In the novel Siddhartha written by Hermann Hesse, he describes the journey and growth of Siddhartha as he searches for his life goal of enlightenment. Siddhartha is bothered by the wealth and material possessions that he acquired because it is holding him back from attaining internal peace, in result he learns to get away from the Self by removing the surrounding desires. Throughout Siddhartha’s journey he struggled with failure, yet he did not let that discourage him. He learned many lessons of growing up through temptation, struggle, loss, and friendship and continued to search for a better way to find enlightenment, which influenced who he became.
Siddhartha was on a journey of enlightenment that he believed had to be done for himself. His internal world was his motivation, no one encouraged him to begin that journey. Siddhartha came from a wealthy royal family, but he was unhappy and wanted to find a place in the world. His external world aided in his goal of enlightenment. He believed that he can be taught the steps to achieve enlightenment from the Brahmin, Samanas, and Buddhists but they failed to help. He then meets Kamala in the material world who he enjoys being with but realizes that it does not help him find enlightenment through sensuality during his time with her.
Hermann Hesse said, “But where were the Brahmans, where the priests, where the wise men or penitents, who had succeeded in not just knowing this deepest of all knowledge but also to live it?” (Hesse, 7). Siddhartha eventually comes to the realization that an individual cannot be taught how to reach enlightenment because they must experience and live in the moments to achieve enlightenment with oneself. Through the beginning of his journey he became more self-aware and did not let his failures stop him from achieving his goal and continued his quest of enlightenment.
When Siddhartha continued his journey, he traveled to the river and was overwhelmed and felt lost. Instead of quitting he stopped and took a nap to help him refocus on his goals and create a plan of success with a positive attitude to complete enlightenment. He had the idea of suicide but through the unity of the word “Om” he remembered why he started venturing for enlightenment. Once he recognized the river for what it is and the knowledge he acquired from his journey he defeated the struggle at the river. Not only did Siddhartha achieve his goal of enlightenment, he also grew as an individual by becoming more mature, gaining more knowledge. Hesse stated, “I had to experience despair, I had to sink to the greatest mental depths, to thoughts of suicide, in order to experience grade, to hear Om again, to sleep deeply again and to awaken refreshed again” (Hesse, 97). His experiences at the river is an example of how Siddhartha came of age by showing his maturity, gaining more knowledge, and allowing his experience shape who he became.
Based on Siddhartha’s path and outcome to the understanding of the river, it can be said that although this was not an easy quest for him, his new understanding of the world, and the river had made it a successful coming of age experience as well as achieving the goal of maturity and self-awareness. From the very beginning he was independent and did what he believed had to be done for himself. His journey took him to many places, but until the moment when he truly understood what was in front of him and felt that he attained enlightenment he would not stop.
Lastly, Siddhartha achieved maturity when he finds out he has a son. He was left to raise his son alone after Kamala’s death, but this task was not easy for him because his son was spoiled and accustomed to wealthy lifestyle. Siddhartha sacrificed himself for his son to have an easier time, but his son ran away not realizing Siddhartha’s sacrifice. Hesse writes, “After he had stood for a long time at the gate to the garden, Siddhartha realized that he desire that had driven him to this place was foolish, that he could not help his son, that he should not force himself on him. He felt a deep love for the runaway boy, like a wound, and yet felt at the same time that this wound was not intended to fester in him, but that it should heal” (Hesse, 126). Through this experience Siddhartha shows his maturity and self-awareness because although his love causes him despair it awakens him, and he learns to let go.
In conclusion, Siddhartha has a successful coming of age experience and achieved the goal of maturity and self-awareness. In this novel Siddhartha went on a spiritual journey and was determined to find himself and enlightenment. To start his journey, he left behind his family, father and religion because he felt spiritually unhappy. Although this was not an easy quest for him, his experiences helped him develop new understandings of the world around him, which in the end made him successful in achieving enlightenment. Siddhartha realizes that he cannot be taught wisdom; instead, it is gained from life experiences. His maturity and self-awareness are demonstrated when he learned to defeat his struggles at the river by learning to accept the river for what it is and using his knowledge from his experiences. Also, after his son ran away his love for him caused him pain, but it also made him realize to let go. Siddhartha gained benefits of some choices and suffered the consequences of others which impacted him and shaped him into a more mature, self-aware individual.