search instagram arrow-down
Thomas Maples

In the story Siddhartha, a young man confronts his father in order to leave the home and begin his journey to adult life. As in life, a time comes when all young men and women must confront the loving home they were raised within so that they may muster the courage to strike out on their now and engage the life they are destined to take part. This ideal, as natural as the bird taking flight from the next in early summer, is no different for the protagonist of our story, who has learned all that he could from the loving parents that gave him life, and must now take part in using those lessons to create a life of his own.

Having given in to his son’s request, Siddhartha’s father informed the young brahmin to kiss his mother goodbye so that he may pursue adult-life. Did Siddhartha’s father understand the underlying Oedipal dynamics that occur between a boy, father, and mother when he requested his son to kiss his mother goodbye, or did he wish to appease his wife’s need to understand that her son had now grown into his own adult being? While Siddhartha never showed any sense of love towards either parent during his early childhood development, his urgency to leave created a vacuum that needed to be rectified within his parents’ psyche. Did they do a bad job? Were they not worthy as parents? Siddhartha had to give his parents closure, so that they could feel comfortable with the job they completed in raising this wandering ascetic.

If the ability to love one’s parents is the primary developmental milestone of early childhood, the ability to integrate an intact ego-identity from which to establish loving relationships outside of the parental dyad is the primary developmental-milestone of early adult life. The processes that underlie the establishment of ego-identity, or the concept of the persona we form in early adult life, marks the developmental milestone associated with middle childhood through young adult-life. The plot of Siddhartha revolves around the discontent the protagonist felt towards the lessons taught to him by his father, mother, and other teachers within his community (Hesse, 2002). This formed the foundation from which Siddhartha’s life unfolded.

Siddhartha’s father represents a prohibitive force that needed to be faced so that he could become his own man. Prohibition is one pole common to the polarities of the archetypal father. Siddhartha spent many years learning the lessons of his culture’s industries; however, he was not content with the predetermined destiny his father and mother prescribed for him. Siddhartha was a brahmin, but turned his back on his caste to pursue the life of an ascetic. Siddhartha was destined to plot his life’s course and separate from the prescribed dreams both parents had for his development.

A child must learn the industries common to his or her culture to function as an adult. As the psyche matures, institutions assure that a child learns social norms, values, morals, ethics, and practices that are common to a society. The archetypal polarities of moral commandment and prohibition continue to play an important factor during adolescence; the polarities of the father archetype also allow the superego to develop a more complex ethical position from which to operate within the social setting. Social institutions assure the collectivization of children into socially acceptable practices through the decimation of individual character.

This suppression of individuality is nothing new, it is a relic of that archaic time when there was no individuality whatever… To the collective psyche every individual development is hateful that does not directly serve the ends of collectivity. Hence although the differentiation of the one function, about which we have spoke above is a development of an individual value, it is still so largely determined by the views of the collective that, as we have seen, it becomes injurious to the individual himself.

(Carl Jung, 1971, pp. 82-83)

Individuality gives way to collective models of functioning during adolescence. The idea of a group being stronger than one individual is nothing new, as noted by Jung in the above citation. Furthermore, the idea of collectivity is not solely a human construct. Numerous examples of collectivity occur in nature, where the well being of the collective often assures the sacrifice of the individual. While many animals exist in this model of functioning throughout the entirety of their lifespan, because humans are at least conscious that they have become conscious beings, it is imperative to undergo collectivization to become individualized. Early educational experiences help collectivize children to teach them the cultural heritage and industries that will help them assure individual survival; this allows the culture to further propagate itself.  

