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July 7, 2013 / ldejong4

A Richer Life with a Life like Pi

It’s been a while since I saw this movie and read this book but I enjoyed “Life of Pi” so much that it deserves some reflection in my blog. I saw the 3-D version in the cinema over the Christmas period last year before reading the book and I was blown away. This is a movie that will carry your senses to new levels of visual satisfaction thanks to the beautifully vibrant colours throughout but it is the allegoric storyline that will have you thinking and making connections to everyday life for days after.

Life of Pi is the story of a young Indian boy who becomes a castaway at sea on a lifeboat with a tiger as their family attempted to move their family business of a zoo to Canada on a ship but sinks. Pi had always been a very mature, independent and inquisitive character. Raised by zoo keeping parents, he has a strong knowledge and interesting insight into animal behaviour, which is put to the test as he fights for survival against all odds trapped in the middle of the ocean with a hungry beast. Growing up, Pi questioned life in a way that his peers would not. This reflective analysis brings him so close to religion that he becomes a young boy with aspirations to simultaneously practise Christianity, Hinduism and Islam. He finds deep spiritual solace through religion and it is this commitment and trust in it that carries him through his extended battle for survival at sea.

Life of Pi is not a religious story but rather a fantasy-adventure for any reader to enjoy. It contains an underlying theme of religion in the general sense allowing the reader interpret its significance to their desired degree. For me, the key message throughout was that the author accepted life as life for what it is and what it throws at you. We all have ups and downs and for some they will be more extreme than others but it is how you cope and perceive it that counts. The author Yann Martel is from a very secular background and it is through this novel that he welcomes religion into society arguing that it enables suffering or adversity to be a lot more bearable regardless of what religious following is prescribed for you or you choose to follow. For him, secularism paired with reason has allowed for many great things in the world but when faced with individual hardship it will fail to bring you out the other side in a way that religion can.

So Pi and Richard Parker got me thinking about religion. The author got me thinking and that led to me to research his life a little and what struck me was hearing someone of his background say “Why not believe that the principal operating system of the universe is love and that when you are on your deathbed what does reason matter. Why not believe that someone transcendentally loves you.” I feel this was a very beautiful and healthy attitude to the acceptance of all forms of religion in society, which contrasts so much to what differences in religious beliefs has caused across history – wars, terrorism and many other conflicts.

This year Pope Frances was elected to papacy after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. I remember where I was and what I was doing. I remember a friend texting me proudly to say he was in a bar in Dublin where it was live on television and it could be an important moment in history. I remember another friend who works in social media marketing highlighting it as an important time for clients on Twitter as this moment was a trending subject with millions of people mentioning it in real time. It was news not to be missed, all over every form of media. It was interesting to see a topic of religion being broadcast in a positive light after years of controversy and scandal throughout the media in Ireland. Traditionally, Ireland is quite a religious and conservative country in comparison to other western cultures, however if I were to read a Bible or a Koran on the bus I would undoubtedly be judged because we as humans are collectively critical and opinionated. We judge people who actively engage in a practice yet are open to whatever story the media throws at us. And now, all I can say is that I am thankful to have novels to read like “Life of Pi” on the bus so I can publically satisfy my own personal spiritual questioning beside a man reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” on a Kindle.

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2 Comments

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  1. J.D. Gallagher / Jul 7 2013 6:31 pm

    beside a man reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” on a Kindle.

    It was a friend’s Kindle, I swear…..

    • ldejong4 / Jul 7 2013 10:59 pm

      haha the publication of that book caused kindle sales to soar. I should really read it before having a go but it’s always such an easy target.

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