Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Different Take on Halloween - because my mind works in strange ways

On day, some time ago, I found myself contemplating the "meaning" of Halloween. Not the religious or the historical context of it. I wondered what possible meaning could be created for the silly customs we engage in today. We all dress up as odd beings and characters – good and bad – and go around visiting strangers asking for treats.

When goblins, werewolves, ghosts and even Jason the psychotic killer come to our door we are not frightened. We know they are just little kids looking for something sweet.

And life is like that. We’re all going around pretending to be this or that, making ourselves up as the beings we think we are- or ought to be or need to be in order to survive or to get what it is we are trying to get. We go around to each person we meet wondering what we will get from them.

Whenever someone comes to us we wonder if they are thinking of tricks or treats – and what we have to give them to get them not to trick us.

We are all just playing roles - the roles are not who we are. We are the inner spirit that is playing the roles.

And when we see someone who looks like a monster or demon we should know it is only a costume. Behind the mask is just a little kid looking for something sweet.

And when we imagine ourselves as angels we need to remember that is a mask too.

I thought about this and then I made a drawing. Because that is what I do.

It is a large drawing of a whole lot of kids – kids who are us. Kids running, playing, posing, fighting, laughing, frowning. Each one has an angel doll and a demon mask. Sometimes they play with one, sometimes with the other – imagining themselves and each other as angel or demon.

Sometimes they forget their toys for a moment and notice the bird over their head. Each child has a bird a living bird with real wings. Mostly the children don’t notice their birds.

The birds notice everything. The birds are their spirits – their true living selves – neither angel nor demon but a living being whose natural state is to fly.

It is not something they are pretending to be but what they can become when they stop pretending.

In the drawing some children play sweetly, some play spitefully, some play together, some play alone. Some are caught up for the moment in the excitement of play, but they keep hold of their dolls and masks.

Some play with their mask, some wear their mask, some just hold it, in case they might need it. Some hold their angel dolls close, cherishing them. Some hold them carelessly.

One tries to snatch a doll and another tries to hit someone with his angel doll. Who we are and who we think we are and who we try to be and not be can be baffling.

One girl is gazing in delight at her bird. One boy has let go of his mask and his doll and has spread his sweater like wings as he looks at his bird. One boy seems to have lost interest in both his mask and his doll as he hugs his friend.

That was the drawing I made out of the thoughts that were rolling around in my head.

We’re all just children playing at life thinking the roles we play are real. As long as the spirit sees through the eyes of the child it imagines itself and its world as angel or demon.

When the child begins to look through the eyes of the spirit it no longer see angels or demons but only children pretending with masks and dolls and imagined selves.

When we begin to know ourselves as living spirits we awaken to a world awash in the billion billion beating wings of living spirits and know we are meant to fly.


there is understanding you come to know through experience
there is wisdom you come to through insight and depth of spirit
there is knowledge you learn from reading the right books
it should be understood that all I know is merely of the latter type

I’m still just playing with my masks and dolls trying to hear the wings of spirit somewhere above me

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Meaning of life 7: the dark side

Meaning for an individual or a society does not necessarily need to be good, healthy, or beneficial meaning ; it can be bad meaning. This can be particularly so for an individual, a group or a subgroup of a population that begins embracing a negative framework of meaning. Meanings constructed around exclusivist, xenophobic, paranoid frames of reference can be extraordinarily damaging to the individual psyche as well as to the community and to wider society. Meanings generated from states of resentment, anger, arrogance, exploitation, are equally destructive to the soul and the community.

The construction of meaning is intimately involved in the construction of identity – both individual and collective. Groups which construct their shared meaning and personal and shared identity around such ideas as “everyone is going to hell but us,” or “nobody’s as good or as smart or as important, or as beautiful as us,” “nobody counts in the end but us,” are debilitating to the individuals, to the group and very difficult for the larger society which they impact.

The main shared component of these negative frameworks of meaning comes down to their separation of themselves from others and from the larger shared project and adventure of humanity as a whole. Any time we wall ourselves off from others, we begin to, consciously or unconsciously adopt a value scale with ourselves at the top and everyone else ranged lower and valued less.

Meanings which promote exclusivity or separation between ourselves and others are essentially non-productive to the human endeavor –to the natural flow of things. To self-identify in contrast and opposition to others instead of in connection and mutual respect, is a gateway to all sorts of awful behavior to one another.

