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ConnieAnnKirk
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Chapters 1-4, No Spoilers Please

For readers who would like to discuss the book sequentially, this thread is for posts related to Chapters 1-4 only.
~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
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Sunltcloud
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Re: Chapters 1-4, No Spoilers Please

Hi ConnieK,

I don't know how you want to discuss the book; are you going to raise questions, have us discuss certain topics, or are we going to stay within the limits of the chapter division? Anyway, I have read the first three chapters and am overflowing with notes. I thought that I might just deposit some of them here. I hope that meets your approval.

Page 11. “And you would rather die than obey your father?”
“Siddhartha has always obeyed his father.”
“So you mean to abandon your plan?”
“Siddhartha will do what his father tells him.”

This is a crucial fact; Siddhartha does not go against his father’s will but his own will is so strong that his father bows to his decision.

Page 14. Interesting to see both translations. Rosner translates the German word "Ich" with "Self" and Lesser uses "I." I like "I" better because it does not seem to include the ego, only the existence of Siddhartha as person.

Page 19. An interesting aspect of teaching: The eldest shramana has heard of Buddha but “he had no respect for this Gautama.” And why does he not have respect? Because, oh Dear, Gautama has left his life of asceticism and has returned to worldly pleasures.

What it means to me: sometimes well-educated people become closed-minded. They only see their own revelations as truth, don’t accept other methods. And, of course, the more mundane a solution sounds, the less inclined they are to believe that it could be a valuable addition to their own learning.

Page 27. In chapter three Govinda leaves Siddhartha, apparently he is content with the teachings of the Buddha. I wondered as I was reading, why Govinda was part of the story. Is he a literary device, something to bounce off ideas? Is he a psychological device, allowing readers to see the difference between hero and almost-hero? Between ordinary and extraordinary? Between leader and follower? Is he friend or servant? In the beginning (page 6), where Govinda is described as his friend, Hesse writes: “And if Siddhartha were to become a god, if he were to arrive among the radiant, then Govinda wanted to follow him, as his friend, his companion, as his servant, his spearman, his shadow.”

Page 28. What I like most about Siddhartha is his way of telling the Buddha that he respects him but will not follow him. This is something I greatly admire. In my eyes the whole paragraph is a turning point in the learning process.
This is the first time since I started rereading Siddhartha that I have looked at the notes in back. Sure enough, this is where two streams of philosophy part ways. This is where hairsplitting begins: monism vs. nondualism. THE GAP.
Though I think I understand what Siddhartha is saying, I stop trying to figure out what’s going on and just accept that there will always be a gap in beliefs. That’s why we are reading, isn’t it? To fill the gap?

Page 29. Most important to me and most likely something that I have retained in my thinking from the first time I read this book: “This is the reason on account of which I intend to continue my journey – not to seek out some other, better instruction, for I know there is none, rather to leave all teachings and all teachers and alone attain my goal or else die. Oftentimes, however, I shall think of this day, o Exalted One, and of this hour, when my eyes beheld a holy man.”

Isn’t it wonderful how Hesse teaches us to be respectful of another and yet to walk one’s own path? (Hesse, in one of his poems, my favorite, tells us that the last step you have to go alone.)
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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: Chapters 1-4, No Spoilers Please

Hi, Sunltcloud--Thank you for your notes and questions. In this thread, yes; we need to stay within these chapter divisions to avoid "spoiling" the plot/book for new readers who are not yet past Chapter 4. Members may also start threads of their own on topics of their choice. I usually throw out a couple of threads with questions to get us going (I'll be doing that today), but readers are more than welcome to start their own discussions on topics of interest, too.

Does that help?

~ConnieK



Sunltcloud wrote, in part:
Hi ConnieK,

I don't know how you want to discuss the book; are you going to raise questions, have us discuss certain topics, or are we going to stay within the limits of the chapter division?


~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
Inspired Wordsmith
Sunltcloud
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Re: Chapters 1-4, No Spoilers Please

Great, that's what I wanted to know.



