A human being becomes many things throughout the unfoldment of their path in life. An infinite number of permutations and possibilities await every new life as it embarks upon its quest. Like a river rushing through the valley of matter, we are ever-shifting between forms: emerging out of the shapeless mass of water as individual phenomenon and melting back into the flowing currents of experience.
We are each the hero of our own portion of this journey, both blessed and cursed to observe this whirling cascade from the single, isolated perspective of human consciousness.
Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha is a tale of such an observer. Set in the far reaches of northern India, in the foothills of the Nepalese Himalayas and in the time of the Gautama Buddha, Siddhartha follows the journey of a young boy who yearns after the higher thoughts and hidden truths of human life.
Born into the prestigious household of a Brahmin, a wise teacher of the Vedas, Siddhartha quickly becomes dissatisfied with religious dogma as he reaches adolescent maturity and abandons the life-path set before him by his father to join the order of wandering ascetics known as the Samanas.
Eschewing all forms of materialism, Siddhartha flagellates the physical form and all of the pleasures associated with it in the most fervent display of material denial — asceticism itself becoming only another dogma by which he is blinded.
It is only by an encounter with Gotama Buddha, and a rejection of the discipleship of certainty and conviction in favor of the unpredictability of freedom, that Siddhartha is set on a winding road that leads him through the myriad experiences of life.
It has often been the case throughout the history of philosophy and religion that the disciple of higher knowledge has been prescribed a single path to follow on his way to Truth.
Many voices clamor at him in the marketplace of ideas, but he who would become truly prosperous becomes a trader in his own right and not the salesman of another’s thought. In life, there can be no denial of any facet of experience as every mote of being provides strength, depth, and irreplaceable character to the tapestry of the Universe.
It is our tendency to pull from this wondrous weave a single thread and hold it up as the only truth of the world that leads us into folly, both in action and in thought, so often in our lives. The world, despite the insistence of the nihilists and the atheists, is rich in meaning and knowledge that flows forth unbounded by the constraints of our limited perspective.
Only by swimming among all the pools and eddies provided by this river of life can we achieve some sense of its length and breadth, becoming stronger by our exertion. And when we are done, when we clamber out of the water and sit exhausted on the bank, if we listen closely to the rushing of the current we may begin to hear the quiet voice of Nature speaking in our hearts.
To The Glory Of God
And The Perfection Of Humanity
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