If offered two pills, ingest cerulean to linger unchanged; scarlet to glimpse life’s verity. The protagonist Neo faced this dilemma in “The Matrix”, opting for scarlet revelation despite the simulacrum confines.
A vignette elucidates our existential plight: enthralled by invisible “matrices”, turmoil and anguish remain unresolved. Though yearning freedom, we languish in bondage.
“Siddhartha”, Hermann Hesse’s Nobel-prized magnum opus, proffers clarity for the vexed seeker. Deemed more restorative than Biblical scripture, this literary panacea charts Siddhartha’s odyssey from ascetic monk to worldly sensualist, ultimately attaining transcendental awakening through profane submersion.
Today we glean Siddhartha’s wisdom, healing through letters, comprehending life by book.
Transcending Cognition, Transcending Worldly Fetters
Siddhartha, a privileged Brahmin prodigy, mastered India’s highest wisdom by age twelve.
Despite praise and envy, melancholy inexplicably consumed him. His unease intensified nightly until dreams of rivers and stars evoked cosmic estrangement upon waking.
Worldly glory could not satisfy his soul. Neither parental love nor wisdom’s instruction soothed his roiling discontent. He sought only spiritual fulfillment and freedom.
Resolute, he stood vigil in his father’s chamber until consent was given: he would become a monk.
Accompanied by his friend Govinda, Siddhartha readily renounced home for monastic pursuit of truth. Off went his opulent garb, replaced by ascetic robes. He stood rooted in forest clearings, allowing sun to scorch and rain to drench his consecrated form. Fasting whittled his body.
Eyes aflame with zealous visions, beard overtaking visage, fingers sprouting talons; Siddhartha suppressed instinct and viewed femininity with detachment. Meditating, he slowed pulse and breath. He learned animalistic, arboreal, and elemental transfiguration, cycling between states of life and death.
Tirelessly honing skills, Siddhartha swiftly mastered all methods known to elder ascetics. Just three years begging sustenance from village to village surpassed decades of his teacher’s practice.
Yet he realized the path tread was but escapist anesthesia, distant still from genuine enlightenment. Respectfully taking leave, Unexpected condemnation met Siddhartha’s departure. Unperturbed, he calmly conquered the elder’s curse.
With revitalized vigor he embarked anew, finding the surrounding world suddenly vivid and endearing. “Return to the present is to reunite with life.” Every cell drinking awareness, Siddhartha arrived by ferry to a alluring city.
Kamala, alluring courtesan, instigated his overpowering infatuation upon first sight. She tutored him in amorous arts; an influential businessman instructed business acumen. Siddhartha swiftly flourished, adept in fathoming hearts and brokering deals equitably.
While the businessman fixated on profit, Siddhartha remained detached. Wealth seemed external, hardly touching his being. Reveling nightly in pleasure, vigilance against dissipation perilously lapsed.
Debauchery bloated his form and dulled his spirit. One morning the mirror revealed a repulsive stranger. Wandering remorsefully to the river, Siddhartha surrendered himself to its depths.
At life’s brink, an inner voice intoned: “Experience greed, chase wealth, know disgust, sink into despair – thereby learn to resist.” Siddhartha awoke, pained but enlightened.
As Shui Muran wrote, “Life is a Daoist field. Cross to attain Dao; or be trapped below your ceiling.”
Siddhartha was fortunate to meet Buddha and transcend doctrine’s limits through self-cultivation. Tempering spirit through worldly immersion yields true insight. Lower the outer, raise the inner; unite practice and perception.
With worldly mind engage earthly deeds, living flexibly.
Exhausted, Siddhartha collapsed beneath a tree and slept soundly. Upon waking, vitality surged anew. He gazed at the river, clear and verdant, eternally pristine.
Here he met Vasudeva, the ferryman, recounting his tribulations. “Learn from the river,” Vasudeva urged, “submerge and explore its depths.”
Siddhartha released all, studied fervently – ferrying, farming, gathering fuel, harvesting fruit, weaving baskets. Unoccupied, he listened to the running water’s song.
But peace was disrupted by Kamala’s return…
She sought Siddhartha having birthed his child. Cultivating virtue, she now followed Buddha’s path. Hearing Buddha deathly ill, she journeyed with child to pay respects. Finding Siddhartha instead, her pilgrimage ended with a serpent’s venomous strike.
Entrusting the child to Siddhartha, Kamala perished. He sheltered the boy on the humble ferry. But pampered privilege could not endure such austerity. Frequent conflicts climaxed in the child’s mysterious disappearance.
Desperate searching in vain, Siddhartha realized this child embodied his own prior self. Was this life’s cyclical revenge? Distraught, he begged the river for salvation.
The surging waters instructed him to listen silently, observing all ferry passengers – desires, pursuits, joys and sorrows, good and evil. In turbulence he heard the river’s ridicule; in calm, its harmonious perfection.
At last Siddhartha understood – the crux of existence lies within. Accepting fate, he found peace:
“My singular act is loving this world, not despising existence nor hating self. I embrace love, regard all things with awe.”
War once waged within Siddhartha; now conciliatory equanimity prevailed.
Wang Yangming’s Xin Xue states: “Learn in the mind, practice in things. Raise dimension in the mind, lower dimension in the matter.”
Siddhartha’s arrogance dissolved into humility. Tasting life’s extremes, he transformed and found love.
Learn within, practice without; wisdom advances and existence unfolds. Engage the world with focused presence.
A thousand Hamlets in a thousand eyes; a thousand Siddharthas in a thousand hearts.
Do you relate to his principled youth, heroic resistance to conformity, expansive worldliness midway, and persistence toward awakening despite life’s batterings?
May you grow into this Siddhartha – courageous, unbroken by trial, strengthening core values through challenge.
Better yourself in the now, standing tall amidst life’s waves without sinking into mire.
Release attachment, comprehend truths, abide detached and calm – thereby attain awakening and perfection.