Siddhartha realized that happiness comes from spiritual peace and he spent his entire life searching for spiritual completion. His quest for inner-knowledge and self-realization developed in four stages. The first stage is that of an orthodox Brahmin’s son. In this stage, he read scriptures and performed the ritualistic sacrifice. The second is an ascetic stage in which he practices the Samana austerity of self-denial. In the third stage, he is caught in the vortex of the material desires of the world, Samsara. The final stage is that of self-realization achieved in the presence of Vasudeva, the ferryman. It is through this cycle that Siddhartha discovered the path to salvation.
Siddhartha’s life is based on the experiences of its author, Herman Hesse and that of Gotama Buddha. It is imperative to point out that the river is an important motif in his quest and has many meanings for Siddhartha. In the first chapter, a river is a place of symbolic cleansing and ritual, yet later it will act as a metaphor for boundary-crossing of two worlds, a spiritual and material one. At the end of the book, the river becomes a symbol of oneness and unity. Siddhartha is a person of tremendous complexity. His motives are not religiously enforced. His goal is not to be one with God but one with himself.
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Although some people are unaware of their personal quest, this cannot conceal the fact all of us are pursuing inner peace and happiness. However, not all of us are going to desire the path that was selected by Siddhartha. According to the philosophy he utilized in his life, we would have been unable to achieve inner peace and happiness by reading about his experiences. We would have to go out and discover our own spiritual objective. However, we can be immensely influenced by Siddhartha’s approach to his mission of self-realization.
I was given a chance to meet people that have become aware of their inner peace in their lifetime. In most cases, this revelation happened because they believed in God. However, I have met people that have embraced religion but have never discovered their inner peace or happiness. Life can be a long journey to true inner peace as we can see in Siddhartha’s example. He got to be an old man when he finally understood who he really is and he achieved his inner peace. Only when he was able to genuinely love someone did he manage to accomplish transformation into the final stage of divine light and mystical presence of the collective unconscious.
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