ConnieK wrote:
Hi, Sunltcloud--Thank you for your notes and questions. In this thread, yes; we need to stay within these chapter divisions to avoid "spoiling" the plot/book for new readers who are not yet past Chapter 4. Members may also start threads of their own on topics of their choice. I usually throw out a couple of threads with questions to get us going (I'll be doing that today), but readers are more than welcome to start their own discussions on topics of interest, too.

Does that help?

~ConnieK



Sunltcloud wrote, in part:
Hi ConnieK,

I don't know how you want to discuss the book; are you going to raise questions, have us discuss certain topics, or are we going to stay within the limits of the chapter division?





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tgem
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Re: Chapters 1-4, No Spoilers Please


ConnieK wrote:
For readers who would like to discuss the book sequentially, this thread is for posts related to Chapters 1-4 only.




I'm reading a New Directions paperback edition, copyright 1957, 37th printing. I picked it up used, because I really like the photograph of a giant carved stone Buddha. The photograph it turns out was taken by the late A.K. Coomaraswamy, whose many books are still in print. I've been unable to pinpoint the photo, or the Buddha, but it reminds me of the ones from Afghanistan - it may be destroyed by now.

Chapter One or "The Brahmin's Son" paints a portrait of a boy already wise, "his brow radiating the glow of pure spirit." (p2) He is beloved by all, but not content. To me this chapter points to the idea that we can have everything, and at times it's not enough. The title of the chapter may be important too. I believe Hinduism had to do with a caste system.

Chapter Two or "With the Samanas" Siddhartha may be heading towards a middle way. He describes the path of extreme denial as being parallel to that of extreme gratification, "a temporary escape from the torment of Self." (p12)

Chapter Three or "Gotama" is very beautiful to me. I've been fortunate enough meet someone (a Tibetan lama) and Hesse's description of Siddhartha's experience is so close to my thoughts it's eerie: "I have never seen a man look and smile, sit and walk like that,...so candid, so childlike...". (p29) For the first time in my life, I was unable to look directly at someone: "I have seen one man...before whom I must lower my eyes." (p29.)

Chapter Four or "Awakening": I take this chapter as Siddhartha's awakening to the world, without the labels that had defined him. He seems both exhilarated and fearful and definitely full of new questions.
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tgem
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Re: Chapters 1-4, No Spoilers Please

Sunltcloud,

Love the name! Your questions about the role of Govinda in the story got me thinking about this too. That's the good thing about discussion groups. Perhaps he's an example of someone who can benefit from a teacher. Both he and Siddhartha recognize Gotama as the Buddha. Siddhartha knows that ultimately no one else can do it (attain enlightenment) for him. He's at another stage and goes it on his own. I wonder about this though. I'm more familiar with Tibetan buddhism and the relationship between teacher and student is highly revered. All lamas, including the Dalai Lama, have many teachers. There are many books about this relationship. Was Siddhartha really ready to go it on his own, or could he too have benefited from being in the presence of a buddha (enlightened one)? The Tibetan's have a saying: "You may have the karma to meet your teacher, but you have to make the karma to keep your teacher."
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Sunltcloud
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Re: Chapters 1-4, No Spoilers Please


tgem wrote:
Sunltcloud,

Love the name! Your questions about the role of Govinda in the story got me thinking about this too. That's the good thing about discussion groups. Perhaps he's an example of someone who can benefit from a teacher. Both he and Siddhartha recognize Gotama as the Buddha. Siddhartha knows that ultimately no one else can do it (attain enlightenment) for him. He's at another stage and goes it on his own. I wonder about this though. I'm more familiar with Tibetan buddhism and the relationship between teacher and student is highly revered. All lamas, including the Dalai Lama, have many teachers. There are many books about this relationship. Was Siddhartha really ready to go it on his own, or could he too have benefited from being in the presence of a buddha (enlightened one)? The Tibetan's have a saying: "You may have the karma to meet your teacher, but you have to make the karma to keep your teacher."




