What is the ultimate meaning of life? is a question that ponders in everyones mind as we all try to find our purposes and pursuit happiness in this sometimes cruel world. People say that life is unfair, but really has it ever been fair in any aspect? Siddhartha and Santiago are a true example of how much a hustle it is to discover ones path and ultimate meaning of life. Being the main protagonists in the Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, both take different journey that have a similar quest. The quest for a fulfilling life with a purpose through the various stages of the journey the two undertake perfectly defines life in entirety. These stages include the pre-discovery, the love life the wealth seeking, and the obstacles phases, which this paper purposes to discuss. Importantly, the essay takes a stance that both Santiago and Siddhartha quests are similar and the similarity focuses on these four crucial phases.
To begin with, the pre-discovery phase for both Santiago and Siddhartha comes at the beginning chapters of the novels. In The Alchemist, the author begins by describing Santiagos state of mind at the time, being a shepherd. He is also an ardent books reader as he learns a lot of adventures in the fictional and non-fictional stories he reads. It is, however, apparent that although Santiago has learnt a lot from the sheep as he admits to the merchants daughter, he was still discovering new things. For example, the feelings he had for the merchants daughter were a new phase of discovery that not only made him happy but increased his zealousness for adventure through travel. The feelings were evident as Coelho notes, He went on telling stories about his travels, and her bright Moorish eyes went wide with fear and surprise. The fact that Santiago noticed the merchants daughter eyes means that he admired them, a new discovery that some answers of life sometimes can be found deep in the eyes of somebody else.
Similarly, Siddhartha experiences this stage of life almost in both parts of the book. Hermann describes Siddharthas uneasiness to be confined in his familys wealth despite the love he gets from his parents. Growing up in the prosperous Brahman family is not enough satisfaction so he decides to go try out a new way of life, that of poverty but self-satisfying for the purpose of self-discovery. Hermann writes, Siddhartha has one single goal- to become empty, of thirst, dreams, sorrow and pleasure- to let the self-die. For this reason, Siddhartha chose the Samana way of life that focused on Gotama Buddha teachings. Unlike his friend Govinda who settle in the Buddhists spiritual life, Siddhartha curious mind still found no peace and decided to travel to find his own path as an independent learner. Therefore, both Santiago and Siddhartha pre-discovery phases brought out the meaning that life is not only about static or single experience. It is the ability to stretch our minds and be open-minded to ensure the fulfillment of our purposes and achieve happiness.
The love phase for both protagonists also contributes to the ultimate meaning of life. Kamala and Fatima, the characters greatest love are an embodiment of natural temptations in life that dissuades most of us from our goals. After Siddhartha left the Samanas town in pursuit of life experience, he met Kamala at the next town that he stopped at and fell in love with her. However, Kamala continuously refused his romantic advances due to his poor state of living. Siddhartha, therefore, worked hard for riches and for year, because of a womans love, he succumbed to the wealth and superior social class. This brings out a contradiction as it is for the same reason of wealth that he left his family to find happiness in living poorly yet spiritually.
Similarly, Santiago becomes distracted in the middle of his journey to Egypt when he meets Fatima a young beautiful lady he falls in love with in the second part of The Alchemist. In fact, Santiago expresses his desire to stay with Fatima in an oasis in the desert claiming her to be invaluable than the treasure he seeks. Coelho observes, It was love. Something older than humanity, more ancient than the desert. Something that exerted the same force whenever two pairs of eyes met, as had theirs here at the well. This meant that when defining life, the omission of love is forbidden as in existed before even the creation of the first man.
Therefore, Santiago and Siddhartha, though indomitable individuals, are consumed by natural love and attraction that changes their hearts, which was in travelling for the purpose of treasure and self-discovery respectively. This means that love is an important aspect of life that can either build or destroy an individual. Therefore, even it means to live is to love, one ought to be careful in the choices they make for their life partners.
Interconnected with the love life phase is the wealth stage. From the commencement, Hesse and Coelho portray Siddhartha and Santiago as very ambitious and internally motivated to improve their lives. Siddhartha met a woman who loved wealth and he blindly settled to seek riches to win her hand in marriage. However, after years of living ravishingly and at the expense of the poor, Siddhartha realizes the mistake he has done in seeking worldly wealth instead of spiritual enrichment that was his ultimate goal. Having settled in the world of Kamaswami people, his wifes residential area, he got tired of the praises and worships adorn to him. Siddhartha considered these worthless as he felt like he had died due to the human obsessions and fascination on propriety possessions and romantic love. He instead preferred the peace that comes with the spiritual worlds main activity of meditation, and considered this his personal goal.
