“Slower, he walked along in his thoughts and asked himself: “But what is this, what you have sought to learn from teachings and from teachers, and what they, who have taught you much, were still unable to teach you?” And he found: “It was the self, the purpose and essence of which I sought to learn. It was the self, I wanted to free myself from, which I sought to overcome. But I was not able to overcome it, could only deceive it, could only flee from it, only hide from it. Truly, no thing in this world has kept my thoughts thus busy, as this my very own self, this mystery of me being alive, of me being one and being separated and isolated from all others, of me being Siddhartha! And there is no thing in this world I know less about than about me, about Siddhartha!”

If anything makes the case for introspection, the ending of the Herman Heese novel Siddhartha does. “This mystery of me being alive” has kept me up countles nights. To think I exist, to know that I exist automatically entails subsequent logic. If I do exist, I should exist and therefore what should I do with this existence? It is the meaning of life logical train encompassed in the beauty of prose, the character of Siddhartha literally staring at the water flowing.

The water is one thing; it exists. But it is never one thing; it is movement. That which it is now is not what it is now +1. Its evolution is, in essence, its identity. It is our identity. To say “I know him then” is to say “I do not know him at all.” We are more than the sum total of our parts, indeed we are the sum total of our phases, our stages of evolution. We are our own progress and that is the identity we should strive for. All religion teaches the impermanence of this existence. It will change. Some say it will end. My existence is permanence; my entity is not.

I have always found comfort in this novel and especially these parting words.


By Michael Gallagher

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

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