Saturday, February 26, 2011

Siddhartha and The Awakening Notes

Notes on Siddhartha:

-characters: Siddhartha, Govinda, the Brahmin, Buddha, the ferryman, Kamala, the tradesman,  the son

-setting: India, at his father's house, in the forest, in the grove, in the city, by the River

-symbols/motifs: the River, Om, time, sleep, voices, Nature (night, sky, stars, birds, snakes), Enlightenment, Self, Oneness, ego, asceticism, the soul, inner voice, Samsara,  love for children, buddhism, peace, fulfillment, life, teachers, food

Siddhartha is really about reaching Enlightenment, which is the final destination. Having reached that, one can go into Oneness with Nature and the world, connected by the word Om.  Siddhartha searches  for his Self  or Atman. He seeks to reach into his soul to learn who he is and where he belongs, where he is happy, the secrets of the world, about life. He tries to destroy his ego while living as a Samana. But that way doesn't work. Ego is not destroyed by force or methods, but by will. Siddhartha is on a path, also, to asceticism. His real life is by the River and this book is a search for that life.

By the River, Siddhartha learns the meaning of Om, that time does not exist, death does not matter, (death goes along with Oneness), and that he must live in the present and not plan ahead. Each day is worth living, so don't worry about the future or the rest of life or the world. Just live. To live, Siddhartha must learn to listen. To his Atman inside himself. To his inner voice. To his mentor, the ferryman, and to the River. Those who listen to Nature are wiser than those who do not, or try to force themselves into Nature. This book suggests that Nature is not totally indifferent and that all people were born a part of it, but most have removed themselves from it.

Om reflects Enlightenment, and it is the River that teaches Siddhartha to hear Om. To reach Enlightenment, one must live a simple lifestyle and listen to Nature. This book suggests that Nature knows more than humankind and nothing can be achieved without it. One must have Nature to live, as seen when Siddhartha's life in the city suffocates him. He seeks to escape Samsara, the cycle of all life and live outside of it. He comes to this by the River, but ultimately find that he cannot escape it because he is a part of it.

Time does not exist in this novel. I mean, it does, but only briefly. Time is not relevant, does not matter, because life is just life. Life would exist even if time did not. Everything is in the present, so time does not exist. The future is not at that moment, the past is not at that moment, and so only the present matters. This also goes along with the idea of Samsara. There is no mention of the seasons. All life is meant to be searching for enlightenment, which is the true goal.

Siddhartha is an excellent book, one I wish I owned. It's very deep and in a way, reflects every one's search for life.

Notes on The Awakening:

This is the latest book my English class is reading. Somewhat boring, but not hard to read, and some parts are interesting.

-characters on Grand Isle: Edna, Leonce, Robert, Madame Lebrun, Victor, Mariequita, Adele, the lovers and the lady in black, Mademoiselle Reisz, the children, ect.

-setting: Grand Isle for the summer (later in the French Quarter of New Orleans)

-symbols/motifs: the ocean, birds (the parrot, mockingbird, owl), sleep, clothing, art, the moon

The ocean is never ending, calm, inviting, seductive, until she actually goes swimming alone, goes to far out, and almost drowns. The ocean represents Edna's desires for love and freedom. Personally, this is my favorite symbol. I love the ocean. But it is indifferent to humans and to Edna. Nature as beautiful as it is, can be dangerous, as Edna discovers. The ocean is best seen outside of it.

The caged birds are Edna. She is caged in a marriage and life she doesn't understand. The caged birds are disturbing and are constantly trying to get heard. No one is looking inside Edna's heart to see what she feels or thinks. The owl is free, but only at night. Edna is free from the world at night, when she is asleep. Sleep is an escape, and Edna longs for it. Edna is often tired, drowsy, or weary. Life is taking it's toll on her.

I don't really understand clothing as a symbol, because it's everywhere. But on Grand Isle, it is all white. In Creole society such as this, chastity is very important and goes along with the idea that the family is the core of life for women. White represents purity.

Art hasn't really come up yet. But Adele did try to paint Edna. And Mademoiselle Reisz and Adele did play beautifully on the piano. She was considered "an artist of the piano. (or of music). I'll be watching out for more.

The moon appears often, but I'm not sure what it means. We haven't discussed it in class yet. But there is "white light" that always comes out with the moon. And the owl often howls when the moon is out. And when the moon is out, it is night and Edna can escape into sleep.

All the symbols in the book are connected. More on The Awakening in later posts.

