The Genius of Chris McCandless and the Yogis

Oct 5, 2009
by: Rosie


This week I watched two very different movies, but interesting enough both are similar. One was "The Origins of Yoga", the other was "Into the Wild". I was fascinated by the similar ideas presented in these movies. "Into the Wild" is a great movie (and book) about Chris McCandless who gives up everything (a scholarship to Harvard, money, his car, even his family) in order to be in nature. He walks through forests, deserts, kayaks down the whole Colorado river into the Gulf of Mexico, only to hitchhike and walk back to the Alaskan wilderness. Unfortunately, he's found dead in an old bus four in the four months later. "The Origins of Yoga" documents the journey of millions of yogis and yoginis in India who, like Chris, give up their worldly materials, family, even their names  to become closer to God, to go back to nothing. They just walk through the wilderness to meditate, pray, and search for the key to their connection to God. 
Both of these movies question some of the most important parts of our lifestyle and identity. Should we define ourselves by the clothes we wear, the school we got into, the money we make, car we drive? These are trivial aspects of a species that has become self obsessed. Materialism has poisoned our minds and our planet. We have to give up everything we own, all our possessions in order to truly find ourselves. 

"...why do we remain in the rut of material accumulation and sensual pleasure? Quite simply, because of the grip our senses have upon us. We are, in fact, slaves of our senses; we cannot see the possibly of there being something beyond, far deeper and capable of giving us far greater pleasure, so we trudge along on our 'addicted', sense dominated ways." A 'Materialistic' Case for Spirituality

They also question another fundamental principle of our society: the money in land. Yogis and Chris emulate our Native ancestors, who lived peacefully together years before land became the means for profit. This has divided us into states, countries, races, rich, poor. But if Chris McCandless and thousands of years of practice by the yogis can live happily and peacefully without anything but what they can carry why can't the rest of us? Our sedentary lifestyle has created more problems than it has resolved. A couple of these being obesity and poverty. 

"Middle class morality isn't sufficient, especially when it is the veil covering hypocrisy, sin, & a want of love. A college degree, a new car, a new apartment, a good savings account, & all the other 'blessings' can't provide us with what all of us desire - 'to love and to be loved'."  
K. Darrell "Chris McCandless: A Hunger Artist"


I must admit I'm drawn to these ideas, and maybe it's the senioritis in me talking. But, I would love to do what Chris and the yogis have done. Take a spiritual and methodical sabbatical to become closer to nature, to God, to myself. Because there are days that I feel so lost in everything: school, sports, even books. Is this me? All of me? When I think about it the answer is no. There's so much more creativity, adventure, and life in all of us. We have to stop limiting ourselves with our desire to have as much as possible. It's killing us.