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Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

In the novel Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, the protagonist takes a journey that mirrors the journey through life and that shows him developing from an impetuous youth to a man with the wisdom that comes with age. His goal in life is to attain Nirvana. He sees the need always to seek his own goal, but the Buddha may argue with him and encourage him to become a monk and join the Sangha. A consideration of what this means will lead to a consideration of the arguments Buddha might offer to persuade Siddhartha to do just that, though in fact Siddhartha continues to follow his own path and does not accept the invitation. He does this in the belief that the individual may find his own way, and while he does not denigrate those who choose to be taught and to participate in a group activity such as the Sangha, he knows this way is not for him and that he can serve as an example to others to find their own path.

What the Buddha suggests for Siddhartha mirrors ordination in the Buddhist context, meaning initiation into the Buddhist Order, or Sangha, which occurs in the presence of witnesses, or members of the Sangha. There are two kinds of Buddhist Order. The first is the lower, or pabbajj, by which a man becomes a smanera or novice; the second is the higher, or upasampad, by which a novice becomes a monk, or bhikku (Ling 200-201). For the Buddha to make this suggestion to Siddhartha shows that the Master sees potential in the other man and sees a community setting as the way to develop it. Siddhartha, however, has had his own sense of his potential awakened, or at least sees that he needs to travel and think in order to come to a final decision about the spiritual in his life.

In the "Gotama" section of the novel, Siddhartha and Govinda meet the Buddha and listen to his teachings, though Siddhartha is not especially interested: "He did not think they would teach him anything new" (Hesse 23). What does impress Siddhartha is that...

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Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 21:41, May 24, 2020, from https://www.lotsofessays.com/viewpaper/1684546.html