Dedicated to Wilhelm Gundert, my cousin in Japan
Siddhartha learned something new on every step of his path, for the world was transformed, and his heart was enchanted. He saw the sun rising over the mountains with their forests and setting over the distant beach with its palm-trees. At night, he saw the stars in the sky in their fixed positions and the crescent of the moon floating like a boat in the blue. He saw trees, stars, animals, clouds, rainbows, rocks, herbs, flowers, stream and river, the glistening dew in the bushes in the morning, distant hight mountains which were blue and pale, birds sang and bees, wind silverishly blew through the rice-field. All of this, a thousand-fold and colourful, had always been there, always the sun and the moon had shone, always rivers had roared and bees had buzzed, but in former times all of this had been nothing more to Siddhartha than a fleeting, deceptive veil before his eyes, looked upon in distrust, destined to be penetrated and destroyed by thought, since it was not the essential existence, since this essence lay beyond, on the other side of, the visible. But now, his liberated eyes stayed on this side, he saw and became aware of the visible, sought to be at home in this world, did not search for the true essence, did not aim at a world beyond. Beautiful was this world, looking at it thus, without searching, thus simply, thus childlike. Beautiful were the moon and the stars, beautiful was the stream and the banks, the forest and the rocks, the goat and the gold-beetle, the flower and the butterfly. Beautiful and lovely it was, thus to walk through the world, thus childlike, thus awoken, thus open to what is near, thus without distrust. Differently the sun burnt the head, differently the shade of the forest cooled him down, differently the stream and the cistern, the pumpkin and the banana tasted. Short were the days, short the nights, every hour sped swiftly away like a sail on the sea, and under the sail was a ship full of treasures, full of joy. Siddhartha saw a group of apes moving through the high canopy of the forest, high in the branches, and heard their savage, greedy song. Siddhartha saw a male sheep following a female one and mating with her. In a lake of reeds, he saw the pike hungrily hunting for its dinner; propelling themselves away from it, in fear, wiggling and sparkling, the young fish jumped in droves out of the water; the scent of strength and passion came forcefully out of the hasty eddies of the water, which the pike stirred up, impetuously hunting.
All of this had always existed, and he had not seen it; he had not been with it. Now he was with it, he was part of it. Light and shadow ran through his eyes, stars and moon ran through his heart.
On the way, Siddhartha also remembered everything he had experienced in the Garden Jetavana, the teaching he had heard there, the divine Buddha, the farewell from Govinda, the conversation with the exalted one. Again he remembered his own words, he had spoken to the exalted one, every word, and with astonishment he became aware of the fact that there he had said things which he had not really known yet at this time. What he had said to Gotama: his, the Buddha's, treasure and secret was not the teachings, but the unexpressable and not teachable, which he had experienced in the hour of his enlightenment --it was nothing but this very thing which he had now gone to experience, what he now began to experience. Now, he had to experience his self. It is true that he had already known for a long time that his self was Atman, in its essence bearing the same eternal characteristics as Brahman. But never, he had really found this self, because he had wanted to capture it in the net of thought. With the body definitely not being the self, and not the spectacle of the senses, so it also was not the thought, not the rational mind, not the learned wisdom, not the learned ability to draw conclusions and to develop previous thoughts in to new ones. No, this world of thought was also still on this side, and nothing could be achieved by killing the random self of the senses, if the random self of thoughts and learned knowledge was fattened on the other hand. Both, the thoughts as well as the senses, were pretty things, the ultimate meaning was hidden behind both of them, both had to be listened to, both had to be played with, both neither had to be scorned nor overestimated, from both the secret voices of the innermost truth had to be attentively perceived. He wanted to strive for nothing, except for what the voice commanded him to strive for, dwell on nothing, except where the voice would advise him to do so. Why had Gotama, at that time, in the hour of all hours, sat down under the bo-tree, where the enlightenment hit him? He had heard a voice, a voice in his own heart, which had commanded him to seek rest under this tree, and he had neither preferred self-castigation, offerings, ablutions, nor prayer, neither food nor drink, neither sleep nor dream, he had obeyed the voice. To obey like this, not to an external command, only to the voice, to be ready like this, this was good, this was necessary, nothing else was necessary.
In the night when he slept in the straw hut of a ferryman by the river, Siddhartha had a dream: Govinda was standing in front of him, dressed in the yellow robe of an ascetic. Sad was how Govinda looked like, sadly he asked: Why have you forsaken me? At this, he embraced Govinda, wrapped his arms around him, and as he was pulling him close to his chest and kissed him, it was not Govinda any more, but a woman, and a full breast popped out of the woman's dress, at which Siddhartha lay and drank, sweetly and strongly tasted the milk from this breast. It tasted of woman and man, of sun and forest, of animal and flower, of every fruit, of every joyful desire. It intoxicated him and rendered him unconscious. --When Siddhartha woke up, the pale river shimmered through the door of the hut, and in the forest, a dark call of an owl resounded deeply and pleasantly.
When the day began, Siddhartha asked his host, the ferryman, to get him across the river. The ferryman got him across the river on his bamboo-raft, the wide water shimmered reddishly in the light of the morning.
"This is a beautiful river," he said to his companion.
"Yes," said the ferryman, "a very beautiful river, I love it more than anything. Often I have listened to it, often I have looked into its eyes, and always I have learned from it. Much can be learned from a river."
"I than you, my benefactor," spoke Siddhartha, disembarking on the other side of the river. "I have no gift I could give you for your hospitality, my dear, and also no payment for your work. I am a man without a home, a son of a Brahman and a Samana."
"I did see it," spoke the ferryman, "and I haven't expected any payment from you and no gift which would be the custom for guests to bear. You will give me the gift another time."
"Do you think so?" asked Siddhartha amusedly.
"Surely. This too, I have learned from the river: everything is coming back! You too, Samana, will come back. Now farewell! Let your friendship be my reward. Commemorate me, when you'll make offerings to the gods."
Smiling, they parted. Smiling, Siddhartha was happy about the friendship and the kindness of the ferryman. "He is like Govinda," he thought with a smile, all I meet on my path are like Govinda. All are thankful, though they are the ones who would have a right to receive thanks. All are submissive, all would like to be friends, like to obey, think little. Like children are all people."
At about noon, he came through a village. In front of the mud cottages, children were rolling about in the street, were playing with pumpkin-seeds and sea-shells, screamed and wrestled, but they all timidly fled from the unknown Samana. In the end of the village, the path led through a stream, and by the side of the stream, a young woman was kneeling and washing clothes. When Siddhartha greeted her, she lifted her head and looked up to him with a smile, so that he saw the white in her eyes glistening. He called out a blessing to her, as it is the custom among travellers, and asked how far he still had to go to reach the large city. Then she got up and came to him, beautifully her wet mouth was shimmering in her young face. She exchanged humorous banter with him, asked whether he had eaten already, and whether it was true that the Samanas slept alone in the forest at night and were not allowed to have any women with them. While talking, she put her left foot on his right one and made a movement as a woman does who would want to initiate that kind of sexual pleasure with a man, which the textbooks call "climbing a tree". Siddhartha felt his blood heating up, and since in this moment he had to think of his dream again, he bend slightly down to the woman and kissed with his lips the brown nipple of her breast. Looking up, he saw her face smiling full of lust and her eyes, with contracted pupils, begging with desire.
Siddhartha also felt desire and felt the source of his sexuality moving; but since he had never touched a woman before, he hesitated for a moment, while his hands were already prepared to reach out for her. And in this moment he heard, shuddering with awe, the voice if his innermost self, and this voice said No. Then, all charms disappeared from the young woman's smiling face, he no longer saw anything else but the damp glance of a female animal in heat. Politely, he petted her cheek, turned away from her and disappeared away from the disappointed woman with light steps into the bamboo-wood.
On this day, he reached the large city before the evening, and was happy, for he felt the need to be among people. For a long time, he had lived in the forests, and the straw hut of the ferryman, in which he had slept that night, had been the first roof for a long time he has had over his head.
