Book notes: Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse book summary

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse


Siddhartha is Nobel Prize-winning author Hermann Hesse’s most famous and influential work, a novel of self-exploration that will linger in your mind and spirit for a lifetime.

A young man, blessed with loving parents and a safe home in a world where want and neglect abound, leaves this haven in search of himself. He joins the Samanas, a band of wandering ascetics without possessions or earthly ties. His quest unfulfilled, he descends into a life of unbounded luxury and indulgence. Where is truth? Where will his soul find true ease? In denial? In decadence? Or in some truth far greater than himself, so simple, so close to him, yet so obvious that only clear eyes may see it?” -Audible

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Opening thoughts:

I believe I added this book to my list because Tim Ferriss mentioned it several times in his podcast. In one of the more recent ones, he said that many of the people featured in Tools of Titans actually mentioned this book as well. Again, I cannot refuse a highly recommended book by so many esteemed people.

Key notes:

  • Siddhartha wanted to become an acetic monk
    • He wanted to be empty and practiced it
    • He learned how to control his breath, then control his heart beat, and move past all the physical burning pains
    • He practiced meditation and un-selfing
  • He mesmerized the head shaman and the old man allowed them to leave
  • Anyone can reach his goals if he can think, wait, and fast. Siddhartha is resolute when he makes a goal
  • Voluntary poverty is not hard times
  • The way of the world is give and take. Everyone gives what they have, teachers give teaching, warrior strength, merchant merchandise, etc
  • Fasting is good because he doesn’t have to accept service from anyone
    • Hunger would force him to do so. But now he can calmly wait, knows no impatience. Stave off hunger for a long time and laugh at it
  • Kamela taught him that lovers should not part without admiring each other, so neither has the bad feeling of having misused or being misused. You cannot take pleasure without giving pleasure
  • Siddhartha seemed un-phased and indifferent to business, it’s gains and losses
  • A day is not wasted if you experience joy and pleasure with others and create relationships
  • Scorn, stress, and worry is wasteful and doesn’t accomplish or change anything
  • He was cheerful and playing the game of life, but eventually felt that real life was flowing past him and not touching him
  • Ones inner sanctuary is not dependent on cleverness, as some people with minds of little children can have the inner calmness
    • Some people are falling leaves that waft and drift through the air. Few others are like stars with a fixed course where I wind reaches them. Their law and course is inside them
  • He envied in others what he lacked: the importance they were able to place on their lives, the passionateness of their joys and fears
    • The vice he had always scorned and scoffed at the most: greed
  • Siddhartha simply got up and left his life he had made
  • He wanted to end his own life but his “ohm” pierced his soul and made him come to his senses
  • His friend from childhood Govinda was there waiting when he awoke, but didn’t recognize Siddhartha
  • He had long given away his 3 arts of fasting, thinking, and waiting, and traded them for luxury, sensuality, and wealth
    • He had to experience vice and despair and sink down to the thought of suicide in order to experience grace
  • Rare are the people who know how to listen
  • Nothing was, nothing will be, everything is and has being and is present
  • Kamela and his son happened to come across Siddhartha and the ferryman
  • He lost Kamela but gained his son
    • He was once a rich man who became even richer
  • He loved his son and cherished the sorrow and suffering of love he brought, more than joy and happiness without the boy
  • People need to find their path and live their own life. Parents cannot shield their children from that suffering
  • His son ran away to live his own life. Siddhartha couldn’t take care of his son
  • All these simple, powerful, and potent drives were no longer infantile for him
  • He saw life, love, and passions and all of their deeds
  • He discovered the ability secret heart to think the thought of oneness, to feel and breathe the oneness and every moment
  • He realized and remembered that his father suffered the same fate he is suffering by having his son run away
  • Seeking means having a goal. But finding means being free, being open, having no goal
  • Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom
    • We can find it, live it, be carried by it, work wonders with it, but cannot utter it or teach it
  • He learn how to give up resistance, to love the world, and to stop comparing the world with any world he wished for or imagined, with any perfection he thinks up. He’s learned to let the world be as it is and to love it and to belong to it gladly
  • Siddhartha’s life was a parallel to Buddha

Closing thoughts:

A really good book, very insightful and definitely different from what I ready 80-90% of the time. For me, it felt like it took a while for the story to really get going. The first quarter was dragging on, but when I got to the parts where he transferred from the world of the monks to the world of the people, I started to see the value. From there, it was a slow downhill that eventually plateaued. I definitely started to get lost near the end. The reader did a good job with reading the words with passion, but it became so esoteric by the last few pages. Overall, still a great book and definitely worth a revisit.


Siddhartha journey to find what it means to be alive and living, the balance between the spiritual, physical, mental, and human aspects of life.

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