It leads to exploitation of others – what I need from them is far more important than their comfort, needs, goals, purposes, pleasure. It generates disenfranchisement and marginalization of others. It doesn’t need to be extreme. Negatively skewed sets of meaning can be as simple as assessing the healthy as better than the unhealthy, the smart or educated as better than ignorant or uneducated, the fast as better than the slow. Value judgments which place others in hierarchical relation to ourselves and those like us are inherently negative frameworks of meaning.

Some see beauty only in those who look like themselves, some see truth only in those who share their ideas, perspectives, outlook. This sort of territorial exclusiveness of the mental sphere is debilitating not only to those who construct these meanings but brings harm to those who live around or come into contact with them in one form or another. It shrinks the humanity of those who frame their identity with these meanings.

At the far end, these negative frames of meaning can lead to demonization of the other, the making of those who are different into non-humans, soul-less. And that is when we begin to act in truly evil ways toward one another. We have done this again and again in our rough road to becoming human.

Seeing that our worst tendencies can come out of the same urge to create meaning that inspires our greatest human achievements is part of the mystery of our humanity.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Meaning of life 6: possibilities of transformation

As human animals our minds have become characterized by a tendency toward creating, finding, seeing meaning. As individuals our felt need varies widely as does our ability to see, find, create meaning. But we’re all involved in this ongoing project of our evolving humanity and
meaning plays a central part in this adventure.

We look for meaning in our own lives, our personal collection of knowledge, insight, experience. And we find it in our wider cultures and societies. Sometimes we have little need for it and at other times we feel a desperate need for meaning to sustain, preserve, heal our humanity and our soul.

Sometimes there are those with a strong sense of recklessness and high risk capacity in their personality, who are willing to make the very bold move to throw over the entire fabric of their lives up to that point and trade it in for something else they are beginning to feel matches or corresponds more to the way they are now experiencing their life. They deliberately and consciously trade out their meanings for new ones.

There are also those who have had no felt need for meaning, who gain their pleasure in life from other pursuits, but then their life throws them a curve ball. They can’t get what they need and can’t figure out how to get and keep the pleasure they desire, or avoid the pain or loss or discouragement flowing in. They lose their hold on whatever it is that has given direction and energy to their life. They have stepped off into the incomprehensible end of the pool, teeming with the confusing parts – the parts that can’t be explained or understood. They have run smack into the lived experience of the essential meaninglessness of the raw, un-adorned flow of life.

And they suddenly need meaning . Because meaning is precisely the capacity to transcend the debilitating emotional and psychological paralysis which overwhelms us when life fails us. Often this is an impetus to the mind to step back and consciously sort through our life; to begin to piece together those things which give meaning for us. It triggers an individual mental construction project that can be the door to a more consciously lived life, a life of awareness and deliberate engagement.

Or it precipitates a broader quest for meaning through the vast human archives of knowledge and insight. We can collect meanings from those whose sense of meaning corresponds fairly closely
with our own sense of our life, our experience of life. When found or discovered meaning matches our own, our mind recognizes it as real, genuine, valid. Meanings are personal; if they are not constructed out of the fabric of ones own life they need to be matched to that fabric fairly closely.

And, of course, there are those for whom the crash into the darkness simply overwhelms them. No meaning can be found or created and they sink under the weight of life. But there are also some among us who have a gift for both meaning and empathy. They can step out of their own experience and enter into the experience of the other. And from within the darkness of the other they can listen until they see the fragmentary remnants there in the darkness of the other’s soul and feel their way along the contours of the broken parts to reclaim and re-construct.

Those who seek to become healing agents to the broken soul, must first be able to step outside of their own context and see through the eyes of the soul that is broken. Because the only stable and enduring meanings will be those which are drawn from the individual soul-mind-life which experiences them.

If you want to think about the dark side of meaning creation – and yes, there is a dark side – you can go on to the next post.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Meaning of life 5: creating meaning

As humans we have a tendency to want meaning, create it, look for it, preserve it in thought systems of meaning passed down in our societies and cultures.

But there are times when we step outside of these culturally and socially bounded frames of meaning. These traditional sets of meaning complexes may have lost their capacity to give our lives brilliance, or to sustain and heal us in our pain. Or there are those who just like to wander through alternative mental landscapes.

As noted earlier, the felt need for meaning manifests in each of us individually, and over time, in a wide range from nearly non-existent to immensely significant. And similarly, the capacity or skill or aptitude for creating, seeing, finding meaning also runs in a spectrum from slight to strong.

