The novel begins with a description of all Siddhartha’s good fortune, but despite all that sets him apart, he is dissatisfied, believing that he has learned all that his elders have within them to teach him. It is this hunger to use his potential completely and know absolute truth that drives each stage of his pilgrimage, and the dissatisfaction he finds at every turn that encourages him to move on. The book seems to be saying that dissatisfaction can be a good thing, a guiding light towards the next step in our journey.
And yet, dissatisfaction in and of itself does not produce enlightenment. Certainly the Buddha and Vasudeva are not characterized by their dissatisfaction with the world. And Siddhartha himself, when he finally gains enlightenment, experiences the opposite of dissatisfaction—he experiences a profound acceptance of and satisfaction with everything. Dissatisfaction, then, might be described not as a negative feeling with the world but rather a sense that there is greater potential ahead and a desire to reach that greater potential.
Satisfaction and Dissatisfaction ThemeTracker
Satisfaction and Dissatisfaction Quotes in Siddhartha
He had begun to sense that his venerable father and his other teachers, that the wise Brahmins, had already imparted to him the bulk and the best of their knowledge, that they had already poured their fullness into his waiting vessel, and the vessel was not full, his mind was not contented…
Siddhartha replied: “Stop scolding, dear friend! Scolding has never achieved anything. If there has been a loss, then let me bear the burden. I am very content with this trip. I have met all sorts of people, a Brahmin has become my friend, children have ridden on my lap, farmers have shown me their fields. No one took me for a merchant.”
At times he heard, deep in his breast, a soft and dying voice that admonished softly, lamented softly, barely audible. Then for an hour he was aware that he was leading a strange life, that he was doing all sorts of things that were merely a game, that he was cheerful, granted, and sometimes felt joy, but that a real life was flowing past him and not touching him.
Like a veil, like a thin mist, weariness descended on Siddhartha, slowly, a bit denser each day, a bit dimmer each month, a bit heavier each year. A new garment grows old with time, loses its lovely color with time, gets stains, gets wrinkles, frays out at the hems, starts showing awkward, threadbare areas.
With a twisted face he stared into the water, saw his face reflected, and he spat at it. In deep fatigue, he loosened his arm from the tree trunk and turned slightly in order to plunge in a sheer drop, to go under at last. Closing his eyes, he leaned toward death.
“Where,” he asked his heart, “where do you get this merriment? Does it come from that long, fine sleep, that did me so much good? Or from the word ‘om’ that I uttered? Or was it that I ran away, that my flight is completed, that I am finally free again and standing under the sky like a child?”