Before the city, in a beautifully fenced grove, the traveller came across a small group of servants, both male and female, carrying baskets. In their midst, carried by four servants in an ornamental sedan-chair, sat a woman, the mistress, on red pillows under a colourful canopy. Siddhartha stopped at the entrance to the pleasure-garden and watched the parade, saw the servants, the maids, the baskets, saw the sedan-chair and saw the lady in it. Under black hair, which made to tower high on her head, he saw a very fair, very delicate, very smart face, a brightly red mouth, like a freshly cracked fig, eyebrows which were well tended and painted in a high arch, smart and watchful dark eyes, a clear, tall neck rising from a green and golden garment, resting fair hands, long and thin, with wide golden bracelets over the wrists.
Siddhartha saw how beautiful she was, and his heart rejoiced. He bowed deeply, when the sedan-chair came closer, and straightening up again, he looked at the fair, charming face, read for a moment in the smart eyes with the high arcs above, breathed in a slight fragrant, he did not know. With a smile, the beautiful women nodded for a moment and disappeared into the grove, and then the servant as well.
Thus I am entering this city, Siddhartha thought, with a charming omen. He instantly felt drawn into the grove, but he thought about it, and only now he became aware of how the servants and maids had looked at him at the entrance, how despicable, how distrustful, how rejecting.
I am still a Samana, he thought, I am still an ascetic and beggar. I must not remain like this, I will not be able to enter the grove like this. And he laughed.
The next person who came along this path he asked about the grove and for the name of the woman, and was told that this was the grove of Kamala, the famous courtesan, and that, aside from the grove, she owned a house in the city.
Then, he entered the city. Now he had a goal.
Pursuing his goal, he allowed the city to suck him in, drifted through the flow of the streets, stood still on the squares, rested on the stairs of stone by the river. When the evening came, he made friends with barber's assistant, whom he had seen working in the shade of an arch in a building, whom he found again praying in a temple of Vishnu, whom he told about stories of Vishnu and the Lakshmi. Among the boats by the river, he slept this night, and early in the morning, before the first customers came into his shop, he had the barber's assistant shave his beard and cut his hair, comb his hair and anoint it with fine oil. Then he went to take his bath in the river.
When late in the afternoon, beautiful Kamala approached her grove in her sedan-chair, Siddhartha was standing at the entrance, made a bow and received the courtesan's greeting. But that servant who walked at the very end of her train he motioned to him and asked him to inform his mistress that a young Brahman would wish to talk to her. After a while, the servant returned, asked him, who had been waiting, to follow him conducted him, who was following him, without a word into a pavilion, where Kamala was lying on a couch, and left him alone with her.
"Weren't you already standing out there yesterday, greeting me?" asked Kamala.
"It's true that I've already seen and greeted you yesterday."
"But didn't you yesterday wear a beard, and long hair, and dust in your hair?"
"You have observed well, you have seen everything. You have seen Siddhartha, the son of a Brahman, who has left his home to become a Samana, and who has been a Samana for three years. But now, I have left that path and came into this city, and the first one I met, even before I had entered the city, was you. To say this, I have come to you, oh Kamala! You are the first woman whom Siddhartha is not addressing with his eyes turned to the ground. Never again I want to turn my eyes to the ground, when I'm coming across a beautiful woman."
Kamala smiled and played with her fan of peacocks' feathers. And asked: "And only to tell me this, Siddhartha has come to me?"
"To tell you this and to thank you for being so beautiful. And if it doesn't displease you, Kamala, I would like to ask you to be my friend and teacher, for I know nothing yet of that art which you have mastered in the highest degree."
At this, Kamala laughed aloud.
"Never before this has happened to me, my friend, that a Samana from the forest came to me and wanted to learn from me! Never before this has happened to me, that a Samana came to me with long hair and an old, torn loin-cloth! Many young men come to me, and there are also sons of Brahmans among them, but they come in beautiful clothes, they come in fine shoes, they have perfume in their hair and money in their pouches. This is, oh Samana, how the young men are like who come to me."
Quoth Siddhartha: "Already I am starting to learn from you. Even yesterday, I was already learning. I have already taken off my beard, have combed the hair, have oil in my hair. There is little which is still missing in me, oh excellent one: fine clothes, fine shoes, money in my pouch. You shall know, Siddhartha has set harder goals for himself than such trifles, and he has reached them. How shouldn't I reach that goal, which I have set for myself yesterday: to be your friend and to learn the joys of love from you! You'll see that I'll learn quickly, Kamala, I have already learned harder things than what you're supposed to teach me. And now let's get to it: You aren't satisfied with Siddhartha as he is, with oil in his hair, but without clothes, without shoes, without money?"
Laughing, Kamala exclaimed: "No, my dear, he doesn't satisfy me yet. Clothes are what he must have, pretty clothes, and shoes, pretty shoes, and lots of money in his pouch, and gifts for Kamala. Do you know it now, Samana from the forest? Did you mark my words?"
"Yes, I have marked your words," Siddhartha exclaimed. "How should I not mark words which are coming from such a mouth! Your mouth is like a freshly cracked fig, Kamala. My mouth is red and fresh as well, it will be a suitable match for yours, you'll see. --But tell me, beautiful Kamala, aren't you at all afraid of the Samana from the forest, who has come to learn how to make love?"
"Whatever for should I be afraid of a Samana, a stupid Samana from the forest, who is coming from the jackals and doesn't even know yet what women are?"
"Oh, he's strong, the Samana, and he isn't afraid of anything. He could force you, beautiful girl. He could kidnap you. He could hurt you."
"No, Samana, I am not afraid of this. Did any Samana or Brahman ever fear, someone might come and grab him and steal his learning, and his religious devotion, and his depth of thought? No, for they are his very own, and he would only give away from those whatever he is willing to give and to whomever he is willing to give. Like this it is, precisely like this it is also with Kamala and with the pleasures of love. Beautiful and red is Kamala's mouth, but just try to kiss it against Kamala's will, and you will not obtain a single drop of sweetness from it, which knows how to give so many sweet things! You are learning easily, Siddhartha, thus you should also learn this: love can be obtained by begging, buying, receiving it as a gift, finding it in the street, but it cannot be stolen. In this, you have come up with the wrong path. No, it would be a pity, if a pretty young man like you would want to tackle it in such a wrong manner."
Siddhartha bowed with a smile. "It would be a pity, Kamala, you are so right! It would be such a great pity. No, I shall not lose a single drop of sweetness from your mouth, nor you from mine! So it is settled: Siddhartha will return, once he'll have have what he still lacks: clothes, shoes, money. But speak, lovely Kamala, couldn't you still give me one small advice?"
"An advice? Why not? Who wouldn't like to give an advice to a poor, ignorant Samana, who is coming from the jackals of the forest?"
"Dear Kamala, thus advise me where I should go to, that I'll find these three things most quickly?"
"Friend, many would like to know this. You must do what you've learned and ask for money, clothes, and shoes in return. There is no other way for a poor man to obtain money. What might you be able to do?"
"I can think. I can wait. I can fast."
"Nothing. But yes, I can also write poetry. Would you like to give me a kiss for a poem?"
"I would like to, if I'll like your poem. What would be its title?"
Siddhartha spoke, after he had thought about it for a moment, these verses:
Into her shady grove stepped the pretty Kamala, At the grove's entrance stood the brown Samana. Deeply, seeing the lotus's blossom, Bowed that man, and smiling Kamala thanked. More lovely, thought the young man, than offerings for gods, More lovely is offering to pretty Kamala.
Kamala loudly clapped her hands, so that the golden bracelets clanged.
"Beautiful are your verses, oh brown Samana, and truly, I'm losing nothing when I'm giving you a kiss for them."
She beckoned him with her eyes, he tilted his head so that his face touched hers and placed his mouth on that mouth which was like a freshly cracked fig. For a long time, Kamala kissed him, and with a deep astonishment Siddhartha felt how she taught him, how wise she was, how she controlled him, rejected him, lured him, and how after this first one there was to be a long, a well ordered, well tested sequence of kisses, everyone different from the others, he was still to receive. Breathing deeply, he remained standing where he was, and was in this moment astonished like a child about the cornucopia of knowledge and things worth learning, which revealed itself before his eyes.
"Very beautiful are your verses," exclaimed Kamala, "if I was rich, I would give you pieces of gold for them. But it will be difficult for you to earn thus much money with verses as you need. For you need a lot of money, if you want to be Kamala's friend."
