Can anyone explain how the river is a symbol of humanity as a whole?
It is true that the river may represent Siddhartha, however the river represents humanity on a larger scale. I just need some help understanding this symbol.
Consider Vasudeva's words to Siddhartha in this light. Vasudeva offers guidance to Siddhartha in discussing the river's importance: "You will learn, but not from me. The river has taught me to listen; you will learn it too." In many respects, it is clear that the river represents humanity because it represents how consciousness should be. Siddhartha struggles to understand the way through samsara, human suffering in consciousness. The river provides his answer. The river is a part of this world, but it is not attached to it. The river is embedded in this world, but it is not dependent on any aspect of it. In this, there is a clear understanding of how the river is reflective of how humanity should be. The river is a part of reality in which there is no dependence on the fruits of one's labor. One is not driven by results and externalities when modeling themselves after the river. In the river, one finds a model of how life should be lived, a vision of what can and should be as opposed to what is. In this, the river becomes a symbol of what human consciousness should be.