Exactly what I thought, why didn't Siddhartha stay with a teacher. I have several books on Buddhism and picked one "Opening the Lotus" to check on the background of various practitioners; they all have spent many years with/under the guidance of their teachers. I think that Hesse, in an attempt to work out his own spiritual life/progress/problems stepped beyond the traditional teachings and tried to force an answer that suited his own stubborn individuality.

As for Govinda, he went the traditional route and stayed with his teacher. (In the final chapter we find out how far he progressed toward enlightenment.)

I have noticed that eastern cultures deal with large groups very differently from western cultures. "Personal space" does not come into play the way it does here. I don't think Hesse became that deeply involved in Buddhism that he could contemplate the inner life of a Tibetan monk.

I recently read the book "Cave in the Snow" about Diane Perry (Tenzin Palmo) who secluded herself in a remote cave in the Himalayas for twelve years of meditation. I wonder what this felt like - beyond the words of the author.
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tgem
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Re: Chapters 1-4, No Spoilers Please

  

tgem wrote:smileyfrustrated:unltcloud,Love the name! Your questions about the role of Govinda in the story got me thinking about this too. That's the good thing about discussion groups. Perhaps he's an example of someone who can benefit from a teacher. Both he and Siddhartha recognize Gotama as the Buddha. Siddhartha knows that ultimately no one else can do it (attain enlightenment) for him. He's at another stage and goes it on his own. I wonder about this though. I'm more familiar with Tibetan Buddhism and the relationship between teacher and student is highly revered. All lamas, including the Dalai Lama, have many teachers. There are many books about this relationship. Was Siddhartha really ready to go it on his own, or could he too have benefited from being in the presence of a buddha (enlightened one)? The Tibetan's have a saying: "You may have the karma to meet your teacher, but you have to make the karma to keep your teacher."
Sunltcloud wrote: Exactly what I thought, why didn't Siddhartha stay with a teacher. I have several books on Buddhism and picked one "Opening the Lotus" to check on the background of various practitioners; they all have spent many years with/under the guidance of their teachers. I think that Hesse, in an attempt to work out his own spiritual life/progress/problems stepped beyond the traditional teachings and tried to force an answer that suited his own stubborn individuality.As for Govinda, he went the traditional route and stayed with his teacher. (In the final chapter we find out how far he progressed toward enlightenment.)I have noticed that eastern cultures deal with large groups very differently from western cultures. "Personal space" does not come into play the way it does here. I don't think Hesse became that deeply involved in Buddhism that he could contemplate the inner life of a Tibetan monk.I recently read the book "Cave in the Snow" about Diane Perry (Tenzin Palmo) who secluded herself in a remote cave in the Himalayas for twelve years of meditation. I wonder what this felt like - beyond the words of the author.
Sunltcloud,I'm re-reading this book slowly and it has been so long that I don't remember how it ends. It will be interesting to find out what happens to Govinda, since he is able to recognize the Buddha and "make the karma" to allow himself to learn from him. Seeing the Buddha in someone who is highly evolved is one step. From what I know about Tibetan Buddhism the relationship between student and teacher is very devotional. That devotion takes a person "out of themself", as Siddhartha made reference to. At the same time someone has to be wise enough not get involved with the wrong person. Govinda was first devoted to Siddhartha,but when Siddhartha decided not to stay with Gotama, Govinda made the choice to part with Siddhartha. I noticed in some other areas of discussion you questioned whether Siddhartha was arrogant. I think he was and it was his arrogance or pride that may have made his journey longer.When I first read this book in the late sixties it was a glimpse into another belief system. I mentioned the Beat writers and the Beatles. There was also I Ching. It was a belief system that settled into more than I realized until later in life. I'm now reading the book through the lens of what I have learned about Buddhism. Goes to show how reading can really change our lives.I love the book Cave in the Snow. And Tenzin Palmo. But here I stray from our book, Siddhartha. Tonight I'll see if I can find my book by Tenzin Palmo and post something I found very profound that she had to say about teachers in the off the subject area for posting. If you'd like to discuss this and more, join me there.Jeanne
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ELee
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Re: Chapters 1-4, No Spoilers Please


tgem wrote:
  Govinda was first devoted to Siddhartha,but when Siddhartha decided not to stay with Gotama, Govinda made the choice to part with Siddhartha.