"The way you're able to kiss, Kamala!" stammered Siddhartha.
"Yes, this I am able to do, therefore I do not lack clothes, shoes, bracelets, and all beautiful things. But what will become of you? Aren't you able to do anything else but thinking, fasting, making poetry?"
"I also know the sacrificial songs," said Siddhartha, "but I do not want to sing them any more. I also know magic spells, but I do not want to speak them any more. I have read the scriptures --"
"Stop," Kamala interrupted him. "You're able to read? And write?"
"Certainly, I can do this. Many people can do this."
"Most people can't. I also can't do it. It is very good that you're able to read and write, very good. You will also still find use for the magic spells."
In this moment, a maid came running in and whispered a message into her mistress's ear.
"There's a visitor for me," exclaimed Kamala. "Hurry and get yourself away, Siddhartha, nobody may see you in here, remember this! Tomorrow, I'll see you again."
But to the maid she gave the order to give the pious Brahman white upper garments. Without fully understanding what was happening to him, Siddhartha found himself being dragged away by the maid, brought into a garden-house avoiding the direct path, being given upper garments as a gift, led into the bushes, and urgently admonished to get himself out of the grove as soon as possible without being seen.
Contently, he did as he had been told. Being accustomed to the forest, he managed to get out of the grove and over the hedge without making a sound. Contently, he returned to the city, carrying the rolled up garments under his arm. At the inn, where travellers stay, he positioned himself by the door, without words he asked for food, without a word he accepted a piece of rice-cake. Perhaps as soon as tomorrow, he thought, I will ask no one for food any more.
Suddenly, pride flared up in him. He was no Samana any more, it was no longer becoming to him to beg. He gave the rice-cake to a dog and remained without food.
"Simple is the life which people lead in this world here," thought Siddhartha. It presents no difficulties. Everything was difficult, toilsome, and ultimately hopeless, when I was still a Samana. Now, everything is easy, easy like that lessons in kissing, which Kamala is giving me. I need clothes and money, nothing else; this a small, near goals, they won't make a person lose any sleep."
He had already discovered Kamala's house in the city long before, there he turned up the following day.
"Things are working out well," she called out to him. "They are expecting you at Kamaswami's, he is the richest merchant of the city. If he'll like you, he'll accept you into his service. Be smart, brown Samana. I had others tell him about you. Be polite towards him, he is very powerful. But don't be too modest! I do not want you to become his servant, you shall become his equal, or else I won't be satisfied with you. Kamaswami is starting to get old and lazy. If he'll like you, he'll entrust you with a lot."
Siddhartha thanked her and laughed, and when she found out that he had not eaten anything yesterday and today, she sent for bread and fruits and treated him to it.
"You've been lucky," she said when they parted, "I'm opening one door after another for you. How come? Do you have a spell?"
Siddhartha said: "Yesterday, I told you I knew how to think, to wait, and to fast, but you thought this was of no use. But it is useful for many things, Kamala, you'll see. You'll see that the stupid Samanas are learning and able to do many pretty things in the forest, which the likes of you aren't capable of. The day before yesterday, I was still a shaggy beggar, as soon as yesterday I have kissed Kamala, and soon I'll be a merchant and have money and all those things you insist upon."
"Well yes," she admitted. "But where would you be without me? What would you be, if Kamala wasn't helping you?"
"Dear Kamala," said Siddhartha and straightened up to his full height, "when I came to you into your grove, I did the first step. It was my resolution to learn love from this most beautiful woman. From that moment on when I had made this resolution, I also knew that I would carry it out. I knew that you would help me, at your first glance at the entrance of the grove I already knew it."
"But what if I hadn't been willing?"
"You were willing. Look, Kamala: When you throw a rock into the water, it will speed on the fastest course to the bottom of the water. This is how it is when Siddhartha has a goal, a resolution. Siddhartha does nothing, he waits, he thinks, he fasts, but he passes through the things of the world like a rock through water, without doing anything, without stirring; he is drawn, he lets himself fall. His goal attracts him, because he doesn't let anything enter his soul which might oppose the goal. This is what Siddhartha has learned among the Samanas. This is what fools call magic and of which they think it would be effected by means of the daemons. Nothing is effected by daemons, there are no daemons. Everyone can perform magic, everyone can reach his goals, if he is able to think, if he is able to wait, if he is able to fast."
Kamala listened to him. She loved his voice, she loved the look from his eyes.
"Perhaps it is so," she said quietly, "as you say, friend. But perhaps it is also like this: that Siddhartha is a handsome man, that his glance pleases the women, that therefore good fortune is coming towards him."
With one kiss, Siddhartha bid his farewell. "I wish that it should be this way, my teacher; that my glance shall please you, that always good fortune shall come to me out of your direction!"
WITH THE CHILDLIKE PEOPLE
Siddhartha went to Kamaswami the merchant, he was directed into a rich house, servants led him between precious carpets into a chamber, where he awaited the master of the house.
Kamaswami entered, a swiftly, smoothly moving man with very gray hair, with very intelligent, cautious eyes, with a greedy mouth. Politely, the host and the guest greeted one another.
"I have been told," the merchant began, "that you were a Brahman, a learned man, but that you seek to be in the service of a merchant. Might you have become destitute, Brahman, so that you seek to serve?"
"No," said Siddhartha, "I have not become destitute and have never been destitute. You should know that I'm coming from the Samanas, with whom I have lived for a long time."
"If you're coming from the Samanas, how could you be anything but destitute? Aren't the Samanas entirely without possessions?"
"I am without possessions," said Siddhartha, "if this is what you mean. Surely, I am without possessions. But I am so voluntarily, and therefore I am not destitute."
"But what are you planning to live of, being without possessions?"
"I haven't thought of this yet, sir. For more than three years, I have been without possessions, and have never thought about of what I should live."
"So you've lived of the possessions of others."
"Presumable this is how it is. After all, a merchant also lives of what other people own."
"Well said. But he wouldn't take anything from another person for nothing; he would give his merchandise in return."
"So it seems to be indeed. Everyone takes, everyone gives, such is life."
"But if you don't mind me asking: being without possessions, what would you like to give?"
"Everyone gives what he has. The warrior gives strength, the merchant gives merchandise, the teacher teachings, the farmer rice, the fisher fish."
"Yes indeed. And what is it now what you've got to give? What is it that you've learned, what you're able to do?"
"I can think. I can wait. I can fast."
"I believe, that's everything!"
"And what's the use of that? For example, the fasting --what is it good for?"
"It is very good, sir. When a person has nothing to eat, fasting is the smartest thing he could do. When, for example, Siddhartha hadn't learned to fast, he would have to accept any kind of service before this day is up, whether it may be with you or wherever, because hunger would force him to do so. But like this, Siddhartha can wait calmly, he knows no impatience, he knows no emergency, for a long time he can allow hunger to besiege him and can laugh about it. This, sir, is what fasting is good for."
"You're right, Samana. Wait for a moment."
Kamaswami left the room and returned with a scroll, which he handed to his guest while asking: "Can you read this?"
Siddhartha looked at the scroll, on which a sales-contract had been written down, and began to read out its contents.
"Excellent," said Kamaswami. "And would you write something for me on this piece of paper?"
He handed him a piece of paper and a pen, and Siddhartha wrote and returned the paper.
Kamaswami read: "Writing is good, thinking is better. Being smart is good, being patient is better."
"It is excellent how you're able to write," the merchant praised him. "Many a thing we will still have to discuss with one another. For today, I'm asking you to be my guest and to live in this house."
Siddhartha thanked and accepted, and lived in the dealers house from now on. Clothes were brought to him, and shoes, and every day, a servant prepared a bath for him. Twice a day, a plentiful meal was served, but Siddhartha only ate once a day, and ate neither meat nor did he drink wine. Kamaswami told him about his trade, showed him the merchandise and storage-rooms, showed him calculations. Siddhartha got to know many new things, he heard a lot and spoke little. And thinking of Kamala's words, he was never subservient to the merchant, forced him to treat him as an equal, yes even more than an equal. Kamaswami conducted his business with care and often with passion, but Siddhartha looked upon all of this as if it was a game, the rules of which he tried hard to learn precisely, but the contents of which did not touch his heart.
