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ROLE OF THE MYSTIC UTTERANCE "OM"; Herman Hesse's Siddhartha

Adamski 1 / -  
Dec 17, 2006   #1
My 9th grade Humanities class (English & World Civ) has just read Herman Hesse's novel Siddhartha. The prompt was: "Discuss the role of the mystic utterance "Om" in Siddhartha. In what ways does it foreshadow Siddhartha's spiritual progression? Is his relationship with it proactive or reactive?

The requirements were it had to be:
- AP Style
- 3+ pieces of textual evidence

I'd appreciate any kind of feedback I could get about it. I'm sorry about the formating, I can't seem to find any ways to edit it except to bold or italicize certain things.

Here it is:

Aum is the symbol for all things, of all the entirety of space and Brahman, and can also be found in Buddhism as Om, representing unity and perfection. In Herman Hesse's novel, Siddhartha, the main character, Siddhartha, leads a life of seeking enlightenment, resulting with an understanding and embracement of Om.

At the very beginning of Siddhartha's quest, the utterance of Om foreshadows the very ending of his quest. Siddhartha sits himself down "... ready to pronounce the Om..." and recites the common verse, "Om is the bow, the arrow is the soul, Brahman is the arrow's goal at which one aims unflinchingly." The verse describes Om, the symbol of unity, perfection, and the infinity of all things, as a tool, a way to achieve your life's goal, that of which is to reach Nirvana, through Brahman. Near the unknowingly end of Siddhartha's quest, after many years of frustration, Siddhartha listens strongly to the flowing river of which has has lived with for many years. This time, different from all other times he has listened, he hears it the "... one word: Om---perfection." Yet more, Siddhartha understands it, understands everything, he has become enlightened, he has achieved the title of Buddha, all through one simple word... Om.

However, Siddhartha has actually heard Om once before, from the very same river. After leaving Kamala, Kamaswami, and his unborn child, he ventures off into the woods and attempts suicide out of frustration and tiredness by the rivers edge. Just as he is about to commit the act, he hears '... a sound. It was one word, one syllable, ... the holy Om... At that moment, when the sound of Om reached Siddhartha's ears, his slumbering soul suddenly awakened and he recognized the folly of his action." At the possible near end of Siddhartha's life, Om saves him from self-destruction, and foreshadows the spiritual salvation of himself. Life is a cycle, Samsara, an endless cycle of reincarnation. To break free of this cycle, you must reach your life's goal of Nirvana, through enlightenment, through reaching Brahman. Had Siddhartha not become Buddha during his life, not come to hear, understand, and embrace Om as he had by the river, he would have died and been reincarnated, beginning life yet all over again.

Siddhartha never truly seeks out Om, never has a proactive relationship with it. Siddhartha is simply seeking for enlightenment, for answers to his questions. However, Siddhartha never achieves his quest through seeking, but rather, through finding. Siddhartha ceases to seek and decides to listen strongly to the river, in which he comes to find Om, his answer to his questions. Siddhartha reacts to however he has achieved his state of Buddha, his relationship has become reactive. Siddhartha teaches his old friend Govinda that. During Govinda's stay Siddhartha describes it as "When someone is seeking... it happens quite easily that he only sees the thing that he is seeking; that he is unable to find anything, unable to absorb anything, because he is only thinking of the thing he is seeking, because he has a goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means to have a goal; but finding means; to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal."

Through listening to the river without a goal to hear this or that, Siddhartha becomes enlightened by finding Om, his spiritual salvation foreshadowed through Om physically saving him from drowning. Yet only through a reactive relationship, otherwise as Siddhartha told Govinda, you would be unable to find anything through seeking Om.
EF_Team2 1 / 1,708  
Dec 17, 2006   #2

Boy, does this take me back! I read Siddhartha about a gazillion years ago. I think you did a fine job of describing the role that Om plays in Siddhartha's journey. I like your writing style very much; having said that, I also think you've either had a few cut-and-paste accidents, or started a revision here and there without quite finishing it. That can happen when you're trying to get something from your computer into a post!

Let me give you an example:

"Near the unknowingly end of Siddhartha's quest, after many years of frustration, Siddhartha listens strongly to the flowing river of which has has lived with for many years."

I'm pretty sure that's not what you meant to write. I would question what you mean by "unknowingly end" and "the flowing river of which [he] has lived with for many years."

I'll give you the same advice I give to all articulate, native-English speakers like yourself: read your essay out loud, listening very carefully to what you are saying. The goofy stuff will jump out at you! I use that method myself, and I never fail to find something on the page that's way different from what I meant to say.

You show a lot of insight in what you wrote; just look for the spots that don't make sense when you hear them, and you'll do well. Oh--and in the last sentence, use a semi-colon instead of a comma after "relationship." :-)

Best of luck, and enjoy your winter break!

Sarah, EssayForum.com

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