Topics Worth Investigating

  1. Would it be a psychologism to suppose Siddhartha's despair is a mid-life crisis? From a psychological point of view, what is a mid-life crisis? In what ways does Siddhartha's despair mirror this period of life so often cited in life-span psychology? In your answer consider the assessment by Gail Sheehy:

    The work of adult life is not easy. As in childhood, each step presents not only new tasks of development but requires a letting go of the techniques that worked before. With each passage some magic must be given up, some cherished illusion of safety and comfortably familiar sense of self must be cast off, to allow for the greater expansion of our distinctiveness.[1]

  2. What do you suppose is meant by "the wheel of physical manifestation"? Would it be related to Sansara? Speculate on possible connections.

    Buddha explains "the wheel of existence":

    There are ten "Fetters" by which beings are bound to the wheel of existence. They are: Self-Illusion, Skepticism, Attachment to mere Rule and Ritual, Sensual Lust, Ill-will, Craving for the World of pure Form, Craving for the Formless World, Conceit, Restlessness, Ignorance… An Arahat, or perfectly "Holy One," is freed from all fetters.[2]

    Is Sansara the world of phenomena or is it the world of subjectivity?

  3. What factors enabled Siddhartha to recover from his despair? At the beginning of this chapter, he wished to learn no more about himself, yet at the end of the chapter, he begins anew on a pilgrimage. How, exactly, did this psychological and philosophical transformation occur?



Gail Sheehy. Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1974.


Paul Carus. Buddha, The Word. 1915.