Struggling with Meaninglessness

searching meaning in meaninglessness

Instinct Saturation

with one comment

I have not been writing any fresh original essays since 30th December – (The Big Elephant), and it actually kinda frustrates me …  You know, the feeling of the brain being lazy and clogged up and refuse to think for such long period of time. But after a good one week break, I finally feel re-energized and fresh again .. for now.

So, this essay of mine is slightly inspired by the anime/manga Naruto (all time best manga, in my opinion) by Masashi Kishimoto. I have been following this manga for 7 years! (430+ episodes to date and still running). From the outside, it may just look like a typical fiction manga but actually the whole story is pretty much inspired with philosophy of Ninja and some other classical Japanese philosophy.

Obviously, Naruto is the protagonist of the story and the villains are a group of S-Class ninja organization called as Akatsuki. Read the quote below:




Konoha is far from godless. They view their previous generations (ancestors) as heavenly beings and act with the ‘Will of Fire’ as their main ideology… although you could say it’s just another excuse to fight and war.

Religion, ideals, resources, land, grudges, love, pride … any trivial reasons that motivates people to action will eventually breed war. The reason can be thought up after the fact, but war will never cease to exist.… because human nature consistently pursue strife and struggle. What people truly want is to fight.  Pain, leader of Akatsuki (when responding to Hidan, an Akatsuki ninja who called Konoha people, the village where Naruto came from, as godless infidels.) 


“What people truly want is to fight”.

If the statement above is true and can be applied to our real world, then why has war lessen over the years? Why most people today detest war?  I’ll attempt to tackle this question.

My Theory on why War has lessen.

It is true that people are still dying from local war today especially in the middle east region but on a global scale, war between powerful nations have already ceased since the Vietnam War days in the 60/70s. In other words, we are already in the state of global peace for almost 40 years now. But let’s ask a simple question – What drove people to war in the first place? Why throughout the history of humanity did we get ourselves involved in constant fighting and conflicts?

First of all, I believe it is safe to say that fighting and warring is a male thing. Essentially, this aggressive behaviour is driven to feed one major basic male instinct – Competitiveness. If you branch out this competitiveness instinct, many other typical traits will appear to be obvious such as – territorial (by dominating and occupying others) , recognition (by seeking status, power and fame), ideals, and a whole long list of other behaviours – Hence, our motivation to fight and war.

However, as we could expect from this impermanent world, things evolve. It is pretty obvious the world as we know today is very different from the world we had 40 years ago in terms of culture advancement. And I believe the evolution of world technology and culture has saturated this element of competitiveness which constantly drove humanity to war previously. I do not have rich vocabulary in me, so I will just call this phenomenon as Instinct Saturation.

How Instinct Saturation Works?

I truly believe there are some emotions (depending on individuals) that need to be consistently fed. These emotions are like gluttony-monsters. If not fed well, these ‘hungry’ emotions will rebel against us by giving us the feeling of deprivation, agitation or some kind of withdrawal. Among the emotions that need to be consistently fed, as I could think of, are boredom, love, lust, excitement, emotional-security, and competitiveness.

So, in the olden days, how do people feed this emotion of competitiveness? Yes, as I’ve said earlier, we fight and war to feed this emotion. This is also partly due to the emotion being directly tied to the environmental condition during the old days when people lived in the state of poverty or semi-poverty where most common people do not get to eat and live comfortably. Therefore, once the common people was psyched up by the country leader’s propaganda (usually emphasizing on Injustice and Evilness inflicted by enemy to psychologically push people’s hot button), common people will go to the battlefield and fight, preparing to risk their life to win the war in exchanging the opportunity for better life (that’s why military leaders always inspire people to fight for future generations). That’s how people unleash their competitiveness. It might not seem rational or logical, but hey this is how emotion works. Just like what Pain said – “The reason can be thought up after the fact

But that was 40 years back and beyond, back to thousands years ago. Back then, life was tough. Today, life has become much easier due to the rise of standard of living. Most people get to eat and live comfortably well today. Therefore, there’s not much to gain from going to war but instead there are plenty to lose.

But more importantly today, we have more modern alternatives to feed our competitive desires and saturate our strong competitive instinct. For instance, we have PC games and console games where we could unleash our competiveness by attempting to win game challenges. Then we have satellite, where sports are broadcasted live all around the world and allow fans to support their favourite sports teams or person (piggybacking on the sport team’s success to fulfill our competitive desire). Also our competitiveness has already been saturated by business corporations where we have now shifted our competitiveness into our work and organizational role. And we have many other social activities which could also very well saturate the instinct.

In others words, our competitive aggressive behaviour which was like a hot orb previously, ready to pounce on any opportunity to fight and war once psyched up, is already saturated and dispersed by many form of ‘distractions’.

Today, as humanity evolved, the hot orb in us begin to saturate, and we became a little bit ‘Buddha’ (peaceful). We start to realized how stupid war is once we stop attaching ourselves to that intense emotion and see the big picture a little. However, I’m sure the people in the past will thought war was the right thing to do. I will give an analogy – think back on the dumbest or silliest thing you did when you were a teenager. Now that you think back, you may wonder why did you made such action which clearly embarrassed you. But back then in that heat of the moment, you most probably think what you did was the right decision.

So What?

Personally, I’m a huge fan of Rafael Nadal and I would never miss his games whenever he plays with a top player. Then on a random day, while watching Nadal’s game, I asked myself a question – What do I gain by spending hours of watching Nadal and tennis in general? Apart from the satisfaction of watching Nadal winning, what else do I gain? Absolutely nothing. I will not become a great tennis player by just watching him. He will not share with me his prize money if he wins the tournament. My kung-fu will not improve after watching his game. I will not become famous by supporting Rafa – I’m just one of the million fans. So what is exactly the rationale of me becoming a fan of Rafa? Think properly – None. Only some temporary satisfaction.

Then I realized there are many things that we do everyday which is also pretty much meaningless. Why do people watch TV series? Why do people play computer games or console games? Why do we play sports with friends? Why do people eat snacks? Why do people go to shopping centers and aimlessly walk around? Alcohol? Cigarettes?  Why do I like reading manga and Naruto?

Are there any rationale in the sense it will gives us very clear tangible benefits in indulging these activities?

Alas, I realized all these trivial things that we do everyday is meant to saturate our core instinct.


Written by elan85

February 1, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Posted in Philosophy, Psychology

One Response

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  1. […] leave a comment » Some Pain’s philosophy I wrote few weeks ago : Instinct Saturation […]

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