Siddhartha: Book Review #2

Have you ever had one of those days that just seemed to be genuinely longer than other days, but in all reality remained in the 18-22 average waking hours that you usually experience? And in this day you encounter a plethora of emotions and events that really made you consider your position in life? Well that is what Siddhartha is like.

Siddhartha is considered Hermann Hesse’s greatest, most famous novel, and for good reason. First published in the United States in 1951, it became an extremely popular and influential work of literature and art during the 1960s. With themes such as self-realization, freedom, spiritual enlightenment and finding ones way in life, readers will likely be intrigued by the insights that are shown in this small novel.

Being just over 150-pages, this story takes you through the turbulent life of a young man named Siddhartha as he tries to find meaning and truth in life outside of the structures of teachings given to the people by religious leaders. The story is set in ancient India during the time Guatama Buddha was traversing the land to spread his teachings, and eventually Siddhartha and Guatama’s paths cross, for better or for worse.

Through the novel we see how conflicted Siddhartha is about his spirituality and he tries to fix this through knowledge, but as his story continues he realizes that it is not knowledge that gives you enlightenment. It is wisdom, and wisdom cannot be learned by a master, a teacher or in a book or classroom. That is something you can only obtain through experience, and if anyone has some interesting experiences in his life, Siddhartha is ranked among them.

While reading this book you will likely be intrigued by some of the ideologies presented, even if you are not new to them. Hesse does a fantastic job of sliding important ideologies into an entertaining story. Not only is it entertaining, but it is precise. Hesse sticks to the point and quickly delivers the important events to his reader without having a static, flat character.

Some authors will write books two or three times the size of Siddhartha, but with only half the amount of memorable events in them that Hesse’s novel contains. You will feel like you just got back from a long journey after you finish this book. A journey that progressed quickly over a lifetime and left you with a nice reminder that you are alive and need to see the bigger picture, how everything is, in the end, one in the same.

For any person who loves literature, philosophy or is looking for inspiration, they should consider this an essential piece of reading, I highly recommend it. Even if you only leave this book with a fraction of the beautiful motifs presented, you have walked away as a beneficiary of Hesse’s fantastic work.

I will end with a quote that stuck out to me in particular:

“At times he heard within him a soft, gentle voice, which reminded him quietly, complained quietly, so that he could hardly hear it. Then he suddenly saw clearly that he was leading a strange life, that he was doing many things that were only a game, that he was quite cheerful and sometimes experienced pleasure, but that real life was flowing past him and did not touch him . . . His real self wandered elsewhere, far away, wandered on and on invisibly and had nothing to do with his life. He was sometimes afraid of these thoughts and wished that he could also share their childish daily affairs with intensity, truly to take part in them, to enjoy and live their lives instead of only being there as an onlooker.” –Siddhartha, page 71, Bantam Books Edition.

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The God Delusion: Book Review #1

The God Delusion has gotten many different reviews, both extremely positive and extremely negative. So in light of the theistic world it has been vigorously stated to be a terrible, christian bashing book, this is inaccurate. It is aimed at religion as a whole, but as Dawkins states he uses Christianity as the most frequent example because he is most familiar with it. In the non-theistic world this book has received fantastic reviews and has been considered a brilliant piece of work.

I would like to propose that, from both stand points, this book should be considered a brilliant piece of work. It angers many theists, which is understandable because it is quite possibly the strongest challenge of faith presented by a book. However, the indisputable facts are presented time after time in this book and whether one wants to believe it or not is their choice. But believing them or not does not change that they are facts.

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins is quite simply put: a phenomenal work of literature in which the many faces of religion and Christianity are examined and then deconstructed through the combination of the religion’s own holy book, the Bible, and science. However, it does not only examine Christianity, but directly mutilates the idea of there being a god, whether Christian, Muslim or Jewish.

Dawkins is relentless and pays no lip service to any of the three religions and many times uses Islam as a prime example of a primarily violent religion, and notes how religious sects try to gain justification for their immoral acts from higher beings.
Some of the most notable and memorable chapters are those regarding morality (Chapter 6 and 7). Along with other important chapters like Chapter 3: Arguments for God’s Existence and Chapter 4: Why There Almost Certainly is No God.

Many of the points made are completely undeniable and should be taken very seriously. I suggest that you keep a Bible on hand when you dive into this book so you can look up some of the references yourself. You maybe astonished at some of the things that Dawkins’ brings to light in the ‘good’ book.

The God Delusion is extremely well articulated and deals more blunt trauma to religion than the average theist can shake a stick at. (Or a Bible at in this case.) Not only does this grand analysis of God, Religion and Christianity deal with the existence of God, it also deals with why we can examine the world around and see how it is truly broken down, so that we can further conclude that God may not be there. Making it seem completely absurd to think that such an existence simply appeared out of nothing. The basic principles of Evolution and the Origin of Life are set out in a well formulated, easy to understand explanation.

