When I find a person I respect, I ask them for two types of books: First, books that they love from their field and second, books that had an impact on their life.
Siddhartha is the second type of book.
Here are 3 things I learned from Siddhartha:
1. There is no one Way, you must find your own path
Imagine you are on a quest to find peace AND you lived during the time of the Buddha. It seems like a no brainer to follow him. This is what Siddhartha (the author was clever in giving them the same name) experiences, however he does not follow the Buddha. Siddhartha acknowledges that the Buddha is enlightened and has reached a place where he wants to reach yet, he decides to go his own way trusting his own gut instead of following.
I have a tendency to want to copy other people’s methods, trying to find the right person that will give me life's step by step guide. But there is no method out there. It is essential to learn from others but we must take our own path to fulfillment.
2. Don’t resist the world, accept it as it is
There is traffic on your way to work, your boss yells at you, or the government is not in your favor. These are daily occurrences in life and when they occur a part of us cries at the injustice of it all. We tell ourselves, "If only he was more...” , “I can’t believe that the we live in...” and countless other things that show our resistance of the truth. First, these complains don’t accomplish anything but most importantly, they’re ignorant to the cause and effect nature of the world. The present is an natural as a tree - all that happened in the past led to this. By living in the truth and rejoicing in our current situation, we can feel equanimity in the world and take steps to have influence in the future.
3. The wisdom of being present can’t be communicated into words
Towards the end of the novel, Siddhartha begins to share his wisdom about life with one caveat: that true wisdom can’t be communicated. Knowledge can be shared but wisdom is something that has to be experienced. From my practice in mindfulness, I can see how this makes sense. I can tell someone about “being in the present” or about “accepting the now” but words cannot come close to what is purely experiential.
This connects to finding your own path, since true wisdom can’t be communicated then it can’t be taught or learned from. You can get a general feeling of another’s path to wisdom but it can’t be passed down like algebra. Instead it must be earned through living and being authentic to your true self. I’m excited to continue my journey.
I really recommend this book plus it’s a short read for anyone that is worried about the time commitment. Please read it, you won’t regret it!