Saturday, September 15, 2007


Lindsey gave me a book this year which I just got around to reading. The book, by Herman Hesse, is called Siddhartha, and is about a Hindu Brahmin character. Essentially, Siddhartha is a very talented Brahmin who leaves his caste to travel with the Samanas, a group of ascetics geared at removing themselves from the attachment of the world.

After rejecting both the Brahmin path and the path of the Samana, Siddhartha decides to enjoy the material world and all that it has to offer. He becomes a very successful business man and a lover of a beautiful woman named Kamala. In the same way that Siddhartha tired of the Brahmin and Samana path, he grows very empty in the worldly path, leaving everything behind at a moments notice to reconnect with spirituality.

After he leaves, Siddhartha spends many years as a ferryman and becomes enlightened through perfection of the art of listening to the world. Forgetting himself in the river he navigates, Siddhartha realizes that the river is a metaphor for life. We float down the path thinking we're separate, but we're all intermingled in the water. We all evaporate and become vapor, condense and come back down as rain, and float down the river together again. This is a novel concept for me.

Everything is the same. The rock is the same as the man who holds it. I'm not positive I fully grasp this idea. Actually, I know I don't fully grasp the idea. I'm not enlightened. Either way, Siddhartha realizes his inner Atman and discovers complete equanamity with the world. Sadness and happiness are the same. Victory and defeat are the same. Love and hate, light and dark, heavy and light, all are illusions of opposites which are really no different from each other.

I suppose I'm so intrigued by this concept because it seems like it makes a lot of sense, yet I don't fully understand it. I think that perhaps the most fundamental concept in Hinduism and Buddhism is equanamity. All of the other concepts flow out of the concept of equanamity. We're all the same. Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, white, black, hispanic, rocks, trees, Atman, non-Atman, it's all the same. Much of our suffering comes from clinging to a concept that we think is correct. If we'd just let go of these concepts of difference, we'd find ourselves getting along with each other.

It almost seems too easy, and too apathetic, but it isn't apathetic at all in my mind. It takes work to see the world through the same lens, to love everything as if it were yourself. It also takes work to realize, actually fully grasp the reality of the idea, that we are all the same. It is one thing to know something in your head, but another to realize the truth of that knowledge in practice. Life is good.

1 comment:

lindsey said...

Your comments sound a little like "Be Here Now" except without the LSD and the drawings of naked ladies. ;-)

I'm glad you liked the book. But you remember the stipulation right? (At least I think I told you...) It has to be passed on to someone else who will benefit from it.