinking it to be story about The Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama). Though it’s not a tale about The Buddha, I personally feel the book in places did pay an homage to him by showing the reverence people had for him, his calm, enigmatic personality that people were drawn to and how followers from all around wished to learn from his wisdom. Coming to the story, I don’t think much of it is relatable in today’s time. But, there are learnings throughout the book. As a young Brahmin, Siddhartha found no delight in himself, so he set out on a path to find spiritual fulfillment and meaning to life. In the first part, his goal is to become empty, empty of thirst, empty of wishing, empty of dreams, empty of joy. In the second part, he experiences the material things life has to offer. In life, we all at some point, after experiencing the pain’s and joy’s of life, set out (not literally) to find our purpose. In that sense, you might relate with him. But the idea of distancing oneself or for that matter abandoning society including family, partner, child for a personal quest is in some sense egotistical. I find Hesse’s philosophy hard to accept. One beautiful thing I learnt from the book is that knowledge can be shared but not wisdom. You gain wisdom through experience. Overall, this is not my first book in this genre, so it was an easy read. So, if you know what to expect and where to look for the learnings, you would enjoy this book.
“Most people…are like a falling leaf that drifts and turns in the air, flutters, and falls to the ground. But a few others are like stars which travel one defined path: no wind reaches them, they have within themselves their guide and path.“
“…for you know that soft is stronger than hard, water stronger than rock, love stronger than force“
Have you read the book? How did you find it? Let me know in the comments.
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