Those who have an inherent felt need for meaning but who have a low capacity for creation of meaning – or who find themselves in such a state – will often turn to others who not only have a capacity to create meaning but to convey that meaning, to express it, to pass it along. We value those who have the capacity training, skill, or insight to show us meaning, construct meaning in our world in which we live out our lives.

There are many different types of meaning creators, with different levels of skill and different attraction or appeal. Societies develop public meaning creators who can articulate the meanings which many in that society have developed in concert with one another, that have become a public shared meanings. Those who can express shared meanings in culturally and socially accessible contexts – writers, musicians, artists, speakers, creators of film and dance – often become the touchstones of meaning for their generation.

In addition to the broad social creators of meaning, there are also numerous providers of meaning all through our communities and families. They serve smaller groups of shared needs, or shared interests. The ability to see and give meaning is an inherent ability for our human mind. We can all do it, sometimes better, sometimes not so much. Our own meanings are always more powerful and more transformative than acquired meanings. But often we will be able to come across those who are able to speak, present, manifest the meanings that we have known but not been able to articulate to ourselves. We can absorb these meanings and appropriate them as our own.

Our minds are always involved in accessing, evaluating, re-evaluating, configuring, and re-configuring all the information, knowledge, learning experiences, pattern identification, and innumerable other tools and resources for managing our lives. Meaning is one of the resources which our mind is continually re-considering, re-vamping, re-organizing in the context of the lived experiences through which we make our way. It’s all part of the wonderful and terrible adventure of living life as a human.

For more adventures introduced by meaning see the next post

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Meaning of life 4: Mind hunger

As humans we seek meaning, create meaning, use structures of meaning to enhance the experiences of life
and survive the struggles of life. In fact, the human animal needs meaning to survive, just as much as it needs food, water, shelter, and security. Even a very comfortable and pleasant life can, when experienced as meaningless, become a terrible place that suffocates the soul and grates on the mind.

And the most demeaning, desperate life can shine with the brilliance of humanity when invested with meaning. It is our minds which create the actual subjective environment in which we live our lives. The ability to find and create meaning has been one of the most enduring urges of the human mind to construct and transform our subjective lived experience.

We actually hunger for meaning; it is a sensation as real as the sense of physical hunger. The palpably felt need for meaning is not always present. We can go about living our lives quite happily without much concern for seeing meaning in it all. But there are moments – or months or years – of life which jolt us out of our comfortable habits; the ground gives way under our feet; we grasp for something to hold it all together.

Families, communities, schools, societies teach our children and young people the knowledge they need to survive. They pass on all the practical skills needed to provide oneself with sustenance, shelter, security – the basic foundations of survival. But we also teach our children, and one another, a vast amount of knowledge about how to live happily. Living happily is the goal, not just living. Our shared millennia long fascination with meaning is driven by its capacity to enhance the quality of life. It is one of the most vital attributes of our humanity.

The mind craves knowledge as much as the body craves food. Some people have a huge appetite for food, while others eat like mice. In the same way there are those with an insatiable desire for knowledge and others who can live happily with very little knowledge. Like we said earlier - everything exists in a range from slight to intense, minimal to huge, insignificant to massive.

Some people have a low drive, inclination for needing meaning. Most of us have some felt need for meaning in some aspects or at some times in our lives. But the felt need may not always be accompanied by the capacity to see, create, find meaning. When the felt need for meaning runs up against an inability to perceive meaning, the quality of life drops precipitously. Just as in other characteristics and attributes of our immensely divers human capacities, the ability to find or create meaning varies by individual. Some have a low capacity, skill, capability for creation of meaning, while others have better abilities and some are very skilled.

This is one of the attractions toward religions, philosophies, and other systems of meaning. We have preserved the meanings that have shaped and sustained our lives, our cultures, and our societies over time. These are ready-made meanings which many people can apply to their lives, giving them the brilliance and the hope that enhance the individual lived experience.

From systems of meaning to the adventures of meaning: see the next post

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Meaning of life 3: bridges of hope

Seeking /constructing meaning is what humans do. We continually examine and sort through our ever increasing mental library of observations, conceptions, knowledge, and other mental stuff to find patterns, correlations, structures of thought which give meaning to our lived experiences. Meaning confers an enhanced reality to the experiences of life.

But beyond the vividness which meaning adds to the mundane flow of life, it also has the capacity to transform grief, loss, and sorrow. The ability to see meaning in the horrible, tragic, awful events that fall on us, creates sacredness in our lives.

