I don’t know what I was waiting for.
Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, has been on my various must-read lists for years, and on my actual shelf for months.
It’s ornate, suffused with the minds, breaths and lives of other people in other times. Yet it endures, this tale of determination at all costs to discover how to live, to really live with transcendence of suffering as the goal.
By way of meditation, starvation and other austerities, by way of carnal pleasure and extreme indulgence, Siddhartha winds along, bold in earnest in his quest to know Truth. He finds himself an old man, meeting a realized one while tending to a boat on the river and stays, still learning lessons in how the fragile human heart and psyche function, how easily hurt and broken.
(Please bear in mind this is merely my own little summary and interpretation—read this book!)
Finally, after all these years of searching, living and realizing, his old friend, the monk Govinda, who eventually started following Buddha as an ascetic, meets with Siddhartha, whom he does not at first recognize. They talk, and Govinda is baffled, but in awe.
Siddhartha had many words for Govinda, but I stopped at these and read them over and over. Acceptance. The obliteration of any idea we might have that we can judge one thing as better or worse than another thing, and choose a life path according to these judgements.
These words are always relevant, and they struck me even more now, 69 years to the day after the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, while the world is once-yet-again being torn apart by strife.
What a great time to remember about the battles always raging very deeply inside of us.
“I see whatever exists as good.” How difficult, how sublime, to take it all, how we are and how we have come to be, and use this as a starting point for moving forward.
It’s not about blindly loving everything, regardless of what we might have experienced or come to understand. It’s about learning to break down the barriers of how we know things, to be willing to look at things in a new way, allow for the dualities we perceive in the world to be recognized for the illusions they are.
I read these words for breakfast this morning, and needed to share them!
“I see whatever exists as good, death is to me like life, sin like holiness, wisdom like foolishness, everything has to be as it is, everything only requires my consent, only my willingness, my loving agreement, to be good for me, to do nothing but work for my benefit, to be unable to ever harm me.”
~ Herman Hesse, Siddhartha
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Author’s Own