Did you see the movie, The Life of Pi? Or, perhaps you read this 2001 best-selling novel by Yann Martel? If so, you know the story is about an Indian boy named Pi who is trapped for 227 days at sea in a lifeboat with a starving Bengal tiger. Pi uses beliefs from Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity to help him survive this ordeal.
I was living in New Hampshire with I saw this movie with a friend who is now deceased. She’d never spoken of religion or spirituality and yet, after viewing this movie, she turned to me and said, “I want my children and my grandchildren to see this film.”
If you watched the movie or read the book without knowing anything about Martel, you might assume he was a religious or spiritual man. But in truth, he came to religion as a result of writing this novel. And Martel came to write this novel because of a trip to India.
This author has stated that he seeks to improve his life by embracing ideas, not merely facts that can be proven by the scientific method. He’s talked about faith and how, in reality, people take actions based on faith about lots of things without truly knowing how things will turn out. So, we may have faith n the love of another and decide to build a life with that person, or we might have faith in a political party and regularly vote for its candidates. But we may be less inclined to have faith in a high power or God.
Martel suggests that when one has faith, though, suffering becomes more bearable. And why is this so? Because the faithful perceive suffering as a small part of a larger canvas which they realize will never be fully visible to them. On the other hand, Martel believes that those without faith may come to realize that while secularism provides solutions to many things in the here and now, it doesn’t really offer help with suffering.
Martel’s trip to India made him wonder what it would mean to have faith. As a result, he chose to write a novel in which his man character would exhibit lots of faith—through his practice of three religions.
Well, Martel was also influenced by his prior work with the dying. He claims that after observing what he has described as person after person lying there with legs like two little sticks, a mountain of a stomach, the flesh on his or her face melted away, and a head devoid of hair, he found himself questioning the point of being rational or reasonable as opposed to believing in those things the world’s great religions have taught. Indeed, why not believe that someone transcendentally loves you, or why not entertain the notion that the operating principal of the universe is love? Martel concluded that such beliefs could coexist with the rational—it didn’t have to be one or the other.
If you’ve not looked to religion and/or spirituality to provide you with the kind of beliefs and tools that might help you to deal with your likely suffering, you might want to start by learning more about various religions or read books that will guide you regarding how to become a more spiritual person. Then, you might want to pretend that like Pi, you’re suddenly a person of great faith. What type of thoughts would such a person hold? What behaviors would she engage in? And then, try to hold such thoughts regularly and engage in such behaviors, too.
Become an observer of yourself. Watch closely and see, if in time, you don’t notice changes in yourself and your life.
Frankly, I have faith that reading this will help you—although I certainly don’t know this for a fact. That all said, though, I do believe that you’ll come to enjoy what Martel would describe as a wealthier life—not because you’ll have done something like he did that ended up providing him with newfound riches, but because you’ll be more at peace. See, you’ll feel more connected to what some might call your source, God within, or your soul. But also, you’ll likely feel that you’ve been transformed and are operating or living in a different way than you did before. And then the day might even arrive where you come to realize you’re codependent-no-more because, essentially, you’re no longer a spiritually bankrupt person who looks to others, things, and activities to make you and your life feel worthwhile. You will know you have worth merely because you can truly perceive yourself as a child of God with the touch of The Divine within you.