In Siddhartha dreams enlighten the dreamer to some greater truth, “when a man is asleep, he penetrates his innermost and dwells in Atman” (Hesse 1951 7).
Siddhartha becomes restless when he realizes what he has become and his entire life sickens him. After a sleepless night he finally falls asleep at dawn and has a very strange dream. In it his lover Kamala’s songbird is oddly quiet. He approaches its cage finding it dead. He takes the bird out and throws it on the road.
Siddhartha “was horrified…as if he had thrown away with this dead bird all that was good and of value in himself… It seemed to him that he had spent his life in a worthless and senseless manner; he retained nothing vital, nothing in any way precious or worth while” (Hesse 1951 82).
I identified with this passage because as a child I had a similar dream. My bird was an egg that told me to throw it on the ground. I was hesitant but the egg assured me it wouldn’t be hurt, that it would help him wake up. I said goodbye and smashed it on the pavement. I felt as though I had lost a friend but the dream wasn’t over. I “woke up” to find my room slightly off, everything seemed bright but hazy. I looked out the window and saw a large paved slab surrounded by grass. Children were playing four-square with a white ball. I tried to examine my surroundings more closely but woke up instead.
Siddhartha’s dream shook him from his temporary stupor and allowed him to move on. He replayed his life in his mind and discovered the world of the flesh had gotten him no further in finding himself. His dream served as a metaphorical death and rebirth into a new way of living. He no longer belonged in the city so he walked away from the life he created there. The only person who understood him was his lover, Kamala, who had begun to show signs of mortality. Kamala understood his decision and did not try to find him. Things might have turned out very differently for Siddhartha if this dream had not occurred or if he ignored it.