Saturday, June 8, 2013

Life is a Story


I just finished reading Life of Pi an amazing story about a young boy and a Bengal tiger surviving on a life raft for seven months. Months ago I saw the movie and was struck by how spiritual it was, but is wasn't until reading the book I truly understood how spiritual it is. It has helped me appreciate the Divine Mystery once more.

Near the beginning of the novel, an old man  tells the narrator that he had a story...



 "...that will make you believe in God.
I stopped waving my hand. But I was suspicious. Was this s Jehovah's Witness knocking at my door? "Does your story take place two thousand years ago in a remote corner of the Roman empire?" I asked.
"No."
Was he some sort of Muslim evangelist? "Does it take place in seventh century Arabia?"
"No. no. It starts right here in Pondicherry just a few years back..."

By the end of the novel, I was convinced that the nature of God, not as a magical Presence who interfered in the natural order of things, but of God as Love, Life and full self-expression. The Divine Mystery that is greater than the sum of its parts.

I believe in God. I believe that God is greater than any words can ever articulate, infinite in nature and scope
.
Last Sunday, Dr. Jim Lockard explored the question of the nature of God in his inspirational talk, Defining God. Truly we are reminded that the nature of God is not some old man who whimsically dishes out good or evil based on his changing whims or for no reason at all. Dr. Jim reminded us that the awe-inspiring nature of the Divine is Its activity through us, through our self-assessment, our beliefs, our passion. He also reminded us that our lives are the reflection of our own acceptance of the nature of God.

Now, the story of Pi, on a life raft with a Bengal tiger, did not bring me to the same conclusions. In this story, both in the movie and in the novel, I felt that Pi's Spiritual Experience, (he defined himself as a Hindu, Christian, Muslim), was one of feeling the Presence of Transcendent Love. His faith was based on a Deity, outside himself, who kept him alive  for seven months in a very dangerous situation. He believed in a transcendent God that was outside himself. He had faith in God. The story was about courage, choices, perceptions and love.

Ernest Holmes writes: " Why must we believe? Because God is belief. God is belief, and belief is Law, and Law produces form, in substance. When Jesus explained to his disciples that they had failed to heal because of a lack of faith, they protested that they did have faith in God. Jesus explained to them that this was insufficient; they must have the faith of God. The faith of God is very different from a faith in God. The faith of God IS God, and somewhere along the line of our spiritual evolution this transition will gradually take place, where we shall cease having faith IN and shall have faith OF.Always in such degree as this happens, a demonstration takes place." SOM 317

The charming story of Pi is also about how one perceives or discerns the circumstances and events of his or her life. It is a story of unbelievable courage living on a small life-raft with a dangerous Bengal tiger. Or it may be a story about a devout vegan Hindu boy whose life circumstances brought him in close proximity with bestial danger, and the choices he made to survive. At the end of the novel, people are questioning Pi about his story and asking him to tell what really happened. Pi responds,"Isn't telling about something --- using words, English or Japanese -- already something of an invention? Isn't just looking upon this world already something of an invention?" Then he went on to say, "The world isn't just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no"? Doesn't that make life a story?"

Yes. Indeed, it is our understanding OF life that determines our experience of it! I know that that understanding grows as we evolve spiritually. What is your understanding of Life? of God? 

I believe in Love, when I see the evidence of it. I see Love when my heart is full of Love.

How do you define God? Do you have faith IN God? or do you have the faith OF God?