He was not in Kamaswami's house for long, when he already took part in his landlords business. But daily, at the hour appointed by her, he visited beautiful Kamala, wearing pretty clothes, fine shoes, and soon he brought her gifts as well. Much he learned from her red, smart mouth. Much he learned from her tender, supple hand. Him, who was, regarding love, still a boy and had a tendency to plunge blindly and insatiably into lust like into a bottomless pit, him she taught, thoroughly starting with the basics, about that school of thought which teaches that pleasure cannot be be taken without giving pleasure, and that every gesture, every caress, every touch, every look, every spot of the body, however small it was, had its secret, which would bring happiness to those who know about it and unleash it. She taught him, that lovers must not part from one another after celebrating love, without one admiring the other, without being just as defeated as they have been victorious, so that with none of them should start feeling fed up or bored and get that evil feeling of having abused or having been abused. Wonderful hours he spent with the beautiful and smart artist, became her student, her lover, her friend. Here with Kamala was the worth and purpose of his present life, nit with the business of Kamaswami.
The merchant passed to duties of writing important letters and contracts on to him and got into the habit of discussing all important affairs with him. He soon saw that Siddhartha knew little about rice and wool, shipping and trade, but that he acted in a fortunate manner, and that Siddhartha surpassed him, the merchant, in calmness and equanimity, and in the art of listening and deeply understanding previously unknown people. "This Brahman," he said to a friend, is no proper merchant and will never be one, there is never any passion in his soul when he conducts our business. But he has that mysterious quality of those people to whom success comes all by itself, whether this may be a good star of his birth, magic, or something he has learned among Samanas. He always seems to be merely playing with out business-affairs, they never fully become a part of him, they never rule over him, he is never afraid of failure, he is never upset by a loss."
The friend advised the merchant: "Give him from the business he conducts for you a third of the profits, but let him also be liable for the same amount of the losses, when there is a loss. Then, he'll become more zealous."
Kamaswami followed the advice. But Siddhartha cared little about this. When he made a profit, he accepted it with equanimity; when he made losses, he laughed and said: "Well, look at this, so this one turned out badly!"
It seemed indeed, as if he did not care about the business. At one time, he travelled to a village to buy a large harvest of rice there. But when he got there, the rice had already been sold to another merchant. Nevertheless, Siddhartha stayed for several days in that village, treated the farmers for a drink, gave copper-coins to their children, joined in the celebration of a wedding, and returned extremely satisfied from his trip. Kamaswami held against him that he had not turned back right away, that he had wasted time and money. Siddhartha answered: "Stop scolding, dear friend! Nothing was ever achieved by scolding. If a loss has occurred, let me bear that loss. I am very satisfied with this trip. I have gotten to know many kinds of people, a Brahman has become my friend, children have sat on my knees, farmers have shown me their fields, nobody knew that I was a merchant."
"That's all very nice," exclaimed Kamaswami indignantly, "but in fact, you are a merchant after all, one ought to think! Or might you have only travelled for your amusement?"
"Surely," Siddhartha laughed, "surely I have travelled for my amusement. For what else? I have gotten to know people and places, I have received kindness and trust, I have found friendship. Look, my dear, if I had been Kamaswami, I would have travelled back, being annoyed and in a hurry, as soon as I had seen that my purchase had been rendered impossible, and time and money would indeed have been lost. But like this, I've had a few good days, I've learned, had joy, I've neither harmed myself nor others by annoyance and hastiness. And if I'll ever return there again, perhaps to buy an upcoming harvest, or for whatever purpose it might be, friendly people will receive me in a friendly and happy manner, and I will praise myself for not showing any hurry and displeasure at that time. So, leave it as it is, my friend, and don't harm yourself by scolding! If the day will come, when you will see: this Siddhartha is harming me, then speak a word and Siddhartha will go on his own path. But until then, let's be satisfied with one another."
Futile were also the merchant's attempts, to convince Siddhartha that he should eat his bread. Siddhartha ate his own bread, or rather they both ate other people's bread, all people's bread. Siddhartha never listened to Kamaswami's worries and Kamaswami had many worries. Whether there was a business-deal going on which was in danger of failing, or whether a shipment of merchandise seemed to have been lost, or a debtor seemed to be unable to pay, Kamaswami could never convince his partner that it would be useful to utter a few words of worry or anger, to have wrinkles on the forehead, to sleep badly. When, one day, Kamaswami held against him that he had learned everything he knew from him, he replied: "Would you please not kid me with such jokes! What I've learned from you is how much a basket of fish costs and how much interests may be charged on loaned money. These are your areas of expertise. I haven't learned to think from you, my dear Kamaswami, you ought to be the one seeking to learn from me."
Indeed his soul was not with the trade. The business was good enough to provide him with the money for Kamala, and it earned him much more than he needed. Besides from this, Siddhartha's interest and curiosity was only concerned with the people, whose businesses, crafts, worries, pleasures, and acts of foolishness used to be as alien and distant to him as the moon. However easily he succeeded in talking to all of them, in living with all of them, in learning from all of them, he was still aware that there was something which separated him from them and this separating factor was him being a Samana. He saw mankind going trough life in a childlike or animallike manner, which he loved and also despised at the same time. He saw them toiling, saw them suffering, and becoming gray for the sake of things which seemed to him to entirely unworthy of this price, for money, for little pleasures, for being slightly honoured, he saw them scolding and insulting each other, he saw them complaining about pain at which a Samana would only smile, and suffering because of deprivations which a Samana would not feel.
He was open to everything, these people brought his way. Welcome was the merchant who offered him linen for sale, welcome was the debtor who sought another loan, welcome was the beggar who told him for one hour the story of his poverty and who was not half as poor as any given Samana. He did not treat the rich foreign merchant any different than the servant who shaved him and the street-vendor whom he let cheat him out of some small change when buying bananas. When Kamaswami came to him, to complain about his worries or to reproach him concerning his business, he listened curiously and happily, was puzzled by him, tried to understand him, consented that he was a little bit right, only as much as he considered indispensable, and turned away from him, towards the next person who would ask for him. And there were many who came to him, many to do business with him, many to cheat him, many to draw some secret out of him, many to appeal to his sympathy, many to get his advice. He gave advice, he pitied, he made gifts, he let them cheat him a bit, and this entire game and the passion with which all people played this game occupied his thoughts just as much as the gods and Brahmans used to occupy them.
At times he felt, deep in his chest, a dying, quiet voice, which admonished him quietly, lamented quietly; he hardly perceived it. And then, for an hour, he became aware of the strange life he was leading, of him doing lots of things which were only a game, of, though being happy and feeling joy at times, real life still passing him by and not touching him. As a ball-player plays with his balls, he played with his business-deals, with the people around him, watched them, found amusement in them; with his heart, with the source of his being, he was not with them. The source ran somewhere, far away from him, ran and ran invisibly, had nothing to do with his life any more. And at several times he suddenly became scared on account of such thoughts and wished that he would also be gifted with the ability to participate in all of this childlike-naive occupations of the daytime with passion and with his heart, really to live, really to act, really to enjoy and to live instead of just standing by as a spectator. But again and again, he came back to beautiful Kamala, learned the art of love, practised the cult of lust, in which more than in anything else giving and taking becomes one, chatted with her, learned from her, gave her advice, received advice. She understood him better than Govinda used to understand him, she was more similar to him.
Once, he said to her: "You are like me, you are different from most people. You are Kamala, nothing else, and inside of you, there is a peace and refuge, to which you can go at every hour of the day and be at home at yourself, as I can also do. Few people have this, and yet all could have it."
"Not all people are smart," said Kamala.
"No," said Siddhartha, "that's not the reason why. Kamaswami is just as smart as I, and still has no refuge in himself. Others have it, who are small children with respect to their mind. Most people, Kamala, are like a falling leaf, which is blown and is turning around through the air, and wavers, and tumbles to the ground. But others, a few, are like stars, they go on a fixed course, no wind reaches them, in themselves they have their law and their course. Among all the learned men and Samanas, of which I knew many, there was one of this kind, a perfected one, I'll never be able to forget him. It is that Gotama, the exalted one, who is spreading that teachings. Thousands of followers are listening to his teachings every day, follow his instructions every hour, but they are all falling leaves, not in themselves they have teachings and a law."