During adolescence, children learn how to operate within or in opposition to social order; this relates to Freud’s (1923/1989) beliefs about superego development. During adolescence, Siddhartha housed discontent within his soul because his quest for Self-knowledge had yet to be satiated.  Primary education exists to teach children rudimentary social experiences and foundational lessons that underlie a culture’s industry (Erikson, 1963); however, the ability to practice moral values remains concrete until a child learns how to think like an adult. However, by developing a moral base, a polarity common to the father archetype, the superego establishes itself in correlation to socially acceptable behaviors. Jung (1971) stated:

It would be quite wrong to assert… that the instincts have a constant “downward” tendency, and that naturalism amounts to an unethical sliding down an inclined plane… It makes no difference if good and evil mean one thing for the primitive and another for us; his naturalism leads to law-giving – that is the chief point. Morality is not a misconception invented by some vaunting Moses on Sinai, but something inherent in the laws of life and fashioned like a house…or any other cultural instrument. The natural flow of libido, this same middle path, means complete obedience to the fundamental laws of human nature, and there can positively be no higher moral principle than harmony with natural laws that guide the libido in the direction of life’s optimum. The optimum can be reached only through obedience to the tidal laws of the libido, by which systole alternates with diastole – laws which bring pleasure and the necessary limitations of pleasure, and also set us those individual life tasks without whose accomplishment the vital optimum can never be attained. (pp. 212-213)

Tidal energy naturally ebbs and flows. The blood within one’s body undergoes a similar process in which the physiological response of the pressure produced by the heart alternates between systole and diastole. With every action, there is an equally apparent reaction. The ability to think in a logical manner allows people to create the very institutions that promote collective morality. This morality helps tame the individualism of the maturing person in order to promote social welfare. However, by taming one’s individualism, the maturing person also becomes lost to the increasingly complex social structures that govern the individual from ascertaining a knowledge base that transcends the dialectic nature of consciousness. Our innate need for the safety net that morality and laws provide us assures an illusion of security. Our yearning to live peacefully underlies our need to establish the dialectic of moral reasoning, but it also assures that we divert the path of libidinal energy away from the goal of attaining an individuated consciousness. The ability to harness one’s libidinal energy in a ritualistic fashion towards socially sanctioned goals helps promote the continued development of moral based value systems that underlie the laws a society creates at the expense of loosing one’s individuated sense of Self.

Robert Bly (1990/1991) believed that children were born with a radiance that he likened to a golden ball; the golden ball is an orb representative of the divine nature the sun has over the life force of all individuals.

The golden ball reminds us of that unity of personality we had as children—a kind of radiance, or wholeness, before we split into male and female, rich and poor, bad and good. The ball is golden, as the sun is, and round. Like the sun, it gives off radiant energy from the inside.

Robert Bly, p. 7

The golden ball represents the radiant nature of childhood before consciousness develops. During the early stages of life, consciousness has yet to develop the means by which to engage the environment in a dialectic pattern associated with complex consciousness (Johnson, 1993). While a child’s consciousness radiates as a golden ball, eventually the golden ball is lost to the increasing need social institutions have on decimating this form of consciousness in order to induce collective morality.

Social pressures strip the child of individuality. This assures that an individual will contribute to the collective through their ability to work, develop adult relationships, and create a secondary family unit (Kradin, 2009). This also assures that the divine child archetype can manifest into a cohesive adult personality. The educational system promotes dualistic consciousness. Formal schooling assures moral development by working with the mind in such a manner that promotes concrete and dialectic thought processes that uphold social norms at the expense of individuality.

The ultimate aim and strongest desire of all mankind is to develop that fullness of life, which is called personality. Nowadays, “personality training” has become an educational ideal that turns its back upon the standardized, mass-produced, “normal” human being demanded by the machine age… The yearning for personality has therefore become a real problem that occupies many minds today… While I admire this lofty ideal, I can’t help asking who it is that trains the personality? In the first and foremost place, we have the parents, ordinary, incompetent folk who, more often than not, are half children themselves and remain so all their lives… Naturally, then, we expect great things of the pedagogue, of the trained professional, who, heaven help us, has been stuffed full of “psychology” and is bursting with ill-assorted views as to how the child is supposed to be constituted and how he ought to be handled… Everyone who has finished his course of studies feels himself to be fully educated; in a word, he feels grown up. He must feel this… Any doubt or feeling of uncertainty would hinder and cripple him, undermining the necessary faith in his own authority and unfitting him for a professional career… The professional man is irretrievably condemned to be competent.

