Posted by: lecubiste | April 11, 2014

Cosmology and The Life of Pi

Whenever we analyze something, anything, we are only seeing a part of a larger whole. Thus, we must rely on something other than our immediate reason to make sense of our choices. Why did we focus on this or that?  Can we really rationalize why we do what we do?

Sure, we guess, speculate, estimate what our motives are, but the fact is that motivation is pre-intellectual.  It happens before we think, because in motivation is choosing what to focus the mind on. This goes to the heart of major choices in our lives.  Why did we choose this or that spouse? Why did we leave college for a time, and go back with a new goal? Why do we vote the way we do, if we vote at all?

What tools do we have to maintain a sense of sanity in this profusion of unconscious drives and a reason that may or may not conflict with the real workings of unconscious motivations? For many, it is a belief in God, or something mystical, The Force, the Great Spirit, Brahman, the Tao, and on. The function of this in human psychology is to explain in lump sum all the unconscious energies that control our lives.

Whether we should include the Big Bang Theory with religious cosmologies or not is a question to be debated for a long time to come. I enjoyed the film Life of Pi on this subject. This beautifully photographed film really examined this question of which story of creation to believe. In the film, the narrator seeks to know the meaning of God. Our protagonist, Pi, presents two creation myths: the Christian version in which God sends his only son to Earth where he is crucified; and the story of Krishna, whose mother is afraid he has been eating dirt and looks in his mouth to check.  There she sees the moon and the stars.

Life of Pi

The story of Life of Pi is of the survival of a shipwreck and the sharing of a boat ride across the Pacific with a Bengal Tiger. Pi relates two stories to the Japanese Insurance company that insured the ship. One story is that of him and the tiger, and the other of a fight to the death with the murderer of his mother onboard the life boat. One is of course a metaphor for the other. Pi is the tiger.

Pi asks which story do you want to believe? It doesn’t matter, he says.  There was a shipwreck, and he is the only survivor.  The Japanese insurance men prefer the tiger story, “…and so it is with God”, Pi tells the narrator. Do you want to believe the Christian cosmology, or the Hindu version.  It makes no difference, since the world has been created and we have to live in it. Believe whatever makes you happy.

It is faith that allows us to go day after day, faith that there is a larger spiritual medium that supports all we do and gets us through life. A loss of this faith causes people to despair, to lose hope, to become cynical and bitter. One could accept the need for faith by understanding that the lot of one human life is trivial in the grand scheme of things. This is not a childlike faith that  a parental God looks after us. Any reading of a newspaper shows the tragic ways in which many people die – in hurricanes and tornadoes, landslides and plane crashes.

No, it is a faith that there is more to this life than a simple bio-mechanical construct that sees only a physical world. It is faith in the surrounding energetic world and the inner sensorium that drives us, these drives of living energy that push us forward through our days. That faith is a source of strength, of motivation, and of values.


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