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Siddhartha

Narrated by: Michael Scott
Length: 4 hrs and 38 mins
4 out of 5 stars (61 ratings)
Regular price: $0.94
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Publisher's Summary

Siddhartha, born the son of a Brahmin, was blessed in wealth, appearance, intelligence and charisma. In order to find meaning in life, he discarded his promising future for the life of an ascetic. He wandered as a shramana and searched for Gotama the Buddha. However, this man, Siddhartha, was not a follower of any but his own soul. This popular book provides the listener with insight into the philosophy and thoughts that shape Siddhartha's path to enlightenment.

©2018 Herman Hesse (P)2018 AB Books

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  • N. Gray
  • New York, NY United States
  • 12-20-18

Great book, not so great performance

A longtime favorite book, glad to have it in audio form. The performance kind of sounds like narrator for an action movie trailer or a political smear ad. It would be annoying me for the first few minutes every time I started listening.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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poor audio quality

a constant distraction that unfortunately renders the story useless. more words are required before submitting a review. buyer beware

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Another great listen

Excellent just excellent sometimes words do convey meaning! Excellent just excellent sometimes words do convey meaning!

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  • me
  • Orange County, California United States
  • 11-15-18

Served my purpose of wanting to remember the story

I will need to pull out and reread my printed version now to be sure, but I'm not certain that I love this translation. Also, the narrator seemed wrong to me for this book. He sounds like the quintessential movie voice over guy. If this was an epic action story then it would have been great. But the story felt like it needed to be read by someone with a softer, less harsh voice. A happy monk voice. Not the Movie Phone Dude. Overall, the book and story are great. But I'm not happy with this version.

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  • Joe Kraus
  • Kingston, PA, United States
  • 10-29-18

A Call to Lose Oneself through the Self

When I was in high school, freshman and sophomore era, I first discovered Kurt Vonnegut and then – at the instigation of some older cousins – Herman Hesse. They were the two “serious” writers I first came to, and I can still see their books intermingled on an adolescent book shelf. (They were those thin, cheap mass market paperbacks, probably $ 1.75 or $1.95 each, and I recall the Hesse as being a sort of yellow, though I have a self-diagnosed color amnesia and can generally not remember the color of anything I’ve seen.)

I remember enjoying the Hesse, but I think I enjoyed it more for the idea of myself reading Hesse than for the Hesse itself. I liked the sense of myself as a 15 year old casually paging through a book that college students were struggling over. In any case, I don’t think I understood the context of what Hesse was saying. To me it was a kind of self-help manual. Now, revisiting – still somewhat casually – it seems to me a broadside against more established European philosophy. I must have seen that Siddhartha was “for” the power of the individual experience – the necessity of traveling ones own path – but I’m sure I had no sense that it was arguing against a philosophical tradition that saw itself as building upon those experiences that preceded it.

I admire what Hesse is saying here – that you have to look yourself for wisdom, that relying on teachers will always necessarily subordinate you to the experience of an other. I plan to spend more time chewing on the intriguing notion that our Siddhartha found even the Buddha wanting, not because the Buddha’s spiritual growth was suspect but because, if the Buddha had found a way out of Sansara into Nirvana, the “chink” he found in the great chain of existence was himself. Our Siddhartha (because, of course, the Buddha shares that name, though Hesse uses a different one for him here) believes he has to find his own path. His answer will never be as powerful as the Buddha’s, but it will be his, and that is a necessary component for him.

I’m not sure how sold I am on the image of the voice of the river as that ultimate answer. Listening to the river teaches him that it’s possible to move beyond time, teaches him that – as much as there is to enjoy in the physicality of the world – there is a blessing in recognizing that all things pass and we are part of them.

I read this because I am excited to take on the sequel that my friend William Irwin has just brought out. (Check out Little Siddhartha when you get a chance. I have my copy sitting at home in the kitchen, and I can read it now that I’ve revisited the original for the first time since 1981.) As I reflect on it now, though, I can’t help putting it in conversation with Vonnegut, who lives very much in my consciousness at the moment since I have re-read his work recently more fully than at any time in those same 37 years.

I got to see Vonnegut speak in college, and he said something that’s hung with me. He was very cranky about meditation – as I understand it, his first marriage dissolved in part because his wife found her way into Eastern spirituality, and he felt it estranged them. He told us in Ann Arbor (though it was a canned speech, and I’m sure he made it on many other occasions) that he understood some of the appeal of meditation, of the desire to lose oneself within a larger space of consciousness. He felt there was a Western equivalent, though, one that wasn’t getting the same contemporary publicity.

That is, he said he understood reading as “Western meditation,” as proudly part of the tradition that Hesse implicitly broke with. The goal in reading as he saw it wasn’t to merge with the godhead; it wasn’t to find ones way out of a sense of self and to merge with the divine or another conception of the mechanism of the universe. Instead, he said, the idea is to find oneself within the conversation of one consciousness with another.

That’s stuck with me for a long time and, given the choice, I think I’ll always embrace the experience of my fully aware self shaking hands with another mind over the impulse to lose my mind within something larger.

Meandering as all this is, my point is that I find those two “serious” writers of my adolescence much more at odds than their mixed place on my shelf would suggest. Siddhartha, as I read it, advocates for fleeing the self through a journey dependent on the self. Vonnegut gives us characters who are alien, but pushes toward a sense of recognizing the self as a distinct someone in a lonely universe.

That’s probably too pat to do either justice, but it’s how things look on this morning, some 35 years after I last really saw those two authors as talking to each other, and talking to me.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful