To Conquer Life, First You Must Suffer

Valuable life lessons from ‘Siddhartha’ by Herman Hesse

Anu Kumar
3 min readOct 13, 2022


Photo by soheyl dehghani on Unsplash

Why would a king give up his throne?

That’s precisely what Siddhartha’s father wondered when his son walked out on a wealthy lifestyle.

This opening isn’t just the origin story of Buddhism, but of the character Siddhartha in Herman Hesse’s book. And much like the man who started the religion, this Siddhartha learned something his rich lifestyle could never teach.

You can’t master a skill unless you practice it

The Siddhartha in the story isn’t actually the Buddha, but another man who happens to be named ‘Siddhartha.” A rich man’s son, he’s never wanted for anything. The story isn’t about the Buddha, but in fact about another man who happens to be named Siddhartha.

Despite being shielded from suffering by his father’s wealth and influence, he still wasn’t satisfied. He heard about the Buddha and his growing legion of followers, so he joined.

Even after joining the Buddha’s ashram, something didn’t sit right with him. The Buddha achieved his devout following by going through the grind of seeking enlightenment. Siddhartha, however, had gone from rich man’s son to devoted follower of a local saint — hardly struggling along the way.

“You have found deliverance from death. It has come to you out of your own seeking, on your own path, through thinking, through meditation, through knowledge, through enlightenment! And — such is my thinking, o Exalted One — no one attains deliverance through teaching!” — Siddhartha to the Buddha

And there’s weight to these words. Can you actually learn a skill without practicing it?

Siddhartha realizes he doesn’t want to simply follow the Buddha; he wants to search for enlightenment himself, and all the ups and downs that come with discovery. He wants to truly understand delicious feeling of “letting go” by experiencing the journey himself.

Simple joys aren’t appreciated if you’ve never known hardship



Anu Kumar

I write about books, culture, behaviors, and practical self improvement. Words + Fiction @