went to see Kamaswami, the merchant, and was shown into a rich house.
Servants conducted him across costly carpets to a room where he waited for
the master of the house.
Kamaswami came in, a supple, lively man, with greying hair, with clever
prudent eyes and a sensual mouth. Master and visitor greeted each other in a
have been told,' the merchant began, 'that you are a Brahmin, a learned man,
and you seek service with a merchant. Are you then in need, Brahmin, that
you seek service?'
replied Siddhartha, 'I am not in need and I have never been in need. I have
come from the Samanas with whom I lived for a long time.'
you come from the Samanas, how is that you are not in need? Are not all the
Samanas completely without possessions?'
possess nothing,' said Siddhartha, 'if that is what you mean. I am certainly
without possessions, but of my own free will, so I am not in need.'
how will you live if you are without possessions?'
have never thought about it, sir. I have been without possessions for nearly
three years and I have never thought on what I should live.'
you have lived on the possessions of others?'
'Apparently. The merchant also lives on the possessions of others.'
spoken, but he does not take from others for nothing, he gives his goods in
seems the way of things. Everyone takes, everyone gives. Life is like that.'
but if you are without possessions, how can you give?'
'Everyone gives what he has. The soldier gives strength, the merchant goods,
the teacher instruction, the farmer rice, the fisherman fish.'
well and what can you give? What have you learned that you can give?'
think, I can wait, I can fast.'
think that is all.'
of what use are they? For example, fasting, what good is that?'
of great value, sir. If a man has nothing to eat, fasting is the most
intelligent thing he can do. If, for instance, Siddhartha had not learned
how to fast, he would have had to seek some kind of work today, either with
you, or elsewhere, for hunger would have driven him. But as it is,
Siddhartha can wait calmly. He is not impatient, he is not in need, he can
ward off hunger for a long time and laugh at it. Therefore, fasting is
are right, Samana. Wait for a moment.'
Kamaswami went out and returned with a roll which he handed to his guest and
inquired: 'Can you read this?'
Siddhartha looked at the roll, on which a sales agreement was written, and
began to read the contents.
'Excellent,' said Kamaswami, 'and will you write something for me on this
gave him a sheet and a pen and Siddhartha wrote something and returned the
Kamaswami read: 'Writing is good, thinking is better. Cleverness is good,
patience is better.'
write very well,' the merchant praised him. 'We shall still have plenty to
discuss, but today I invite you to be my guest and to live in my house.'
Siddhartha thanked him and accepted. He now lived in the merchant's house.
Clothes and shoes were brought to him and a servant prepared him a bath
daily. Splendid meals were served twice a day, but Siddhartha ate once a
day, and neither ate meat nor drank wine. Kamaswami talked to him about his
business, showed him goods and warehouses and accounts. Sidddhartha learned
many new things; he heard much and said little. And remembering Kamala's
words, he was never servile to the merchant, but compelled him to treat him
as an equal and even more than his equal. Kamaswami conducted his business
with care and often with passion, but Siddhartha regarded it all as a game,
the rules of which he endeavoured to learn well, but which did not stir his
not long in Kamaswami's house when he was already taking part in his
master's business. Daily, however, at the hour she invited him, he visited
the beautiful Kamala, in handsome clothes, in fine shoes, and soon he also
brought her presents. He learned many things from her wise red lips. Her
smooth gentle hand taught him many things. He, who was still a boy as
regards love and was inclined to plunge into the depths of it blindly and
insatiably, was taught by her that one cannot have pleasure without giving
it, and that every gesture, every caress, every touch, every glance, every
single part of the body has its secret which can give pleasure to one who
taught him that lovers should not separate from each other after making love
without admiring each other, without being conquered as well as conquering,
so that no feeling of satiation or desolation arises nor the horrid feeling
of misusing or having been misused. He spent wonderful hours with the
clever, beautiful courtesan and became her pupil, her lover, her friend.
