http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi2996176409/
Eat, Pray; Love (2010)
A married woman realizes how unhappy her marriage really is, and that her life needs to go in a different direction.
After a painful divorce, she takes off on a round-the-world journey to "find herself".
Storyline
Liz Gilbert (Roberts) had everything a modern woman is supposed to dream of having - a
husband, a house, a successful career - yet like so many others, she found herself lost,
confused, and searching for what she really wanted in life. Newly divorced and at a crossroads,
Gilbert steps out of her comfort zone, risking everything to change her life, embarking on a
journey around the world that becomes a quest for self-discovery. In her travels, she discovers
the true pleasure of nourishment by eating in Italy; the power of prayer in India, and, finally
and unexpectedly, the inner peace and balance of true love in Bali. Written by Sony Pictures
User Reviews
The greatest emotion I felt from the film was hunger (for Italian pizza), thirst (for Italian wine)
I loved the book. I thought Julia Roberts as Liz was fantastic casting. The trailer looked awesome. I smiled every time I saw it.
Turns out, I loved everything about this movie except the movie.
Long story short, it's all of the arc of the book, without any of the passion. While never horrible, this film simply made me feel
nothing.
I found the book soulful, moving, even transformative at times. The greatest emotion I felt from the film was hunger (for
Italian pizza), thirst (for Italian wine), and an occasional dizziness due to director Ryan Murphy's apparent recent discovery of
how to "pan." It was laughable camera-work throughout the first 45 minutes, and occasionally throughout.
The first 1/2 hour of the film was almost unbearably bad, even though the first section of the book was amongst my favorites.
Perhaps someone who did not read the book could enjoy this movie, but I somehow doubt it. One time Liz made a joke, that
was a nice break from the feeling of being in a lukewarm bathtub for 2 1/2 hours. Not unpleasant, just meh.
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Instead of finding Liz intelligent and thoughtful, she seemed selfish, boring, and obsessed with men. Instead of finding
spirituality, she seemed vapid. When the character becomes shallow, a film centered around that character becomes a throw
away. Maybe I'll just watch the trailer again.
Taglines
Let Yourself Go This August
Memorable Quotes
Liz Gilbert: I'm sick of people telling me that I need a man.
Felipe: You don't need a man, Liz. You need a champion.
Tulsi: What did I look like when I was happy?
Liz Gilbert: It won't last forever. Nothing does.
Ketut Liyer: Sometimes to lose balance for love is part of living a balanced life.
Felipe: Listen, balance, my darling, is not letting anybody love you less than you love yourself.
Liz Gilbert: In the end, I've come to believe in something I call "The Physics of the Quest." A force in nature governed by laws as real as the laws
of gravity. The rule of Quest Physics goes something like this: If you're brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting, which
can be anything from your house to bitter, old resentments, and set out on a truth-seeking journey, either externally or internally, and if you are
truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher
and if you are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you.
Liz Gilbert: Dear friends and loved ones: My birthday's coming up soon. If I were home, I'd be planning a stupid, expensive birthday party and
you'd all be buying me gifts and bottles of wine. A cheaper, more lovely way to celebrate would be to make a donation to help a healer named
Wayan Nuriyasih buy a house in Indonesia. She's a single mother. ln Bali, after a divorce, a woman gets nothing, not even her children. To gain
custody of her daughter, Tutti, Wayan had to sell everything, even her bath mat, to pay for a lawyer. For years, they've moved from place to
place. Each time, Wayan loses clientele and Tutti has to change schools. This little group of people in Bali have become my family. And we must
take care of our families, wherever we find them. Today l saw Tutti playing with a blue tile she'd found in the road near a hotel construction site.
She told me: Maybe if we have a house someday, it can have a pretty blue floor like this. When I was in Italy, I learned a word - It's "tutti" with
double T, which in ltalian means "everybody." So that's the lesson, isn't it? When you set out in the world to help yourself, sometimes you end up
helping Tutti.
Liz Gilbert: Maybe my life hasn't been so chaotic. It's just the world that is and the only real trap is getting attached to any of it. Ruin is a gift.
Ruin is the road to transformation.
Sofi: Maybe you're a woman in search of a word.
Luca Spaghetti: Americans know entertainment, but they don't know pleasure.
Liz Gilbert: I did love you, Stephen.
Stephen: I know. But I still love you.
Liz Gilbert: So, love me.
Stephen: But I miss you.
Liz Gilbert: So, miss me. Send me love and light every time you think of me... Then drop it. It won't last forever. Nothing does.
"People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you
everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.
A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to
live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and
then leave.
A soul mates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open
so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your
spiritual master..."
tags: love
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"I have a history of making decisions very quickly about men. I have always fallen in love fast and without measuring risks. I have a
tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential. I
have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than with the man himself, and I have
hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness. Many times in
romance I have been a victim of my own optimism."
tags: disappointment , love , romance
"This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something."
tags: heartache , love
"Stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be."
tags: wish
"I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose
my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than
Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me."
tags: comfort , healing , loneliness
"Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world
looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of
happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that
happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it."
tags: happiness
"When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your
life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person's body or emotions as a scratching post for your own
unfulfilled yearnings."
tags: loneliness
"To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced
life."
tags: love
"Tis' better to live your own life imperfectly than to imitate someone else's perfectly."
tags: life
"L'amor che move il sole e l'altre stelle.
The love that moves the sun and the other stars."
tags: inspirational , love
"Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions."
tags: emotions , life , spiritual
"There’s a crack (or cracks) in everyone…that’s how the light of God gets in."
"I think I deserve something beautiful."
"In desperate love, we always invent the characters of our partners, demanding they be what we need of them, and then feeling
devastated when they refuse to perform the role we created in the first place."
tags: love
"There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under the jurisdiction. I can decide how I spend my time,
whom I interact with, whom I share my body and life and money and energy with. I can select what I can read and eat and study. I can
choose how I'm going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life-whether I will see them as curses or opportunities. I can choose my
words and the tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all, I can choose my thoughts."
tags: attitude , fate , thoughts
"Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. You really need to be certain it's what you want before you commit."
tags: baby-child
"Operation Self-Esteem--Day Fucking One."
"Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a friend."
tags: self-worth
"The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving."
"One thing I do know about intimacy is that there are certain natural laws which govern the sexual experience of two people, and that
these laws cannot be budged any more than gravity can be negotiated with. To feel physically comfortable with someone else's body is
not a decision you can make. It has very little to do with how two people think or act or talk or even look. The mysterious magnet is
either there, buried somewhere deep behind the sternum, or it is not. When it isn't there (as I have learned in the past, with
heartbreaking clarity) you can no more force it to exist than a surgeon can force a patient's body to accept a kidney from the wrong
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donor. My friend Annie says it all comes down to one simple question: "Do you want your belly pressed against this person's belly
forever --or not?"
tags: love
"You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If
you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That's the only thing you should be trying to control."
"I want God to play in my bloodstream the way sunlight amuses itself on the water."
tags: religion
"If I love you, I will carry for you all your pain, I will assume for you all your debts (in every definition of the word), I will protect you
from your own insecurity, I will protect upon you all sorts of good qualities that you have never actually cultivated in yourself and I will
buy Christmas presents for your entire family. I will give you the sun and the rain, and if they are not available, I will give you a sun
check and a rain check. I will give you all this and more, until I get so exhausted and depleted that the only way I can recover my energy
is by becoming infatuated with someone else."
tags: love
"Look for God. Look for God like a man with his head on fire looks for water."
tags: god , religion
"I met an old lady once, almost a hundred years old, and she told me, 'There are only two questions that human beings have ever fought
over, all through history. How much do you love me? And Who's in charge?"
tags: love , power
"You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how
slight."
tags: beauty , life
"In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it's
wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long
as we have voices."
tags: charity-gratitude-service
"We search for happiness everywhere, but we are like Tolstoy's fabled beggar who spent his life sitting on a pot of gold, under him the
whole time. Your treasure--your perfection--is within you already. But to claim it, you must leave the buy commotion of the mind and
abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart."
"eventually, everything goes away."
tags: life
"Some days are meant to be counted, others are meant to be weighed."
