I Read Hermann Hesse’s ‘Siddhartha’.

steve cuocci
3 min readMay 25, 2024

This book is a prayer. It breaks out in its longest form and it spares the reader from esoteric classical poetry. It admonishes broken old[e] English, poorly translated eastern dialect, overwrought pacing. This book tells itself like a story, a myth, a fable; but in its essence, this is a prayer from beginning to end, from entrance to departure.

Throughout Siddhartha’s journey, we visit somewhere around a half dozen analogues of the trials which we face in our lives. Leaving home despite cautious warnings, shedding the skin of our youth to chase what we see as our True Selves, a life changing love, the pitfalls of an obsession with career and material[s and/or] wealth, providential reflection, parenthood and old age. Through each of these, we witness commitment in totality from Siddhartha. A sense of “this is who I really am” despite his history, despite his learnings, despite where his path may take him.

We meet characters who are influential in the life of our protagonist, some who are willing to be student, some who are willing to be mentor, some who simply hold true to their core characteristics. In each of these, Siddhartha sees a reflection of himself, whether it be before or after the chapter of his life that embraces him. The biggest thing we learn from his interactions with these people is that he is willing to learn and accept the teachings as they come. He is not fortuitous in his beliefs that his way is the right way, the only way. The way he digests the tutelage of these people, whether directly or otherwise, is like that of a man with an insatiable hunger.

I read this book in deep pulls, two sittings in complete silence and concentration, doting over the words in the same kind of Reader’s Trance that we allow ourselves to overtake us in books we find special, the ones we find moving. The ones where we can find a very specific and new voice that reads to us in our mind. And while reading this, I found that this book was telling the story of Myself, as I believe we all should. I found myself aggressively chasing down goals that were all-consuming. I found myself ignoring the enormous river that I have been, that I will become. I found myself singling out an individual voice over the monumental collective Om. I found that I believe in this book and its teachings. I found that I was enlightened by them, time and again. The first half of the book (as I’m sure is the book’s insistence) does a lot more of the setting up and there does seem to be reflection on a theme, though it isn’t until the second half (specifically in the chapter Samsara and beyond) that the lessons, the teachings begin to coalesce into a more reflective state.

I highly recommend this book to all, each and every one of us, but I do so with a specific caveat. You must go into this one with an open mind and an open heart, willing to learn, willing to channel, willing to listen to the river. This book is a prayer. This book is a meditation. Despite its brevity, it will teach you all that’s needed to know about patience, about fasting, about meditation, about acceptance, about divinity and where it lies. In this book, you will find yourself.

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