If you haven’t seen or read Life Of Pi yet, but you’re planning to and you don’t want to know how it ends, look away now.
Years ago I read the book and the message resonated deeply with me. Recently I saw the film, and had the same experience.
A teenage Indian boy, Pi, becomes fascinated by different religions.
God reveals himself to the boy first through Hinduism.
Later Pi re-experiences God through Christianity.
Then he experiences God again through Islam.
Each time it is a wonderful experience for him.
Like finding the same God by opening a different door.
His father tells him he must choose one religion and reject the others.
But Pi doesn’t want to.
His father owns a zoo in India, where their pride and joy is a tiger.
They decide to take the zoo and relocate to Canada.
Everything is shipped on an old tramp steamer.
Also on board is a gentle Chinese student, a thuggish cook, and Pi’s family, including his mother.
In the middle of the Pacific Ocean a massive storm sinks the ship.
Pi scrambles aboard a lifeboat.
Also on board he finds some animals from the zoo.
An injured zebra, a gentle orang-utan, and a vicious hyena.
The hyena attacks and kills the zebra, then it kills the orang-utan.
Pi cowers in terror.
Suddenly the tiger appears from under a tarpaulin and kills the hyena.
The lifeboat’s sole occupants are now Pi and the tiger.
After many months they reach land and the tiger disappears.
Pi recovers in hospital.
He is visited by the boat’s owners.
He tells them his story, but they don’t believe it.
He thinks quietly, then he says “Okay here is a different story.
Suppose the zebra was actually the Chinese student.
Suppose the hyena was the thuggish cook.
And the orang-utan was my mother.
Suppose the cook was drunk and stabbed the Chinese student.
My mother fought with him and he killed her.
I became mad, grabbed the knife and killed the cook.
When I reached land, I gradually returned to my senses.”
Then Pi pauses and looks at the two men.
They are silent.
He says “Now that is another story but either way the same thing happened. The ship sank and every living creature except me, died.
Those are the facts.
The question is, which story do you prefer to believe?”
The two men look at each other.
They quietly agree that they preferred to believe the story about the tiger.
And they leave.
Pi’s voiceover quietly says to audience “It is the same with religion. The facts are the same: God is God.
You just have to decide which you think is the better story.”