Notes on Siddhartha Themes

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Siddhartha Topic Tracking: Nature

Nature 1: Siddhartha and Govinda meditate beneath a grove of trees to connect with Om, the unity of the universe. Being off on their own away from the village in nature helps to focus their thoughts.

Nature 2: The wandering Samanas, practicing self- denial from all bodily desires, exile themselves from the rest of society and live in the forest. Siddhartha and Govinda leave civilization to become Samanas, following them into the forest.

Nature 3: Siddhartha meditates after he has become a Samana and projects his mind into nature to understand it. He imagines that he is the dead animal picked apart by vultures, then turned into dust again and again in "painless eternity." Nature seems to hold the answers to a proper understanding of the cycle of life. Living in his family village with the Brahmin, he was not able to explore Nature in his own way. Now Siddhartha has cut himself off from society and lives in the forest.

Nature 4: Buddha has established the center of his teaching in the Jetavana grove. In his monastery monks wander about amongst the beautiful landscape of trees and gardens. Buddha offers salvation to those who are suffering. The Buddha's original enlightenment occured while he was sitting beneath a tree many years before. Isoloated from the main center of Savathi, the picturesque scene in Jetavana offers an escape from "desires and the world."

Nature 5: Abandoning all teachings, Siddhartha views the natural world as it is rather than thinking about the life cycle as he did with the Samanas. The colors in Nature surprise him, for he had never paid attention to them before. He had always tried to understand what everything meant and did not perceive it all for what it is. The flowers and river fascinate him as he walks alone, filled with energy.

Nature 6: Govinda appears in a dream, sprouting breasts from which Siddhartha drinks. The milk tastes like everything in nature and in the world, like Om. Siddhartha embraces the lusty desires of his body, hoping it will make him understand Om.

Nature 7: In a lush garden, Kamala's grove, Siddhartha discovers the woman who shall teach him about lovemaking; in the Jetavana grove he heard Buddha's teachings, yet in Kamala's grove he begins the quest of learning for himself, through experience.

Nature 8: Siddhartha had lived in the wild forest with the Samanas, visited the garden of Buddha at Jetavana, and first met Kamala in her grove at the edge of Samsara. Now he owns a garden of his own. His understanding of nature has changed a lot. Instead of being humble and considering his connection to nature, he selfishly possesses it for himself by owning property.

Nature 9: Preparing to commit suicide by jumping into the river, Siddhartha holds on to the trunk of a tree, gazing down at the water. His reflection on the water's surface enlightens him, and he suddenly feels connected again to Om and recalls the world's creator, Brahman. He abandons his old materialism and becomes a part of nature again.

Nature 10: Govinda leaves Siddhartha there near the river. The thoughts of suicide have disappeared, and he feels at peace with the world now that he has fled from the town and returns to nature. Siddhartha decides to stay there near the river, for he feels as if it is trying to speak to him. Nature has enlightened him.

Nature 11: The river exemplifies what Siddhartha has learned about the world. Just as water from the river evaporates and falls again as rain, flowing everywhere, so too is life itself a recurring cycle of birth and death. Life in Samsara had merely been a game, for it did not recognize the greater cycle of the world. It is a town filled with materialism and sin. The answers Siddhartha finds are in the river and in nature.

Nature 12: Kamala realizes that she is old and fears death. She takes solace from fear in the Buddha's teachings and donates the garden she had possessed in Samsara to the Buddha's followers, hoping this to save her from her fear. This garden, like the Jetavana grove, becomes a place of escape from the realities of life.

Nature 13: Siddhartha returns to Kamala's garden to find his runaway son. Young Siddhartha was bored living near the river, connected to nature, and he runs away back into the materialistic town of Samsara. His old father had sheltered him from the world, hoping to save him. He wanted his son to have wisdom without experiencing hardship. Before coming to Samsara and experiencing sin for himself, old Siddhartha had failed to connect to nature and the world. The father accepts that it is necessary for Young Siddhartha to learn for himself.

Nature 14: Siddhartha prepares to go into Samsara to bring his son back to the river, but he is saved again by seeing his reflection in the water. Looking at his reflection, he is reminded of his father, the man whom he ran away from and never saw again. The river reminds him of how everything moves in a cycle, a thing he had not understood when living amongst the people. Nature focuses his thoughts and enlightens him.

Nature 15: Vasudeva, whose face appears to be so much like the river, goes off to die in the woods. He does not fear death like Kamala, for he realizes that it is another part of the life cycle. Nature is the place that receives him at the end, calling the forest "the unity of things."

Nature 16: Siddhartha holds a stone for Govinda to see, explaining that it, like everything else, is a part of the cycle of life. The normal society of people is disconnected from the life cycle and hides this understanding beneath religion and teachings. Nature holds the answers, for the stone shall be turned into dirt over time, from which a plant shall grow, which an animal will eat...the cycle continues again and again. Human civilization changes, yet the course of nature remains a recurring cycle of birth and death.

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