Kamala looked at him with a smile. "Again, you're talking about him," she said, "again, you're having a Samana's thoughts."
Siddhartha said nothing, and they played the game of love, one of the thirty or forty different games Kamala knew. Her body was flexible like that of a jaguar and like the bow of a hunter; he who had learned from her how to make love, was knowledgeable of many forms of lust, many secrets. For a long time, she played with Siddhartha, enticed him, rejected him, forced him, embraced him: enjoyed his masterful skills, until he was defeated and rested exhausted by her side.
The courtesan bent over him, took a long look at his face, at his eyes, which had grown tired.
"You are the best lover," she said thoughtfully, "I ever saw. You're stronger than others, more supple, more willing. You've learned my art well, Siddhartha. At some time, when I'll be older, I'd want to bear your child. And yet, my dear, you've remained a Samana, and yet you do not love me, you love nobody. Isn't it so?"
"It might very well be so," Siddhartha said tiredly. "I am like you. You also do not love --how else could you practise love as a craft? Perhaps, people of our kind can't love. The childlike people can; that's their secret."
For a long time, Siddhartha had lived the life of the world and of lust, though without being a part of it. His senses, which he had killed off in hot years as a Samana, had awoken again, he had tasted riches, had tasted lust, had tasted power; nevertheless he had still remained in his heart for a long time a Samana; Kamala, being smart, had realized this quite right. It was still the art of thinking, of waiting, of fasting, which guided his life; still the people of the world, the childlike people, had remained alien to him as he was alien to them.
Years passed by; surrounded by the good life, Siddhartha hardly felt them fading away. He had become rich, for quite a while he possessed a house of his own and his own servants, and a garden before the city by the river. The people liked him, they came to him, whenever they needed money or advice, but there was nobody close to him, except Kamala.
That high, bright state of being awake, which he had experienced that one time at the height of his youth, in those days after Gotama's sermon, after the separation from Govinda, that tense expectation, that proud state of standing alone without teachings and without teachers, that supple willingness to listen to the divine voice in his own heart, had slowly become a memory, had been fleeting; distant and quiet, the holy source murmured, which used to be near, which used to murmur within himself. Nevertheless, many things he had learned from the Samanas, he had learned from Gotama, he had learned from his father the Brahman, had remained within him for a long time afterwards: moderate living, joy of thinking, hours of meditation, secret knowledge of the self, of his eternal entity, which is neither body nor consciousness. Many a part of this he still had, but one part after another had been submerged and had gathered dust. Just as a potter's wheel, once it has been set in motion, will keep on turning for a long time and only slowly lose its vigour and come to a stop, thus Siddhartha's soul had kept on turning the wheel of asceticism, the wheel of thinking, the wheel of differentiation for a long time, still turning, but it turned slowly and hesitantly and was close to coming to a standstill. Slowly, like humidity entering the dying stem of a tree, filling it slowly and making it rot, the world and sloth had entered Siddhartha's soul, slowly it filled his soul, made it heavy, made it tired, put it to sleep. On the other hand, his senses had become alive, there was much they had learned, much they had experienced.
Siddhartha had learned to trade, to use his power over people, to enjoy himself with a woman, he had learned to wear beautiful clothes, to give orders to servants, to bathe in perfumed waters. He had learned to eat tenderly and carefully prepared food, even fish, even meat and poultry, spices and sweets, and to drink wine, which causes sloth and forgetfulness. He had learned to play with dice and on a chess-board, to watch dancing girls, to have himself carried about in a sedan-chair, to sleep on a soft bed. But still he had felt different from and superior to the others; always he had watched them with some mockery, some mocking disdain, with the same disdain which a Samana constantly feels for the people of the world. When Kamaswami was ailing, when he was annoyed, when he felt insulted, when he was vexed by his worries as a merchant, Siddhartha had always watched it with mockery. Just slowly and imperceptibly, as the harvest seasons and rainy seasons passed by, his mockery had become more tired, his superiority had become more quiet. Just slowly, among his growing riches, Siddhartha had assumed something of the childlike people's ways for himself, something of their childlikeness and of their fearfulness. And yet, he envied them, envied them just the more, the more similar he became to them. He envied them for the one thing that was missing from him and that they had, the importance they were able to attach to their lives, the amount of passion in their joys and fears, the fearful but sweet happiness of being constantly in love. These people were all of the time in love with themselves, with women, with their children, with honours or money, with plans or hopes. But he did not learn this from them, this out of all things, this joy of a child and this foolishness of a child; he learned from them out of all things the unpleasant ones, which he himself despised. It happened more and more often that, in the morning after having had company the night before, he stayed in bed for a long time, felt unable to think and tired. It happened that he became angry and impatient, when Kamaswami bored him with his worries. It happened that he laughed just too loud, when he lost a game of dice. His face was still smarter and more spiritual than others, but it rarely laughed, and assumed, one after another, those features which are so often found in the faces of rich people, those features of discontent, of sickliness, of ill-humour, of sloth, of a lack of love. Slowly the disease of the soul, which rich people have, grabbed hold of him.
Like a veil, like a thin mist, tiredness came over Siddhartha, slowly, getting a bit denser every day, a bit murkier every month, a bit heavier every year. As a new dress becomes old in time, loses its beautiful colour in time, gets stains, gets wrinkles, gets worn off at the seams, and starts to show threadbare spots here and there, thus Siddhartha's new life, which he had started after his separation from Govinda, had grown old, lost colour and splendour as the years passed by, was gathering wrinkles and stains, and hidden at bottom, already showing its ugliness here and there, disappointment and disgust were waiting. Siddhartha did not notice it. He only noticed that this bright and reliable voice inside of him, which had awoken in him at that time and had ever guided him in his best times, had become silent.
He had been captured by the world, by lust, covetousness, sloth, and finally also by that vice which he had used to despise and mock the most as the most foolish one of all vices: greed. Property, possessions, and riches also had finally captured him; they were no longer a game and trifles to him, had become a shackle and a burden. On a strange and devious way, Siddhartha had gotten into this final and most base of all dependencies, by means of the game of dice. It was since that time, when he had stopped being a Samana in his heart, that Siddhartha began to play the game for money and precious things, which he at other times only joined with a smile and casually as a custom of the childlike people, with an increasing rage and passion. He was a feared gambler, few dared to take him on, so high and audacious were his stakes. He played the game due to a pain of his heart, losing and wasting his wretched money in the game brought him an angry joy, in no other way he could demonstrate his disdain for wealth, the merchants' false god, more clearly and more mockingly. Thus he gambled with high stakes and mercilessly, hating himself, mocking himself, won thousands, threw away thousands, lost money, lost jewelry, lost a house in the country, won again, lost again. That fear, that terrible and petrifying fear, which he felt while he was rolling the dice, while he was worried about losing high stakes, that fear he loved and sought to always renew it, always increase it, always get it to a slightly higher level, for in this feeling alone he still felt something like happiness, something like an intoxication, something like an elevated form of life in the midst of his saturated, lukewarm, dull life.
And after each big loss, his mind was set on new riches, pursued the trade more zealously, forced his debtors more strictly to pay, because he wanted to continue gambling, he wanted to continue squandering, continue demonstrating his disdain of wealth. Siddhartha lost his calmness when losses occurred, lost his patience when he was not payed on time, lost his kindness towards beggars, lost his disposition for giving away and loaning money to those who petitioned him. He, who gambled away tens of thousands at one roll of the dice and laughed at it, became more strict and more petty in his business, occasionally dreaming at night about money! And whenever he woke up from this ugly spell, whenever he found his face in the mirror at the bedroom's wall to have aged and become more ugly, whenever embarrassment and disgust came over him, he continued fleeing, fleeing into a new game, fleeing into a numbing of his mind brought on by sex, by wine, and from there he fled back into the urge to pile up and obtain possessions. In this pointless cycle he ran, growing tired, growing old, growing ill.
