Siddhartha, a man looking for enlightenment, was able to find it among a river. It took Siddhartha many years and several failed attempts to obtain his own personal enlightenment. His first attempt was to explore the traditional religious path to enlightenment. Siddhartha realized that the religious scripts were not how he was going to find enlightenment. Next, he decided that he would become a Samana to attempt to obtain enlightenment. This also proved a futile attempt and he eventually fled the Samana lifestyle. After that did not work, he went to the Buddha in hope that he could help with his journey to enlightenment. Once again, Siddhartha was unable to find or even further his quest to enlightenment. Siddhartha would now become a worker to see if this could put him on the right path to enlightenment. This effort would also prove to be a vain attempt as it pushed him further away from his goal than ever. After this attempt, Siddhartha believed that there was no way to achieve enlightenment and began to believe that his life was meaningless. When all was looking down and he was beginning to give up, Siddhartha wandered into a man named Vasuveda, a ferryman. It was this river, with its calming sound and natural beauty, in which Siddhartha obtained enlightenment.
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Siddhartha attempted to accept the way to enlightenment as described by religious text, but the restrictions were too many and he rejected their ideas. Siddhartha’s father attempted to pressure his son into accepting the religious text’s ideas, but Siddhartha knew better. “One must find the source within one’s own self, one must possess it.” This quote comes from Siddhartha’s youth and he states that one must find their own path to enlightenment. After realizing that his father’s religious text was not going to lead him to enlightenment, he decided to try and find enlightenment elsewhere. Siddhartha chose to leave his family and he decided that he would attempt to obtain enlightenment as a Samana.
Siddhartha left to become a Samana during his quest for enlightenment. “He lost his Self a thousand times and for days on end he dwelt in nonbeing.” This quote speaks of how Siddhartha became a Samana and he felt that in fasting and prayer that he was becoming numb and, with each consecutive day, that he was furthering himself from his goal of reaching enlightenment. “Siddhartha practiced self-denial and meditation according to the Samana rules.” While a Samana, he chose to fast for days and weeks upon end without food or water. Siddhartha began to feel that he was living a pointless life and that he was wasting precious time. “What is meditation? What is abandonment of the body? What is fasting? What is the holding of breath?” Siddhartha asked these questions to Govinda when he began to realize that the Samana ways of life were not going to bring him to enlightenment. Siddhartha realized that the Samana ways of life were actually pulling him further away from his journey to enlightenment. This is when Siddhartha realized that a change was in order. After this failure, he fled the Samana way of life and became a follower of the Buddha.
Siddhartha realized that he needed to find another way to attempt enlightenment. He found this new way in the Buddha’s teachings. Siddhartha went to the Buddha expecting to learn something that would promote his quest towards enlightenment. However, it did not take Siddhartha long to understand that the Buddha’s teachings were just useless words. “After listening to Gotama Buddha, Siddhartha realizes that enlightenment cannot be taught or learned but can only be achieved through personal experience.” This quote exemplifies the thought that Siddhartha cannot truly learn anything from the Buddha as all he can give him are words. Siddhartha, after speaking with the Buddha, believes that he must obtain enlightenment through actions, not words. “Nirvana is not a thing, there is only the word Nirvana.” Siddhartha said this to Govinda when he realized that the Buddha’s teachings could not further his knowledge or help him on his way to enlightenment. “Siddhartha has discovered that comforting secret that a teacher is unnecessary.” This quote occurs when Siddhartha realizes that the Buddha, or any teacher, cannot further him on his quest to enlightenment. Siddhartha leaves the Buddha’s words behind and travels to find another way.
Siddhartha travels along his way and comes upon a woman named Kamala. Siddhartha feels that he may be able to help him along his path to enlightenment. Kamala is where Siddhartha learns sensual pleasure. Kamala derails Siddhartha from his
Siddhartha, on the brink of death, finds the fountain of youth in a mere river. “Siddhartha’s only goal was to become empty of everything.” Siddhartha wished to become empty and then he would be reborn, enlightened. “He is dissatisfied with the ritual and the worship of the Gods.” Siddhartha, at this point, was disgruntled with everyone else’s teaching and the river was different. The river was the one place he could go and listen, but there was no teaching to be heard. The river held no biases and told not of how to obtain enlightenment, but instead it taught Siddhartha that all he had to do to obtain enlightenment is to listen. “The new Siddhartha felt a deep love for this flowing water and decided that he would not leave it again so quickly.” This quote comes after Siddhartha had attempted to commit suicide in the river. Siddhartha realized that the river had given him new life and he needed to use it carefully. After he awoke from his sleep, he realized how beautiful the river was and how simplistic it was. Siddhartha was enlightened because he now desired to live a simple life and his desire for enlightenment was gone. “That is it, said Siddhartha, and when I learned that, I reviewed my life and it was also a river, and Siddhartha the boy, Siddhartha the mature man, and Siddhartha the old man, were separated by shadows, not through reality” This quote states that Siddhartha realizes that his life is just like a river, every moment is not separated by reality. Instead every moment is merely separated by “shadows”, or minute moments. This realization is one of the keys to obtaining enlightenment.
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