Carl Jung, 1934/1954, pp. 167-169

In this passage, Jung showed a general concern for the monopoly educational institutions have on developing a child’s personality. For Jung, the attainment of an individuated personality is an adult ideal that transcends educational knowledge. Jung believed that the role of formal education consisted of making a person professionally competent, not Self-competent. However, professional competence and understanding of Self are reliant on one another, just as the Self cannot exist without its opposite pole, the ego. Self-competence is reliant on the identity formed during childhood, which in turn is reliant on the development of industrial competence taught within the educational setting. Formal schooling allows a person to develop a sense of mastery over their environment; this environmental mastery allows a person to explore the depths of their psyche later in life. Through this process of working with the constant dialectic tensions associated to life, a person can engage the path towards individuated consciousness.

During middle childhood, a person continues to learn mastery over his or her environment; this allows a child to formulate an ego that remains separate from others. The ego also forms the basis for identity formation during adolescence. An identity is similar to Jung’s persona construct, which represents an entity that acts between the ego and the environment. Jung (1917/1966a) believed that the nature of opposites drives an adolescent to develop a balanced sense of identity to relate with others. Robert Bly (1990) expanded on this concept in his analysis of the fairy tale Iron John, when he explored the wild-man and its effect on the developing psyche. While this figure is a stereotypical Western idea, it is similar to the role of the elder within a community that initiates young boys into the knowledge base of the mature masculine.

Bly (1990) believed that to release the wild-man meant to steal the key from underneath the mother’s pillow; by completing this task, the adolescent male takes back the libidinal energy he entrusted to his mother during the early stages of life. By taking back the libidinal energy, the boy is now able to develop a sense of moral authority that is separate from the moral authority once held by the father within the family triad. While this represents a natural developmental sequence for young boys in their journey to become men, Bly also believed that uncertainty exists whether the adolescent boy even wants the key back from his mother.

On the son’s side, he isn’t sure he wants to take the key. Simply transferring the key from the mother’s to the guru’s pillow won’t help. Forgetting the mother possesses it is a bad mistake. A mother’s job is, after all, to civilize the boy, and so it is natural for her to keep the key.

Robert Bly, 1990, p. 11

After stealing the libidinal energy back from his mother, a boy must learn to redirect this energy towards another source. Stealing the key allows a boy to access to a primal energy source; it also sets the stage for initiation into adult-life. The wild nature of the masculine psyche is not foreign to Jungian psychology. In fact, Jung’s dualistic psychology represents a treatment modality that helps one make sense of the wild nature of the psyche by working with the opposite polarities common to consciousness.

It is the attainment of the middle path consisted in a mere surrender to instinct, as the bewailers of “naturalism” suppose, the profoundest philosophical speculation that the human study the philosophy of the Upanishads, the impression grows on us that the attainment of this path is not exactly the simplest of tasks. Our Western superciliousness in the face of these Indian insights is a mark of our barbarian nature, which has not the remotest inkling of their extraordinary depth and astonishing psychological accuracy. We are still so uneducated that we actually need laws from without, and a task-master or Father above, to show us what is good and the right thing to do. And human nature seems to us a dangerous and unethical naturalism. Why is this? Because under the barbarian’s thin veneer of culture the wild beast lurks in readiness, amply justifying his fear.  But the beast is not tamed by locking it up in a cage. There is no morality without freedom. When the barbarian lets loose the beast within him that is not freedom but bondage. Barbarism must first be vanquished before freedom can be won. This happens, in principle, when the basic root and driving force of morality are felt by the individual as constituents of his own nature and not as external restrictions. How else is man to attain this realization but through the conflict of opposites.

Carl Jung, 1971, p. 213

The wild beast that lurks within does not represent the moral edicts common to the adult male. Neither does the wild-man as proposed by Robert Bly (1990). Instead, society must direct the wildness associated with childhood in such a manner that it will promote the overall freedom of the individual as he or she operates within appropriate social norms. While Bly’s concept of releasing wild-man energy represents a period in which masculine emotion can manifest into behaviors that may seem daring and at times unnecessary, the ability to develop conviction represents the energy that underlies the foundation behind social morality. Therefore, tapping into wild-man energy represents a natural developmental task that a male child must undergo. The boy must learn to let go of the wild energy that occurs during the pubescent years so that they may harness this energy into an adult identity. Many societies perform specific rituals that allow a child to harness their energy and focus it into adult behaviors.