Then the time came when a dream warned him. He had spend the hours of the evening with Kamala, in her beautiful pleasure-garden. They had been sitting under the trees, talking, and Kamala had said thoughtful words, words behind which a sadness and tiredness lay hidden. She had asked him to tell her about Gotama, and could not hear enough of him, how clear his eyes, how still and beautiful his mouth, how kind his smile, how peaceful his walk had been. For a long time, he had to tell her about the exalted Buddha, and Kamala had sighed and had said: "One day, perhaps soon, I'll also follow that Buddha. I'll give him my pleasure-garden for a gift and take my refuge in his teachings." But after this, she had aroused him, and had tied him to her in the act of making love with painful fervour, biting and in tears, as if, once more, she wanted to squeeze the last sweet drop out of this vain, fleeting pleasure. Never before, it had become so strangely clear to Siddhartha, how closely lust was akin to death. Then he had lain by her side, and Kamala's face had been close to him, and under her eyes and next to the corners of her mouth he had, as clearly as never before, read a fearful inscription, an inscription of small lines, of slight grooves, an inscription reminiscent of autumn and old age, just as Siddhartha himself, who was only in his forties, had already noticed, here and there, gray hairs among his black ones. Tiredness was written on Kamala's beautiful face, tiredness from walking a long path, which has no happy destination, tiredness and the beginning of withering, and concealed, still unsaid, perhaps not even conscious anxiety: fear of old age, fear of the autumn, fear of having to die. With a sigh, he had bid his farewell to her, the soul full of reluctance, and full of concealed anxiety.
Then, Siddhartha had spent the night in his house with dancing girls and wine, had acted as if he was superior to them towards the fellow-members of his caste, though this was no longer true, had drunk much wine and gone to bed a long time after midnight, being tired and yet excited, close to weeping and despair, and had for a long time sought to sleep in vain, his heart full of misery which he thought he could not bear any longer, full of a disgust which he felt penetrating his entire body like the lukewarm, repulsive taste of the wine, the just too sweet, dull music, the just too soft smile of the dancing girls, the just too sweet scent of their hair and breasts. But more than by anything else, he was disgusted by himself, by his perfumed hair, by the smell of wine from his mouth, by the flabby tiredness and listlessness of his skin. Like when someone, who has eaten and drunk far too much, vomits it back up again with agonising pain and is nevertheless glad about the relief, thus this sleepless man wished to free himself of these pleasures, these habits and all of this pointless life and himself, in an immense burst of disgust. Not until the light of the morning and the beginning of the first activities in the street before his city-house, he had slightly fallen asleep, had found for a few moments a half unconsciousness, a hint of sleep. In those moments, he had a dream:
Kamala owned a small, rare singing bird in a golden cage. Of this bird, he dreamt. He dreamt: this bird had become mute, who at other times always used to sing in the morning, and since this arose his attention, he stepped in front of the cage and looked inside; there the small bird was dead and lay stiff on the ground. He took it out, weighed it for a moment in his hand, and then threw it away, out in the street, and in the same moment, he felt terribly shocked, and his heart hurt, as if he had thrown away from himself all value and everything good by throwing out this dead bird.
Starting up from this dream, he felt encompassed by a deep sadness. Worthless, so it seemed to him, worthless and pointless was the way he had been going through life; nothing which was alive, nothing which was in some way delicious or worth keeping he had left in his hands. Alone he stood there and empty like a castaway on the shore.
With a gloomy mind, Siddhartha went to the pleasure-garden he owned, locked the gate, sat down under a mango-tree, felt death in his heart and horror in his chest, sat and sensed how everything died in him, withered in him, came to an end in him. By and by, he gathered his thoughts, and in his mind, he once again went the entire path of his life, starting with the first days he could remember. When was there ever a time when he had experienced happiness, felt a true bliss? Oh yes, several times he had experienced such a thing. In his years as a boy, he has had a taste of it, when he had obtained praise from the Brahmans, he had felt it in his heart: "There is a path in front of the one who has distinguished himself in the recitation of the holy verses, in the dispute with the learned ones, as an assistant in the offerings." Then, he had felt it in his heart: "There is a path in front of you, you are destined for, the gods are awaiting you." And again, as a young man, when the ever rising, upward fleeing, goal of all thinking had ripped him out of and up from the multitude of those seeking the same goal, when he wrestled in pain for the purpose of Brahman, when every obtained knowledge only kindled new thirst in him, then again he had, in the midst of the thirst, in the midst of the pain felt this very same thing: "Go on! Go on! You are called upon!" He had heard this voice when he had left his home and had chosen the life of a Samana, and again when he had gone away from the Samanas to that perfected one, and also when he had gone away from him to the uncertain. For how long had he not heard this voice any more, for how long had he reached no height any more, how even and dull was the manner in which his path had passed through life, for many long years, without a high goal, without thirst, without elevation, content with small lustful pleasures and yet never satisfied! For all of these many years, without knowing it himself, he had tried hard and longed to become a man like those many, like those children, and in all this, his life had been much more miserable and poorer than theirs, and their goals were not his, nor their worries; after all, that entire world of the Kamaswami-people had only been a game to him, a dance he would watch, a comedy. Only Kamala had been dear, had been valuable to him --but was she still thus? Did he still need her, or she him? Did they not play a game without an ending? Was it necessary to live for this? No, it was not necessary! The name of this game was Sansara, a game for children, a game which was perhaps enjoyable to play once, twice, ten times --but for ever and ever over again?
Then, Siddhartha knew that the game was over, that he could not play it any more. Shivers ran over his body, inside of him, so he felt, something had died.
That entire day, he sat under the mango-tree, thinking of his father, thinking of Govinda, thinking of Gotama. Did he have to leave them to become a Kamaswami? He still sat there, when the night had fallen. When, looking up, he caught sight of the stars, he thought: "Here I'm sitting under my mango-tree, in my pleasure-garden." He smiled a little --was it really necessary, was it right, was it not as foolish game, that he owned a mango-tree, that he owned a garden?
He also put an end to this, this also died in him. He rose, bid his farewell to the mango-tree, his farewell to the pleasure-garden. Since he had been without food this day, he felt strong hunger, and thought of his house in the city, of his chamber and bed, of the table with the meals on it. He smiled tiredly, shook himself, and bid his farewell to these things.
In the same hour of the night, Siddhartha left his garden, left the city, and never came back. For a long time, Kamaswami had people look for him, thinking that he had fallen into the hands of robbers. Kamala had no one look for him. When she was told that Siddhartha had disappeared, she was not astonished. Did she not always expect it? Was he not a Samana, a man who was at home nowhere, a pilgrim? And most of all, she had felt this the last time they had been together, and she was happy, in spite of all the pain of the loss, that she had pulled him so affectionately to her heart for this last time, that she had felt one more time to be so completely possessed and penetrated by him.
When she received the first news of Siddhartha's disappearance, she went to the window, where she held a rare singing bird captive in a golden cage. She opened the door of the cage, took the bird out and let it fly. For a long time, she gazed after it, the flying bird. From this day on, she received no more visitors and kept her house locked. But after some time, she became aware that she was pregnant from the last time she was together with Siddhartha.
BY THE RIVER
Siddhartha walked through the forest, was already far from the city, and knew nothing but that one thing, that there was no going back for him, that this life, as he had lived it for many years until now, was over and done away with, and that he had tasted all of it, sucked everything out of it until he was disgusted with it. Dead was the singing bird, he had dreamt of. Dead was the bird in his heart. Deeply, he had been entangled in Sansara, he had sucked up disgust and death from all sides into his body, like a sponge sucks up water until it is full. And full he was, full of the feeling of been sick of it, full of misery, full of death, there was nothing left in this world which could have attracted him, given him joy, given him comfort.
Passionately he wished to know nothing about himself anymore, to have rest, to be dead. If there only was a lightning-bolt to strike him dead! If there only was a tiger a devour him! If there only was a wine, a poison which would numb his senses, bring him forgetfulness and sleep, and no awakening from that! Was there still any kind of filth, he had not soiled himself with, a sin or foolish act he had not committed, a dreariness of the soul he had not brought upon himself? Was it still at all possible to be alive? Was it possible, to breathe in again and again, to breathe out, to feel hunger, to eat again, to sleep again, to sleep with a woman again? Was this cycle not exhausted and brought to a conclusion for him?
Siddhartha reached the large river in the forest, the same river over which a long time ago, when he had still been a young man and came from the town of Gotama, a ferryman had conducted him. By this river he stopped, hesitantly he stood at the bank. Tiredness and hunger had weakened him, and whatever for should he walk on, wherever to, to which goal? No, there were no more goals, there was nothing left but the deep, painful yearning to shake off this whole desolate dream, to spit out this stale wine, to put an end to this miserable and shameful life.
