Siddhartha was deeply shocked. So this was how things were with him, so doomed was he, so much he had lost his way and was forsaken by all knowledge, that he had been able to seek death, that this wish, this wish of a child, had been able to grow in him: to find rest by annihilating his body! What all agony of these recent times, all sobering realizations, all desperation had not brought about, this was brought on by this moment, when the Om entered his consciousness: he became aware of himself in his misery and in his error. Om! He spoke to himself: Om! and again he knew about Brahman, knew about the indestructibility of life, knew about all that is divine, which he had forgotten. (8.6)
One morning, overwhelmed by his own depression and troubling dreams, Siddhartha walks out of his fancy home and never returns.
After considering suicide and briefly encountering his old friend, Govinda, Siddhartha finds a ferryman and asks to become his apprentice.
Siddhartha’s periodic recognition of Om punctuates moments of awakening in his life and functions to further guide his reflection and spiritual growth. He first meditates on Om as a boy in his hometown; this helps him decide to leave town for further spiritual growth.
In Hermann Hesse’s book Siddhartha, the river becomes a metaphor. "But today he only saw one of the river’s secrets, one that gripped his soul. He saw that the water continually flowed and flowed and yet it was always there; it was always the same and yet every moment it was new."