There is a debate on whether going on a quest is necessary to find wisdom. I needed the definition of both wisdom and quest before I could answer the question. Wisdom is the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise and a quest is described as a long or arduous search for something. One has to consider that a quest does not necessarily mean one is traveling places, but it is clear that a quest has a specific goal. Because of this, I believe that wisdom is accessible if one is in search of it.
I think one needs to know that they want wisdom in order to be eligible to acquire it. Most of my thoughts are influenced by the book Siddhartha written by Herman Hesse. Saying this, one cannot forget that they seek wisdom either, or even enlightenment as Siddhartha did when he settled into the world of wealth and vanity; “Like a veil, like a thin mist, weariness settled upon Siddhartha, slowly, every day a bit thicker, every month a bit drearier, every year a bit heavier…Siddhartha did not notice this. He noticed only that his clear and certain innermost voice, which once had been awake inside him and always and ever guided him during his times of resplendence, that voice had gone silent.” (p.63) This passage expresses how when Siddhartha strayed from his journey, his quest to wisdom and enlightenment, he became ignorant to the fact that he was straying at all. This is why it is important to never stray from one’s quest, one cannot attain wisdom if they forget that wisdom is what they want.
One’s quest for wisdom must be a specific one. Dwelling on your past fails or focusing on your past triumphs will not help you go forward. Even if the sun is setting behind you, you must keep walking into the darkness, with the knowledge that the sun will rise in the morning, an unattainable destination you try to reach every day. This is something Siddhartha does, an example would be on p.69: “Siddhartha roamed the forest, already far away from the city, with but one thought in mind, that he could no longer return. that the life he had been leading for many years was over and done, savored and sucked dry even to revulsion.” Here he leaves his ignorant wealth and ignorant pleasure garden and ignorant self behind, knowing it will do him no good to remember.
The quest for wisdom is also unique in that it is one’s own, personal quest. No two people can be on the same quest at the same time, no two people can realize their wisdom or become enlightened together. Finding wisdom is a quest for one person, and one person only. “One can find wisdom, one can live it, one can be borne by it, one can work wonders with it, but one can neither speak it nor teach it.” (p.111) This is something Siddhartha realized after many years of
searching for an enlightenment through the ascetics and shramana and teachings of the Gautama, after many years of disappointment.
This is why a quest is so essential to find wisdom, Siddhartha was a perfect example for many reasons. Wisdom is not something that can be taught to anyone, it is only granted to those who teach themselves, it is not something one can focus on if their mind is on the past, it is only attainable when it is the only goal. These are things the book helped me realize, and knowing that a quest doesn’t necessarily mean one has to go on an adventure also helped.