Similarly, Coelho suggests that Santiago dismisses presence to wealth and fascination of propriety possessions as Language of the World that will ultimately fade away. Love for a woman, according to Santiago, demands material possession that keeps a man from pursuing his Personal Legend. However, Santiago goes ahead to value the treasure he gets in the later chapter of The Alchemist because it was a dream in the mind that would make him a legend in his own personal cocoon. Addressing clearly the acceptance of wealth and distraction of love, both Hesse and Coelho clearly brings out the true definition of life. This meaning is that life is nothing without personal satisfaction or internal motivation to live. Living our dreams achieves the ultimate meaning of life.
Being a predominant phase through the two novels, Hesse and Coelho try to explain how obstacles define life. To begin with Santiago, his obstacles begin right from the beginning of the book. As a young boy born a shepherd, his dreams to become like the legendary people he read in his books were just but dreams. The reason was the negativity from his parents and traditions that suppressed a persons dream to follow his dreams. Although he has a resilient and brave heart, Santiago was quite comfortable being a shepherd for a while until he met the shepherd daughter who somehow gave him a purpose to dream for better things in life. From the encounter with the merchants daughter, Santiago started his quest for his dreams for self-satisfaction and realization. This shows that in life we sometimes need a little extrinsic motivation that enables us to move from our comfort zones. The true meaning of life is not to succeed by ourselves but with the help of others.
When Santiago started his travels, the first encounter was losing his items. With nothing for his journey, Santiago soldiers on to meet King Melchizedek of Salem who imparts inspiration and positivity to the young boy. By drawing the trait of King Melchizedek, Coelho wants us to realize the importance of ones personal legend in realizing our goals. The King of Salem was Santiagos legend and after a heart-breaking ordeal like what he went through he needed a motivation to continue with his travel. This assures Santiago that when the universe conspired to help then any goal is achievable. In this context, the use of universe equates to life bringing out the importance of having resilience and persistence in ones quest for self-realization. Santiago chose not to think of himself as a victim of theft but as an adventurer in the pursuit of the treasure in his dreams.
Other obstacles that Santiago encountered are the warfare on his way to Egypt, detention on military camp and even the romantic relationship he had with Fatima. All these he overcame through focusing his mind to the end goal. A journey through the desert is not also an easy one. Meeting people like the alchemist who advised him to seek the simple truth in every detail in the world kept his moral up. It is here that his mentor, the alchemist encouraged Santiago to always listen to his heart as it is where the treasure is as long as he is alive. Therefore, the ultimate meaning of life learnt from Santiagos obstacle phase is that the heart is always right about various issues in our lives.
Siddharthas obstacles bring out similar principles on the ultimate meaning of life as Santiagos. Apart from the love life obstacle caused by Kamala, Siddhartha faced difficulties in leaving his son to follow his own path. Were it not for his spiritual advisor and guide, he would have chosen the Buddhist self-sacrificing life for him, something that would have been detrimental to the sons psychological growth. Further, his internal motivated spirit helped he overcome the obstacles. Hesse notes that Siddhartha in his quest always held dear the sage that One who seeks with a goal and becomes obsessed with his goals, finds that he seeks. Seeking means: having a goal. With this, Siddhartha always found a reason to fall back to his quest no matter the hiccups during his journey. Additionally, meditations for self-realization is not really an easy task for Siddhartha. However, through them he achieves his goal to be peaceful spiritually, physically and mentally. Importantly his positive attitude he puts it, whatever good or bad fortune comes our way, we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value, is a great lesson for resilience in Siddhartha journey. This encourages us to always embrace life wholesomely as without challenges life is meaningless.
Conclusively, for one to get the ultimate meaning of life, sometimes it necessitates one to meditate upon various issues. It is all about synchronizing various forces of nature to come into an amicable solution for the sake of self-realization and happiness. Both Santiago and Siddhartha did not fear suffering in the pursuit of their life goals. It is a life lesson that we shun off the fear in our hearts to achieve all what the universe has in store for us. Importantly, the values of patience, resilience, perseverance and persistent are crucial in giving the ultimate meaning of life. As described in the phases, Santiago and Siddhartha utilized these values to achieve their goals. Therefore, the ultimate meaning of life as drawn from the Santiago and Siddhartha is simple: have a dream and a positive attitude, use the four core values mentioned above and listen to your heart then happiness and serenity will go with the flow
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