Initiation rites vary amongst societies. Rituals can include blood rites and banishing, as is common in the Zulu tribes of Africa (Sargent, 1994), circumcision rites as are common in the Judaic faith and other cultures throughout the world, and a variety of other tests that allow a person to transcend their boyhood psyche and develop more adult masculine traits (Hirsch, Kohler, Jacobs, Friedenwald, & Broydé, 2002). While initiation rituals differ amongst various cultures, the initiation process for men has one clear objective, to break the mother and son dyad to allow a male child to sit amongst men as an adult (Bly, 1990). Moore and Gillette (1990) believed that “submission to the power of the mature masculine energies” brought forward by the initiation process “always bring forth a new masculine personality that is marked by calm, compassion, clarity of vision, and generativity” (p. 6). However, the path to integrate the adult psyche with the remnants of the childhood psyche is a difficult task to undertake.

It is of course impossible to free oneself from one’s childhood without devoting a great deal of work to it, as Freud’s researches have long since shown. Nor can it be achieved through intellectual knowledge only; what is alone effective is a remembering that is also a re-experiencing. The swift passage of the years and the overwhelming inrush of newly discovered world leave a mass of material behind that is never dealt with. We do not shake this off; we merely remove ourselves from it. So that when, in later years, we return to the memories of childhood we find bits of our personality still alive, which cling round us and suffuse us with the feeling of earlier times. Being still in their childhood state, these fragments are very powerful in their effect. They can lose their infantile aspect and be corrected only when they are reunited with adult consciousness. The “personal unconscious” must always be dealt with first, that is, made conscious, otherwise the gateway to the collective unconscious cannot be opened. The journey with father and mother up and down many ladders represents the making conscious of infantile contents that have not yet been integrated.

Carl Jung, 1931/1968, p. 62

Integration of the infantile contents of consciousness into the adult personality represents the primary process that initiation seeks to assure. While a child must face this challenge alone, in societies where initiation rites are common, the adolescent boy is guided by the presence of an adult that has also undergone this process. To accomplish this task, the initiator helps a child to break the Oedipal bond so that the boy can work through the psychological tasks needed to enter the life of a man. However, the price of admission into the club of manhood does not come without a price for those individuals who continue to live in societies that have clearly defined initiation rites.

Often the initiates are put through terrifying emotional and excruciatingly painful physical trials. They learn to submit to the pain of life, to the ritual elders, and to the masculine traditions and myths of the society. They are all the secret wisdom of men. And they are released from the sacred space only when they have successfully completed the ordeal and been reborn as men.

Robert Moore & Douglas Gillette, 1990, pp. 6-7)

By releasing wild-man energy, a boy can sever the emotional attachment he has with his mother and embrace a more archaic and animalistic model of existence. Sexuality and rebellion against one’s parents is prevalent during adolescence. Unconsciously, the wild-man embraces the archetypal formation of initiation rites. During adolescence, wild-man energy acts as the antagonist that drives adolescence towards its natural conclusion. Wild-man energy can correlate to other mythological and religious figures such as Dionysus and Jesus Christ.

Dionysus is the god of sexuality, madness, drunkenness, and masculine potency. His followers, the maenads and satyrs drank themselves into stupors and tore the limbs from wild beasts in an ecstatic form of worship that promoted their God’s wild nature (Powell, 2004). The worshippers of Dionysus reintegrated their deities dismembered parts by reenacting the original mythological tale. Jung stated:

As a correspondence we have… the indefiniteness and unlimited extent of the unconscious self (despite its individuality and uniqueness), its creative relation to individual consciousness and…the individual human being as a mode of its manifestation. Ancient philosophy paralleled this idea with the legend of the dismembered Dionysus, who, as creator, is the… undivided… and, as the creature… the divided. Dionysus is distributed throughout the whole of nature, and just as Zeus once devoured the throbbing heart of the god, so his worshippers tore wild animals to pieces in order to reintegrate his dismembered spirit.

