When trying to answer why people go into nature in an attempt to escape mainstream society, it is important to understand that each person that has gone into nature has gone for their own reason(s). Collectively, there are general reasons like searching for adventure, trying to see the world and travel, scientific research, or escaping a rough family/social life. One answer, often overlooked, is that some people go into nature for religious reasons.
In particular, I have researched eastern religions, which, by the way, Thoreau was inspired by. These religions include Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and many others.
The goal of Taoism is to live forever. In order to achieve immortality, a Taoist must meditate and submit to nature and the flow of energy because all things are connected. The five elements are water, earth, metal, wood and fire. The balance of all things, including the elements is represented through the symbol, the Yin and Yang. Taoism is closely related to nature because Taoists believe that nature (the 5 elements) are the source of energy and life.
Another religion that closely related to my research is Jainism. Jainism promotes non-violence to all living things. Many Jainist monks give up all material possessions and live as one with nature, meditating. Through this effort, Jainists hope to liberate their soul and free their inner essence. Jainism also believe that the universe is controlled by the laws of nature, and follow the Mahavratas.
Although I am no expert in the area of world religion, I do believe it’s important to recognize different ideas, religions and cultures. My research does not focus on religious reasons why people go into nature, but, it would only be ignorant of me not to include them. I certainly am interested in learning more about different religions.
My research continues to inspire me and remind me of how there never is just one answer…