"Prayer is a relationship; half the job is mine. If I want transformation, but can't even be bothered to articulate what, exactly, I'm aiming
for, how will it ever occur? Half the benefit of prayer is in the asking itself, in the offering of a clearly posed and well-considered
intention. If you don't have this, all your pleas and desires are boneless, floppy, inert; they swirl at your feet in a cold fog and never lift."
"Do not apologize for crying. Without this emotion, we are only robots."
"I crossed the street to walk in the sunshine."
"You are, after all, what you think. Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions."
tags: inspirational , thoughtful
"I am a better person when I have less on my plate."
tags: diet , food
"Someday you're gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You'll see that you were in mourning and
your heart was broken, but your life was changing..."
tags: love
"Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the
nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it
would just be... a prudent insurance policy."
tags: faith
"When you're lost in those woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost. For the longest time, you can convince
yourself that you've just wandered off the path, that you'll find your way back to the trailhead any moment now. Then night falls again
and again, and you still have no idea where you are, and its time to admit that you have bewildered yourself so far off the path that you
dont even know from which direction the sun rises anymore."
tags: depression , life
"As smoking is to the lungs, so is resentment to the soul; even one puff is bad for you."
tags: resentment
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"It's still two human beings trying to get along, so it's going to be complicated. And love is always complicated. But humans must try to
love each other, darling. We must get our hearts broken sometimes. This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried
for something."
"Dear me, how I love a library."
"There is a reason they call God a presence - because God is right here, right now. In the present is the only place to find Him, and now is
the only time."
tags: spiritual
"To find the balance you want, this is what you must become. You must keep your feet grounded so firmly on the earth that it's like you
have 4 legs instead of 2. That way, you can stay in the world. But you must stop looking at the world through your head. You must look
through your heart, instead. That way, you will know God."
tags: humility
"So tonight I reach for my journal again. This is the first time I’ve done this since I came to Italy. What I write in my journal is that I am
weak and full of fear. I explain that Depression and Loneliness have shown up, and I’m scared they will never leave. I say that I don’t
want to take the drugs anymore, but I’m frightened I will have to. I am terrified that I will never really pull my life together.
In response, somewhere from within me, rises a now-familiar presence, offering me all the certainties I have always wished another
person would say to me when I was troubled. This is what I find myself writing on the page:
I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long. I will stay with you. If you need the medication again, go
ahead and take it—I will love you through that, as well. If you don’t need the medication, I will love you, too. There’s nothing you can
ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and
Braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.
Tonight, this strange interior gesture of friendship—the lending of a hand from me to myself when nobody else is around to offer
solace—reminds me of something that happened to me once in New York City. I walked into an office building one afternoon in a hurry,
dashed into the waiting elevator. As I rushed in, I caught an unexpected glance of myself in a security mirror’s reflection. In that
moment, my brain did an odd thing—it fired off this split-second message: “Hey! You know her! That’s a friend of yours!” And I actually
ran forward toward my own reflection with a smile, ready to welcome that girl whose name I had lost but whose face was so familiar. In a
flash instant of course, I realized my mistake and laughed in embarrassment at my almost doglike confusion over how a mirror works.
But for some reason that incident comes to mind again tonight during my sadness in Rome, and I find myself writing this comforting
reminder at the bottom of the page.
Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a FRIEND…
I fell asleep holding my notebook pressed against my chest, open to this most recent assurance. In the morning when I wake up, I can
still smell a faint trace of depression’s lingering smoke, but he himself is nowhere to be seen. Somewhere during the night, he got up and
left. And his buddy loneliness beat it, too."
tags: inspirational
"But is it such a bad thing to live like this for just a little while? Just for a few months of one's life, is it so awful to...nap in a garden, in a
patch of sunlight, in the middle of the day, right next to your favorite fountain? And then to do it again the next day?"
"I was full of a hot, powerful sadness and would have loved to burst into the comfort of tears, but tried hard not to, remembering
something my Guru once said -- that you should never give yourself a chance to fall apart because, when you do, it becomes a tendency
and it happens over and over again. You must practice staying strong, instead."