Here with Kamala lay the value and the meaning of his present life, not in
merchant passed on to him the writing of the important letters and orders,
and grew accustomed to conferring with him about all important affairs. He
soon saw that Siddhartha understood little about rice and wool, shipping and
trading, but that he had a happy knack and surpassed the merchant in
calmness and equanimity, and in the art of listening and making a good
impression on strange people. 'This Brahmin,' he said to a friend, 'is no
real merchant and will never be one; he is never absorbed in the business.
But he has the secret of those people to whom success comes by itself,
whether it is due to being born under a lucky star or whether it is magic,
or whether he has learned it from the Samanas. He always seems to be playing
at business, it never makes much impression on him, it never masters him, he
never fears failure, he is never worried about a loss.'
friend advised the merchant: 'Give him a third of the profits of the
business which he conducts for you, but let him share the same proportion of
losses if any arise. He will thus become more enthusiastic.'
Kamaswami followed his advice, but Siddhartha was little concerned about it.
If he made a profit, he accepted it calmly; if he suffered a loss, he
laughed and said, 'Oh, well, this transaction has gone badly.'
did, in fact, seem indifferent about business. Once he travelled the village
in order to buy a large rice harvest. When he arrived there, the rice was
already sold to another merchant. However, Siddhartha remained in that
village several days, entertained the farmers, gave money to the children,
attended a wedding and returned from the journey completely satisfied.
Kamaswami reproached him for not returning immediately, for wasting time and
money. Siddhartha replied: 'Do not scold, my dear friend. Nothing was ever
achieved by scolding. If a loss has been sustained, I will bear the loss. I
am very satisfied with this journey. I have become acquainted with many
people, I have become friendly with a Brahmin, children sat on my knee,
farmers have showed me their fields. Nobody took me for a merchant.'
is all very fine,' admitted Kamaswami reluctantly, 'but you are in fact a
merchant. Or were you only travelling for your pleasure?'
'Certainly I travelled for my pleasure,' laughed Siddhartha. 'Why not? I
have become acquainted with people and new districts. I have enjoyed
friendship and confidence. Now, if I had been Kamaswami, I should have
departed immediately feeling very annoyed when I saw I was unable to make a
purchase, and time and money would indeed have been lost. But I spent a
number of good days, learned much, had much pleasure and did not hurt either
myself or others through annoyance or hastiness. If I ever go there again,
perhaps to buy a later harvest, or for some other purpose, friendly people
will receive me and I will be glad that I did not previously display
hastiness and displeasure. Anyway, let it rest, my friend, and do not hurt
yourself by scolding. If the day comes when you think, this Siddhartha is
doing me harm, just say one word and Siddhartha will go on his way. Until
then, however, let us be good friends.'
merchant's attempts to convince Siddhartha that he was eating his,
Kamaswami's, bread were also in vain. Siddhartha ate his own bread;
moreover, they all ate the bread of others, everybody's bread. Siddhartha
was never concerned about Kamaswami's troubles and Kamaswami had many
troubles. If a transaction threatened to be unsuccessful, if a consignment
of goods was lost, if a debtor appeared unable to pay, Kamaswami could never
persuade his colleague that it served any purpose to utter troubled or angry
words, to form wrinkles on the forehead and sleep badly. When Kamaswami once
reminded him that he had learned everything from him, he replied: 'Do not
make such jokes. I have learned from you how much a basket of fish costs and
how much interest one can claim for lending money. That is your knowledge.
But I did not learn how to think from you, my dear Kamaswami. It would be
better if you learned that from me.'
heart was not indeed in business. It was useful in order to bring him money
for Kamala, and it brought him more than he really needed. Moreover,
Siddhartha's sympathy and curiosity lay only with people, whose work,
troubles, pleasures and follies were more unknown and remote from him than
the moon. Although he found it so easy to speak to everyone, to live with
everyone, to learn from everyone, he was very conscious of the fact that
there was something which separated him from them
and this was due to the fact
that he had been a Samana. He saw people living in a childish or
animal-like way, which he both loved and despised. He saw them toiling, saw
them suffer and grow grey about things that to him did not seem worth a
for money, small pleasures
and trivial honours. He saw them scold and hurt each other; he saw them
lament over pains at which the Samana laughs, and suffer at deprivations
which a Samana does not feel.