I didn't read this as Govinda making a decision to part with Siddhartha. I think Govinda was so enraptured by the prospect of hearing teaching words from a Buddha and so moved by the subsequent preaching of Gautama that his ecstasy moved him to a (slightly out of character) commitment to follow the Sublime One. I had the impression that he was sure that Siddhartha would be similarly moved and would join too. I believe that the realization that Siddhartha was actually going to leave him was devastating to Govinda. Though the separation of the two was an important step towards maturity for Govinda, I couldn't help feeling that Siddhartha almost tricked him into making the commitment that would separate them.
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Sunltcloud
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Re: Chapters 1-4, No Spoilers Please

Elee wrote: Though the separation of the two was an important step towards maturity for Govinda, I couldn't help feeling that Siddhartha almost tricked him into making the commitment that would separate them.
................................................................................

I look at it this way. Govinda, up to then, has been Siddhartha's shadow. From a psychological standpoint (Jung) shadows have to be addressed as the hidden part of the psyche. By letting go of Govinda, Siddhartha allows him to develop freely. How far will Govinda go? And will the shadow return - fully realized - to close the circle of unity?
We shall see....
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SAP6
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Re: Chapters 1-4, No Spoilers Please

Here are a few questions that our group has formulated for chapters one through four.

1. Do you think that the relationship between Siddhartha and Govinda was homosexual?
2. Why was Siddartha's mother not mentioned in the first part?
3. Why do the samanas disown knowledge?
4. Why did Govinda Leave Siddartha?
5. Why does Siddartha decide to go through so much pain and suffering to reach enlightenment?
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SAP5
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Re: Chapters 1-4, No Spoilers Please

Chapter 1... Who is Siddharta's best friend?
Chapter 2... Why dont Shramana have any respect for Gautama?
Chapter 3... Why did Govinda leave with the Guatama's
Chapter 4... Why did Siddhartha feel awake?
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ELee
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Re: Chapters 1-4, No Spoilers Please


SAP6 wrote:
Why was Siddartha's mother not mentioned in the first part?



Oh but she was.

Chapter 1

"Bliss leapt in his mother's breast when she saw him, when she saw him
walking, when she saw him sit down and get up, Siddhartha, strong,
handsome, he who was walking on slender legs, greeting her with perfect
respect."

And when his father agreed to let him become a Samana

"Go now and kiss your mother, tell her where you are going to."
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SAP8
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Re: Chapters 1-4, No Spoilers Please

1.) Who was the group of people Siddartha stayed wit and learned from?
2.) What is the relationship of Siddartha and Govinda?
3.) How many years before Christ is the novel set?
4.) Where was Gotama's favorite place to stay?
5.) Why did Siddartha leave Govinda behind in the Savathi?
SAP8===D
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SAP7
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Re: Chapters 1-4, No Spoilers Please

1. What is Siddartha's sexuality?
2. The india culture is about respect espcially to your elders, but Siddartha doesn't show much respect when he sits there stubbornly and waits for his father to give him the answer that he wants.
3. What was the reasoning for him deciding to become a samana? Was that the only thing he could of joined or were there any other group possibilities?
4. Chapters 1-4 were very hard to follow.
5. Was there any importance to Govinda in the story of Siddartha other than being Siddartha's 'shadow' and 'follower?'
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Sunltcloud
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Re: Chapters 1-4, No Spoilers Please


SAP6 wrote:
Here are a few questions that our group has formulated for chapters one through four.

1. Do you think that the relationship between Siddhartha and Govinda was homosexual?
2. Why was Siddartha's mother not mentioned in the first part?
3. Why do the samanas disown knowledge?
4. Why did Govinda Leave Siddartha?
5. Why does Siddartha decide to go through so much pain and suffering to reach enlightenment?




Here is what I think.

