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.


JeniMac said...

I read a great review on Life of Pi that said the orange lifeboat represented Hinduism, the green island Islam, and the blue ocean Christianity. That gave me some great symbolism to think about. :) And definitely read the book. The movie is amazing, but the novel will leave you with a sense of feeling haunted (in a good way!).

Chadly said...

That's a good interpretation too! I read a review that likened it to an internal struggle between man's intellectual nature and animal nature - i.e when he was fighting the tiger, it was an internal struggle to maintain the self-control that ultimately helped him survive.

Dan Bonser said...

Great review on the movie. Its great to see such a personal interpretation of it, being able to really feel how it fits into your life.

Chadly said...

Thanks Dan! I like those types of movies best - ones I can relate to somehow.