accepted all that people brought to him. The merchant who brought him linen
for sale was welcome; the debtor who sought a loan was welcome, the beggar
was welcome who stayed an hour telling him the story of his poverty, and who
was yet not as poor as any Samana. He did not treat the rich foreign
merchant differently from the servant who shaved him and the pedlars from
whom he bought bananas and let himself be robbed of small coins. If
Kamaswami came to him and told him his troubles or made him reproaches about
a transaction, he listened curiously and attentively, was amazed at him,
tried to understand him, conceded to him a little where it seemed necessary
and turned away from him to the next one who wanted him. And many people
came to him
many to trade with him, many
to deceive him, many to listen to him, many to elicit his sympathy, many to
listen to his advice. He gave advice, he sympathized, he gave presents, he
allowed himself to be cheated a little, and he occupied his thoughts with
all this game and the passion with which all men play it, as much as he had
previously occupied his thoughts with the gods and Brahman.
times he heard within him a soft, gentle voice, which reminded him quietly,
complained quietly, so that he could hardly hear it. Then he suddenly saw
clearly that he was leading a strange life, that he was doing many things
that were only a game, that he was quite cheerful and sometimes experienced
pleasure, but that real life was flowing past him and did not touch him.
Like a player who plays with his ball, he played with his business, with the
people around him, watched them, derived amusement from them; but with his
heart, with his real nature, he was not there. His real self wandered
elsewhere, far away, wandered on and on invisibly and had nothing to do with
sometimes afraid of these thoughts and wished that he could also share their
childish daily affairs with intensity, truly to take part in them, to enjoy
and live their lives instead of only being there as an onlooker.
visited the beautiful Kamala regularly, learned the art of love in which,
more than anything else, giving and taking become one. He talked to her,
learned from her, gave her advice, received advice. She understood him
better than Govinda had once done. She was more like him.
he said to her: 'You are like me; you are different from other people. You
are Kamala and no one else, and within you there is a stillness and
sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself, just as I
can. Few people have that capacity and yet everyone could have it.'
all people are clever,' said Kamala.
has nothing to do with that, Kamala,' said Siddhartha. 'Kamaswami is just as
clever as I am and yet he has no sanctuary. Others have it who are only
children in understanding. Most people, Kamala, are like a falling leaf that
drifts and turns in the air, flutters, and falls to the ground. But a few
others are like stars which travel one defined path: no wind reaches them,
they have within themselves their guide and path. Among all the wise men, of
whom I knew many, there was one who was perfect in this respect. I can never
forget him. He is Gautam, the Illustrious One who preaches his gospel.
Thousands of young men hear his teachings every day and follow his
instructions every hour, but they are all falling leaves; they have not the
wisdom and guide within themselves.'
looked at him and smiled. 'You are talking about him again,' she said.
'Again you have Samana thoughts.'
Siddhartha was silent, and they played the game of love, one of the thirty
or forty different games which Kamala knew. Her body was as supple as a
jaguar and a hunter's bow; whoever learned about love from her, learned many
pleasures, many secrets. She played with Siddhartha for a long time,
repulsed him, overwhelmed him, conquered him, rejoiced at her mastery, until
he was overcome and lay exhausted at her side.
courtesan bent over him and looked long at his face, into his eyes that had
are the best lover that I have had,' she said thoughtfully. 'You are
stronger than others, more supple, more willing. You have learned my art
well, Siddhartha. Some day, when I am older, I will have a child by you. And
yet, my dear, you have remained a Samana. You do not really love me
you love nobody. Is that not
be,' said Siddhartha wearily. 'I am like you. You cannot love either,
otherwise how could you practise love as an art? Perhaps people like us
cannot love. Ordinary people can
that is their secret.'