"There's a reason we refer to "leaps of faith" - because the decision to consent to any notion of divinity is a mighty jump from the rational
over to the unknowable, and I don't care how diligently scholars of every religion will try to sit you down with their stacks of books and
prove to you through scripture that their faith is indeed rational; it isn't. If faith were rational, it wouldn't be - by definition - faith. Faith
is belief in what you cannot see or prove or touch. Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers
in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it
would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be... a prudent insurance policy."
tags: faith
"You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings."
tags: blessings , happiness
"When the karma of a relationship is done, only love remains. It's safe. Let go."
"People always fall in love with the most perfect aspects of each other’s personalities. Who wouldn’t? Anybody can love the most
wonderful parts of another person. But that’s not the clever trick. The really clever trick is this: Can you accept the flaws? Can you look at
your partner’s faults honestly and say, ‘I can work around that. I can make something out of it.’? Because the good stuff is always going
to be there, and it’s always going to pretty and sparkly, but the crap underneath can ruin you."
tags: dating , love , marriage
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Eat, Pray, Love From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia is a
2006 memoir by American author Elizabeth Gilbert. The memoir chronicles the author's trip around
the world after her divorce and what she discovered during her travels. The book remained on the
New York Times Best Seller list for 187 weeks. According to Metacritic, it has received mostly
favored critical reviews.
The movie rights for the memoir were purchased by Columbia Pictures. The film version, which
stars American actress Julia Roberts, was released in theaters on Friday, August 13, 2010.
Gilbert followed-up this book with the sequel Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage,
released through Viking in January 2010. It covered her life after Eat, Pray, Love ends.
Story
At 32 years old, Elizabeth Gilbert was educated and had a home, a husband, and a successful career
as a writer. However, she was unhappy in her marriage and often spent the night crying on her
bathroom floor. In the midst of an affair, she separated from her husband and initiated a divorce,
which he contested. The affair continued for some time but did not work out, leaving her devastated
and alone. While writing an article on yoga vacations in Bali, she met a ninth-generation medicine
man who told her she would come back and study with him. After finalizing her difficult divorce,
she spent the next year traveling. She spent four months in Italy, eating and enjoying life (Eat). She
spent four months in India, finding her spirituality (Pray). She ended the year in Bali, Indonesia,
looking for "balance" of the two and found love (Love) in the form of a dashing Brazilian factory
owner.
The trip was paid for in advance from the book deal for Eat Pray Love.
Film adaptation
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Columbia Pictures purchased film rights for the memoir and has produced a film version under the
same title. It was released on August 13, 2010. American actress Julia Roberts starred in the film;
Ryan Murphy directed it. The film also stars Javier Bardem, James Franco, Richard Jenkins and
Billy Crudup. Brad Pitt and Dede Gardner of Plan B, Pitt's production company, produced the film.
Reviews
Metacritic, which creates a normalized average of several reviews, reports a 77% favorable rating
based on 12 reviews.
Jennifer Egan of The New York Times described Gilbert's prose as "fueled by a mix of intelligence,
wit and colloquial exuberance that is close to irresistible",but later stated that the book "drags" in
the middle. She continued in stating that she was more interested in "the awkward, unresolved stuff
she must have chosen to leave out," noting that Gilbert omits the "confusion and unfinished
business of real life," and that "we know how the story ends pretty much from the beginning."
Oprah Winfrey enjoyed the book, and devoted two episodes of The Oprah Winfrey Show to it.
Maureen Callahan of the New York Post disliked the book because of its spiritual themes,
especially its focus on Eastern religion. She heavily criticized the book, calling it "narcissistic New
Age reading," and "the worst in Western fetishization of Eastern thought and culture, assured in its
answers to existential dilemmas that have confounded intellects greater than hers." In addition, she
was critical of Oprah's focus on the book, as well as Oprah's fans who enjoy the book, asking why
her fans are "indulging in this silliness," and why they aren't "clamoring for more weight when it
comes to Oprah's female authors." Katie Roiphe of Slate magazine agreed with Egan about the
strength of Gilbert's writing. However, she described the journey as too fake: "too willed, too selfconscious". She stated that despite the apparent artificiality of the journey, her "affection for Eat,
Pray, Love is ... furtive", and that "it is a transcendently great beach book." The Washington Post's
Grace Lichtenstein stated that "The only thing wrong with this readable, funny memoir of a
magazine writer's yearlong travels across the world in search of pleasure and balance is that it
seems so much like a Jennifer Aniston movie."
