Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Spirituality of Pi

I've done book reviews on this blog before, but I don't believe I've ever taken the time to do a movie review. As I've been in a spiritually contemplative mood lately, I'm going to mention one of my favorite spiritual movies, Life of Pi.  I haven't read the book yet, but after seeing the movie, I greatly want to.

Life of Pi follows a young boy, Pi Patel, as he is stranded in the middle of the ocean following a storm, as he and his family are attempting to emigrate from India to Canada in search of a new life after a failing economy in their hometown.

The movie starts out in  recounting Pi's life in India prior to the shipwreck. It tells of his Hindu mother and atheist father, and Pi's own interests in spirituality. I love the philosophy of Pi. In the movie states the concept that "faith is a house with many rooms, and why not visit all the rooms?". As a child he is exposed to the Hindu faith through his mother. At another point, he wanders into a Christian church and is then exposed to Jesus. Soon after, he passes the town's Muslim district, and comes into contact with Islam (He states that "God introduced himself to me as Allah."). With each three, he finds some way of expressing spirituality that appeals to him, beginning to pray to Jesus and cross himself, as well as pray five times a day in the manner of Muslims. One of my favorite lines is when he is doing his bedtime prayers. He prays over an icon of Vishnu, and he prays "Thank you, Vishnu, for introducing me to Jesus". Throughout the movie, he interchangeably prays to Vishnu, Allah, "God", Krishna, etc., with the understanding that it's all just different ways to pray to the same Higher Power... "One mountain, many roads" so to speak. By the end of the movie, he has told two different versions of events, and then asks the novelist whom he is telling his story to,  "In both stories, I'm stranded at sea. In both stories I suffer great pain, and lose my family. Which story do you prefer?"(paraphrase). Once the journalist gives his answer, Pi, responds, "And so it is with God."

I find myself thinking about that more frequently as I'm getting into a more spiritual phase, as drama seems to finally be dying down a little bit compared to what 2013 has been overall. I have a philosophy similar to Pi's, where my own spirituality is influenced by Christianity, Buddhism, and nature spirituality. So am I Christian? Am I Buddhist? Am I Pagan? The older I get, the more I realize, yes, and no. I am a follower of Christ. Rather than the standard, Trinitarian view of Christ, I hold to the Pelagian view, in which Christ was sent not to suffer and die for sins, but to awaken us to our true potential. My Christianity is equally influenced by the Gnostic Scriptures as they are the canonical Bible. I also subscribe to the Buddhist Four Noble Truths, which describe the cause of suffering and how to rid oneself of suffering, a way of living your life. I try to honor nature, and recognize the cycles of nature and my connection to Mother Earth.  To me, we often have different tastes in music, movies, books, food, etc., and we don't limit ourselves to just one genre. So why box myself in when it involves spiritual matters? To do so would be denying other parts of who I am.

All in all, I can't recommend this movie enough.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


I've been in a very contemplative mood the last few days, particularly this weekend. I spent the day watching "Life of Pi" (which is a phenomenal movie, and I've been meaning to write a blog entry on it at some point), and reading through my old entries on here. I've been blogging on this particular blog since 2010, with the vast majority of entries being in 2010. It's interesting to see how things shift and how my perspectives change during that time.

There is finally a light at the end of the tunnel to a good bit of the drama that has been going on this year, I believe. I'm apprehensive to say that just yet, as my pessimism kicks in and says "The year isn't over yet, a lot can still happen!", but at the very least I seem to be getting a mild break. In addition to the 20mg of Celexa, I'm now also on 150mg of Wellbutrin, as the Celexa alone quickly became essentially ineffective. It's mostly helping now, although financially I haven't been able to get the prescriptions refilled a time or two. While I still have my depressed days, they are at least a bit more tolerable and manageable.

My six year single streak is now over as well. The man I met via, which I mentioned in a previous post I believe, where we went on the long walk on the beach and spent the whole evening together for our first date, we have really clicked and things have just grown from there. Funny how life doesn't quite go how you plan it to, but I'm at least happy with this particular development!

My roommate just sold her car for $6,000, and therefore the financial situation, I hope, is finally going to get stable again. Next month, when she gets her financial aid overage check for school, she is going to pay me back the money she owes me from all the crap that happened at the beginning of the year. My first order of business is to book a trip to Washington DC to meet my father. After that, finally catch up on my medical appointments - go to the dentist, get contacts again, maybe see an allergist and get a second opinion at an ENT regarding my hearing.

That's not to say there hasn't been some drama. I got written up at work, essentially for being behind on paperwork and not meeting the required number of hours per month. Office politics at their finest. I do take responsibility for my end though - my mood swings and emotions have been a particular roller coaster this year, which has affected my job performance. Burnout has contributed to this as well. The property management company which handles our monthly rent, totally screwed us over this month. First, the computer system (we have the option to pay online via a tenant portal) couldn't recognize the bank information, leading to the check being returned - twice. Finally, my roommate just wrote the check and took it to them in person. Two days later, the property manager (by the way, our previous property manager quit and nobody told us, I didn't find this out until I called to address the previously mentioned computer situation) calls and says we have until Friday to pay, with late fee. She called on Thursday. There were  repeated attempts to resolve this situation on my end, with her repeatedly saying that my roommate never brought a check, and then when my roommate tried to call her, she never answered the phone and then said that my roommate never tried to contact her (the proof is in my roommate's call log). I did manage to get them to give us until Monday, so that we could first void the check that they lost. It was pretty much the straw that broke the camel's back for me, which led to my decision to report them to the Better Business Bureau. Guess we'll see where that goes.

In skimming through my previous posts, I feel I'm starting to shift again. I tend to fluctuate a lot in my spiritual beliefs/practices. It's like an on/off switch. With all of this going on, I've been "off" for most of 2013, if not even before, back when I first found myself having to sleep on a couch. I feel myself swinging back to "on", and find myself in a stage of once again evaluating my spirituality, and generally having spiritual thoughts to begin with. I'm at that point where, I'm not going to make myself (or anyone else) any promises about how often I'll blog, what spiritual practices I will or won't do or how often. I'm going to try to be completely Zen about it, and just take it one day at a time, and not beat myself up if I don't quite follow through.