Siddhartha and Buddhism

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Transcript Siddhartha and Buddhism

Siddhartha and Buddhism
Hermann Hesse
• B. 1877; d. 1962
• German novelist, poet, and
winner of the Nobel Prize for
Literature in 1946, whose main
theme is of breaking out of
established civilization to find
one’s own essential spirit. With
his appeal for self-realization
and his exploration into Eastern
mysticism, Hesse became a cult
figure in the troubled century in
which he wrote.
• Other novels include: Demian,
Steppenwolf, and Narcissus and
• The novel, Siddhartha, was
written in 1922, in the desolate
times after the “Great War.”
Few people could make sense
of the devastation inflicted upon
the world from so called
“civilized” countries, and many
people were searching for a
guiding force out of the moral
degradation left in the wake of
World War I.
• Hesse, writing during this time,
left his mark in exploring
Buddhist philosophy as a path
towards salvation.
• This was also the time of Freud and Jung, and the
idea of exploring the human psyche and inner
consciousness was in vogue. Hesse himself was a
disciple of Carl Jung.
• The novel Siddhartha is a fairly transparent
allegory of the life of the real Buddha, whose real
name was Siddhartha Gautama.
• The novel’s intent is didactic, in delivering the
following Buddhist sutta, or teaching:
A man who has left home and
gone forth should not follow
two extremes, namely selfindulgence (hedonism) and selfmortification (asceticism).
Avoiding these two extremes,
Buddha has discovered the
middle path leading to vision, to
knowledge, to calmness, to
awakening, to nirvana.
The Life of Siddhartha Gautama
• Gautama, the Buddha. 566-486 BCE
• Siddhartha Gautama was born in the kingdom of the
Sakyas, on the border of what is now Nepal and India. He
was born into a life of luxury as a Khattiya, the warrior or
ruling caste of Hindu. The name Siddhartha means, “One
whose aim is accomplished.” (Hinduism dates back 4,000
• The word “Buddha” means “awakened one.” This is
similar to the word “Christ,” meaning “messiah.” As
Christianity stems from Judaism, Buddhism stems from
Hinduism. Like Jesus of Nazareth, Gautama was born into
one faith, and built another from that foundation.
The Life of Siddhartha Gautama
• The historic life of Siddhartha Gautama is cast in a series
of significant events. The first of these is his mother’s
dream of a white elephant entering her womb prior to his
birth, signifying that he would be either a universal
monarch or a Buddha. As a child, he was a sage, or yogi,
who was capable of deep meditation.
• The next is his early encounter with four signs that led him
to question his life of ease. He saw an aged cripple, a sick
and suffering man, a corpse and a wandering monk. His
father tried to keep him home, away from the traumas of
the world, and although he had married and had had a son,
he decided to go off on a journey of self-discovery.
The Life of Siddhartha Gautama
• The next stage of his journey
is called the Great
Renunciation. At age 29, he
gave up his princely life and
became a wandering Hindu
ascetic. In a state of extreme
self-mortification, and
emaciation, he lost faith in
this path. His companions
left him, and he embarked on
his own journey.
The Life of Siddhartha Gautama
• The Great Enlightenment.
Under a bodhi or bo tree he
meditates. He’s tempted by
Mara, the evil one, lord of the
world of passion, but he resists,
similar to the story of Christ in
the wilderness, tempted by
Satan. He is 35 years old when
he forms the doctrine of
Buddhism, after which, he
gathers disciples who go forth,
• He dies when he well past 80
years old.
Buddhism Basics
The Four Noble Truths
• All life is full of suffering
• Suffering is caused by
desires, or samsara
• There is freedom from
samsara, or nirvana
• Nirvana can be attained by
following the Middle, or
Noble Eightfold Path.
Buddhism Basics
All Life is Full of Suffering
• Everything changes: A river
continues to be a river, although
it is changing every second.
The change is so complete that
the water that flows between the
banks of the river today is not
the same water that flowed in
the river yesterday, but it is the
same river. So in life we are
constantly changing, although
we seem to be the same person.
Buddhism Basics
Suffering is Caused by Desires
• Desires are the evils of samsara, and include: grasping,
lust, hunger and thirst, craving, sloth, fear, doubt,
hypocrisy, false glory, anger, delusion, ignorance,
selfishness, greed, narcissism.
• Samsara: Continuous rebirth due to desire, which includes
even clinging to life itself, since life itself is ephemeral.
Buddhists believe that all grasping is folly. The goal is to
be “in the moment” and aware of each moment you have.
Think: What if you wanted nothing? Were waiting for
nothing? Would your life be more serene?
