Now I'm not one to pick up a self-help or inspirational book. (I read Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist this year and found it totally unbelievable. I still don't know what the fuss is all about The Little Prince despite having read it twice.) But I figured I might as well read Siddhartha, since I've been seeing this little pocket-sized edition in bookstores for the longest time ever.
Siddhartha is still basically a novel though, one that concerns an Indian, named Siddhartha, who lived during Buddha's time. He goes through the usual experiences when one seeks spiritual enlightenment. He leaves his father and mother to join the mystics in the forest. He listens to Buddha preach. He joins the secular world and becomes a rich man and a lover of a courtesan. Finally, he becomes a boatman, shuttling people back and forth across the river.
The novel makes it clear that, for a person to succeed in his or her spiritual journey, it's not the individual experiences that matter, but rather the sum of them. It is through these experiences that we gain an understanding, an appreciation of things.
I don't doubt it if people would see differing messages conveyed by the novel. After reading, I felt that the novel spoke to me about happiness and contentment. I don't need to search far and wide to be happy. The things, the experiences, the people that will make me happy are all in front of me. Maybe the message I'll glean after re-reading Siddhartha might change. We'll see.
Read this book if:
- You'll read anything by a Nobel laureate.
- You're fascinated by Indian mysticism.
- You're not into inspirational books but are willing to give this one a try.