Other than reading these two books, I'm trying to read Northanger Abbey, but I've been busy this week. But hopefully, I'll get to read some of it this weekend.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Siddhartha Review and Quotes


Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse is for the wise intellectual. It tells the story of Siddhartha, a Brahmin who leaves with his friend Govinda to learn from the Samanas, trying to become a part of Nature, and leave his Self and destroy his ego. After 3 years of living an ascetic and wandering life, they leave the Samanas to go listen to Buddha, the Sublime One. Govinda accepts Buddha's doctrine, but Siddhartha does not, and rejects all doctrines and teachings and goes on his way. Siddhartha continues on his search for Atman, his true self, and a connection with Nature and God. He goes off looking for his inner voice and Om, perfection. But he forgets his mission and wants to learn the mystery of  women and thus enters Kamala, whom he learns from. He also becomes a tradesman and does dice, which make him rich and worldly, but lost. But then, a dream makes him realize that he has lost Siddhartha and has not found what he was looking for. So he goes and becomes a ferryman, with Vasudeva, the ferryman who has achieved enlightenment, who took him across the River to "lose his life". The River returns it to him. Kamala, who loved Siddhartha,  is traveling with his son, but dies, leaving him in Siddhartha's care, and Siddhartha learns about fatherhood, and Sansara,   He learns how to listen to the River and to think and to wait. It is by the River that Siddhartha finds his Atman and inner voice and truly becomes Siddhartha. Govinda reappears at the end, still searching for wisdom, peace, and connection to Nature that Siddhartha had found.


From The Son of the Brahmin:

The Brahmin was silent was silent and remained silent so long that the stars drifted in the small window and changed their shape before the silence in the room reached its end. Mute and motionless upon his mat sat the father, and the stars moved across the sky.

An hour later, as no sleep would enter his eyes, the Brahmin got up, paced back and forth, and went out of the house. he looked through the small window of the room and saw Siddhartha standing there, his arms crossed, unmoving. The light cloth of his tunic was shimmering pale. His heart full of disquiet, the father went back to bed.

An hour later, as no sleep would yet enter his eyes, the Brahmin got up once more, paced back and forth, and went out of the house. The moon had risen. He looked through the window into the room; there stood Siddhartha, unmoving, his arms crossed, moonlight gleaming on his bare shins. His heart full of apprehension, the father returned to his bed.

An hour later, and again two hours later, he went out and looked through the small window to see Siddhartha standing there, in the moonlight, in the starlight, in the darkness. He went again from hour to hour, in silence, looked into the room and saw his son standing there unmoving and his heart filled with anger, with disquiet, with trepidation, with sorrow.

And in the last hour of the night before day began, he got up once more, went into the room, and saw the youth standing there; he looked tall to him and like a stranger.

The first light of day fell into the room. The Brahmin saw that Siddhartha's knees were trembling quietly. In Siddhartha's face he saw no trembling; his eyes gazed into the distance straight before him. The father realized then that Siddhartha was no longer with him in the place of his birth. His son had already left him.

From Among the Samanas:

Silent, Siddhartha stood beneath the sun's vertical rays, glowing with pain, glowing with thirst, stood there until he no longer felt pain or thirst. Silent, he stood in the monsoon season; water trickling from his hair onto freezing shoulders, over freezing hips and legs, but the penitent stood until shoulders and legs no longer froze, until they fell silent and were still. Silent, he crouched among thornbushes while blood dripped from his burning skin and pus dripped from open wounds; Siddhartha remained there unyielding, remained motionless until no more blood flowed, nothing pricked any longer, nothing burned.

Govinda replied, "We have learned much, Siddhartha, and much remains to be learned. We are not walking in a circle, we are ascending; the circle is a spiral, and we have already climbed many of its steps."

"I do not wish to walk on water." Siddhartha replied.

From Guatama:

The Buddha was walking along modestly, absorbed in thought. His still face was neither gay or sad; he appeared to be smiling inwardly. Quietly, calmly, with a hidden smile, looking rather like a healthy child, the Buddha strolled down the path, wearing his robe, and placing his foot upon the earth exactly like all his monks, just as was dictated to them. But his face and gait, his quietly lowered gaze, his quietly dangling hand, and indeed each individual finger, on his quietly dangling hand, spoke of peace, spoke perfection, sought nothing, imitated nothing, was gently breathing an imperishable calm, an imperishable light, an inviolate peace.

"Redemption from Self is what we Samanas seek, O Sublime One. If I were one of your disciples, what I fear might happen is that my Self would only apparently, deceptively find peace and be redeemed, but that in truth it would live on and become huge, for I would have made the doctrine and my adherence to it and my love for you and the fellowship of the monks my Self."

