An Analysis of Into the Wild

2,500 years ago, there lived a man in Nepal named Siddhartha Gautama. His parents were rich, and they pressured him to be somebody.  But the more they pressured him, the more he hated the material world.  He eventually ran away from home, leaving his family and lived with various Indian asceticspeople who renounced the worldly life, lived in the wilderness like beasts and enforced hardships on themselves for spiritual purification.  He eventually realized that his life as an ascetic is just as bad as his worldly life with his family, so he proposed the teaching of the Middle Way, which is a life of moderation to avoid suffering in life.  Now he is called the Buddha.  And around his time period, a teacher in China preached the same thingthe Confucian Doctrine of the Mean or the teaching of Confucius on how to live between extremes.  Unfortunately, until today, many people do not know about these teachers, so they make mistakes that could be avoided if they knew the teachings of Buddha or Confucius.  This is what happened to Chris McCandless in the movie Into the Wild.
McCandless philosophically believes that the material world is evil.  Money brings much suffering.  Greed for money creates war, famine, disease and broken relationships.  So he destroyed all his credit cards and burned his money.  Psychologically, he also felt betrayed by his parents.  They were so busy trying to make millions of dollars that their relationships did not become important anymore.  They wanted a divorce, and they wanted Chris and his sister to choose between the two of them.  They also pushed him to be as successful as they were through school.  But their measure of success was through how much money a person made and not how satisfied they were with their life.  So Chris, being very sad about his life, decided to run away from home to prove to himself and to others that money is not everything, that a person can actually live without it.  He decided to go to Alaska because it was just bare nature and wilderness.  There were no material conveniences in life there.  And if he could go there and live, he could prove that his parents are wrong and that there is more to life than money.  Although his motivation is from the divorce of his parents, it is still consistent with his philosophy because it is one of the many consequences of the desire for material wealth.

Chris eventually learned like Buddha that living in such an extreme way leads to just as much suffering as living in a material world.  Also, without others to help him, he lived miserably.  Being attached to many relationships is just as bad as having none at all.  He rediscovered the truth of the Middle Way or the Doctrine of the Mean.  Unfortunately, he was not able to go back to tell about his story alive.  But since he wrote his adventure story in his diary, his sister was able to recover it after he died of starvation in Alaska.  His true story became a successful movie, so in a way, even if he died, he was successful because his message went through.

And like Chris parents, people today often judge their lives based on how many things they own and the money in their banks, not on how satisfied they truly are with their lives.  Chris has made me realize, just like Buddha, that I should indeed be true to my self and I should try to live a satisfying life in moderation, not like others whose goal in life is simply to become millionaires or billionaires.    I want to be real too, but of course, in moderation, so that I wont die of starvation.


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