Tuesday, June 4, 2019

A Lil' Bit of Everything

I do not place much stock in books on spirituality. Page after page of dense prose on how one can become one with the universe and listen to its beating heart is not really my kind of reading. 

I picked up Herman Hesse's "Siddhartha" on a whim from a bookshop in Darjeeling because I had previously read the magically dark book that is "Steppenwolf", also authored by him. From an age where Eastern spirituality was being explored by Western minds, any Hessian perspective was bound to be interesting.

A fictional contemporary of Gautama Buddha, the titular Siddhartha is a variation of that vague term often found in books on mysticism - a seeker. The book, despite a fair chunk of cryptic text devoted to 'searching', listening to 'the hum of all creation' and all those other tropes found in this story type, is applicable to more than just those seeking spiritual answers. 

Siddhartha's journey through cycles of intellectual dissatisfaction, extreme penance and complete sensual pleasure is rewarding to read not because it argues very strongly for either  meditation or for materialism. Neither does it picks sides between enlightenment and emotion. By the end of the book, it is beautiful artistic testimony to why we just might need them all.

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