A hang bent over the bank of the river, a coconut-tree; Siddhartha leaned against its trunk with his shoulder, embraced the trunk with one arm, and looked down into the green water, which ran and ran under him, looked down and found himself to be entirely filled with the wish to let go and to drown in these waters. A frightening emptiness was reflected back at him by the water, answering to the terrible emptiness in his soul. Yes, he had reached the end. There was nothing left for him, except to annihilate himself, except to smash the failure into which he had shaped his life, to throw it away, before the feet of mockingly laughing gods. This was the great vomiting he had longed for: death, the smashing to bits of the form he hated! Let him be food for fishes, this dog Siddhartha, this lunatic, this depraved and rotten body, this weakened and abused soul! Let him be food for fishes and crocodiles, let him be chopped to bits by the daemons!
With a distorted face, he stared into the water, saw the reflection of his face and spit at it. In deep tiredness, he took his arm away from the trunk of the tree and turned a bit, in order to let himself fall straight down, in order to finally drown. With his eyes closed, he slipped towards death.
Then, out of remote areas of his soul, out of past times of his now weary life, a sound stirred up. It was a word, a syllable, which he, without thinking, with a slurred voice, spoke to himself, the old word which is the beginning and the end of all prayers of the Brahmans, the holy "Om", which roughly means "that what is perfect" or "the completion". And in the moment when the sound of "Om" touched Siddhartha's ear, his dormant spirit suddenly woke up and realized the foolishness of his actions.
Siddhartha was deeply shocked. So this was how things were with him, so doomed was he, so much he had lost his way and was forsaken by all knowledge, that he had been able to seek death, that this wish, this wish of a child, had been able to grow in him: to find rest by annihilating his body! What all agony of these recent times, all sobering realizations, all desperation had not brought about, this was brought on by this moment, when the Om entered his consciousness: he became aware of himself in his misery and in his error.
Om! he spoke to himself: Om! and again he knew about Brahman, knew about the indestructibility of life, knew about all that is divine, which he had forgotten.
But this was only a moment, flash. By the foot of the coconut-tree, Siddhartha collapsed, struck down by tiredness, mumbling Om, placed his head on the root of the tree and fell into a deep sleep.
Deep was his sleep and without dreams, for a long time he had not known such a sleep any more. When he woke up after many hours, he felt as if ten years had passed, he heard the water quietly flowing, did not know where he was and who had brought him here, opened his eyes, saw with astonishment that there were trees and the sky above him, and he remembered where he was and how he got here. But it took him a long while for this, and the past seemed to him as if it had been covered by a veil, infinitely distant, infinitely far away, infinitely meaningless. He only knew that his previous life (in the first moment when he thought about it, this past life seemed to him like a very old, previous incarnation, like an early pre-birth of his present self) --that his previous life had been abandoned by him, that, full of disgust and wretchedness, he had even intended to throw his life away, but that by a river, under a coconut-tree, he has come to his senses, the holy word Om on his lips, that then he had fallen asleep and had now woken up and was looking at the world as a new man. Quietly, he spoke the word Om to himself, speaking which he had fallen asleep, and it seemed to him as if his entire long sleep had been nothing but a long meditative recitation of Om, a thinking of Om, a submergence and complete entering into Om, into the nameless, the perfected.
What a wonderful sleep had this been! Never before by sleep, he had been thus refreshed, thus renewed, thus rejuvenated! Perhaps, he had really died, had drowned and was reborn in a new body? But no, he knew himself, he knew his hand and his feet, knew the place where he lay, knew this self in his chest, this Siddhartha, the eccentric, the weird one, but this Siddhartha was nevertheless transformed, was renewed, was strangely well rested, strangely awake, joyful and curious.
Siddhartha straightened up, then he saw a person sitting opposite to him, an unknown man, a monk in a yellow robe with a shaven head, sitting in the position of pondering. He observed the man, who had neither hair on his head nor a beard, and he had not observed him for long when he recognised this monk as Govinda, the friend of his youth, Govinda who had taken his refuge with the exalted Buddha. Govinda had aged, he too, but still his face bore the same features, expressed zeal, faithfulness, searching, timidness. But when Govinda now, sensing his gaze, opened his eyes and looked at him, Siddhartha saw that Govinda did not recognise him. Govinda was happy to find him awake; apparently, he had been sitting here for a long time and been waiting for him to wake up, though he did not know him.
"I have been sleeping," said Siddhartha. "However did you get here?"
"You have been sleeping," answered Govinda. "It is not good to be sleeping in such places, where snakes often are and the animals of the forest have their paths. I, oh sir, am a follower of the exalted Gotama, the Buddha, the Sakyamuni, and have been on a pilgrimage together with several of us on this path, when I saw you lying and sleeping in a place where it is dangerous to sleep. Therefore, I sought to wake you up, oh sir, and since I saw that your sleep was very deep, I stayed behind from my group and sat with you. And then, so it seems, I have fallen asleep myself, I who wanted to guard your sleep. Badly, I have served you, tiredness has overwhelmed me. But now that you're awake, let me go to catch up with my brothers."
"I thank you, Samana, for watching out over my sleep," spoke Siddhartha. You're friendly, you followers of the exalted one. Now you may go then."
"I'm going, sir. May you, sir, always be in good health."
"I thank you, Samana."
Govinda made the gesture of a salutation and said: "Farewell."
"Farewell, Govinda," said Siddhartha.
The monk stopped.
"Permit me to ask, sir, from where do you know my name?"
Now, Siddhartha smiled.
"I know you, oh Govinda, from your father's hut, and from the school of the Brahmans, and from the offerings, and from our walk to the Samanas, and from that hour when you took your refuge with the exalted one in the grove Jetavana."
"You're Siddhartha," Govinda exclaimed loudly. Now, I'm recognising you, and don't comprehend any more how I couldn't recognise you right away. Be welcome, Siddhartha, my joy is great, to see you again."
"It also gives me joy, to see you again. You've been the guard of my sleep, again I thank you for this, though I wouldn't have required any guard. Where are you going to, oh friend?"
"I'm going nowhere. We monks are always travelling, whenever it is not the rainy season, we always move from one place to another, live according to the rules if the teachings passed on to us, accept alms, move on. It is always like this. But you, Siddhartha, where are you going to?"
Quoth Siddhartha: "With me too, friend, it is as it is with you. I'm going nowhere. I'm just travelling. I'm on a pilgrimage."
Govinda spoke: "You're saying: you're on a pilgrimage, and I believe in you. But, forgive me, oh Siddhartha, you do not look like a pilgrim. You're wearing a rich man's garments, you're wearing the shoes of a distinguished gentleman, and your hair, with the fragrance of perfume, is not a pilgrim's hair, not the hair of a Samana."
"Right so, my dear, you have observed well, your keen eyes see everything. But I haven't said to you that I was a Samana. I said: I'm on a pilgrimage. And so it is: I'm on a pilgrimage."
"You're on a pilgrimage," said Govinda. "But few would go on a pilgrimage in such clothes, few in such shoes, few with such hair. Never I have met such a pilgrim, being a pilgrim myself for many years."
"I believe you, my dear Govinda. But now, today, you've met a pilgrim just like this, wearing such shoes, such a garment. Remember, my dear: Not eternal is the world of appearances, not eternal, anything but eternal are our garments and the style of our hair, and our hair and bodies themselves. I'm wearing a rich man's clothes, you've seen this quite right. I'm wearing them, because I have been a rich man, and I'm wearing my hair like the worldly and lustful people, for I have been one of them."
"And now, Siddhartha, what are you now?"
"I don't know it, I don't know it just like you. I'm travelling. I was a rich man and am no rich man any more, and what I'll be tomorrow, I don't know."
"You've lost your riches?"
"I've lost them or they me. They somehow happened to slip away from me. The wheel of physical manifestations is turning quickly, Govinda. Where is Siddhartha the Brahman? Where is Siddhartha the Samana? Where is Siddhartha the rich man? Non-eternal things change quickly, Govinda, you know it."