Carl Jung 1936/1969, p. 264

Similarities also exist within the Christian religion, where wine represents the blood of Christ and bread represents the body of Christ. In Christianity, the practitioner takes part in the Eucharist to evoke the spirit of Christ and be reborn in his saving presence. Christ shares metaphorical similarities with Dionysus; both are divine children born of God, both were born of the Father through mortal woman, both return to the Father to sit at the seat of power as a divine child, and both manifest within the symbols of divine ecstasy associated with wine, nature, and wandering. Both also represent agents that initiate the awaiting soul into mysteries that transcend human consciousness. The archetypal formulation of the initiator represents an example of the conduits that mediate between conscious and unconscious impulses that lead a child from the nurturing role of the physical and archetypal mother to the role of becoming a self-reliant provider for others. Hesse (2002) showed this theme in Siddhartha when the protagonist left his father’s home to join the ascetics.

Siddhartha followed his father’s directives, kissed his mother goodbye, and never looked back on his family home. By doing this, Siddhartha became ready to learn about the world from an adult perspective.  Siddhartha shed the skin of childhood to pursue ritual Self-abnegation as an ascetic devoted to learning of himself. He realized the pain associated with adult-life. Lovers will make love, mothers will feed their babies, people will grieve their losses, and life will slowly slip away from the individuals who partake in the process called life. While life events can bring bliss or despair, these same processes drive our ability to realize the ultimate nature of Self. Love being the simplest and most inspiring of all activities associated with religious and physical bliss represents one part of the path from which people can find happiness and elicit despair as the life sequence unfolds.

Amongst the ascetics, Siddhartha established an ego. When a male adolescent enters adult-life, he will have severed the Oedipal bonds with the parental dyad to develop an intact ego from which to engage adult relationships. The cultivation of adult values occurs in conjunction with adult development. Hesse (2002) showed how Siddhartha developed his ego by developing a position of moral commandment and prohibition common to the father archetype. Siddhartha learned the lessons of becoming a man, actively engaged dreams about his future, learned the way in which people hold values and ethics in light of the “bitter taste” the world produces, and pursued life on his own terms; during his adult-life, Siddhartha learned about love and intimacy.  

During his years of ascetic devotion, Siddhartha learned about his ego through practicing self-abnegation; this allowed him to project his soul into the essence of other beings so that he could understand their lives, pains, and eventual deaths (Hesse, 2002). As a young adult, Siddhartha knew that he could no longer learn about his Self from the lessons of others.

As Siddhartha left the grove, leaving the Buddha, the Perfect One, behind, leaving Govinda behind, he had the feeling he was also leaving behind in the grove his life up to that time and separating himself from it. He pondered this feeling, which completely filled him, as he slowly made his way. He pondered deeply, sinking down into the depths of this feeling as through deep water, until he reached the point where the causes lie – for to know the causes, so it seemed to him, that is what thinking is, and only in this way do feeling become knowledge instead of being wasted… Going slowly along his way, Siddhartha deliberated. He realized that he was no longer a youth but had become a man… The slowly walking thinker came to a halt altogether, captured by this last thought, and immediately from this thought another sprang, a new thought, which was this: That I know nothing of myself, that Siddhartha remains so alien and unknown to me… I was looking for atman, I was looking for Brahman; I was determined to tear my ego apart, to peel it layer by layer in order to find in its unknown innards the pith behind all the husks, atman, life, the divine, the ultimate… Oh, he thought, taking deep breaths, now I will not let Siddhartha slip away from me again… I will learn from myself, be my own student. I will learn about myself, about the mystery of Siddhartha… He looked around him as though he were seeing the world for the first time.

Hermann Hesse, 2002, pp. 41-43

During adolescence, a person begins to master the ego by developing an identity. Jung labeled the development of identities the persona, which is an archetype projected from the ego to the outside world. An adult identity overlaps childhood identity. As a child enters adult-life, individuation changes from a selfish process to one that utilizes object relationships to mirror personal growth. During adult development, a person begins to enact socially sanctioned roles.

