Elusive Wisdom Essay

754 words - 4 pages

There are always those who have knowledge. Yet those with wisdom are much harder to find. A person can have all the knowledge in the world, but that does not mean that they have wisdom. Many have gone on a quest to acquire wisdom only to fail; the truly wise ones stumbleupon wisdom intuitively. Throughout his journey, Siddhartha goes to find wisdom and realizes that it cannot be taught, it must be discovered. Hesse suggests that knowledge is communicable, but wisdom must be gained from experience and conveys this message through figurative language and symbolism.
Hesse’s theme in regards that true wisdom can only be attained from trial and error is evident in the eloquent figurative language. Even though all Siddhartha had really known is the life as a Brahman, it does not stop him from being curious. He wonders about his father, who has all the worldly possessions and knowledge, if “...even he, who was possessed of such knowledge, did he dwell in bliss, did he know peace?” (Hesse 7). The rhetorical question highlights the rift between knowledge and wisdom. Wisdom helps the journey towards nirvana, while knowledge is simply something that one can have.
As a way to try and find enlightenment, Siddhartha joins the Samanas in hopes to learn about wisdom which he believes is the escape from the ‘Self’. Shortly after Siddhartha embraces the enduring Samanas, he realizes that self-deprecation will not break the endless cycle of Samsara. In one instance, Siddhartha tells Govinda that the methods of the Samanas are merely “tricks with which we deceive ourselves” (Hesse 16). This metaphor references to the Samana’s immense will to tolerate great pain and suffering. It is apparent that Siddhartha no longer wants to live the life of a vagabond, because he believes that self-mutilation will get him no closer to enlightenment.
After his departure from the Samanas, Siddhartha’s expedition brings him to the Jetavana grove, home to the Buddha. Siddhartha is mystified by the Buddha’s words, which carried to his listeners “like a star in the heavens,” (Hesse 23). The holiness and astounding influence of the Buddha’s words is highlighted in that simile. Also, the fact that Siddhartha rejects the teachings makes it...

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