These timeless Siddhartha quotes will teach something about enlightenment and self-discovery.
Siddhartha, a book about the journey of self-discovery and the ninth novel by Hermann Hesse, was popular in the 1960s. The title itself is derived from two Sanskrit words: Siddha, which means ‘achieved’, and Artha (what was searched for).
In the novel, Siddhartha encounters the Buddha and a wise ferryman. He rids himself of his possessions, becomes homeless, and meditates fiercely.
He also meets a beautiful woman named Kamala. She convinces him that he must become a rich man in order to be with her, and he agrees to head her words.
Siddhartha becomes successful, wealthy, and all the things he used to hate. He finds himself back at the river contemplating suicide and the way his life has turned out.
These Siddhartha quotes share some insights he learned from his life.
Don’t forget to also check out these spiritual awakening quotes celebrating enlightenment.
Siddhartha quotes to live by
1. “I have always thirsted for knowledge, I have always been full of questions.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
2. “Most people… are like a falling leaf that drifts and turns in the air, flutters, and falls to the ground. But a few others are like stars which travel one defined path: no wind reaches them, they have within themselves their guide and path.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
3. “Whether it is good or evil, whether life in itself is pain or pleasure, whether it is uncertain-that it may perhaps be this is not important-but the unity of the world, the coherence of all events, the embracing of the big and the small from the same stream, from the same law of cause, of becoming and dying.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
4. “Siddhartha has one single goal-to become empty, to become empty of thirst, desire, dreams, pleasure and sorrow-to let the Self die. No longer to be Self, to experience the peace of an emptied heart, to experience pure thought-that was his goal.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
5. “… the opposite of every truth is just as true! That is to say, any truth can only be expressed and put into words when it is one-sided. Everything that can be thought with the mind and said with words is one-sided, it’s all just the half of it, lacking completeness, roundness, or unity.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
6. “Whither will my path yet lead me? This path is stupid, it goes in spirals, perhaps in circles, but whichever way it goes, I will follow it.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
7. “Writing is good, thinking is better. Cleverness is good, patience is better.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
8. “I have no desire to walk on water,” said Siddhartha. “Let the old sramanas satisfy themselves with such skills.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
9. “To listen with a still heart, with a waiting, open soul, without passion, without desire, without judgment, without opinions.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
Siddhartha quotes about searching and seeking knowledge
10. “When someone seeks,” said Siddhartha, “then it easily happens that his eyes see only the thing that he seeks, and he is able to find nothing, to take in nothing because he always thinks only about the thing he is seeking, because he has one goal because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal.” ― Herman Hesse, Siddhartha
11. “When someone is searching, then it might easily happen that the only thing his eyes still see is that what he searches for, that he is unable to find anything, to let anything enter his mind because he always thinks of nothing but the object of his search. Searching means having a goal. Finding means: being free, being open, having no goal.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
12. “You, oh venerable one, are perhaps indeed a searcher, because, striving for your goal, there are many things you don’t see, which are directly in front of your eyes.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
13. “Seeking nothing, emulating nothing, breathing gently, he moved in an atmosphere of imperishable calm, imperishable light, inviolable peace.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
14. “There is, so I believe, in the essence of everything, something that we cannot call learning. There is, my friend, only a knowledge-that is everywhere, that is Atman, that is in me and you and in every creature, and I am beginning to believe that this knowledge has no worse enemy than the man of knowledge, than learning.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
15. “In this hour Siddhartha ceased struggling with his fate, ceased suffering. On his face blossomed the serenity of knowledge, which no will opposes any longer, knowing perfection, in agreement with the flow of events, with the stream of life, full of compassion, full of sympathy, abandoned to the flow, belonging to unity.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to read our collection of unity quotes about bringing people together.
16. “But there is one thing which these so clear, these so venerable teachings do not contain: they do not contain the mystery of what the exalted one has experienced for himself, he alone among hundreds of thousands. This is what I have thought and realized, when I have heard the teachings. This is why I am continuing my travels—not to seek other, better teachings, for I know there are none, but to depart from all teachings and all teachers and to reach my goal by myself or to die. But often, I’ll think of this day, oh exalted one, and of this hour, when my eyes beheld a holy man.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
17. “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.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
18. “And so Gotama wandered into the town to obtain alms, and the two Samanas recognized him only by his complete peacefulness of demeanor, by the stillness of his form, in which there was no seeking, no will, no counterfeit, no effort – only light and peace.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
19. “No, a true seeker, one who truly wished to find, could accept no doctrine. But the man who has found what he sought, such a man could approve of every doctrine, each and every one, every path, every goal; nothing separated him any longer from all those thousands of others who lived in the eternal, who breathed the Divine.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
Wise Siddhartha quotes
20. “They both listened silently to the water, which to them was not just water, but the voice of life, the voice of Being, the voice of perpetual Becoming.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
21. “Dreams and restless thoughts came flowing to him from the river, from the twinkling stars at night, from the sun’s melting rays. Dreams and a restlessness of the soul came to him.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
22. “But of all the water’s secrets, he saw today only a single one-one that struck his soul. He saw that this water flowed and flowed, it was constantly flowing, and yet it was always there; it was always eternally the same and yet new at every moment! Oh, to be able to grasp this, to understand this!” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
23. “Never is a man wholly a saint or a sinner.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
24. “Were not the gods forms created like me and you, mortal, transient?” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
25. “… and the vessel was not full, his intellect was not satisfied, his soul was not at peace, his heart was not still.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
26. “… for you know that soft is stronger than hard, water stronger than rock, love stronger than force.” ― Hermann Hesse, Vyasadeva to Siddartha
27. “Within you, there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
28. “Love can be begged, bought, or received as a gift, one can find it in the street, but one cannot steal it.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
29. “Nothing was, nothing will be, everything has reality and presence.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
30. “Wisdom is not communicable. The wisdom which a wise man tries to communicate always sounds foolish… Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.”