Social institutions indoctrinate children into the paradoxical differences that are common to adult-life.  The educational level of both parents, the social institutions a parent takes part in, and the beliefs each parent has about gender identification roles forms the initial social structures that parents teach their children (Kotrba, 2008). When a child learns how to socially relate to others, they begin the long process of formal schooling that continues their education in social expectations, moral, and value based systems common to the society in which they live. Society educates en mass, which in turn effects the psychological development of the individual. Jung stated:

To the extent that the individuality of the pupil succumbs to the collective nature of these educational influences, he naturally develops a character much resembling that of another individual, who, though originally quite different, has nevertheless acquiesced in the same way. If there is a large number of individuals who possess this degree of acquiescence, conformity becomes uniformity. The larger the number of individuals who conform, the greater the unconscious pressure of example on all those who, rightly or wrongly, have so far successfully resisted the collective method. And since the example of the crowd exerts a compelling influence through unconscious psychic contagion, it may in the long run have a crushing effect upon those individuals who possess no more than average strength of character, if it does not extinguish them altogether. On the other hand, an over-idealistic moulding of character can have disastrous consequences for the unique personality of the individual. To educate him into being a good citizen and a useful member of society is certainly a highly desirable goal. But once a certain level of uniformity is overstepped, and collective values are fostered at the expense of individual uniqueness, then you get the type of person who, though he may be a perfect paragon of the educational rules, principles, and methods, and is therefore adapted to all the situations and problems that come within the scope of his educational premises, nevertheless feels insecure in all matters where individual judgments have to be made without recourse to the regulations.

Carl Jung, 1928/1954, pp. 150-151

Early education focuses on obliterating individuality to produce a personality that is better suited to fit within collective expectations. A society establishes social expectations for both the good and the bad of the individual. Robert Bly (1990) drew attention to the plight children undertake when they lose their golden ball.  Education produces workers that take part in a cultural industry base. While the plight to educate society en masse during childhood produces workers that will drive the economy of a nation, the second half of life consists of a process of unlearning the lessons taught during the first half of life in order to relearn about Self. If childhood through young adult-life represents a period in which a person learns to work for the common good of the society in which they live, the second half of life represents a period in which the middle-aged adult must adopt new attitudes towards their life. The second half of life represents a Self-centering transition in which the adult can begin to unlearn the lessons incurred as a child to perpetuate a generational value system based on wisdom rather than a current knowledge base.

The one-sided reliance a man or a woman has on particular gender biases prompts the anima and animus archetypes to emerge. The anima feminizes the masculine ego. Jung defined anima as:

The eternal image of woman, not the image of this or that particular woman, but a definite feminine image. This image is fundamentally unconscious, an hereditary factor of primordial origin engraved in the living organic system of the man, an imprint or ‘archetype’ of all the ancestral experiences of the female, a deposit, as it were, of all the impressions ever made by woman—in short, an inherited system of psychic adaptation.

Carl Jung, 1946/1993, p. 670

The anima is the unconscious femininity of man. Furthermore, the anima allows open dialogue to occur between the polarities of the masculine (moral commandment and prohibition) and feminine (nurturing and devouring) archetypal polarities. The anima materializes both internally and externally. Internally, the anima represents the unconscious soul of man. However, a man also has the ability to project the anima on a life-mate. Jung stated:

In the place of the parents, woman now takes up her position as the most immediate environmental influence in the life of the adult man. She is not of a superior order, either by virtue of age, authority, or physical strength. She is, however, a very influential factor and, like the parents, she produces an imago of a relatively autonomous nature… Woman, with her very dissimilar psychology, is and always has been a source of information about things for which a man has no eyes. She can be his inspiration; her intuitive capacity, often superior to man’s, can give him timely warning, and her feeling… can show him ways which his own less personally accented feeling would never have discovered.

Carl Jung, 1954/1993, p. 200

Kamala represents Siddhartha’s anima.

Siddhartha’s soul was discontent with the lessons of others. After awakening in the Jetavana grove, Siddhartha began to see the world through the eyes of beauty. He left the staunch, empirical ways associated with the objective reality he learned during childhood and began to see the minute interconnections that exist between entities within the world.

He looked around him as though he were seeing the world for the first time. The world was beautiful, full of colors, strange and enigmatic. Here was blue, here yellow, here green, the sky was in movement and so was the river; the forest was fixed in place and so were the hills – all beautiful, all mysterious, and magical. And in the middle of it all was Siddhartha, the awakened one, on the path to himself. All of it… entered Siddhartha for the first time through his eyes.

