Man on the Shore
Search for Human Potential
20 October 2011
The Brahmin’s Son
Why does Siddhartha leave home?
Who accompanies him? Who does
he leave behind?
Govinda goes, everyone else
(including the Brahmin) stays
With the Samanas
What do the Samanas seek to
deprive themselves of, and what
do they seek to eliminate?
Everything! Food, sleep, etc.
Eliminate the self
Why are the Samanas
Their approach contradicts life
Why do Govinda and Siddhartha
Different approaches (leaf vs.
stone, teachings vs. searching)
Why doesn’t Siddhartha stay with
Gotama’s “Eureka!” moment
can’t be shared (+ loophole)
Wants to be his own teacher
rather than learn from others
What sort of epiphany does
Earlier attempts to find truth
Tried to run from Self, but only
ensured he’d obsess over
What does Kamala represent?
The embodiment of passion and
desire, as well as intelligence, power,
love, and death
What steps does Siddhartha take to
win her affection? What do these
They indicate how he pursues his goals
Haircut + cleanup + speaking +
Why is it important that Siddhartha
dreams about Govinda changing into a
Indicates transition from searching to
indulgence/from deprivation to desire
Amongst the People
Which two “worlds” must Siddhartha
inhabit during this phase of his life?
The world of commerce / desire /
The world / prison he creates within
Why does Siddhartha believe he and
Kamala cannot love one another?
He removes himself from everyone
Kamala practices love as art
How is the samsara cycle evident in this
Endless routines of suffering – dice games,
Represents the middle of the cycle
Why does Siddhartha treat so much of life as a
Allows him to stay at a distance and pretend
Learn rules dispassionately, then play at a
What “traps” Siddhartha?
Everything in the town
Superficial concerns of the world
Avoids real human connection
What plot revelation lies at the end of the
By the River
Why doesn’t Siddhartha commit suicide?
He hears the river and Om
Remembers what he’s forgotten – river as
Can you describe his meeting with Govinda?
What is special about Govinda’s appearances?
How do Siddhartha’s clothes reflect the
changing circumstances of his existence?
New phases of identity
Foresakes his clothes from home
Acquires fine clothes in order to impress
Kamala and serve Kamaswami
Renounces these clothes while living with
What has Vasudeva learned from
the river, and how/why has he
To love everybody by seeing
everybody, and by appreciating
and understanding those he sees
How does Kamala die?
Helping her complaining son –
being pulled from “the path”
Small dark snake
Killed slowly by poison
What are some differences between
Vasudeva’s and Siddhartha’s approaches to
caring for mini-Siddhartha?
Siddhartha indulges + imprisons; Vasudeva
advocates for his release
Why does Siddhartha want to keep his son by
Wants to protect him from suffering
Doesn’t want him to repeat his mistakes
Wants to satisfy his own desires/relieve pain
What is the symbolic meaning of the
Oar = ability to navigate life = teachings and
guidance a parent can offer
Abandoned oar = mini-Siddhartha casting
aside anything Siddhartha tried to give him
How does Siddhartha’s view of other people – not
the ones he’s close to, but the general public –
shift throughout the novel?
Moves from caring about others to worrying that
their company will not satisfy him
Disdains all others as a Samana
Encounter with Gotama removes hostility
Still sets himself apart from the “common
Grows to disdain them again
Sheds this after staying with Vasudeva
What's going on during the scene with the faces
by the river?
It’s one of those “Eureka!” moments
Siddhartha understands that time may be
illusory (and that everything is connected) after
experiencing the intersection of his past (seeing
his father’s face in his own), present (spotting
his own reflection), and future (chasing his son)
Emotional wound begins healing
Who – what – does Siddhartha become by the
end of the book?
What do we learn about knowledge – i.e., can
all knowledge be taught?
Knowledge can be taught/communicated, but
wisdom cannot – and without wisdom,
knowledge doesn’t matter
How does Siddhartha advise the desperate
Tells him nothing
Lets himself be used as a lens
What is Siddhartha’s final gift?
Govinda learns the lesson life had already
tried to teach him
He sees what’s already there; as Siddhartha
points out, that potential was always within
him, just as w/the Buddha within the sinner