The story of Siddhartha teaches us that you do not have to be a monk to attain spiritual enlightenment. While the material world tempts us with worldly treasures, and often ensnare us with distractions pulling us away from our true selves, there is a way back to center. The natural world is all around us, and constantly provides us with opportunities to find that connection with our higher selves.
“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 high mountains which were blue and pale, birds sang and bees, wind silverishly blew through the rice-field. All of this, a thousand-fold and colorful, had always been there…”
-Siddhartha, Herman Hesse
So at times, the middle path may actually consist of a literal path; a path through the woods or a walk down to the beach. Other times it may mean just taking a moment to connect with what is right outside your window. Siddhartha teaches that our connection to our selves is inextricably linked to our connection to our body, or senses, and our perception of the world around us. The earth provides all of the nourishment we need to walk on this world in a peaceful, productive, and happy way; we just have to take the time to make that connection in our daily lives. Next time you start flipping channels or scrolling through your favorite social media platform, put it down, just long enough to take a walk around the block and remind yourself what living is really all about.
“As Siddhartha left the grove, leaving the Buddha, the perfect one behind, leaving Govinda behind, he had the feeling he was also leaving behind in the grove his life, up to that time, and separating himself from it. He pondered this feeling, which completely filled him, as he slowly made his way. He pondered deeply, sinking down in to the depths of this feeling as through deep water until he reached the point where the causes lie, for to know the causes, so it seemed to him, that is what thinking is, and only in this way, do feelings become knowledge instead of being wasted. In this way they become meaningful and begin to radiate what is within them.”
-Siddhartha, Herman Hesse
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After this quick study in Buddhism, take this short quiz and see if you know The Four Noble Truths.