Chapter 9. The Ferryman

Table of Contents
Ideas of Interest from "The Ferryman"
The Reading Selection from "The Ferryman"
Topics Worth Investigating

Eddies (detail), NOAA

Ideas of Interest from "The Ferryman"

  1. Siddhartha awkwardly offers the reason "I'll have to learn first how to handle the boat" as a motive for being Vasudeva's assistant. Since the reason offered is tautologous, what, in all probability, does Siddhartha genuinely seek?

  2. Vasudeva intimates that he is holy when he says, "All I'm able to do is to listen and to be godly." Interpret Vasudeva's metaphor of the river with respect to holiness. When does a life become sacred?

  3. Account for Vasudeva's acceptance of Siddhartha as an assistant. How did Vasudeva presage Siddhartha's quest? He stated in the fifth chapter, "I have learned from the river: everything is coming back! You too, Samana will come back."

  4. In what manner could the crossing of the river be seen as just another goal of and not an obstacle for a traveler? Explain how there are no hindrances without expectations.

  5. Explain the idea that there is no suffering without time. Is it possible that a person exists just as the river exits:

    …this water ran and ran, incessantly it ran, and was nevertheless always there, was always at all times the same and yet new in every moment!

    That is, you are not as you were when you are a child, and you are not as you are at this moment, and you are not as you will be when your life nears its end. Your life includes all of these times, but is not reducible to any one.

  6. Can you interpret the metaphor of the river with respect to the aphorism, "The more things change, the more things stay the same"?

  7. Carefully explain the two "secrets" Vasudeva learned from the river. In what way are these insights integral to a centered life?

  8. Why was Kamala's seeing Siddhartha just as sacred a pilgrimage as seeing Gotama, the perfected one?