Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

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shadow
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Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Post by shadow »

This is a thread to discuss Herman Hesse's novel Siddhartha.

https://www.amazon.com/Siddhartha-Novel ... 0553208845

I was just reading the discussion thread on In Over Our Heads(viewtopic.php?p=169390#p169390) and while I have not read that book and most of the discussion itself is beyond my comprehension, I found it very interesting in light of my recent reading of Siddhartha. I believe that Siddhartha (the character) progresses through each order of consciousness. The book begins with Siddhartha in the third stage, a "philosophy follower" to use Jacob's terminology, where he is a Brahman following the rules of his caste. When he decides to leave home and become a Samana, he begins a transition to the 4th stage (philosophy chooser).

It is fully cemented when he sees the connection between the Samanas and Brahmans; that they are both doomed because they constantly search for something unreachable. He decides to go to the city and reconnect with his most base human desires (sex, drugs and money). This is an attempt to universalize the tribe (https://ibb.co/JKvSDNy) as he is constantly bugged by the idea of the "child people" being preoccupied with desire that he does not possess. He wants to understand this desire by descending into their realm and becoming one of them. However, he becomes frustrated at the fact that he still cannot do this (maybe because he is an OOC above them?) and develops a habit for gambling and drugs, absorbing the worst that the child people have to offer.

After nearly drowning himself in despair, he gives up this quest and transitions into the 5th stage when living with the ferryman. He no longer wants to be a part of a certain tribe or enhance the tribe as a whole but instead gives advice to people as they need it (when ferrying them across the river). His newfound ability to "see and love things exactly as they are" is a 5th order conception. To use daylen's descriptions, he recognizes that universal communication is not feasible exactly because individuals are not phenotypically equal and that morality is not path dependent. He is no longer looking for a hidden universal truth, or a synthesis of truths that he can communicate to everyone; instead he realizes that the connection between all things shouldn't be his focus, the beauty of the individual incarnations of the One Thing should.

His 5th order cognition also explains his conversation with Govinda. Govinda remains a philosophy follower (3rd order) for as long as he stays with Siddhartha and arguably ascends to a chooser (4th) when he makes the independent decision to stay with the Buddha. To invoke the concept of Wheaton levels, it is hard for Siddhartha to explain his own enlightenment to Govinda because he has not reached Siddhartha's level yet. Siddhartha's 5th order status also explains his massive respect for and simultaneous problems with the Buddha. The Buddha, as a teacher, is still in the 4th order attempting to universalize the tribe. Siddhartha respects this because he made a similar failed attempt but has transcended it.

black_son_of_gray
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Re: Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Post by black_son_of_gray »

A few days ago as I was spacing out in what you might call the "library" in our home, I realized that I was staring at this very book on the bookshelf. Haven't read it but have heard good things. It's a sign! I'll put it in the queue and check back.

daylen
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Re: Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Post by daylen »

Just nitpicking here, but I wrote "morality is path dependent" meaning that what an entity should do is dependent on their developmental path. In other words, your development now is dependent on your development a year ago .. five years ago .. what your ancestors did five generations ago ...

This aligns with what I said [at a different level] in @black_son_of_gray's journal about not being able to "rethink from scratch", because that big neural net of ours has a more or less fixed pattern to it and learning does not rewire it much. Learning mostly redirects the more flexible minority part.

As an analogy, the internet is more or less built on stable servers that route traffic so changing a website only redirects how less stable nodes route traffic through the more stable nodes.
Last edited by daylen on Thu Feb 27, 2020 12:09 am, edited 3 times in total.

shadow
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Re: Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Post by shadow »

daylen wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 4:06 pm
Just nitpicking here, but I wrote "morality is path dependent" meaning that what an entity should do is dependent on their developmental path. In other words, your development now is dependent on your development a year ago .. five years ago .. what your ancestors did five generations ago ...

This aligns with what I said [at a different level] in @black_son_of_gray's journal about not being about to "rethink from scratch", because that big neural net of ours has a more or less fixed pattern to it and learning does not rewire it much. Learning mostly redirects the more flexible minority part.

As an analogy, the internet is more or less built on stable servers that route traffic so changing a website only redirects how less stable nodes route traffic through the more stable nodes.
Interesting. I think while my statement earlier was misguided this is a common theme in the book as well; look at the river metaphor and also consider how each walk of life Siddhartha passed through built on each other.

RoamingFrancis
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Re: Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Post by RoamingFrancis »

I have it sitting on my bookshelf; I'll give it a reread.

black_son_of_gray
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Re: Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Post by black_son_of_gray »

I have now read it and enjoyed it a lot. It took a chapter or so for me to gel with the style of writing - maybe it's the age of the book or the translation from German, I don't know. I don't have anything to add to this discussion, though I do recommend it to those that haven't read it yet.

jacob
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Re: Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Post by jacob »

From the first month on the ERE blog (from December 2007): http://earlyretirementextreme.com/can-y ... -fast.html ... I don't remember when I first read Siddharta, but rather than eventually understanding it as in inner journey that eventually lead to acceptance [of the world's interrelations], I took it quite literally at the time. I love it when books can be read at several levels depending on the depth of the reader. Another example of such a book is the Book of Five Rings.

PS: I forget whether "not opposing the goal" was part of Siddharta, but that was the beginning of the thinking behind the web of goals.

Dave
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Re: Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Post by Dave »

This is perhaps my favorite book and I really enjoyed your write-up. Thanks for sharing, shadow!

Also like Jacob's succinct "inner journey that eventually lead to acceptance [of the world's interrelations]".

shadow
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Re: Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Post by shadow »

jacob wrote:
Tue Apr 28, 2020 2:03 pm
From the first month on the ERE blog (from December 2007): http://earlyretirementextreme.com/can-y ... -fast.html ... I don't remember when I first read Siddharta, but rather than eventually understanding it as in inner journey that eventually lead to acceptance [of the world's interrelations], I took it quite literally at the time. I love it when books can be read at several levels depending on the depth of the reader. Another example of such a book is the Book of Five Rings.

PS: I forget whether "not opposing the goal" was part of Siddharta, but that was the beginning of the thinking behind the web of goals.
This was one of the most influential posts from the blog on my life so I was very glad to be able to read the book for class :D
I definitely found "not opposing the goal" as a strong theme in the book, especially towards the end. He voluntarily accepts material poverty, a long shot away from the kingly status he had, because he finds that the "ferryman web of goals" is overall more satisfying.

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