Were all Siddhartha’s trials and temptations necessary, or could he have achieved enlightenment more quickly through another route?
Siddhartha set out to experience every aspect of the world: the pain, sorrow, joy, love, temptation, all which were necessary to achieve enlightenment. While on this journey he did run into all of these, every aspect drew him closer to his final goal of enlightenment. Without these trials (which can even be seen as steps) Siddhartha would not have become the person he was at the end of the novel, meaning they were all necessary. One cannot have life without the pain of death, the sadness of loss, the joy of birth, and the temptation of bad or good things. Siddhartha, being one to seek a journey, knew he must live through and understand each of these aspects in order to achieve the end goal of enlightenment. When Kamla introduced him to the wonders of the world of flesh, a part of his life that he had hardly experienced, it was a whole chapter he must go through in order to experience all of life. After all this “Siddhartha had learned how to transact business affairs, to exercise power other people, to amuse himself with women; he had learned to wear fine clothes and to command servants, to bathe in sweet-smelling waters” (Hesse 77) and he committed anything else the material world would offer him. (This trial, and also temptation, was necessary because without it Siddhartha would have no real concept of the worth of everything. After experiencing that, a gold nugget can seem no more valuable than a rock; everything had worth depending on how you perceive it.) One can conclude that there was no other way he could achieve this; if Siddhartha had decided to stay with Govinda and follow the Buddha, he would gain wisdom and knowledge however not as much as he could becoming his own teacher. Even Govinda, who can be assumed reached enlightenment after he kissed Siddhartha, had to listen to his own and Siddhartha’s teachings (not just the Buddha’s) to be able to reach that point.
What is the most important piece of wisdom Siddhartha learns, which allows him to attain enlightenment?
The most important piece of wisdom Siddhartha had obtained while on his journey had to be about the connection of all thing in the Universe. As a young man he had seen the world in a very segregated light. In his mind, Samanas had the strength and intelligence to give up the greed and desire of the world, which in turn made them better, a city just looked like a group of different children and childish games, a river was just that -a river. However, after being dragged through temptations and desires and all sides of life, he began to see the world in a more whole perspective. Siddhartha had said to Govinda after being enlightened, “...from the soil comes a plant, animal or man…” (Hesse 145), (Siddhartha had realized that the world was one and everything need everyone. A man needs the plant, plant needs the soil, the soil needs the river, everything leads back. The world is segregated and there is a thought of people being higher than others; however, in the end the whole world is one.)
What lessons from Siddhartha’s story are relevant to us today?
Siddhartha teaches and learns many lessons throughout the novel, however only a few can stick throughout time, as in the life had all aspects: you cannot have joy without pain. Personally this lesson sticks with me on a deep level, one can be clouded by the pain and sorrow of the world and never be able to see the good. (The bad things and ideals can cause one to lose hope and fear that he/she is the only one going through this. However there are many others that go through just that. Pain can be so strong that is seems that all good is gone. Yet, as Siddhartha taught, one cannot say they want to experience life without going through hardships and sacrifices.) The Buddha was teaching in a way that made the world out to be a chain, this chain is the hardship of life, and if any tempting or positive came through it, the chain would break. Siddhartha, however, did not believe in this method, he says, “... you show the world as an unbroken chain… linked together with cause and effect… never has life been demonstrated so clearly… but I must say whether is is good or evil, whether life or death, weather pain or pleasure, whether it is uncertain... this is the unity of the world, the coherence of all events, the embracing of the big and small…” (Hesse 32).( What Siddhartha is saying by this is that life is not just a chain of cause and effect, life is pain and pleasure, good and evil, life is balance. This is an important lesson because one can see that people can be so clouded by the evil, and never look into the good. The pain is necessary, the joy is necessary, life is a scale of both.)