While many may argue that Dawkins’ view on life is bleak without a god to provide meaning, he address that also. One must create a meaning for his or her own life and not expect that he or she can blame others for their problems and have them assign meaning to their life. He continues to point out that there are just as many (if not more) theists who suffer from discontent, anger, depression and sadness than there are atheists.

Dawkins also states that he believes that not only religion is non-beneficial for society and civilization, but that it is truly dangerous. Through examples of fundamentalism and religious radicals of Christianity and Islam he detests religion to the furthest degree. One must note that he is able to do this without even having to discuss the Crusades as an example of injustice created by the Catholic church.

An important subject that Dawkins attacks vigorously is religious indoctrination. When reading the sections regarding this you can almost feel the passion in which he detests the idea of brainwashing children into believing as their parents and assigning titles such as “Catholic Children”, “Muslim Children” and “Protestant Children” to those who are too young to decide for themselves.

Though The God Delusion is a serious analysis on religion it does have many moments that it can invoke laughter for both the theist and the non-theist. However, Dawkins only jests for a couple moments here and there before obliterating the next topic.
The reason for this book getting 4/5 stars is due to one problem: Some sections are hard to push through, or may lose the non-devoted reader do to some information being tedious at some points. One section in particular that comes to mind is the discussion of Memes and possibly a bit of the Quantum Mechanic ideas in the very last chapter. However, when one focuses on these ideas they are fascinating and notably, informative to any person, scientist or not.

Overall there is not really anything to complain about in this book. Having read Sam Harris’s, Letter to a Christian Nation*, directly before The God Delusion, I was pleased to see many of Sam Harris’s ideas put into light once again.

*I highly recommend Letter to a Christian Nation, it is an easy and quick read. It is likely to raise awareness of almost any reader.

The God Delusion is a book that every theist and atheist should read, even if its just a study of an atheistic argument or simply for enlightenment. The God Delusion holds literary merit of its own before its scientific merit even need be mentioned. This book truly is a towering model of a deconstruction of God, Religion and Morality.

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A book that was later written in response of this book was written by none other than Alister McGrath, titled, The Dawkins Delusion, which I have read and reviewed here: The Dawkins Delusion? Review

Conflicting Moral Codes, and What to Do About Them (via Huisjen’s Philosophy Blog)

An important insight into the conflicting moral codes between religions and different groups of people in general. The thoughts presented in this essay should not be ignored, through ideas like these bigotry could one day be abolished, but due to the massive amount of hotheaded fundamentalists from so many different belief systems, cultures and countries, it will be quite a while still.

One of the most difficult questions of philosophy is deciding on a moral code to adhere to. One of the most difficult questions after that is how to relate to the moral codes of others, particularly when they go against the code you’ve taken as your own. These are questions concerning which one libraries’ worth of speculation and contemplation have been written, with no final consensus, so it would be the height of hubris to assume that I might p … Read More

via Huisjen’s Philosophy Blog

The Dead Lay Before Us as a Trail of Clocks

The human being, as a collaborative whole, is only free once we live outside the boundaries of our malevolent and socially destructive walls. When one has relentlessly sought after truth, reason and their own existence they will, in the end, see the larger picture; the culmination of life in all of its vibrance, its wonder, mystery and the consternation that is caused by our every experience. We are yet a moment into the progression of a vastly more interesting being than ourselves, which we call: Time.

It travels beyond the borders of all that has existed and it is unfairly defined. You were born this morning and you are to die later this day. There are no years. There are no months, or weeks, or days. Hours or Minutes. There is just the sun and the moon. The sky, the cosmos, the universe, and the rotation of our spherical rock, solid mass, orbiting a flaming star of gas and matter.

Time is no more than an illusion. You can not spend Time, you can not lose Time. You can not waste Time, and you can not buy Time. You can not touch, taste, smell, see, or hear it.

Imagine a world, free from the bondage of Time.

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Throw Your Clocks to the Dead, They are as Good as Corpses

Throw Your Clocks to the Dead, They are as Good as Corpses,

A Tale of False Hope Screams,

From Every Minute Lost,

And Every Second Counted,

The Days Speak in Inaudible Tongues,

As We Grasp at Them,

And Find Them as Evanescent,

As Life Itself.

Time Would Prattle On,

Without our Pathetic Measurements.

It Would Sweep and Sway,

Across the Canvas of Eternity,

And Paint a Portrait,

A Wonderful Caricature,

Of Our Decadence.

Time,

is a Paradox.

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