Hermann Hesse, 2002, p. 43

As a child, Siddhartha could not see the beauty of the world due to the one sidedness of his early educational experiences. Siddhartha focused his early development on acquiring a logical knowledge base at the expense of repressing his ability to feel. When Siddhartha realized he had the ability to sense and feel the beauty the outside world offered, the loneliness associated with not having a mate with whom to share this beauty with suddenly overtook his soul.

Entering and exiting developmental stages poses a paradox. While entering a new stage of life brings great insight into the collective plight all individuals undergo, it also brings a sense of despair that the former stage is over and new developmental tasks lay ahead. Siddhartha became awakened to beauty, but then felt loneliness when he realized that the world was a beautiful place.

Siddhartha eventually consummated an adult relationship with Kamala. She represented a metaphorical mirror from which Siddhartha saw his adult self emerge from the ego he developed as an adolescent. Hesse (2002) provided the following account of the transition that Siddhartha undertook when he left the confines of the adolescent wild-man persona to pursue a loving relationship with a woman.

Toward evening he made friends with the barber’s assistant whom he saw working … That night he slept near the boats on the river, and early in the morning, before the first customers came into the shop, he had the barber’s assistant shave off his beard, trim and comb his hair, and rub fine oils into it. Then he went to bathe in the river. In late afternoon, when beautiful Kamala was in her sedan, approaching her grove, Siddhartha stood at the entrance.  

Hermann Hesse, 2002, p. 49

This passage provides the archetypal themes of hair, the anima, and the need for ritual ablution to cleanse the psyche.  

Robert Bly (1990) believed that hair connects humanity to its animal roots. Rusted, iron colored hair covers the body of the wild-man (Grimm & Grimm, 1975). Hair has traditionally been associated with strength (the myth of Samson), animalism, which is a common theme within many fairy tales, and in Hesse’s (2002) story, hair represents the asceticism and fanaticism from which the protagonist approached his early adult-life. By cutting off his hair and beard, Siddhartha disavowed the animalistic ways of the ascetics and integrated the wild-man into his adult personality. Siddhartha had undergone initiation with the shramanas. Being an initiated man, Siddhartha became ready to find his place in the secular world. However, Siddhartha still had remnants of his former life left over, which prompted him to bathe in ritual ablution.

The symbol of water has many associations related to transcendence, renewal of life, baptism, and the unconscious motifs that lead one to a state of wholeness (Jung, 1942/1967). The youth and vibrancy of the wild-man integrated with the anima that emerged from the depths of Siddhartha’s unconscious by performing a ritual abolution. By creating a place to store the wild-man energy associated with adolescence, the anima can break through to consciousness, which assures masculine growth. When Siddhartha cleansed his body, he symbolically provided a container in which his masculine, wild-man energy could be channeled to form new relationships. By doing this, Siddhartha entered a new stage of life in which the anima archetype could take precedence within his developing psyche.

Kamala, being a physical representation of Siddhartha’s projected anima helped the protagonist realize his true nature, as it existed in acts associated with love. This corresponds to Jung’s (1954/1969) belief that a man projects his anima onto his life partner. Kamala was Siddhartha’s teacher in the sexual arts; subsequently, Siddhartha assumed the role of a merchant so that he could bring worldly riches to his courtesan. Worldly riches kept Siddhartha’s lover content; the need to keep one’s lover content represents a basic human plight that underlies the need to partake in a social industry. Beginning one’s career, developing loving relationships, and raising children constitutes the conscious crises associated with young adult development (Newman & Newman, 2003).

Siddhartha entered adult-life in the story when he actively pursued knowledge about the virtues and vices associated to love. While Kamala represented the anima that taught Siddhartha how to love, by pursuing an object of adult love, the journey of adolescence and young adult development ends. Marriage is different from the casual dating common to adolescence. In this article, I have shown how the tenets of this developmental period coincides with the beginning of identity development, the formation of adult relationships, and the need to enter a cultural industry to assure that intimate relationships will manifest within the lifetime of an individual. In the next article in this series, I will correlate the developmental perspective offered here to existing psychoanalytic developmental theories.


