I couldn't help but write this after reading Siddhartha. It's about what happens to the Samana priest whose will Siddhartha conquers.

WARNING! Do not read this unless you've read the book!

The Samana Priest’s Fate

I learn much from the River that taught me the beauty of all things. Some say that I have attained Nirvana; perhaps it is so, but even those who have attained understanding and peace with their illusionary lives still gain knowledge and wisdom. It is an ongoing process, for just as life cannot be bound to halt in its course, so does knowledge and wisdom course through the veins of even the most learned of men. But that is a story for another time.

I learn much from the River. Often times I behold events which I do not directly participate – the River presents them to me; its effervescent flow sets me into a deep level of meditation so that I may indeed observe the past, the present, and even glimpses of a future yet to come. I often become part of a person; I can hear his thoughts and feel his emotions. To explain the nature of this is folly – for again I drift from the path that I wish to follow. This story is of events that the River showed me while I stood transfixed with its depth. These events are not meant to be told from my perception – I who am Siddhartha – but from the viewpoint of the Samana priest whom I bewildered prior to what I now consider my Third Birth. His name is Gakkai, and this is his Truth that wishes itself be shared.......

“My son,” I said, putting enough edge into my voice so as to convince the boy and his follower to stay. “You will not leave. You have learned too much. I cannot permit it.”

I was met back with a gaze more intense than the Buddha himself. The boy’s dark eyes pierced me to the core of my being. It took me an instant to realize that boy was using one of our own tricks, one that I had not suspected he had yet attained the level to master. The young fool. I attempted to stare back for a split second, only to be startled with the epiphany that I could not meet the boy’s gaze. I fell back helpless, hypnotized by the boy’s extraordinary control. I began to shake as my aged muscles went into spasm, and eventually lapsed into unconsciousness.

That was five years ago. When I awoke, my most trusted disciple informed me that the young Siddhartha and his youthful friend Govinda had left our ascetic lives in search of the Illustrious One with my consent and blessing. I was deeply disturbed, however, not by the fact that Siddhartha had left, but in the manner by which he had done it. He had mastered me, one of the most respected Samana priests in India – I who had spent many decades of my life devoted to the escape from Self; I who had learned the art of Control – the mastery of walking on water. Yet, Siddhartha, a boy who had spent merely three years as an ascetic, had mastered my will. I felt no anger, for long have I learned to become devoid of emotion that clouds our escape from Self like a layer of palpable mist. Instead, Siddhartha left me with a thirst – a thirst for the knowledge he had obtained in a fraction of the time I had spent as a Samana that I had yet to even explore. I am certain that Siddhartha learned how to permanently escape from Self – for in no other way could he have possibly overcome me. That was five years ago – and still Siddhartha’s secret remains hidden from me.

I have tried many things in those five years – I have starved myself to the brink of death, escaped from Self for what my disciples told me was days on end, and wandered many places in search of the right atmosphere. The list goes on. As do my failures. For, as always I wound up back in the same place – Self. But, now, I think I will finally achieve escape from Self - and do so in a manner Siddhartha never will – at least not for a long while.

I stand now at the edge of the great mountain range in the north of India. I can feel within my whole being that indeed my five years of searching have led me here – to this moment of triumph. From the edge of the precipice which I stand great white mountains jut out from all around, great monoliths that make me wonder whether or not this illusion of life could possibly be real. There is no turning back. Soon, I will escape from the dungeon that is Self, and be as free as the clouds above me. More aware of the resplendent world before me than I ever have been, I leap from the edge of the precipice and into the gaping window of infinity.

"Siddhartha" is a book that I read my Sophomore year of High School, and it continues to touch me. I re-read it frequently, because it teaches good ideals, and is written in a simplistic beauty similar to the Bible. Unlike the Bible, it didn't press any ideas onto me, yet presented them in a story-and wasn't hard to understand. I wrote the following essay last year for my Governor's School essay, and I still believe everything I said:

"Siddhartha", a novel by German author Hermann Hesse, is about an ancient Indian from a 20th century European perspective. In "Siddhartha", it seems that Hesse himself is on this journey, as Siddhartha the character, and he's taking us along, through the eyes of this Brahmin who gave it all up-only to crave is all again.

Although Siddhartha seemed to have it all figured out- enlightenment, Nirvana, and seemed well on his way to both, he still misses the materialism he seems to be so against. He succumbs to his temptation, asking a courtesan to "show him how to love". He lives with her in a huge house and he has anything and everything he could ever want-except what he used to have-himself. Yet again, he finds that this isn't really what life is all about, and leaves, ashamed of himself.

But we all can learn from this ourselves. "Stuff" isn't really all it's cracked up to be. In the end, being over materialistic and greedy only causes problems. From "Siddhartha", I have learned to focus on more important things than clothes, CDs, my appearance, even food. Because there are so many more important things- morals, God, kindness, and love.

Tonight, I have finished reading Siddhartha. Having barely read more than thirty pages, I lay in bed hoping this book could lead me somewhere. I hoped it was the sort of book that could show me a path I can trod on. I read the pages, in-between the Smiths and Radiohead listening sessions, thinking the end would bring me closer to knowledge, to truth.

While I'm unable to say that this book is going to change my life, I think it can be said that a piece of Hesse's words will linger in me. I cannot say I will follow Siddhartha's journey. It seems as though it would be a disgrace, as if I was Govinda - the true friend unable to find attainment in old age. Though, of course, maybe Hesse's desire was for me to take his love, his offering into my heart so that I am able to see the "light". Or, perhaps, he is cunning and setting me on the same path - while I foolishly believe I am off onto very distinct travels all my own. I don't know.

What I do know, however, is that this book brings me to a better acceptance of the world. It is not contentment, nor love, nor happiness. It only an acceptance. This may be something very different from what others have experienced reading the book, or maybe it is the same, but it is what I feel. It has always seemed as if a struggle has ensued in all of my stupid, teenage years over hope. The hope has always remained in the face of all unreasonable situations, unreasonable dreams. My ideals has become eroded, of course, but it is always there - sometimes watching me, head tipped back, in laughter or cunning or satisfaction. And I've always covered this feeling, which could be stated in simple terms understood by my peers - whom I often feel alienated from, with my big words and "artful" calmness - with a few awful blunders along the way, as well.

But this, this book has made me accept. It may only be for tonight. Dreams may make me forget. It may only last a month, or maybe for an entire year or for my entire life. But it has made an impact, and I think that - maybe - it can do a lot for others. Those who may be more intelligent (or more stupid, I don't know) may find a deeper meaning and a deeper significance, but for those seeking for a possibility, a good insight - Hesse is very much capable at, hopefully, helping you.

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