31. “With a thousand eyes, the river looked at him.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
Siddhartha quotes that make you question everything
32. “I felt knowledge and the unity of the world circulate in me like my own blood.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
33. “You show the world as a complete, unbroken chain, an eternal chain, linked together by cause and effect.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
34. “He sat thus, lost in meditation, thinking Om, his soul as the arrow directed at Brahman.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
35. “Ephemeral, highly ephemeral is the world of formations; ephemeral, highly ephemeral are our clothes and hairstyles, and our hair and our bodies themselves.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
36. “How deaf and stupid have I been!” he thought, walking swiftly along. “When someone reads a text, wants to discover its meaning, he will not scorn the symbols and letters and call them deceptions, coincidence, and worthless hull, but he will read them, he will study and love them, letter by letter.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
37. “But I, who wanted to read the book of the world and the book of my own being, I have, for the sake of a meaning I had anticipated before I read, scorned the symbols and letters, I called the visible world a deception, called my eyes and my tongue coincidental and worthless forms without substance. No, this is over, I have awakened, I have in-deed awakened and have not been born before this very day.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
38. “I have had to experience so much stupidity, so many vices, so much error, so much nausea, disillusionment, and sorrow, just in order to become a child again and begin anew.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
39. “The world, my friend Govinda, is not imperfect, or on a slow path towards perfection: no, it is perfect in every moment, all sin already carries the divine forgiveness in itself, all small children already have the old person in themselves, all infants already have death, all dying people the eternal life.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
40. “But out of all secrets of the river, he today only saw one, this one touched his soul. He saw: this water ran and ran, incessantly it ran, and was nevertheless always there, was always at all times the same and yet new in every moment! Great, be he who would grasp this, understand this! He understood and grasped it not, only felt some idea of it stirring, a distant memory, divine voices.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
Siddhartha quotes about suffering and pain
41. “Alas, Siddhartha, I see you suffering, but you’re suffering a pain at which one would like to laugh, at which you’ll soon laugh for yourself.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
42. “In the beauty of countless danseuses in my palace, I saw an endless suffering in the form of distorted and diseased figures as the absolute certainty towards which they were heading even as insects unwittingly consign themselves to the blazing flame.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
43. “You love nobody. Is that not true?” “Maybe,” said Siddhartha wearily. “I am like you. You cannot love either, otherwise, how could you practice love as an art? Perhaps people like us cannot love. Ordinary people can – that is their secret.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
44. “Siddhartha stopped fighting his fate this very hour, and he stopped suffering.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
45. “He saw mankind going through life in a childlike manner… which he loved but also despised… He saw them toiling, saw them suffering, and becoming gray for the sake of things which seemed to him to be entirely unworthy of this price, for money, for little pleasures, for being slightly honored…” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
46. “It was all a lie, it all stank, stank of lies, it all gave the illusion of meaning and happiness and beauty, and all of it was just putrefaction that no one would admit to. Bitter was the taste of the world. Life was a torment.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
47. “You will become tired, Siddhartha.”
“I will become tired.”
“You will fall asleep, Siddhartha.”
“I will not fall asleep.”
“You will die, Siddhartha.”
“I will die.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
48. “… and gradually his face assumed the expressions which are so often found among rich people – the expressions of discontent, of sickliness, of displeasure, of idleness, of lovelessness. Slowly the soul-sickness of the rich crept over him.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
49. “What is meditation? What is leaving one’s body? What is fasting? What is holding one’s breath? It is fleeing from the self, it is a short escape of the agony of being a self, it is a short numbing of the senses against the pain and the pointlessness of life. The same escape, the same short numbing, is what the driver of an ox-cart finds in the inn, drinking a few bowls of rice-wine or fermented coconut-milk. Then he won’t feel his self any more, then he won’t feel the pains of life anymore, then he finds a short numbing of the senses. When he falls asleep over his bowl of rice-wine, he’ll find the same what Siddhartha and Govinda find when they escape their bodies through long exercises, staying in the non-self.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
50. “The drunkard does indeed find escape, he does indeed find short respite and rest, but he returns from the illusion and finds everything as it was before. He has not grown wiser, he has not gained knowledge, he has not climbed any higher.” ― Hermann Hesse, Siddharta
Did you enjoy reading these Siddhartha quotes?
Siddhartha finds out he has a son, when Kamala, who had converted to Buddhism, dies near the river. His son resists his father’s attempts to teach him and leaves to make his own path. Eventually, Siddhartha reconnects with his old friend at the river and recounts all he has learned.
The story is timeless, and can still teach us all something about enlightenment and self-discovery. Have you read this story before? Do you have some favorite Siddhartha quotes or thoughts you want to add? Leave them in the comment section below!
December 1, 2020 7:00 AM EST