Slide 1

The Shipwrecked
Man on the Shore
Search for Human Potential
20 October 2011
The Brahmin’s Son
 Why does Siddhartha leave home?
 “Leveled off”
 Who accompanies him? Who does
he leave behind?
 Govinda goes, everyone else
(including the Brahmin) stays
With the Samanas
 What do the Samanas seek to
deprive themselves of, and what
do they seek to eliminate?
 Everything! Food, sleep, etc.
 Eliminate the self
 Why are the Samanas
 Their approach contradicts life
 Why do Govinda and Siddhartha
part ways?
 Different approaches (leaf vs.
stone, teachings vs. searching)
 Why doesn’t Siddhartha stay with
 Gotama’s “Eureka!” moment
can’t be shared (+ loophole)
 Wants to be his own teacher
rather than learn from others
 What sort of epiphany does
Siddhartha experience?
 Earlier attempts to find truth
were futile
 Tried to run from Self, but only
ensured he’d obsess over
it…therefore never
understanding it
 What does Kamala represent?
 The embodiment of passion and
desire, as well as intelligence, power,
love, and death
 What steps does Siddhartha take to
win her affection? What do these
changes indicate?
 They indicate how he pursues his goals
 Haircut + cleanup + speaking +
 Why is it important that Siddhartha
dreams about Govinda changing into a
 Indicates transition from searching to
indulgence/from deprivation to desire
Amongst the People
 Which two “worlds” must Siddhartha
inhabit during this phase of his life?
 The world of commerce / desire /
 The world / prison he creates within
 Why does Siddhartha believe he and
Kamala cannot love one another?
 He removes himself from everyone
 Kamala practices love as art
 How is the samsara cycle evident in this
 Endless routines of suffering – dice games,
dancers, wine
 Represents the middle of the cycle
 Why does Siddhartha treat so much of life as a
 Allows him to stay at a distance and pretend
he’s exceptional
 Learn rules dispassionately, then play at a
 What “traps” Siddhartha?
 Everything in the town
 Superficial concerns of the world
 Avoids real human connection
 What plot revelation lies at the end of the
 Kamala’s pregnancy
By the River
 Why doesn’t Siddhartha commit suicide?
 He hears the river and Om
 Remembers what he’s forgotten – river as
 Can you describe his meeting with Govinda?
What is special about Govinda’s appearances?
 How do Siddhartha’s clothes reflect the
changing circumstances of his existence?
 New phases of identity
 Foresakes his clothes from home
 Acquires fine clothes in order to impress
Kamala and serve Kamaswami
 Renounces these clothes while living with
The Ferryman
 What has Vasudeva learned from
the river, and how/why has he
learned it?
 To love everybody by seeing
everybody, and by appreciating
and understanding those he sees
 How does Kamala die?
 Helping her complaining son –
being pulled from “the path”
 Small dark snake
 Killed slowly by poison
The Son
 What are some differences between
Vasudeva’s and Siddhartha’s approaches to
caring for mini-Siddhartha?
 Siddhartha indulges + imprisons; Vasudeva
advocates for his release
 Why does Siddhartha want to keep his son by
the river?
 Wants to protect him from suffering
 Doesn’t want him to repeat his mistakes
 Wants to satisfy his own desires/relieve pain
 What is the symbolic meaning of the
abandoned oar?
 Oar = ability to navigate life = teachings and
guidance a parent can offer
 Abandoned oar = mini-Siddhartha casting
aside anything Siddhartha tried to give him
How does Siddhartha’s view of other people – not
the ones he’s close to, but the general public –
shift throughout the novel?
Moves from caring about others to worrying that
their company will not satisfy him
Disdains all others as a Samana
Encounter with Gotama removes hostility
Still sets himself apart from the “common
Grows to disdain them again
Sheds this after staying with Vasudeva
What's going on during the scene with the faces
by the river?
It’s one of those “Eureka!” moments
Siddhartha understands that time may be
illusory (and that everything is connected) after
experiencing the intersection of his past (seeing
his father’s face in his own), present (spotting
his own reflection), and future (chasing his son)
Emotional wound begins healing
 Who – what – does Siddhartha become by the
end of the book?
 A bodhisattva
 What do we learn about knowledge – i.e., can
all knowledge be taught?
 Knowledge can be taught/communicated, but
wisdom cannot – and without wisdom,
knowledge doesn’t matter
 How does Siddhartha advise the desperate
 Tells him nothing
 Lets himself be used as a lens
 What is Siddhartha’s final gift?
 Govinda learns the lesson life had already
tried to teach him
 He sees what’s already there; as Siddhartha
points out, that potential was always within
him, just as w/the Buddha within the sinner

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