by G.S. Luthra
Modern people these days are spoiled in a lot of ways and many feel lost. All over the world you can see people losing themselves through indulgence in food, drink, pleasure, and entertainment as it has become their sole purpose of existence. However, this pampered lifestyle is destined for oblivion as the economy cannot sustain it for long. There is a benefit to all this – more younger folks are waking up to the falsities of society. With that, more are finding the pursuit of material gains pointless and instead seek to live a more tranquil life. Millennials are doing it in Japan, China, and even America. Many worked regular jobs, went to bars, partied, drank booze, and did everything normal people do, or rather what is defined as normal in modern culture. However, they found that such a life repetitive. A lack of meaning in life bothered them, and they felt that living in the supposedly free world was imprisoning. This caused them to ask reflect and ask questions.
The Way of the Hermit
Exploring the world and experience what life has to offer cannot be done if you’re working at a 9-5 job. However, with virtual work, that has changed. Being constricted to a nation forces one to adopt its ideology, but the hermit is patriotic to no one. Hermits live with necessities and don’t necessarily require the surplus of material comforts. If it’s available, fine, but it’s not a means to an end. Everyone becomes a hermit for different reasons. Some do it because they love nature and prefer the environment, some dislike crowded cities, other seek meaning while some are there because they just want to get away from the stress of modern living. Spirituality tends to be the common reasons, or at least an attempt to discover something more to the life that is pushed on us in the “civilized” world. Although currency runs the world today, by integrating technology, modern hermits are able to continue their unorthodox lifestyle with very little money required. This freedom is what makes this lifestyle so attract to them.
Why it’s Gaining Popularity
Children are forced to go to school and the education they receive isn’t really teaching them anything other than memorizing dates, names, and facts without explanation. When they go for higher study, they are merely conditioned to work at a job. When they eventually do get that job, their parents are thrilled, but most of them deep down are unhappy. They know they are just there to make someone else rich, so to alleviate their misery they turn to drugs, sex, booze, smoking, and other reckless behavior. But it doesn’t stop there, social media addiction is a problem where people have the constant need to showcase their life to the world. They need to post pictures of them skiing, vacationing, snorkeling, or some other activity to create the illusion that they’re having a good time in life. Behind it all, their lives are empty. No matter how many pictures or videos they post of themselves posing with hot babes and friends, they feel alone and this has caused some to wake up.
Why am I struggling in school or at my job, they ask? Why do I allow myself to be miserable because my professor gave me a bad grade? Why do I stay up worrying what my boss will say about my performance at work? What kind of pathetic existence is this? To hell with it! There has to be more to life that this monotonous cesspit of conformity and complacence. I was not born to be an obedient slave whose sole purpose is to please corporations. I’m here to learn and evolve, to become something better, not to rot away in stagnation.
A famous Japanese proverb is, ‘A protruding nail will be hammered down’. Throughout history, great spirits lived in solitude from periods of time to successfully increase their consciousness and polish their skill. Examples include:
- Buddha – meditated under a Bodhi tree for weeks and attained enlightenment
- Mas Oyama – lived alone for a year to practice martial arts, and developed “The God Hand”
- Miyamoto Musashi – legendary Japanese swordsman who lived as a wanderer and later on in life, retired to cave for months and wrote his book
- Richard Proenneke – a navy vet who later built his own cabin and lived in peaceful solitude
Digital nomads have become popular as the 9-5 slave work approach to save up for an overly priced house isn’t appealing anymore. So people have gone their own way in an unorthodox lifestyle. It is interesting to observe and the factors as to why they choose such a life. You could blame the failing economy, the failed marriage system, but I think it’s because more people are becoming enlightened in the sense that they’re fed up with all the bulls**t of society. They realize that it’s fruitless to give one’s life for a corporation and instead choose to define their own destiny and follow their own path. They may wander and may stop if they run into a few things worth fighting for. Most just want freedom and use the internet as their tool for generating income needed to fuel their quest for restriction free living. It seems that when you’re rich, everything you do is fine as is the case with Nicolas Berggruen, dubbed the “homeless billionaire”, who travels and lives in hotels, a modern vagabond in a sense. Modern day rōnins like myself, wield the pen which is mightier than the sword and have no desire to settle, at least in the way that is considered normal.
The Healing Power of Nature
Once while volunteering at a garden, I placed my hand on some of the large rocks. Instantly, I felt power. I found that I can absorb energy from the rocks. This makes sense because your hands and feet can absorb elements of whatever they come in contact with. Modern people may find this a hippie thing, but research has shown that walking in nature lowers cortisol levels and blood pressure. A disconnectedness from nature seems to be creating a lot of health problems and so becoming a hermit maybe an attempt by some to reconnect back.
Society just Doesn’t Give a F**k
Some people become a hermit out of anger, spite for society, or death of a loved one. There are also those who it due to trauma. As we can see in Japan and other modern area, the pressure of succeeding in the competitive corporate world destroys the spirits in some people, so they decide to drop out of the rat race altogether. Society doesn’t care however, because whether it’s corporate America or high tech Japan, all that really matters is what can you do for the company and how many millions you can generate in profits. If you dare speak against your corporate masters, you risk being fired. You are expected to sacrifice the better part of your years for the company and in exchange you’ll get a paycheck that will allow you to continue living a “socially acceptable” lifestyle, that is keeping your mouth shut and following the rules of the establishment. Utter a peep, and your pampered life at ‘fill in the blank’ corporation will be terminated with the push of a button.
Hikikomori, is a term coined by Japanese psychologist Tamaki Saitō in his 1998 book Social Withdrawal – Adolescence Without End, however rather than blaming people for having a “condition”, perhaps this is a natural response to a world that just doesn’t make any sense anymore. Hermits mostly choose this path to leave the fast pace life and live a simpler quieter life. While there is a percentage that does it as a form of escapism, perhaps that is a reflection on our societal structure.