November 29, 2008
By Chris Miller, McDonough, GA

What is satisfaction? Is it possible to reach a moment in our lives when we are completely fulfilled, satisfied, and content without any regrets or longings? Siddhartha’s quest for nirvana, I believe parallels many themes of our own lives. Siddhartha struggles for serenity and peace for himself but yet that same goal obligates him to ignore and suppress selfish desires, such as love for women, money, wisdom, and self accomplishment. Siddhartha is amidst a paradox of self satisfaction. Siddhartha’s vast knowledge of Brahman text, verses, and oaths were words and concepts of past and present teachers of his, but was invaluable compared to the incomparable application of experiences and the peace of life itself. The blatant major theme of the book and life of Siddhartha was evolution of knowledge to wisdom with a multitude of subthemes that develop wisdom.

This trend begins when he is a samana in the jungle. Knowledge through teachings, texts, and verses show their weaknesses to Siddhartha after years of training. His aggravation in the constant cycle of sin and confession without an exit or escape lead him to be suspicious. The teaching of Gotama, the Buddha, who has the loftiest knowledge and has achieved nirvana, also doesn’t provide Siddhartha with the wisdom he seeks. Gotama could only teach words and concepts; words are words, knowledge of one dimension, which are without that irreplaceable application of experiencing joy, heartbreak, and pain and the multidimensional magnificence of life. Siddhartha realizes on a much bolder, deeper scale that the meaning of cold or hot is inferior to experiencing the meaning of cold or hot. He understands that in order to conquer his self, he must experience and indulge in himself.
Siddhartha parts his ways with his life-long friend, Govinda, in search of himself and wisdom. He indulges himself in the love for money, women, sex, and power. Kamala, a beautiful courtesan, becomes Siddhartha’s teacher of many things about romantic love. He learned the art of love, the balance of give and take from sexual to emotional aspects. He becomes a business partner of a successful merchant pampering himself in wealth. The anxiety of gambling is exciting and compelling to him and becomes an addiction of his. After years in this business, he himself begins to agonize about what he considered pity things before. The pleasures of flesh reach its height while at the same time brings Siddhartha the most misery, pain, and depression to the point of attempting suicide.

Siddhartha left that experiment of a life with more wisdom and regret. The knowledge of the world’s evils have a new reality. His rebirth, beside the river, is very much a reflection of his ever-increasing insight, wisdom, and maturity through this treacherous stage in his life. He, who is spiritually revived by the river that has become so precious to him, has become humble in every aspect of his life. He finally has overcome his self and is exponentially closer to achieving oneness. The river becomes his sanctuary, teacher, and his joy and reflection of wisdom itself.

Kamala’s son, Siddhartha’s unknown son, is cared for by Siddhartha after Kamala’s death. His love for his son was unconditional, genuine, and yet taken for granted. Siddhartha had to experience the rejection of his son. Although, this also makes him reminisce on his abandonment of his father; so fatherly love now has much more painful meaning. Fatherly love is much more multidimensional and inexplicable after experiences such as that.
Trials, errors, experiments, and heartaches are what change us into what we become. The experiences of life provide depth and insight into the previously attained knowledge; thus evolving itself into priceless wisdom. Siddhartha realized that on a bolder, deeper scale the meaning of cold is inferior to experiencing the meaning of cold. Satisfaction is a misleading, joyous, fragile, mending, and mysterious aspect of human life. Siddhartha finds his peace and serenity only through experiencing the misery, pain, and heartache of life.

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