I have always been a seeker. Not the calm and peaceful type, but the restless, anxious, nervous, tragic type. And sometimes I have been a “founder”. But not because of all the restlessness, sleepless nights, never-ending hours spent in trepidation did much to help. Quite on the contrary, the moment I decided to make peace with the situation is the moment the solution found me. Because I was the one being found, not the other way around.
Herman Hesse says in his novel Siddhartha: “When someone seeks, then it easily happens that his eyes see only the thing that he seeks, and he is able to find nothing, to take in nothing because he always thinks only about the thing he is seeking, because he has one goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal.”
When I first read it some years ago, I liked Hesse’s novel very much, maybe because I found a part of myself in the main character or maybe because I found a part of everyone in him. The book talks about a man who is permanently searching, seeking to find himself, his role in the world, happiness etc. Throughout his journey in life, Siddhartha tries to understand the way things function and the reasons for them to function like this (and by “things” I mean not only things that are seen, but also feelings and untouchable things).
Looking at it with detachment, the book addresses a common topic: the search every person undergoes at a certain point in life, springing from the need to think about one’s role in the universe. But very few have the power and the will to let go so easily as Siddhartha did, to get detached from the things they have or live, to leave people, achieved statuses, wealth and love behind and to start living a whole new, unknown life in the hope of self-accomplishment.
It is mostly true that not everyone has to have a bigger role in the universe and at the end of the day, the proportion of the role changes depending on one’s perception, but all of us need to dig deep and take on an actual journey to get to the center of ourselves. And I think that Siddhartha is the perfect book to guide us through someone else’ journey, to leave us to observe quietly from afar another person’s struggle, giving us the flexibility of internalizing what we want and can.
I would venture to suggest reading the book on several occasions and moments in life because chances are you will see it with new eyes every time and leave it behind after turning the last page with a whole new and different understanding. Because like the main character, even though we don’t make so brave and major changes in so short period of time, we still evolve and metamorphose into a better version of us.
My favorite quotes:
“What could I say to you that would be of value, except that perhaps you seek too much, that as a result of your seeking you cannot find”
“Words do not express thoughts very well. they always become a little different immediately they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish. And yet it also pleases me and seems right that what is of value and wisdom to one man seems nonsense to another.”
“And all the voices, all the goals, all the yearnings, all the sorrows, all the pleasures, all the good and evil, all of them together was the world. All of them together was the stream of events, the music of life.”