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What does Siddhartha conclude about finding peace?

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michael1990 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 4, 2010 at 9:24 AM via web

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What does Siddhartha conclude about finding peace?

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 4, 2010 at 10:38 PM (Answer #1)

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"Peace" is used no fewer than 15 times in Siddhartha.

  • Peace is mainly connected to Gatama (Buddha).  Siddhartha says:

...his quietly dangling hand expressed peace, expressed perfection, did not search, did not imitate, breathed softly in an unwhithering calm, in an unwhithering light, an untouchable peace.

  • Near the beginning of the novel, Siddhartha says that his father, though a Brahmin (priest), did not have peace:

...but even he, who knew so much, did he live in blissfulness, did he have peace, was he not also just a searching man, a thirsty man?

  • Siddhartha says that Vasudeva also has attained peace by the river:

With a bright smile, he left; Siddhartha watched him leaving. With deep joy, with deep solemnity he watched him leave, saw his steps full of peace, saw his head full of lustre, saw his body full of light.

  • Siddhartha says that Kamala has peace that few people have:

You are Kamala, nothing else, and inside of you, there is a peace and refuge, to which you can go at every hour of the day and be at home at yourself, as I can also do. Few people have this, and yet all could have it.”

  • Siddhartha also admits that his son is not a source of peace, but of worry.

Siddhartha began to understand that his son had not brought him happiness and peace, but suffering and worry.

  • Govinda admits that he has not found peace, even as an old man:

“Siddhartha,” he spoke, “we have become old men. It is unlikely for one of us to see the other again in this incarnation. I see, beloved, that you have found peace.

  • Siddhartha answers Govinda:

...I cannot love words. Therefore, teachings are no good for me, they have no hardness, no softness, no colours, no edges, no smell, no taste, they have nothing but words. Perhaps it are these which keep you from finding peace, perhaps it are the many words.

So, peace is being at home with yourself, and it is not found in words or the teachings directed at others.  Peace, it seems, is intensely personal, and it is connected to one's vocation.  It can be found by a courtesan (prostitute) Kamala, the Buddha, or the ferryman Vasudeva.  Most of all, peace comes with a thirst and a search for it.

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