Suffering is the response of the mind and emotions to pain – physical, emotional, psychological, and mental. But the human capacity to create meaning from the incomprehensible, constructs a context of value which contains the suffering, elevates it to a higher level of reality.

Pain, loss, sadness, discomfort, anxiety, are simply part of the natural flow of life for both human and non-human. It cannot be avoided. In fact these experiences are an integral aspect of the ongoing evolution of consciousness.

Meanings are ideas we tie around the raw experiences of life. Ideas of courage, perseverance, and patience transform the undefined confusion of bereavement, desperation, and despair. They allow us to conceive afflictions and troubles as heroic, significant, purposeful – as meaningful. The reason we preserve these ideas is that they create meaning out of chaos.

Ideas of meaning give value to suffering, loss, and sorrow. Even when we name our suffering as “ordeals” or “trials”, these simple names give meaning to the meaningless; the pain and sadness become something to be overcome or endured. Endurance is one of the powerful ideas of meaning. It gives deep significance to the suffering which is endured; and it gives strength to the ones enduring the suffering.

Meaning allows the mind to refocus its energies away from the pain, whether our own or that of others. As social animals, the suffering of others affects our own capacity to engage with our normal flow of our life. Meaning opens the mind to envisioning accomplishment in the face of debility, purpose in the midst of collapse.

Being able to wrap our pain in the meaning of bravery, changes the experience of the suffering immensely. If we are able to put our focus on acting with endurance, or on waiting with fortitude, our minds can reach past the suffering, can make it meaningful. The creation of meaning makes possible a deeply sustaining inner strength.

The one who staunchly fights a terminal disease is creating meaning for their life and for their death. And the one who, recognizing they have reached the end, accepts their death with grace and presence, is creating meaning from their life and death. And the meaning they each create expands and gives meaning and light and truth and reality to those who love them and those who hear of them and those who struggle with their own living while dying.

Those who grapple with insurmountable obstacles, who keep their poise in impossible situations, who look for light in the darkness, are creating meaning with their lives. There is a truth to lives which overcome the forces that seek to destroy them and there is another truth in lives which collapse under the destruction with grace. And there is still meaning for those who collapse in hopelessness. It is a darker meaning, but meaning can also be found in that as well. It is not the successful attempt which creates meaning but the ability to see meaning in both success and failure that transforms life.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Meaning of life 2: lighting existence like a flame

Humans are animals who share characteristics and traits with the other animals in our mutual existence. One of the identifying characteristics of humans is that we have created a mental universe of innumerable mental forms of existence with which we are as intently involved as we are with the material world. One of the most prevalent characteristics of the human mind is that it seeks and creates meaning out of the continual flow of life which, on its own, simply exists. However, no traits, whether human or non-human, occur in the same way or to the same degree in all individuals. Fear, joy, risk-taking, rationality and the millions of other large and small characteristics found in human beings and other animals, arise and are expressed across a range from minimal to intense.

For some people the drive toward creation of meaning is extremely slight. The predominate motivating energy of a life can be focused on any number of objectives other than meaning. For some, the gratification of desires, however they conceive that, holds a far greater value than constructing meaning. For others it may be the acquisition of power or wealth or pleasure which takes precedence over meaning.

Of course, all people and animals seek pleasure. In fact the urge to create meaning is itself a form of pleasure. Those with the inner hunger for meaning derive intense delight in finding patterns which can be arranged to correspond to a set of meaningful ideas.

At the high range of the urge toward constructing meaning are those driven by an insatiable felt need to make every thing and every moment meaningful in some way. They are reluctant to proceed with any activity or project unless they can construct some meaningful context for it.

Most of us are in the middle somewhere: meaning is one of the many important qualities of a good life, good experience, good relationship, just not the only good thing. Meaning and significance amplify experienced reality; meaning confers a brilliance to life. When we add love to the experiences of sex, children, work and death, we are investing these natural aspects of life with meaning. When we augment the purely raw experience of life with ideas of beauty, truth, sacredness, we are creating meaning which exponentially increases the level of pleasure in that experience. Meaning is a quality which heightens the value of other qualities of life.

Love, truth, beauty and sacredness are qualities of spirit which we have come to recognize, identify, and seek to foster in our ongoing creation of our humanity (see blog on “Evolution of Spirit” – links in right hand column).

The idea of the sacred is not referring to religion or religious experience. The sacred is the experience of the highest and most brilliant aspect of our humanity.

