I have been thinking over this aspect of man being a social animal for quite some time but watching 'Into the Wild' provoked me into writing this. If you know about Chris Mccandless, you would know that he was a combination of a modern-age Tolstoy who left all his riches, a free thinking rebel like Che Guevera who wanted to break away from the shackles and see the real world and a true saint who wanted bliss over material possessions. That's pretty much it.
So after taking over the pseudonym of Supertramp, he travels to Alaska despite the warnings of his loved ones, never to return again. What is so striking about his story is the paradigm shift in his opinions of how to achieve ultimate happiness. Initially, he is an adventurer who likes living alone, burns all his identification and goes Into the Wild to live a life of self-denial. But in the end, he realises that happiness is real only when shared.
Which is the way to go then? Chris drops even his real name to go away as far from the civilization only to realise that true happiness lies in living together and loving others. So, why should a man live with others when he is a loner in the two most important phases of his life, birth and death. I just don't get it.
Why are you supposed to be selfless, why are you supposed to sacrifice and why are you supposed to keep others happy when the basic instinct of humans is selfishness? Shankaracharya lived alone, Buddha lived alone and Vivekandanda lived alone. Martin Luther King Jr. lived for others, Gandhi lived for others and Nelson Mandela lived for others. And we worship all of them.
I do not know. Paulo Coelho talks about soul mates and at the same time he talks about realising your dreams. Khalil Gibran says fight for justice, live for the society but he also says stay untouched. So, is being selfish a bad thing? I'm not talking about selfishness in hurting others, that ability to stay oblivious to other people's feelings. You have no right to make other people suffer for your mistakes, as I have learnt. But selfish in a way of being alone, being a loner, what is wrong with it?
Or should a man be a right mixture of being a social animal as well as a loner deep inside him. A man is inevitably born alone, forsaken to die alone but why should he share his happiness, his joys, his sorrows with others? If the world is an illusion, then why should you even bother getting into relationships, forming bonds and sharing feelings? And if the world is just an illusion, what is the point staying alone and denying yourself all those joys than staying together and keeping others happy?
And if the world is truly an illusion, does it matter either way?