Govinda looked at the friend of his youth for a long time, with doubt in his eyes. After that, he gave him the salutation which one would use on a gentleman and went on his way.
With a smiling face, Siddhartha watched him leave, he loved him still, this faithful man, this fearful man. And how could he not have loved everybody and everything in this moment, in the glorious hour after his wonderful sleep, filled with Om! The enchantment, which had happened inside of him in his sleep and by means of the Om, was this very thing that he loved everything, that he was full of joyful love for everything he saw. And it was this very thing, so it seemed to him now, which had been his sickness before, that he was not able to love anybody or anything.
With a smiling face, Siddhartha watched the leaving monk. The sleep had strengthened him much, but hunger gave him much pain, for by now he had not eaten for two days, and the times were long past when he had been tough against hunger. With sadness, and yet also with a smile, he thought of that time. In those days, so he remembered, he had boasted of three three things to Kamala, had been able to do three noble and undefeatable feats: fasting --waiting --thinking. These had been his possession, his power and strength, his solid staff; in the busy, laborious years of his youth, he had learned these three feats, nothing else. And now, they had abandoned him, none of them was his any more, neither fasting, nor waiting, nor thinking. For the most wretched things, he had given them up, for what fades most quickly, for sensual lust, for the good life, for riches! His life had indeed been strange. And now, so it seemed, now he had really become a childlike person.
Siddhartha thought about his situation. Thinking was hard on him, he did not really feel like it, but he forced himself.
Now, he thought, since all these most easily perishing things have slipped from me again, now I'm standing here under the sun again just as I have been standing here a little child, nothing is mine, I have no abilities, there is nothing I could bring about, I have learned nothing. How wondrous is this! Now, that I'm no longer young, that my hair is already half gray, that my strength is fading, now I'm starting again at the beginning and as a child! Again, he had to smile. Yes, his fate had been strange! Things were going downhill with him, and now he was again facing the world void and naked and stupid. But he could not feed sad about this, no, he even felt a great urge to laugh, to laugh about himself, to laugh about this strange, foolish world.
"Things are going downhill with you!" he said to himself, and laughed about it, and as he was saying it, he happened to glance at the river, and he also saw the river going downhill, always moving on downhill, and singing and being happy through it all. He liked this well, kindly he smiled at the river. Was this not the river in which he had intended to drown himself, in past times, a hundred years ago, or had he dreamed this?
Wondrous indeed was my life, so he thought, wondrous detours it has taken. As I boy, I had only to do with gods and offerings. As a youth, I had only to do with asceticism, with thinking and meditation, was searching for Brahman, worshipped the eternal in the Atman. But as a young man, I followed the penitents, lived in the forest, suffered of heat and frost, learned to hunger, taught my body to become dead. Wonderfully, soon afterwards, insight came towards me in the form of the great Buddha's teachings, I felt the knowledge of the oneness of the world circling in me like my own blood. But I also had to leave Buddha and the great knowledge. I went and learned the art of love with Kamala, learned trading with Kamaswami, piled up money, wasted money, learned to love my stomach, learned to please my senses. I had to spend many years losing my spirit, to unlearn thinking again, to forget the oneness. Isn't it just as if I had turned slowly and on a long detour from a man into a child, from a thinker into a childlike person? And yet, this path has been very good; and yet, the bird in my chest has not died. But what a path has this been! I had to pass through so much stupidity, through so much vices, through so many errors, through so much disgust and disappointments and woe, just to become a child again and to be able to start over. But it was right so, my heart says "Yes" to it, my eyes smile to it. I've had to experience despair, I've had to sink down to the most foolish one of all thoughts, to the thought of suicide, in order to be able to experience divine grace, to hear Om again, to be able to sleep properly and awake properly again. I had to become a fool, to find Atman in me again. I had to sin, to be able to live again. Where else might my path lead me to? It is foolish, this path, it moves in loops, perhaps it is going around in a circle. Let it go as it likes, I want to to take it.
Wonderfully, he felt joy rolling like waves in his chest.
Wherever from, he asked his heart, where from did you get this happiness? Might it come from that long, good sleep, which has done me so good? Or from the word Om, which I said? Or from the fact that I have escaped, that I have completely fled, that I am finally free again and am standing like a child under the sky? Oh how good is it to have fled, to have become free! How clean and beautiful is the air here, how good to breathe! There, where I ran away from, there everything smelled of ointments, of spices, of wine, of excess, of sloth. How did I hate this world of the rich, of those who revel in fine food, of the gamblers! How did I hate myself for staying in this terrible world for so long! How did I hate myself, have deprive, poisoned, tortured myself, have made myself old and evil! No, never again I will, as I used to like doing so much, delude myself into thinking that Siddhartha was wise! But this one thing I have done well, this I like, this I must praise, that there is now an end to that hatred against myself, to that foolish and dreary life! I praise you, Siddhartha, after so many years of foolishness, you have once again had an idea, have done something, have heard the bird in your chest singing and have followed it!
Thus he praised himself, found joy in himself, listened curiously to his stomach, which was rumbling with hunger. He had now, so he felt, in these recent times and days, completely tasted and spit out, devoured up to the point of desperation and death, a piece of suffering, a piece of misery. Like this, it was good. For much longer, he could have stayed with Kamaswami, made money, wasted money, filled his stomach, and let his soul die of thirst; for much longer he could have lived in this soft, well upholstered hell, if this had not happened: the moment of complete hopelessness and despair, that most extreme moment, when he hang over the rushing waters and was ready to destroy himself. That he had felt this despair, this deep disgust, and that he had not succumbed to it, that the bird, the joyful source and voice in him was still alive after all, this was why he felt joy, this was why he laughed, this was why his face was smiling brightly under his hair which had turned gray.
"It is good," he thought, "to get a taste of everything for oneself, which one needs to know. That lust for the world and riches do not belong to the good things, I have already learned as a child. I have known it for a long time, but I have experienced only now. And now I know it, don't just know it in my memory, but in my eyes, in my heart, in my stomach. Good for me, to know this!"
For a long time, he pondered his transformation, listened to the bird, as it sang for joy. Had not this bird died in him, had he not felt its death? No, something else from within him had died, something which already for a long time had yearned to die. Was it not this what he used to intend to kill in his ardent years as a penitent? Was this not his self, his small, frightened, and proud self, he had wrestled with for so many years, which had defeated him again and again, which was back again after every killing, prohibited joy, felt fear? Was it not this, which today had finally come to its death, here in the forest, by this lovely river? Was it not due to this death, that he was now like a child, so full of trust, so without fear, so full of joy?
Now Siddhartha also got some idea of why he had fought this self in vain as a Brahman, as a penitent. Too much knowledge had held him back, too many holy verses, too many sacrificial rules, to much self-castigation, so much doing and striving for that goal! Full of arrogance, he had been, always the smartest, always working the most, always one step ahead of all others, always the knowing and spiritual one, always the priest or wise one. Into being a priest, into this arrogance, into this spirituality, his self had retreated, there it sat firmly and grew, while he thought he would kill it by fasting and penance. Now he saw it and saw that the secret voice had been right, that no teacher would ever have been able to bring about his salvation. Therefore, he had to go out into the world, lose himself to lust and power, to woman and money, had to become a merchant, a dice-gambler, a drinker, and a greedy person, until the priest and Samana in him was dead. Therefore, he had to continue bearing these ugly years, bearing the disgust, the teachings, the pointlessness of a dreary and wasted life up to the end, up to bitter despair, until Siddhartha the lustful, Siddhartha the greedy could also die. He had died, a new Siddhartha had woken up from the sleep. He would also grow old, he would also eventually have to die, mortal was Siddhartha, mortal was every physical form. But today he was young, was a child, the new Siddhartha, and was full of joy.
He thought these thoughts, listened with a smile to his stomach, listened gratefully to a buzzing bee. Cheerfully, he looked into the rushing river, never before he had like a water so well as this one, never before he had perceived the voice and the parable of the moving water thus strongly and beautifully. It seemed to him, as if the river had something special to tell him, something he did not know yet, which was still awaiting him. In this river, Siddhartha had intended to drown himself, in it the old, tired, desperate Siddhartha had drowned today. But the new Siddhartha felt a deep love for this rushing water, and decided for himself, not to leave it very soon.