Buddha Stone Statue in China
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A movie and a book intersected in my life recently with stories about how God is experienced and perceived by us humans throughout the ages. Life of Pi (the movie, released in 2012) was made from a book written by Yann Martel in 2001. A book written by Deepak Chopra called God: A Story of Revelation(Amazon link) happened to come to my attention through a marketing email, and I read it on my iPhone Kindle reader over the last couple of months. I have been fascinated with stories about God, psychology, and philosophy since I was about 11 years of age.
The movie is intense, full of metaphors, and starts with the statement that once you hear Pi’s story, you will believe in God. I don’t want to ruin the punchline, but it’s worth noting that Pi says “and so it goes with God” when he finishes telling the two versions of his story about the time he was lost at sea and the character listening to his story tells him which story he prefers. One is a magical story of triumph with God’s help, the other reflects the darkest side of humanity and “survival of the fittest.”
Deepak Chopra’s book described the lives of several people of differing faiths and the paths that led them to profess that they heard God speak to them. The people he writes about are: Job, Socrates, St. Paul, Shankara (similar to Buddha), Rumi, Julian of Norwich, Giordano Bruno, Anne Hutchinson, Baal Shem Tov, Rabindranath Tagore, and Einstein. It’s interesting to note that all except one are men. I guess women were too busy raising kids and taking care of their husbands to have the time to wander the streets, write poetry, or be thought anything other than heretical/batty if they proclaimed God spoke to them.
Those on a path to find God usually lead pretty persecuted and misunderstood lives where “bliss,” for lack of a better word is only sometimes achieved after much affliction combined with not “fitting” in to the time they were born. But they all seemed to have felt as if God was within them and inside all living things. Even probably 50 years ago saying things like God was anything other than someone up on high looking down on us (randomly helping us), would result in persecution. However, now as Eastern philosophies blend with Western, it’s not so odd to think that we and everything on this planet are pieces of God. Science has even started to prove that we are made up of vibrating energy. His book states that science moved us away from mysticism/faith to cold hard facts and is now moving us back to the unexplainable and cohesive universal force that keeps things in order.
It seems that our belief in God and what & who God is evolves and changes based on the stories we tell about the human condition. Apparently, the more we explore ourselves & the universe and the more we share our stories, our relationship to and with God changes.
| Filed under: book review
, movie reviews
| Tags: Anne Hutchinson
, Baal Shem Tov
, Deepak Chopra
, Giordano Bruno
, God: A Story of Revelation
, Julian of Norwich
, Life of Pi
, Rabindranath Tagore
, St. Paul
, Yann Martel
| 3 Comments »
The title of this post is a famous quote by Socrates that he apparently uttered while on trial for heresy and for corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens. For some unknown reason, the past few days this saying kept coming to my mind despite not having read or thought about it for years. Actually, I have not read much of Greek philosophy although I loved Greek and Roman mythology growing up. I’ve learned not to question these kinds of thoughts that appear in my mind too hard, and I try to find an outlet for them. Of course, after the thought appeared a blog post also started to form in my mind. I don’t think I realized that until I started blogging how much writing has become an outlet for me, and when I don’t get to write consistently, I start to feel a little stuck, ill, and sometimes a little nutty. Unlike some bloggers who let it ALL hang out, since this is a public blog, I am careful about what I do write about and how I write about it.
Another instance in time that a writing related thought entered my mind was when I was walking my then probably 7 month old son around the neighborhood. Out of the clear blue, I received a thought that said something like ‘write about the Meaning of Life.’ At first I said to myself “What the heck do I know about the meaning of life?“ I sat with that thought for a while and then dismissed it for months. But it came back to me so I started telling people I was going to write a book about the Meaning of Life. I even interviewed a few people who would talk to me about such a hard to discuss topic. Interestingly, the two people I recall being most comfortable talking to me were Kinky Friedman (pdf) (who you may know as the irreverent singer in The Texas Jew Boys band and the crazy guy who ran for Texas governor) and one of my favorite business mentors/advisers Jack Baum (pdf). I met Kinky on his ranch and the experience of interviewing him while he smoked his multiple cigars and tried to hit on me a few times was enlightening! They apparently didn’t care about what people thought about their thoughts on the meaning of life, but most people felt really uncomfortable talking about the topic, so I eventually morphed the project into “The Meaning of Success.” I even created a book proposal because after I changed the topic, I found several people interested in talking to me.
I showed the book proposal to a couple of agents and even a self publisher but then decided it wasn’t the right time in my life to pursue it full force. [Side note: I just took a quick glance at what I had written and thought to myself that maybe one day I'll dust it off and show it to someone again.] So after feeling somewhat of a failure for not being able to bring it to fruition at that time, I reached out to a writer who I had stayed in touch with who had written about me when I was running my first high tech venture, and I asked her if she would like to help me find an audience for what I had compiled. That conversation resulted in us writing a series on Success for the University of Texas at Austin alumni magazine. So I hope that by turning the original thought that came to me while walking my son over 5 years ago into that series, we helped someone examine their life and its impact on others. Maybe, that’s why that thought came to me. I will never know, but I do know I learned something from each and every person I interviewed, and I hope they learned something valuable from me.
It’s interesting how often thoughts like these enter my mind. Even before starting Babble Soft, I had a thought about creating something to help new parents, but in hindsight I’ve come to understand that the source of that thought was different than the source of the writing on the meaning of life thought. I still haven’t been able to understand why I know the source was different but it was.
It’s taken me a long time to be comfortable saying some of my thoughts out loud because sometimes they don’t make sense to me and I start questioning my sanity. Often I still don’t say them out loud because I worry about what others would think. But after talking with friends who hear me say these odd things, I discovered that they sometimes made more sense to them at the time than they did to me. These thoughts also help me examine my life which I do on a fairly constant basis but even more deeply recently than I have ever done before. Some call it a mid-life crisis. I call it painful!
Now I actually wouldn’t go as far as Socrates and say “the unexamined life is not worth living” because to me it actually is. Because for those of us who are examining our lives, tripping on ourselves, and experiencing growing pains, having the opportunity to observe people who don’t examine theirs the same way is profound. I think everyone does examine their life at some point…but the way they do it is as unique as thier finger prints.
| Filed under: entrepreneurship
| Tags: socrates
, unexamined life
| 3 Comments »