Chapter 5: "Kamala" Notes from Siddhartha

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Siddhartha Chapter 5: "Kamala"

Siddhartha walks alone and becomes fascinated by all that is around him, seeing it for what it is and nothing more. He had always sought for a deeper meaning in everything, for Atman. Now he does not seek anything but instead experiences it all for what it is. The sun shines around him, and the river flows. He feels the wind blowing through rice fields, and suddenly all is calm within; Siddharta becomes "so simple, so childlike." Everything is beautiful. Reflecting, the man marvels at what wise words he had uttered to the Buddha before leaving, since they were words which he did not really understand. Yet he had spoken them. He realizes that trying to deny his Self had been wrong. Siddhartha had never even known what his Self was, or what Siddhartha was really all about. Instead, he had only adopted the teachings of others without hearing the thoughts of his Self.

He had inflicted suffering upon his body, yet he knows now that his "body was certainly not the Self, not the play of senses, nor thought, nor understanding, nor acquired wisdom or art with which to draw conclusions and from already existing thoughts to spin new thoughts...Both thought and the senses were fine was worthwhile listening to them listen intently to both voices" Chapter 5, pg. 39. Siddhartha had never denied his Self at all, for he never even really knew his Self before or listened to its desires or needs. The Self had been merely suppressed and kept undeveloped. This awakened identity and sense of Self guide him now as the path continues. Like the Buddha, he hopes to be enlightened by listening to the voice within him instead of ignoring it.

By nightfall he arrives at a river and sleeps in a ferryman's hut before crossing the water that following morning. Siddhartha has a strange dream about his friend Govinda appearing and asking why he would not become a disciple of Buddha with him; then he transforms into a full breasted woman whom Siddhartha is filled with desire for, and he kisses her brown nipple. Sweet milk fills his lips and tastes of many things in nature and in the world. It fills him with pleasure and consumes his senses, for he only now begins to embrace his body's desires. Awakening the next day, the ferryman takes Siddhartha across the river even though he cannot pay him for the service. The ferryman speaks mysteriously, murmuring only that Siddhartha shall return later to repay him, and that he has learned a lot just by listening to the sound of the river. As Siddhartha reaches the other side of the river and prepares to leave, the ferryman sends his blessing of good luck although Siddhartha is arrogant within and judges this man to be simple and subservient, as Govinda had been. Considering himself to be a stronger person, he tells himself that "People are children." Having crossed the river, Siddhartha's journey to explore the desires of his Self continues.

Topic Tracking: Self 6
Topic Tracking: Nature 6

Arriving at a village, Siddhartha sees a young woman washing clothes in a small stream, and he is filled with desire for her. His blood grows hot, as it had been for the woman in his dream. As the woman grows closer to him, he flees into the forest because he is afraid. He knows nothing of love or sex, since he had always been chaste and denied his body to pursue its desires. Siddhartha's curiosity is raised about this, and although he is afraid of this new world, he wants to become one of the people in it. That is what the voice of his Self tells him to do. Later, he reaches the large town of Samsara where he sees another beautiful woman sitting in a grove of trees surrounded by courtiers. Siddhartha feels such desire and sexual attraction for this woman that he is sad when she departs after giving him merely a nod of her head and a smile.

People in town tell him that her name is Kamala and that she is a wealthy courtesan. Driven, he begins to socialize with more people and has his hair combed, cut and oiled. His beard is shaved off, and his handsome face is revealed again, as it was when he was amongst the Brahmins. The next day when Kamala returns to the grove of trees, Siddhartha is waiting for her expectantly and asks to speak with her. She is surprised to see him so much cleaner than he had been the day before and, at first condescending, she becomes flirtatious. He asks her simply to teach him about sex and love. No longer wishing to hear teachers such as the Brahmin, Samanas, or the Buddha, who speak of abstract things using the mind, he now wishes to learn using experience and by satisfying his body's desires.

Kamala says that he must first have shoes, clothes, and money before she can be his mistress, since these are items that any suitor pursuing a woman must have. He must bring presents to win her affection, too. Siddhartha is excited at how easy the task ahead seems to be and is flirtatious to her in return, mimicking her tone, very different from the pious man he had been before. He recites a love poem for Kamala composed by his own hand, rather than being a verse from the Vedas or Upanishads, the only poetry he had known before. Kamala has inspired him to speak these beautiful words, and she thanks him by kissing him with lips that are "like a freshly cut fig." Thoughts flood through Siddhartha's mind, and he feels so many new sensations unknown before. He is like a child experiencing everything for the first time. He says that his only skills are "thinking, waiting, and fasting," all taught by the Samanas. Kamala is also pleased to learn that he can read and write, since this is a great skill to have, and asks him to return the next day.

Topic Tracking: Teacher 7
Topic Tracking: Nature 7

Although Siddhartha is hungry, he realizes that he shall no longer beg for food since he is no longer a Samana or a follower of Buddha. He gives the rice cake someone has given him to a dog, and he sleeps without eating anything. An increasing pride and self-worth begins to excites him, and he talks more to the people and makes friends easily. Returning to Kamala the next day, Siddhartha learns that she has found him a job using his reading and writing skills. He will work for a rich merchant named Kamaswami, and Kamala advises Siddhartha how to act towards him. Siddhartha is overjoyed while Kamala marvels at how soon he is rising up in the world from a beggar to becoming her lover; he now just has to obtain money from his new job. The two flirt with one another some more, and she asks him where he would be without her help. Siddhartha replies arrogantly that he had never doubted that she would have helped him, for he simply knew that she would.

Words come readily from his mouth, which had been so silent and thoughtful before. He says only that he "is drawn by his goal, for he does not allow anything to enter his mind which opposes his goal. That is what Siddhartha learned from the Samanas. It is what fools call magic and what they think is caused by demons...there are no demons...everyone can reach his goal if he can think, wait, and fast" Chapter 5, pg. 50. He is self-motivated, seeking to satisfy the inner desires of his Self and of his body rather than ignoring them. Siddhartha now wishes to further his own interest since he disdains the subservience and hospitality of such people as Govinda and the ferryman. He becomes selfish for the first time. Before leaving Kamala again, he blesses her for being his teacher and hopes that "good fortune may always come to me from you." He is not grateful that Kamala has helped him so much already, but instead hopes only that she shall continue to benefit him. The two separate for the day as Siddhartha prepares to visit Kamaswami.

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