Buddhism Basics
There is Freedom, or Nirvana
• Attainable during a human life. Nirvana means freedom
from the cycle of rebirth (reincarnation) from the wheel of
• Buddhists belief that there is NO unchanging soul, no self
or ego, which is different from Hinduism.
• Humans are composed of five aggregates: body, feelings,
perception, predispositions, and consciousness, all of
which are constantly changing, and constantly linked
together with each other through karma, or thoughts or
actions that have consequences.
Buddhism Basics
There is Freedom, or
Nirvana is a living group of
aggregates, where one becomes
free from karma and samsara.
It is described as a “cool cave,
the place of bliss, the father
shore.” It is where there is an
extinction of the fire of illusion,
passion and cravings. Not
annihilation or nonexistence,
but a place “unborn.”
Buddhism Basics
The Middle, or Noble Eightfold Path
• By avoiding extremes of asceticism or hedonism,
one can find nirvana by pursuing the middle, or
noble eightfold path, consisting of:
• Right view, right thought, right speech, right
action, right mode of living, right endeavor, right
mindfulness, and right concentration.
• To fend off the evils of desire, Buddhists also
practice the 10 Great Virtues: Charity, morality,
renunciation, wisdom, effort, patience, truth,
determination, universal love, and equanimity.
Buddhism Basics
• Siddhartha Gautama was against the Hindu caste system,
and taught that virtues could help fight the evils of the
world. He wanted to help those in poverty, and believed
that men and women were equals, and all were capable of
achieving nirvana. He taught that each individual must find
his own journey towards it.
• Buddhist are completely nonviolent, vegetarians, and
revere all life forms. (Even the insect world!) There are no
deities, only teachers or lamas, who help individuals find
their own journey to eternal bliss.
Buddhist Quotes
The religion of the future will be
a cosmic religion. It should
transcend personal God and
avoid dogma and theology….
Buddhism answers this
description…. If there is any
religion that could cope with
modern scientific needs, it
would be Buddhism.
-Albert Einstein
Buddhist Quotes
I dreamt that I was a
butterfly, flitting around in
the sky; then I awoke. Now
I wonder: Am I a man who
dreamt of being a
butterfly, or am I a
butterfly dreaming that I
am a man?
-Chuang Tsu
Buddhist Quotes
There is no fire like greed,
No crime like hatred,
No sorrow like separation,
No sickness like hunger of heart,
And no joy like to joy of freedom.
Health, contentment and trust
Are your greatest possessions,
And freedom your greatest joy.
Look within.
Be still.
Free from fear and attachment,
Know the sweet joy of living in the
• Allegory refers to a genre of literature where the entire
story actually represents another tale or lesson.
• Examples of simple allegory are parables and fables, where
all of the characters and events in the story symbolize
characters and events in the lesson to be learned.
• A modern example of allegory is Animal Farm, by George
Orwell, which is not only the story of animals on a farm
staging a revolution against their human owners, but a
thinly veiled satire of the Russian Revolution and
Communist ideology.
• Allegory is frequently didactic, or meant to teach
a lesson.
• It functions on symbolism: The characters and
events in the allegorical story are directly
connected to the didactic story through symbolic
• In its purest form, these connections are more
direct than symbolic, as the genre shifts through
parable to fable, the connections become more and
more figurative.
In a pure allegory, such as the
medieval morality play,
Everyman, the connections
are direct: The character,
Everyman, is well, all of us.
Death, who comes to visit
him one day, is, well, death.
The character known as
Fellowship, is his not so loyal
friend, and Good Deeds,
is…well, you get the idea.
• In an almost pure allegory, such
as Animal Farm, there are
pretty direct symbolic
connections between the main
characters and the story of the
the failure of communism.
Farmer Jones represents Czar
Nicholas II, Napoleon the pig is
Stalin, Old Major the horse is
Karl Marx, and Snowball is
• In parables and fables, the
connections are more symbolic,
and broader, and therefore
perhaps more universal to
human experiences.
• In the Aesop fable of the ant
and the grasshopper, for
example, who is the ant and
who is the grasshopper? Is
there room for a broader
interpretation than simply
storing food away for winter?
• In the famous New
Testament passage, the
Parable of the Sower (Mt.
13:3-23) Jesus explains that
he uses parables because
they are easily understood,
and more universal. Without
religious interpretation,
however, the Parable of the
Sower, can represent many
examples of something
missing its mark, not only
the word of God.
So…. Looking at the sutta that Siddhartha is meant to
teach, can you drawn connections between the characters
and events in the book? What might be the symbol for:
• the ascetic life?
• the hedonistic life?
• the middle path?
Do you see evidence of pride or grasping that is pulling
the main character into samsara? Where does he find
salvation, and acceptance of the truth that everything
changes? (Hint: There is your list of three for the essay!)