Poppy's shelf

Wise October

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

A great title for the moments when you can’t see things clearly 

Siddhartha” is a story of a man living in ancient India who is searching for the meaning of life, the achievement of which he feels will not be dependent on religious instruction.

October was a rough month for me as I changed position at work. This event initially brought about strong enthusiasm, followed by a great deal of fear. 

It wasn’t the fear of failing, but the fear of not being able to fully enjoy the process. 

In my previous position I had discovered a new and fulfilling way of appreciating my job. I simply let myself be delighted by simple tasks, without overthinking about what might happen tomorrow and where my career was heading. And believe me, it was not related to the fact that I was particularly interested in this job. Neither to the fact that I was following my vocation or something I had dreamed of. It was okay-ish and…that was it! 

For the first time, I just changed the way I was looking at things without putting any pressure on myself. I did my best everyday, savouring the assignments I loved and avoiding making a great big deal about the ones I didn’t. I made a commitment to myself I wouldn’t let any job make me feel stressed or cause me to lose sleep.

This fresh perspective set me free. 

But with the opportunity of changing my career path I lost my sense of serenity. I started looking for reassurance that I was good enough. I started to feel afraid I would fail. I doubted I would be able to face this new journey with the same joy. 

So I needed to improve myself. To feel like a better professional. I applied for the Structogram Program, looking for tools to communicate better, with myself and others. I increased the number of hours I spent learning Spanish. I wanted to feel confident about my skills, but none of that solved the fear I was dealing with. I fell into the sin of overthinking. This cost me all my energy without getting any positive outcome.

Lately I have developed a new habit: I ask every interesting person I meet to recommend a book that left a mark on them. The Structogram trainer was quite charismatic, appearing steady and bold. He introduced me to “Siddhartha”. To be really honest, at first I was kind of disappointed in the plot, as it was in no way related to the comfort I was looking for. 

It was only after I finished the first part that it hit me: this was one of those signs that is sent from a higher place when your eyes are wide shut. This test wasn’t regarding my new job (for which I am fully qualified, I can feel that deep inside), but my capacity to maintain my peace of mind in the changed context. 

Siddartha is a marvellous manuscript written in a simple and disarming way. It doesn’t advocate for any kind of religion but for that something that makes our soul sparkle, regardless how life turns out.

It really warmed my heart and put me at peace.

Here’s a preview – some of my favourite quotes: 

“When someone is seeking,” said Siddartha, “It happens quite easily that he only sees the thing that he is seeking; that he is unable to find anything, unable to absorb anything, because he is only thinking of the thing he is seeking, because he has a goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: to have a goal; but finding means: to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal. You, O worthy one, are perhaps indeed a seeker, for in striving towards your goal, you do not see many things that are under your nose.” 

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

“One must find the source within one’s own Self, one must possess it. Everything else was seeking — a detour, an error.” 

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

“I shall no longer be instructed by the Yoga Veda or the Aharva Veda, or the ascetics, or any other doctrine whatsoever. I shall learn from myself, be a pupil of myself; I shall get to know myself, the mystery of Siddhartha.” He looked around as if he were seeing the world for the first time.” 

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

“The reason why I do not know anything about myself, the reason why Siddhartha has remained alien and unknown to myself is due to one thing, to one single thing-I was afraid of myself, I was fleeing from myself. I was seeking Atman, I was seeking Brahman, I was determined to dismember myself and tear away its layers of husk in order to find in its unknown innermost recess the kernel at the heart of those layers, the Atman, life, the divine principle, the ultimate. But in so doing, I was losing myself.” 

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

“I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.” 

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

“What could I say to you that would be of value, except that perhaps you seek too much, that as a result of your seeking you cannot find.” 

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

“My real self wanders elsewhere, far away, wanders on and on invisibly and has nothing to do with my life.” 

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

You can buy this book here in Italian or here in English.

May your books respond to all your needs!

Photograph from the website: https://cultura.biografieonline.it/siddartha/