For me, Siddhartha is one of those books that had a profound effect on me the first time I read it. Hesse is a master of philosophy and religion, both East and West; a master of putting a world-view into a character; and a master at condensed, meaningful prose--he includes everything essential, and leaves out the rest. Siddhartha is the story of a man devoted to seeking truth and wisdom at all costs. He becomes a wanderer. He finds himself contemplating, challenging, and encorporating the eastern philosophy and religion that he is born into; he learns from every mode of life and every person that he comes across. About the human potential, Siddhartha says:
"...the potential Buddha already exists in the sinner; his future is already there. The potential hidden Buddha must be recognized in him, in you, in everybody."
And after all of his searching, we find this lesson:
"Here is a doctrine at which you will laugh. It seems to me, Govinda, that Love is the most important thing in the world. It may be important to great thinkers to examine the world, to explain and despise it. But I think it is only important to love the world, not to despise it, not for us to hate each other, but to be able to regard the world and ourselves and all beings with love, admiration and respect."