"You speak cleverly, my friend. Be on your guard against too much cleverness." The Buddha wandered off, but his gaze and his half smile remained forever engraved in Siddhartha's memory. Never have I seen a man gaze and smile like this, sit and walk like this, he thought; I myself would like to be able to gaze and smile, sit and walk in just such a way, so freely, so venerably, so secretly, so childishly and mysteriously. Truly, only a man who has penetrated the innermost core of his being can gaze and walk like that. Very well, I too will seek to penetrate the innermost core of my being.

From Awakening:

Walking slowly away, Siddhartha realized he was a youth no longer; he had become a man. He realized that something had left him, the way a snakes' old skin leaves it. Something that had accompanied him throughout his youth and been a part of him was no longer present: the desire to have teachers and hear doctrine. He had left behind the last teacher to appear to him on his path, this highest and wisest of teachers, the holiest one; Buddha; he had had to part even from him, unable to accept his doctrine.

Thinking, he walked ever more slowly and asked himself, What is it now that you were hoping to learn from doctrines and teachers, and what is it that they, who taught you so much, were unable to teach you?

Truly, not a single thing in all the world has so occupied my thoughts as this Self of mine, this riddle: that I am alive and that I am One, am different and separate from all the others, that I am Siddhartha. And there is not a thing in the world about which I know less than about myself, about Siddhartha.

I'll be my own teacher, my own pupil. I'll study myself and learn the secret that is Siddhartha.

But he, Siddhartha, Where did he belong? Whose life would he share? Whose tongue would he speak?

From this moment when the world around him melted away and left him as solitary as a star in the sky, from this moment of cold and despondency, Siddhartha emerged, more firmly Self than before, solidified. This, he felt, had been the final shiver of awakening, the final pangs of birth.

From Kamala:

All these things had always been there, and yet he had not seen them; he had not been present. Now he was present, he belonged. Light and shade passed through his eyes, star and moon passed through his heart.

"Yes," the ferryman said, "it is a very beautiful river. I love it above all else. Often I have listened to it, often gazed into its eyes, and always I have learned from it. You can learn a great deal from a river."

"This too I have learned from the River: Everything comes back again. You too, Samana, will come back again."

"I can think. I can wait. I can fast."

From Among the Child People:

"I lack possessions of my own free will, so this is not a hardship."

"Each person gives; each person takes. Such is life."

"There are people who have one whose minds are like those of little children. Most people are like a falling leaf as it twists and turns its way through the air, lurches and tumbles to the ground. Other, though, a very few, are like stars set on a fixed course; no wind can reach them, and they carry their law and their path within them. Among all the many learned men and Samanas I have known, there was just one who wasl ike this. Never will I forget him;Guatama, the Sublime One, who preached this doctrine. Thousands of disciples hear his doctrine every day and do as he instructs, but all of them are falling leaves. Within themselves they have no doctrine and no law."

From Sansara:

Always the arts of thinking, waiting, fasting, had guided him in this life, and those who lived a worldly existence-the child people-had remained foreign to him, as he was to them.

That noble bright awakeness he had experienced once, at the height of his youth, in the days following Guatama's sermon, after his parting with Govinda, that eager expectancy, that proud standing alone without teachers or doctrines, that supple readiness to hear the divine voice within his own heart, had gradually faded into memory; it had been transitory. Distant and faint was the sound of the holy fountainhead that had once been near, that had once murmured inside him.

Waking from this dream with a start, he felt himself surrounded by deep sadness. Devoid of value, it seemed to him, devoid of value and meaning was this life he'd been living; nothing that was alive, nothing in any way precious or worthy of keeping, had remained in his hands. Alone he stood, and empty, like a shipwrecked man upon the shore.

From Beside the River:

"Om, he said aloud. "Om." And he had the knowledge of Brahman, had knowledge of the indestructibility of life, had knowledge of all things divine that he had forgotten.

"Where is the Brahmin Siddhartha? Where is the Samana Siddhartha? Where is the rich man Siddhartha?"

The three noble and unassailable arts he had mastered: fasting, waiting, and thinking. These had been his possessions, his power and strength, his sturdy staff; it was these three arts he had studied in the assiduous, laborious years of his youth, to the exclusion of all else. And now they had abandoned him."

From the Ferryman:

"Rare are those who know how to listen."

"It was the River that taught me to listen, and it will will teach you as well. It knows everything, the River, and one can learn anything from it."

"There were a few among these thousands, just a few of them, four or five, for whom the River ceased to be an obstacle. They heard its voice, they listened to it, and the River became holy to them as it had become holy to me."

He learned from the River, which taught him unceasingly. Above all it taught him how to listen, how to listen with a quiet heart, and a waiting, open soul, without passion, without desire, without judgment, without opinion.

