The story of Siddhartha written by Herman Hesse is most likely the story that almost everyone goes through in life, but to a different degree. Siddhartha, the main character, sets out early in life to achieve his great enlightenment. He tries all the types of beliefs that claim that they can help him accomplish his goal, but he finds neither one any help and finds a void that can’t be filled through out his religious journey. After straying off his path and enters the world greed he goes back to a river that he had encountered in his earlier travels and it is there that he decides that enlightenment can be reached.
After spending time with a ferryman, named Vasudeva, he is able to understand the whole concept of life’s enlightenment. At the river he begins to understand and contemplate the unison of life. And it is at this river that he is able to enlighten his long time friend and live a fulfilled life. It is this unity and balance between spiritual and material perfection that is what Siddhartha was looking for the whole time. The whole novel revolves around Siddhartha’s journey to find his own enlightenment and the enlightenment comes through this theme of a balance of opposites.
Because of how important this theme is to the main character it is obviously the most important theme in the whole novel. Though this theme is not just important to Siddhartha in this novel but it is a way of life that almost everyone realizes through out their lives and tries to achieve. A balance in life is the only way that one can achieve stability and bliss in life. Not only does it apply to Siddhartha and all other human beings but also to the works that humans create to express themselves.
The humanities are filled with means of expressing the importance in balance and how balance takes its natural course, just as Siddhartha was able to establish. When a person is on an extreme polar on any spectrum, that’s where irrationality, greed, and bad deeds come from. It can be seen as common sense to many, but for Siddhartha it took a lifelong journey filled with failures and a need for a better understanding in life to come to this conclusion. Siddhartha was in a continuous struggle to achieve his lifelong goal of finding enlightenment, but through pious means he was able to see that balance is the right path.
When Siddhartha gave up his family and religion and gave up his worldly self and became an ascetic he still wasn’t able to come to terms with himself, “He lost his Self a thousand times and for days on end he dwelt on nonbeing. ”(Hesse 15) Proving that that extreme wasn’t what he was in search for, but the other extreme, the materialistic extreme, also wasn’t what he wanted. “Slowly, like moisture entering the dying tree trunk, slowly filling and rotting it, so did the world and inertia creep into Siddhartha’s soul; it slowly filled his soul, made it heavy, made it tired, sent it to sleep.
”(Hesse 76) It is after this that Siddhartha finds out that balance between these two is the right way to live, neither in pure poverty nor in great greed. The reason why this is the most important theme in the book because of the context of the theme with regards to what literature should do to a reader. We should read to have a better understanding about the human condition as a whole and where we stand in it. Every piece of literature has an author, with that author comes his, or her, own cultural and religious opinions and norms and it is relayed in the novel.
When one reads a novel its not just printed words on a sheet a paper, it is an author writing to portray a story, or even share common knowledge, that is relevant to him, or her, but with the book comes a piece of the author. And in Siddhartha the theme of balance in life is not just important to Siddhartha but to everyone who reads it. If a reader didn’t know the secret to a calm life is balance then after reading this novel it is apparent that that is the right way. Whether or not they choose to follow it isn’t in our interest, but the message was conveyed.
And so that is why the theme of balance and unity is the most important theme in the novel. The theme of unity and balance isn’t just found in literature and in life it is found in almost all aspects of the humanities as well. When looking at the humanities as a whole it composes of art, literature, song and dance, cinema and even philosophy, to name a few. Almost every single chapter in the book The Art of Being Human, a humanities textbook, composes of a topic that has, sometimes needs, balance and unity.
It is obvious where balance falls in art, but for some other aspects it gets vague. One might argue that there is no balance in death and life or in freedom, both chapters from the book, but death and life is balance in itself and when it comes to freedom, balance is apparent in its history until today. Freedom has balanced itself with slavery and injustice, and in modern times, post September 11th, freedom has been balanced with safety. Balance in music is what makes it so pleasant to hear,
bass and treble are both great in harmony, if one overpowers the other the music wouldn’t be as gracious. Balance in philosophy is quite interesting. There are many types of philosophies, some on one extreme polar and others on the other, but philosophy as a whole is all balance. There is even philosophy on balance. (The Philosophy of Balance) And almost all religions have balance and unity, both eastern and western religions. Balance is undisputedly one of the most common characteristics in all of the humanities.
The theme of balance is not just to be read in Siddhartha or ancient mythology and seen in arts or theater, but it is to be expressed in our everyday lives. Balance has been established as a proven and effective way to bring appeal to life and to the arts. It has been proved through the test of time and it continues to dominate almost every aspect of life. From Siddhartha to Jesus to even Christo, and his representational art, they all have realized that balance is critical and key to being successful.
Thomas Merton once wrote, “Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. ” It is through this knowledge that Siddhartha was able to achieve his enlightenment and reach his goal, and it is through this knowledge that one must live his life. Works Cited Hesse, Herman. Siddhartha. New York: Bantam, 1971. Janaro, Richard, and Thelma Altshuler. The Art of Being Human. 8th ed. San Francisco: Pearson Longman, 2006. “The Philosophy of Balance. ” Weblog post. Wandering and Wondering. 7 May 2007. 08 Aug. 2009 .
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