The person who risks or sacrifices their life to save others is a sacred being and we treat them as such. Those who walk away from a comfortable life to live and work among the disenfranchised, destitute, marginalized, and rejected, are sacred. Artists, writers, musicians, dancers awaken in us a sense of the sacred aspect of life; show us the beauty in what we discard as “ugly;” show us the wonderful that surrounds us, unnoticed. They awaken in us a conscious awareness of the sacredness of life, of existence, and of everything; they give it meaning.

The transformation of meaning to hope in the next post.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Meaning of life 1: dual-form animal

There are some questions that seem to keep arising and sparking debate and inciting cliché quality inspirational monologues. One of those is “The Meaning of Life.” This is not an inspirational monologue, nor a debate. More of a curious ramble through the idea itself; and why it keeps coming up.

We are going to start our exploration with questions about whether meaning is something inherent to existence, something that is created or generated by human beings, or something that does not exist at all. We’re not going to answer these questions; we’re going to use them as interesting directions in which to explore the very appealing curiosity of “meaning” in life.

The existentialist school of thought in the mid 20th century suggested that meaning and significance are something we ourselves create. For them, meaning and significance are created through our individual choices; and our individual and collective humanity resides precisely in and is defined by the choices we make. We are the animals who make meaning. We take the essential meaningless flow of life and extract patterns from it, construct extensive labyrinths of thought, and conceive webs of ideas.

Just observing how we all go about life, some of us do create meaning through our choices, while others build meaning from the natural flow of life, birth, sex, children, food, work, death. The very substance of the process of life can be, for humans, deeply and powerfully meaningful.

Some generate a sense of meaning from accomplishments, some from engagement with the natural world, some from business or science or art. Each of us is unique in the combination of life's elements which we arrange in our particular life to create meaning. Some embrace an ethos which attempts to promote the essential meaninglessness of existence. Yet even that approach shapes existence with the significance of non-meaning.

We are beings who live in our minds as much as we do in the physical world. All but the most rudimentary living organisms have brains; the more evolved also have minds. We've just taken the natural order which we inherited and become totally obsessed with it until we became something radically different, a creature with a twin life: material and immaterial.

Humans are different from the non-human world not in kind but in degree. We have taken the various characteristics present in other animals and ramped them up to extraordinary levels. We have invested a huge proportion of our energy, time and focus on the construction of a nearly infinite variety of mental worlds which we inhabit, build, examine, and enjoy with the same relish that we do the material world. We are hybrid creatures; as material beings we live in and engage with the external world while as mental beings we live in and engage with the vast universe of ideas, thoughts, conceptions, theories, study, explanations, and speculation. So where does this tendency to create, find, reject meaning get us. Where do we go with it or get from it? See post #2

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Of Tigers and Gods:
An alternative review of “The Life of Pi”

In many of the reviews I've read on "The Life of Pi" they bring up the perplexing question of how this story can "make one believe in God" as it appears to state that it does. I am not going to summarize the movie here. I am expecting that you have seen it already and are also puzzling over this question. Also, I have not read the book so this is based solely on the movie. And I am not addressing what the author or the director or the screenwriter may have been trying to convey but simply what the movie itself says to me.

In the Jewish sacred books of the Prophets is the story of the prophet Elijah who had been hearing the voice of God and speaking God's words fearlessly to the people. Elijah reached a point of great despair and went up into a cave high in the mountains. A fierce wind tore at the face of the mountain as the prophet hid in a crevice of the rocks. But God was not in the wind. Then a great earthquake shook the mountain; but God was not in the earthquake. Then came a raging fire; but God was not in the fire. After the fire, in the utter silence of the devastation that spread out around him, the prophet heard a thin whisper behind him. But in this story God gave no answers; he did not explain; he did not comfort. He simply demands to know what the prophet is doing there.

In the exquisitely crafted and stunningly filmed Life of Pi, the boy Pi falls in love with God, first as Krishna in whose being the entire magnificence of the universe exists and has its being. He then falls in love with God as Jesus, the loving savior who sacrifices himself for humanity. He then falls in love with God as Allah who one may encounter in acts of prayer throughout the hours of ones daily life.

But the film also opens with some questions as well. Why, Pi asks, would God sacrifice the innocent Christ to save all the guilty people? The priest tells him it is because of God's love. But Pi still finds the question troubling.