1. The relationship between Siddhartha and Govinda was not homosexual. maybe the way Hesse describes it could lead to this assumption, but I think that Hesse is trying to allow both sides - male and female - to stand side by side and in doing so he has to show a rather intimate side of both sexes. Besides, I think it was a sign of the times; there was a certain physical closeness in relationships that we try to avoid nowadays. When I was young my friends and I often walked around with our arms around each other.

2. There is little mention of female contact in the beginning. Maybe because one must leave the mother in order to grow up?

3. I don't think the samanas disown knowledge. It is Siddhartha who questions what knowledge does for them and he believes that knowledge does not bring them closer to nirvana.

4. They both had to find their own way. It's one of Hesse's beliefs that everybody has to go their own way in order to find him/herself.

5. Most of us don't volunteer for pain and suffering, but there are those who say that pain makes us stronger. And without this kind of endurance, where would our heroes be, the soldiers, the athletes, the peace corps volunteers, those who stand up and suffer for their beliefs?
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Sunltcloud
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Re: Chapters 1-4, No Spoilers Please


SAP7 wrote:
1. What is Siddartha's sexuality?
2. The india culture is about respect espcially to your elders, but Siddartha doesn't show much respect when he sits there stubbornly and waits for his father to give him the answer that he wants.
3. What was the reasoning for him deciding to become a samana? Was that the only thing he could of joined or were there any other group possibilities?
4. Chapters 1-4 were very hard to follow.
5. Was there any importance to Govinda in the story of Siddartha other than being Siddartha's 'shadow' and 'follower?'




1. Siddhartha is a figment of Hesse's imagination, a symbol of both, male and female, a psychological uniting of both in order to be whole.

2. Well, isn't that what we all do; we test our parents' will? I think that Siddhartha tried to do the right thing; at least he asked for his father's permission.
He is unhappy with his situation: "Within himself Siddhartha had begun to nourish discontent."
"And you would rather die than obey your father?"
"Siddhartha has always obeyed his father."
"So you mean to abandon your plan?"
"Siddhartha will do what his father tells him."

Now isn't that a clever solution? The father admits to himself that Siddhartha's spirit has already left him and he gives his blessing. I wish my parents had been this wise. My stepfather just yelled, "You'll be back."

3. I'm sure there were other groups. He could have become a more worldly leader. But since the author had to figure out a few things about his own life he chose to look for enlightenment.

5. Being a shadow and follower seem to be the main theme but growing and learning teach Govinda enough to make him see that Siddhartha has found his way and that makes him happy too.
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Re: Chapters 1-4, No Spoilers Please

The follwing comments are some thoghts our group formulated about Siddhartha:

1.) Was Govinda attracted to Siddhartha?
2.) Was Siddhartha happy with his life?
3.) What was Siddhartha's relationship like with his father?
4.) Could Siddhartha ever find true solace in Buddhism?
5.) Siddhartha was searching for something he could not find.
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SAP4
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Re: Chapters 1-4, No Spoilers Please

i'll make this short and painless as possible. Did he always want to write something like Siddhartha or was it a spurr of the moment kind of book, that he started writing and had that sort of burning passion to finish? Or was it something else?

alright here's my little contribution to this paper. I think Siddhartha being the fine looking man he was and to go on such a search to the Samanas and work with them, it makes me think that those girls in the first chapter must of surely of missed him.

the old samanas who had not reached Nirvana could be like co workers. If i'm a twenty something just starting my first real job, i'm not likely to take advice from people who have held the same position for years. i would want to go to someone who has actually made advancements in their career.

interesting parallel between the life of Siddhartha and the life of Buddha.

Siddhartha is a free thinker. i know i know stating the obvious but it took guts to question the methods of the most enlightened guy around.
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ELee
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Re: Chapters 1-4, No Spoilers Please



SAP4 wrote:
the old samanas who had not reached Nirvana could be like co workers. If i'm a twenty something just starting my first real job, i'm not likely to take advice from people who have held the same position for years. i would want to go to someone who has actually made advancements in their career.

of the most enlightened guy around.




Exactly. Because you would not be satisfied with those prospects. But would you rely on someone higher up on the food chain to tell you what to do, or would you talk to several people and so some research and make a decision about your career path yourself?
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