"Have you too learned this secret from the river: that time does not exist?"  "Yes," Siddhartha, he replied. "The River is in all places at once, at its source and where it flows into the sea, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the rapids, in the ocean, in the mountains, everywhere at once, so for the River there is only the present momment and not the shadow of the future."

From the Son:

"Do you think then, my friend, that this path might be spared anyone at all? Perhaps, your little son, because you love him and would like to spare him sorrow and pain and disillusionment? Even if you died ten times for him, you would not succeed in relieving him of even the smallest fraction of his destiny."

He could sense quite distinctly that this blind love for his son was a passion, something very human, that it was Sansara, a muddy spring, dark water. Yet at the same time he felt that it was not without value, it was necessary, it came out of his own being.

This he had learned from the River, this one thing, to wait, to be patient, to listen.

From Om:

Slowly blossoming, slowly ripening within Siddhartha, was the realization and knowledge of what wisdom and the goal of his long search really was. It was nothing but a readiness of the soul, a capacity, the secret art of being able at every moment, without ceasing to live, to think the thought of Oneness, to feel Oneness and breathe it in.

It resembled the face of his father, the Brahmin. And he remembered how, a very long time ago, he, a mere youth, had forced his father to let him go and join the penitents, how he had taken leave of him, and then he had gone and had never again returned. Had not his father suffered the same pain he himself was now suffering on account of his son. Had not his father died long ago, without ever having seen his son again? Must not he himself expect the same fate? Was not this a repetition a comedy, a strange and foolish thing, this constant circulation in a preordained course?

And when Siddhartha listened attentively to this river, to this thousand-voiced song, when he listened neither for the sorrow nor for the laughter, when he did not attach his soul to any one voice and enter into it with his ego, but rather heard all of them, heard the whole, the oneness-then the great song of the thousand voices consisted only of a single word: Om, perfection.

"I knew this," He said softly. "You will go into the forest?"
"I am going into the forest; I am going into Oneness," said Vasudeva, radiant.

From Govinda:

"Seeking means having a goal. Finding means being free, being open, having no goal. For striving to reach your goal, you overlook things that lie close before your eyes."

"Wisdom cannot be passed on. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to pass on always sounds like foolishness."

"One can pass on knowledge but not wisdom. One can find wisdom, one can live it, one can be supported by it, one can work wonders with it, but one cannot speak it or teach it."

I hope you enjoy these quotes! Good night!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Vampire, Great Courage, Sargasso Sea, Quote

This week's reads: Wide Sargasso Sea, Vampire Darcy's Desire, A Curse as Dark as Gold

Despite my disappointment with the Regina Jeffer's previous novel, I actually found Vampire Darcy's Desire (also by her) to be an amusing read. In it, Elizabeth and Darcy are immediately enthralled with each other. However, Darcy is a half-vampire half-human, due to a curse passed on down the family line to the firstborn sons and Darcy vows to end the line. Until he meets Elizabeth. They marry and she is determined that they end the curse. Wickham is an evil vampire, and Lydia Bennett gets caught up as a vampire. Georgiana and Darcy's cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam also play major roles. The only major downfall to this novel is that Mr. Collins does not appear and Charlotte, Jane, the rest of the Bennett family, and the Gardiners do not make many appearances. It is mainly about the hunt for Wickham and their forbidden love.

A Curse as Dark as Gold, by Elizabeth C. Bunce is the story of Charlotte Miller, who runs a woolen mill with her sister Rosie, friend Harte, and husband Randall.  But debts loom over them. Jack Spinner comes along with help, in exchange for what Charlotte values most. She must fight to save the mill and family, and solve the family curse, with great courage, because great courage breaks ill luck. This is possibly one of my favorites. I love how Bunce takes the story of Rumplestilskin and "the miller's daughter" and weaves them together with a curse and family pasts.

Wide Sargasso Sea is by Jean Rhys and is the story of the madwomen in the attic in Jane Eyre, Antoinette Cosway. Antoinette lives in the Caribbean with her mad mother, the maid she looks up to Christophine, stepfather and brother. Slavery has been abolished and Antoinette's father was a slaveholder, causing her family to be hated in the town. One day a fire destroys the house, takes her mother away, and kills her brother.  Antoinette is married to Rochester, from England, who finds out the story of her mother and begins to hate his wife. Fire, hate, pride, madness, dreams, and drunkenness are themes. It's called Sargasso Sea because of the seaweed growth in the ocean. An interesting read.

I have begun reading Siddhartha, which I find to be very interesting.

“It is life that shakes and rock us; it is literature which stabilizes and confirms.”

-Heathcote William Garrod, The Profession of Poetry and Other Lectures (1929)