A Quest Seeking Wisdom

Life has no meaning, unless one gives a purpose to himself. According to Sartre, man feels alien in a world without meaning. Therefore, we must have a life long quest for our purpose. It is essential to have a quest, and any quest is a quest for wisdom. A person must always undergo a quest to find wisdom.

Siddhartha exhibits this need to find wisdom when he went on a path to self- discovery. “He learned to walk away from the I. He walked the path of self- distancing through pain, through volunteering, enduring of suffering and vanquishing of pain, hunger, of thirst, of exhaustion.” (page 15) Siddhartha found wisdom through “self- distancing.” Suffering is a part of any discovery, and Siddhartha went through this to fully experience the world. He needed to fully experience the world in order to truly understand himself. Siddhartha acquired the wisdom of the world by experiencing suffering, and later, joy.

Vasudeva exemplified another form of wisdom. As Siddhartha told Vasudeva his story, with all of his joys and suffering, he was also admiring Vasudeva’s wisdom of listening. “Among all the ferryman’s virtues this was one of the greatest: he understood how to listen as very few did. Vasudeva spoke not a word himself, and yet the speaker sensed how he allowed the speaker’s words to enter him, with tranquility, openly, waiting, how he lost not a one, waiting without impatience, without praise or blame, simply listening. Siddhartha felt what a joy it is to tell everything, to sink one’s own life, one’s own seeking, one’s own suffering into such a listener’s heart.” (page …) Vasudeva later explained that his wisdom comes from listening to the river and he later shows Siddhartha this wisdom. When he listens to the river, it is within his constant quest for wisdom.

When Siddhartha leaves Govinda for self discovery, he realizes that he must always be on the quest to find wisdom. “Blue was blue, river was river, and if the one and the divine also lay concealed in the blue and in the river and in Siddhartha, it was just the nature and meaning of the divine to be yellow here, blue here, there sky, there forest, and here Siddhartha. Meaning and essence were not somewhere behind things, they were inside things, in everything.” (page 35) Siddhartha recognized that the quest for wisdom is constant, because wisdom (as he says “meaning and essence”) is in everything.

In this book, Siddhartha is clearly constantly on a quest to find wisdom. Most people today, or even back then, do not live the lifestyle he lived: Solely dedicated to the quest to find wisdom. However, even if we are not on his same path, we must always be on a quest to find wisdom, no matter what kind of wisdom we seek.


Lotiform Cup

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This is a piece of pottery, beautifully shaped into a glazed blue cup. There are carvings on the side of the cup that show ancient Egyptians with animals, seemingly domesticating them. The cup curves out at the top and rounds at the bottom with another protrusion at the base to hold the cup up. There are leaf- looking carvings at the base of the cup, that portrays a flower growing around the bottom of the cup.

One of the depictions carved into the cup seems to be portraying a man forcefully separating two animals, which seem to be some sort of oxen or sheep. There is a strip of swimming fish around the cup near the bottom, as well as a strip of a zigzag pattern, which both appear to be for design purposes.

The title of this piece is “Lotiform Cup,” which indicates that the leaf- looking design at the bottom symbolizes a lotus flower. It may be called “Lotiform” as a combination of “lotus” and “cuneiform,” as in the carvings of the cup. The description mentions that the water lily was valued during ancient Egypt because it opened its petals each morning to the sun, so it was a symbol of recreation and rebirth.

“Lotiform Cup” falls into history during the Third Intermediate Period, when chalices like this were carved with “relief scenes,” which caused myths to arise of the, “birth of the king as child of the sun god out of the watery marsh environment, and thus the renewal of the world out of the flooded land of each midsummer New Year.” This means that the involvement of animals in this carving of the cup is relevant perhaps to the symbolism of rebirth to the blue water lily, which is of main importance on the cup. The fish and animals may symbolize the flooding of the land each midsummer New Year, which brought crops and animals, and was a renewal of life for the Egyptians.

During the Third Intermediate Period, there was a weakening of centralized power because it began after the death of a prominent ruler, Ramesses XI. Power was passed around, and there were not many major structures built. There was great technological advancement with bronze, and the statuary of temples, gods, and kings thrived. This was a time of political aspiration, social identification, and artistic production in ancient Egypt. This can all be seen in the artistic achievement shown within the craft of this cup, and the person that shows dominance over the animals may represent the dominance of humans over the land.
With all background knowledge, I can conclude that this “Lotiform Cup” is symbolic of renewal of life and aspirations for success. The true meaning has to do with a human’s interaction with nature, and the Egyptian society gaining control over their politics and social statuses. It shows celebration and revival.