Bly, R. (1990). Iron John: A book about men. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Bly, R. (Performer). (1991). Iron John: A book about men. Holmes, PA: Sound Editions.

Erikson, E. (1963). Childhood and society (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Norton.

Freud, S. (1989). The ego and the id. In P. Gay (Ed.), The Freud reader (pp. 628-661). New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company. (Original work published 1923)

Grimm, J., & Grimm, W. (1975). The complete Grimm’s fairy tales: Introduction by Padraic Colum & commentary by Joseph Campbell. London, England: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Hesse, H. (2002). Siddhartha: A new translation with an introduction by Paul W. Morris. (C. S. Kohn, Trans.) Boston, MA: Shambhala. (Original work published 1922)

Hirsch, E. G., Kohler, K., Jacobs, J. Friedenwald, A., & Broydé, I. (2002). Circumcision. In The Jewish Retrieved from

Johnson, R. (1993). Transformation: Understanding the three levels of masculine consciousness. San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins.

Jung, C. G. (1954). The significance of the unconscious in individual education. In H. Read, M. Fordham, G. Adler, & W. McGuire (Eds.), The collected works of C. G. Jung (R. F. Hull, Trans., Vol. 17, pp. 165-186). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1928)

Jung, C. G. (1954). The development of personality. In H. Read, M. Fordham, G. Adler, & W. McGuire (Eds.), The collected works of C. G. Jung (R. F. Hull, Trans., Vol. 17). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1934)

Jung, C. G. (1966). On the psychology of the unconscious. In H. Read, M. Fordham, G. Adler, & W. McGuire (Eds.), The collected works of C. G. Jung (R. F. Hull, Trans., Vol 7, pp. 3-123). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1917)

Jung, C. G. (1967b). Paracelsus as a spiritual phenomenon. In H. Read, M.Fordham, G. Adler, & W. McGuire (Eds.), The Collected Works of C. G. Jung (R. F. Hull, Trans., Vol. 13, pp. 109-190). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1942)

Jung, C. G. (1969). The stages of life. In H. Read, M. Fordham, G. Adler, & W. McGuire (Eds.), The collected works of C. G. Jung (R. F. Hull, Trans., Vol. 8, pp. 387-403). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1931)

Jung, C. G. (1969). The concept of the collective unconscious. In H. Read, M. Fordham, G. Adler, & W. McGuire (Eds.), The Collected Works of C. G. Jung (R. F. Hull, Trans., Vols. 9-1, pp. 42-53). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1936)

Jung, C. G. (1969h). Psychological aspects of the mother archetypes. In H. Read, M. Fordham, G. Adler, & W. McGuire (Eds.), The collected works of C. G. Jung (R. F. Hull, Trans., Vols. 9-1, pp. 75-110). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1954)

Jung, C. G. (1971). Psychological types. In H. Read, M. Fordham, G. Adler, & W. McGuire (Eds.), The collected works of C. G. Jung (R. F. Hull, Trans., Vols. 6). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1921)

Jung, G. G. (1993b). Psychology of the transference. In The basic writings of C. G. Jung: Edited, with an introduction by Violet Staub de Laszlo (pp. 495-534). New York, NY: The Modern Library. (Original work published 1946)

Kotrba, A. (2008). Roles and identities in emerging adulthood: A longitudinal analysis of gender development. Ph.D. dissertation, Wayne State University, United States — Michigan. Retrieved April 3, 2011, from Dissertations & Theses: Full Text.(Publication No. AAT 3295987).

Kradin, R. (2009). The family myth: Its deconstruction and replacement with a balanced humanized narrative. The Journal of Analytical Psychology, 54(2), 217-232.

Moore, R., & Gillette, D. (1990). King, warrior, magician, lover: Rediscovering the archetypes of the mature masculine. San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins.

Newman, B. M., & Newman, P. R. (2003). Development through life: A psychosocial approach (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.

Powell, B. B. (2004). Classical myth (4th ed.). Upper Saddle, NJ: Pearson.

Sargent, D. (1994). Global ritualism: Myth & magic around the world. St. Paul: MN. Llewellyn Publications.  

Leave a ReplyCancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Exit mobile version