The first elephant to arrive in the USA was in 1796, and was exhibited around the country, so it was a question people asked — “Have you seen the elephant?”
In the mid 1800’s it was an idea often expressed in the West of America when someone was dying — “You’ve seen the elephant!”— meaning they’ve seen and experienced everything worthwhile in this world and it was now OK to die. http://www.awb.com/dailydose/?p=1097
The modern equivalent of this would be experiencing all that my senses can absorb during this lifetime — whether at home or traveling the globe — seeing and experiencing all that this world has to offer.
But no matter how many “elephants” we see, how much we travel the world, indeed how much money we have, nothing makes us happy. None of it touches or satisfies the inner self. None of it makes us a better person. It just distracts us from looking inwards and having those quiet times of reflection when we can ask/wonder why we are unhappy, why we feel so alone.
It does not mean we cannot love life or appreciate the world’s beauty however until we contemplate the bigger questions like “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” we will never find real happiness or the real purpose for this life.