Siddhartha Tries to Learn Enlightenment Through Teachers
Siddhartha started his life a Brahman, declared to be a ‘special’ gifted Brahman from birth, extremely eager to attend teacher’s lessons to becoming enlightened on his path to total enlightenment. He had gone to his father when he was a young Brahman and learned to the capacity of the teacher’s knowledge. Though he believed he’d exhausted his teaching at his home, he was not satisfied and requested from his father to allow him to leave to travel with the Samanas, throwing away any and everything that was handed to him as a noble man. His father was immediately furious upon request and denied him. Siddhartha responded by standing for a day, in the same position, unrelenting, to show he had made his mind up and he was serious about the decision. His father, though hesitant, saw the commitment he showed and agreed to let Siddhartha leave with the Samanas. He left to learn with the traveling monks their teaching of asceticism, a rejection of the body and physical desire. Siddhartha adjusts quickly because of the patience and discipline he learned in the Brahmin tradition. He learns from the Samanas how to free himself from the traditional trappings of life, losing the desire for; property, clothing, sexuality, and any sustenance except that required to survive. He thinks to find enlightenment, he must eliminate his ‘Self’, and successfully does so, renouncing the pleasures of the world. Siddhartha grows tired of the path of self-denial and sees that the oldest members of the Samanas have yet to attain true spiritual enlightenment, so just as he and his follower and best friend “Govinda” did before with the Brahmins, they must move on to another teacher. At this time, the monks begin hearing of and spreading talk of a new holy man named “Gotama the Buddha” who is said to have attained the total spiritual enlightenment called, “Nirvana.” Govinda convinces Siddhartha they should seek out Gotama. They inform the leader of the Samanas of their decision, in which he responds in a displeased manner, but is silenced by Siddhartha when he gives him an almost hypnotizing gaze to silence his disapproval. Siddhartha and Govinda find the camp of Gotama’s followers and are welcomed. It’s not long before Siddhartha identifies Gotama as a monk with an aura around him, and he and Govinda are instructed in the ‘Eightfold Path,’ the four main points and other aspects of Buddhism. Govinda is convinced into joining Gotama as his follower while Siddhartha still had doubts, and notices a flaw (or contradiction) in Gotama’s teaching: how can one embrace the unity of all things as the Buddha asks, if they are also told to overcome the physical world. Siddhartha concludes he must go, and leave Govinda, upon his request, to find the answers he needs. He had learned fasting and patience in this first learning exposure. He had put off the worldly pleasures so quickly and lost himself, he thought he would need to re-find himself in order to experience these pleasures to banish them entirely.
Siddhartha Learning From Himself
He decides to learn a life free from meditation and the spiritual quests he has been pursuing, and instead learn from the pleasures of the body and material world. In this journey, he meets a friendly ferryman fully content with his simple life. Siddhartha tells him he has no valuables to exchange for the ferryman’s kindness, which he is responded by the ferryman asking for Siddhartha’s friendship when Siddhartha returns to the river. Siddhartha agrees and departs, then coming to a city, and before entering, comes into contact with a beautiful woman being carried, whom greets him kindly while glancing at the aged and unkempt man. She entices him and he decides she would be the best to learn the world of love from so he cleans himself up and goes to her to seek her wisdom, however, she denied him, until he proved he could fit into the material world. She tells him to take the path of the merchant, and with her help, Siddhartha finds employment with a merchant named ‘Kamaswami,’ to learn the trade. While he learns wisdom of the business world and masters such skills, Kamala becomes his lover and she teaches him what she knows of love. Siddhartha stays for many years, and is soon a rich man enjoying the benefits of a privileged life. He gambles, drinks, dances, and has anything that can be bought in the material world at his disposal. But he is detached from this life and only sees it as a game. He soon gets caught in a cycle of unhappiness and tries to escape it by gambling, drinking, and having sex even more than before. He has a dream of Kamala’s rare songbird dead in its cage and understands the material world is killing him without providing the enlightenment that he has been searching for, and once he finally thinks the game is over, he just leaves. He does not take anything with him other than the clothes on his back, and tells no one of his departure. He obtains the knowledge of the pleasures he’s been attempting to diminish, so that he may now rid himself of them. Now that he has accomplished this, he is ready to move to whatever journey his life brings him to next.
Siddhartha Finding a Wise Teacher and Finding Satisfaction
He blankly, and sick at heart, wanders until coming upon a river. He looks and the water and decides drowning himself would be best, and as he’s about to succumb to death, he hears ‘om’ and pulls himself from the water, then throws himself onto the river bank and falls asleep. He sleeps for two days to awaken to a monk watching over him, that he immediately recognizes to be Govinda. He thanks him for watching his slumber and once again departs from his friend to search for the ferryman. He finds him and gets onto the ferry, exchanging banter with the ferryman and recalling their previous meeting and is asked to stay with the man ‘Vasudeva.’ He agrees to have Vasudeva be his teacher, but once Siddhartha knows to direct the ferry, Vasudeva tells him there is nothing he can teach him, and he will have to find the teacher responsible for Vasudeva’s virtue(s) on his own. After some time, Siddhartha asked Vasudeva learned from the river, in which he is confirmed and praised for realizing the river’s teachings by Vasudeva. Siddhartha spends his time ferrying men across the river, and listening to the river’s many voices. After a while, there is news of Gotama being on his deathbed spreading around, calling Kamala out for a chance to seek council with the great Buddha. She brings her son with her as she travels to find Gotama, but while she rests and her son plays, she is tragically bitten by a poisonous snake and slowly succumbs to death, and before leaving, Siddhartha stumbles upon her and holds her as she passes. She confesses to him that the boy with her is his child, and the boy goes with Siddhartha to stay with him and Vasudeva. The boy learns to ferry the boat, and after some time he abandons Siddhartha and takes the boat to a city where he starts his own journey. Siddhartha mourns his son leaving, and ponders going after and finding him and arrives in front of the city thought to harbor him. But realizes the wisdom Vasudeva gives him and understands his son must learn his path on his own, and instead of entering the city he leaves. He mourns for a while longer, and resumes his teachings from the river, upon which Vasudeva makes his departure into the forest, leaving Siddhartha as the ferryman. Siddhartha has at this point become very wise and lives his days out on the river, ferrying men across. A familiar man joins him on the ferry, who he finds to be Govinda. Govinda asks him of the knowledge he’s acquired, and is given knowledge from Siddhartha on his values of everything around him. Siddhartha learned the value of the world and materials around him, to appreciate every aspect of everything and be accepting of this resolve.
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