The Fall by Albert Camus, and Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

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One of the best virtues being open to learning from others. A way to explore this is through the lens of spirituality or religion. Protagonists in The Fall, by Albert Camus, and Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, use this idea in their quest of fulfillment but take very different routes to get there. In Siddhartha, spirituality and knowledge are closely related as they view reaching enlightenment as becoming wise. Knowledge is regarded highly and viewed as more than understanding facts. Rather it is a personal approach to knowledge that differentiates from other others. This personal growth approach is what allows Siddhartha to further approach his goal of enlightenment.

In chapter The Fall, God is dead, and the only actions to take are that of finding a new leader, to tell the people what to do. Jean-Baptiste shoves aside any attempt to learn on his quest for power as if there is nothing new for him to discover. With Siddhartha, there is an open-minded approach whereas Jean-Baptiste’s narcissism and hunger for dominance blocks him from successful realizations of his true self. Openness and the ability to realize that sometimes help is required can determine a person’s success in understanding himself. Siddhartha’s openness, hunger to delve deeper into knowledge, and ability to recognize what virtues are important to the soul rather than material things are what makes his quest so successful.

Siddhartha recognized that he did not need all his family’s material things, and they didn’t and wouldn’t make him happy. He realized he could grow more, by learning from the elders. This realization is key because it takes a humble person to reject prosperity in search of meaning and wisdom from others really speaks to the type of person he is. From a young age this was seen in him from other’s, “Joy leaped in his father’s heart about the son, the intelligent boy, thirsty for knowledge; and he saw him growing up to be a great sage and priest, a prince among the Brahmins.” (3)

But it isn’t just Siddhartha’s hunger to learn, but his desire to delve deeper than the surface. For example, if you analyze the differences in learning between Siddhartha and Govinda. Siddhartha learns and goes, ‘Okay, now what?’ while Govinda just remains and continues to study the present subject. Siddhartha then takes this one step further. It is not just the act of learning, but to then take implement it into life, “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? (19).” He believes that knowledge is not solely meant to be understood and taught but rather, lived.

These choices set Siddhartha down the correct path for self-enlightenment. Jean Baptiste relies solely on his hunger for power and his own narcissism to reach his goal of allowing him to live a life allowing him to shamelessly judge others. In his world, God is dead, and it is up to men to take his place. Because there, if people are capable of subjugating and judging one other, why do they need a God to do it. This causes an increase in ego and hunger for power in Jean Baptiste. He doesn’t desire knowledge, but rather the knowledge of how to judge others without guilt. For example, the only notion of a higher being that he admits, is when he concludes one must have made him because of how perfect he is, “I refused to attribute that success to my own merits and could not believe that the conjunction in a single person of such different and such extreme virtues was the result of chance alone. This is why in my happy life I felt somehow that that happiness was authorized by some higher decree. When I add that I had no religion you can see even better how extraordinary that conviction was. Whether ordinary or not, it served for some time to raise me above the daily routine and I literally soared for a period of years, for which, to tell the truth, I still long in my heart of hearts (29).”

This narcissistic and closed-minded attitude steer him into pushing anyone of help away. He continuously denies chances to learn from others because he believes no one could know something he does not. Jean Baptiste is too busy judging and attempting to dominate others in any way he can rather than actually learning and growing. Siddhartha and Jean-Baptiste undergo a transformation through their journeys in search of truth. Siddhartha believes that truth is crucial to have a proper relationship with the world. The truth he seeks is that of universal knowledge of life, Nirvana.

On his journey he is not afraid to correct his course if he gets a sense that the one he is on is not correct. He will try any way and sacrifice anything to meet his goal, that is what made him so successful. Because he deserted the structure of religion, it allowed him to escape the boundaries of religion taught by a teacher. The ultimate truth is one found through a discovery of power in themselves or be led by someone who already has, for example, Siddhartha leading Govinda. On the other hand, in The Fall, Baptiste states that truth is overrated and not as enlightening as it sounds.

This speaks to why Jean-Baptiste’s journey was unsuccessful. He wasn’t interested in discovering anything new, but rather finding a way to cope with what he already knows. His journey was in search of a way to justify his actions without feeling guilt. Because this was a transformation of the mind it makes begs the question of if he actually changed or just convinced himself of his own answer as a way of continuing to live that way. It is Siddhartha’s openness that leads him down a path to success whereas Jean Baptiste’s closed-mindedness and narcissism block it. Jean Baptiste believes he has succeeded but in actuality he invented a thought process in which he would judge others and make it, so he didn’t need to live in fear of others judging him.

From a leadership perspective Siddhartha would be the positive choice because one cannot under estimate the virtue of humility in one’s personality. A person alone cannot achieve ultimate success with any goal be solely relying on them self and believing that no one even has the ability to help. It is helpful to believe in yourself, but everyone has limitations, and the ability to understand that is important for success.

Cite this paper

The Fall by Albert Camus, and Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. (2021, Oct 30). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-fall-by-albert-camus-and-siddhartha-by-herman-hesse/

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