Looking for a Meaning in Nothing in Life
Where would one look to find meaning, or to find themselves? If one were to look for help, or to look for guidance and understanding, where would they look? Some people might find it through their experiences, and through their memories. In the novel, Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha goes through a number of different experiences as well as searching high and low to find the meaning of his existence, the meaning of life, and the meaning of communication.
Throughout the novel, Siddhartha encounters a lot of trials and temptations that leave him questioning and searching for meanings of why he went through what he went through and what will happen in the near future. One thing that Siddhartha uses to try and find a sense of meaning is the river, because “The river flowed softly and gently; it was dry in season but its voice rang out strangely. It was laughing, it was distinctly laughing! ” (107). Siddhartha used the river as a way of guidance, a place where he can come to and sort out his thoughts.
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The river is also a place that he comes to for answers, because the little voice that he hears laughing, laughing at the old Ferrymen is also giving him advices. The river gives Siddhartha guidance that Buddha and the teachers couldn’t give him. One day when Siddhartha comes to the river, as he usually does, he begins to realize that “They all became part of the river. It was the goal of all of them, yearning, desiring, suffering; and the rivers voice was full of longing…full of instable desire…[the] river flowed towards its goals. ”(110).
Hermann Hesse uses this piece of evidence to reveal how Siddhartha feels and relates to the actions that is bestowed on the river. The endless streaming river shows Siddhartha’s paths are endless and that he has a little way longer to go to reach his goals. The river gives Siddhartha a sense of hope, and encouragement to keep going, to keep going with the flow. Another thing that Siddhartha searches for meaning through is wisdom and communication. Throughout all of Siddhartha’s experiences he realizes that “wisdom is not communicated.
The wisdom which a wise man tries to communicate sounds foolish” (115). This context reveals how Siddhartha feels towards wisdom, because one can not simply receive wisdom from any one, you have to build it on your own. If someone were to try to “give” Siddhartha wisdom, then Siddhartha will simply consider them foolish. Referring back to the river, Siddhartha feels that, that’s where he gains most of his knowledge that develops his sense of wisdom. Which is why Siddhartha believes that “knowledge can be communicated but wisdom not.
One can find it, live it, be forfeited by it…but one cannot communicate and teach it”(115). As Siddhartha continuously goes down to the river he realizes these factors. That one person can simply gain wisdom and knowledge from someone. Wisdom simply cannot be communicated because its not something that you can just give away, it something that you have to learn and experienced on your own to build your own knowledge and make your wisdom a lot stronger. Someone that they can learn from. Siddhartha feels that the river is a never ending stream of knowledge.
Knowledge can be given and taught which is where a person can collect and build their wisdom on. Throughout the novel, Siddhartha begins to see things in the river every time he went. He didn’t just see the never ending stream of water that he always saw but he saw “signs” in the river. “He no longer saw the face of his friend of Siddhartha”(121). Hermann Hesse reveals the fact that when Siddhartha goes down to the river he sees faces in the river, he doesn’t see his own reflection but he sees other people’s reflections.
All though Siddhartha sees other peoples reflections in the river they are not physically there with him. One might think that he is hallucinating about what he sees, but as time goes on and things start to unravel he realizes what he is seeing and why he is see it. One might simply believe that Siddhartha is seeing other disguised faces in the river because he still has a lot of lessons in life to learn or has a lot of more experience to go through. …He saw other faces, a long series, a continuous stream of faces – hundreds, thousands which all disappeared…which were yet all Siddhartha” (121). All of the faces that Siddhartha had seen in the river was just his own. It was just his reflection but it was simply being disguised with what he has been through and all the lessons and experiences that he has learned. One might believe that the only reason why Siddhartha saw a lot of face in the river was to show him that throughout all of the experiences that he has been through, it is shaping him in to the man that he is.
That no matter what stones are being thrown at you, you have to stand strong and stand tall. All in all, Siddhartha learns multiple life lessons throughout the novel. For an example; he finds himself, he doesn’t listen to the “teacher” anymore, and through all the experiences he’s still standing strong and tall at the end with his head held high. One might simply believe that all the experiences that they embrace in life will make them stronger and expand their wisdom.