by Herman Hesse
First sentence: “In the shadow of the house, in the sun on the riverbank by the boats, in the shadow of the sal-tree forest, in the shadow of the fig tree, Siddhartha, the beautiful brahmin’s son, the young falcon, grew up with his friend, the brahmin’s son Govinda.”
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Content: It’s dense. And there’s some illusion to sex, though nothing graphic. It’s in the adult fiction section of the bookstore.
I picked this up because I was looking for something to fill out one of my last bingo squares, one on a religion I knew very little about. I picked Buddhism, mostly because it’s the one I know the least about (though I do know some). A friend suggested this, even though it’s written by a Westerner, because it’s an accessible read for Westerners about a Buddha-like character and Buddhist thought.
It’s basically the life journey of Siddhartha, a young, well-to-do man in India (I’m assuming). He starts out with everything and then gives it up to join the shramanas, a group the eschews material things in search of knowledge and nirvana. He leads that life for a while, until he sees a beautiful woman, and he gives up his path for the path of material things and love. He finds happiness for a while, but eventually gives that up for a simpler life of service and meditation by a river.
I’m not sure I fully got what this book was supposed to teach me. It’s one of those that I think will be different at different stages of your life, and that multiple readings will lend to more insights. I’m glad I read it, even if I didn’t fully understand it. It’s definitely given me something to think about.