Also at the beginning of the film we are told that this story will make one believe in God. Yet as the story progresses it in no way provides any of the assurances we have come to expect God to manifest. There are no miraculous solutions or even explanations or meaning to any of the intensely terrible situations and conditions through which Pi must find his way. The entire film poses a great overarching question in the mind of the viewer: how does this story make you believe in God? Like the prophet on the mountain, we cannot find God here in the ways we thought we would.

Perhaps this God in whom Pi believes is not the one or ones presented to us by our separate religions, the one about whom we argue and dispute, the one that many of us believe does not even exists. This is not the God who we confine and display from the zoos of our religions, to whom we offer our worship from a safe distance. Pi wants to break through those barriers that separate him from the tiger.

Pi's father owns a zoo where many beautiful and dangerous animals live and people come to view and experience their magnificence and diversity. But as his father also demonstrates to Pi as a small boy, the reality of the life of those animals is a very different reality from the one we experience.

The juxtaposition of Pi's life at the zoo and his exploration of the divine in the different religions which surround him in Pondicherry suggests that perhaps the religions are also a place where we try to approach and experience another reality that is as fierce, incomprehensible, and majestically beautiful as the tiger: God. And as the movie moves into the extraordinarily wonderful theme, Pi is adrift on an infinite ocean that can both destroy him and enchant him with unimagined glory and splendor. The tiger with whom he is bound by their mutual circumstances both terrifies and fascinates him. It is the tiger who brings out his will to survive, who is the companion in the absolute isolation of a universe utterly unconscious of their existence. It is the tiger he comes to love. It is the tiger who gives meaning to the meaninglessness of the ordeal they traverse together.

In the end we are ourselves thrown into an overwhelmingly devastating and horrifying alternate description of the experience through which the boy had been forced to survive. And he asks us which story we prefer, the one with the tiger or the one without. It is the same, he says, with God. Another enigmatic statement with many possible and intriguing interpretations.

The one that comes first to mind is that one believes in God because living consciously through our lives - as we as humans must - is too terrible to endure without belief in God. The belief in God in itself provides dimensions of meaning and purpose to an essentially meaningless and purposeless existence. Seeing life through the lens of God changes the experience of that life. We can choose to perceive our life with God or without God and the one with God, while still terrible, painful, and incomprehensible, can become a place of grandeur, beauty, and meaning.

It is not the experience of our life but the perception of our life, the interpretation of it in which we choose to live. We live our lives not so much in the experiences as in the vast inner residual memories of our experiences, shaped by our frames of reference and constructs of meaning. In this interpretation of Pi's concluding statement, it is belief in God which transforms life from meaningless horror to meaningful terrible transcendence. Not the existence of God or the intervention of God but the mere belief itself.

Many viewers, I think, did not completely abandon their own frames of reference to take the entire journey of the film on its own terms. They were looking for a proof of the existence of God, and expecting some sort of great divine interpretation. But the film did not set out to prove the existence of God, nor did it even set out to prove belief in the existence of God. It is not trying to solve the problem of whether God does or does not exist. That wasn't the destination this journey was concerned with. Though it was what some viewers, coming from a western mind-set, may have expected. And with those expectations, the conclusion is, indeed, weak and unsatisfying.

But I do not see the journey of the film situated in that conversation at all. I see another interpretation in the way the story unfolds. It is an interpretation which confers an aura of magnificence to the experience of life whether there is a God who exists or does not exist. It is an interpretation which works either way.

On one side of this perspective I see the belief in God which in and of itself is an agent of transformation. Not belief in the existence of God, but simply the belief in God, the inclusion of a conception of God in the core structures of your perceptions of life. In this interpretation, it is the nature of the conception of God that matters, not the existence of God as such. With a powerful enough conception, the entire fabric of ones inner perceptions are transformed.

On the other side there is the perception of a God who exists and who shatters all expectations and conceptions, and yet who transforms our experience of our lives utterly and completely. Our lives are not changed, but our experience of our lives is entirely altered. And it is in that profound and overwhelming re-configuration of our experience of our lives that we find ourselves believing in God.

I see both these possible endings to the journey of the film to belief in God, to be equally satisfying and equally profoundly thought provoking. These two perspectives each provide their own respective answers to the original question of the film that it is a story that will make you believe in God - either a belief that in itself is transformative, or as a belief in a God who is as incomprehensible and awe inspiring as a tiger or a storm at sea - a God who takes the raw experiences of your life and shapes them into a story of magnificence and meaning.