Lev Grossman of Time magazine, however, praised the spiritual aspect of the book, stating that "To
read about her struggles with a 182-verse Sanskrit chant, or her (successful) attempt to meditate
while being feasted on by mosquitoes, is to come about as close as you can to enlightenment-byproxy." He did, however, agree with Roiphe that her writing occasionally seems to be "trying too
hard to be liked; one feels the belabored mechanism of her jokes."
Lori Leibovich of Salon.com agreed with several other reviewers about the strength of Gilbert's
story telling. She agreed with Egan as well that Gilbert seems to have an unlimited amount of luck,
saying "her good fortune seems limitless", and asking "Is it possible for one person to be this
lucky?"
Entertainment Weekly's Jessica Shaw said that "Despite a few cringe-worthy turns ... Gilbert's
journey is well worth taking." Don Lattin of the San Francisco Chronicle agreed with Egan that the
story was weakest while she was in India, and questioned the complete veracity of the book.
Barbara Fisher of The Boston Globe also praised Gilbert's writing, stating that "she describes with
intense visual, palpable detail. She is the epic poet of ecstasy."
In early 2010, the feminist magazine Bitch published a critical review and social commentary called
"Eat, Pray, Spend". Authors Joshunda Sanders and Diana Barnes-Brown wrote:
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"Eat, Pray, Love is not the first book of its kind, but it is a perfect example of the genre of priv-lit:
literature or media whose expressed goal is one of spiritual, existential, or philosophical
enlightenment contingent upon women’s hard work, commitment, and patience, but whose actual
barriers to entry are primarily financial," they note. The genre, they argue, positions women as
inherently and deeply flawed, and offers "no real solutions for the astronomically high tariffs—both financial and social-—that exclude all but the most fortunate among us from participating.”
Eat Pray Love(FILM)From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Eat Pray Love is a film starring Julia Roberts, based on the memoir Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth
Gilbert. The film was co-written and directed by Ryan Murphy. It opened in the U.S. on August 13,
2010.
Plot
A woman realizes she is not getting what she wants out of life, and, after a painful divorce, sets out
on a journey of self discovery that takes her around the world.
Cast
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Julia Roberts as Elizabeth Gilbert
Javier Bardem as Felipe, a man Gilbert falls in love with on her journey
Billy Crudup as Steven, Gilbert's former husband
Richard Jenkins as Richard, a Texan whom Gilbert befriends at an Indian ashram
Viola Davis as Delia, Gilbert's best friend
James Franco as David
Sophie Thompson as Corella
Christine Hakim as Wayan, Gilbert's best friend in Bali
El Hadji Diouf as Koko, a man Gilbert meets in Senegal.
Hadi Subiyanto as Ketut Liyer, Gilbert's advisor in Bali
Tuva Novotny as Sofi, Gilbert's best friend in Rome
Luca Argentero as Giovanni
Giuseppe Gandini as Luca Spaghetti
Rushita Singh as Tulsi, Gilbert's best friend at the Indian ashram
Anakia Lapae as Tutti, Wayan's daughter
Arlene Tur as Armenia, Wayan's best friend
Dean Allan Tolhurst as Bali Realtor
Production
Eat Pray Love began filming in August 2009. Filming locations include New York City (United
States), Naples (Italy), Pataudi (India), and Bali (Indonesia).
Hindu leaders voiced concern over the production of the film and advocated for the use of spiritual
consultants to ensure that the film conveys an accurate reflection of life in an ashram. Few Balinese
were used in the production — the two Balinese lead characters (Ketut Liyer and Wayan) are
played by non-Balinese actors.
Soundtrack
The song "Dog Days Are Over" by Florence and the Machine is featured on the advertisements for
the film, as well as "Sweet Disposition" by The Temper Trap and "Good Life" by OneRepublic.
Pearl Jam vocalist Eddie Vedder has recorded a new song, "Better Days", which appeared on the
soundtrack. Dario Marianelli composed the original score.
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Reception
The film debuted at #2 behind The Expendables with $23,104,523. It had the highest debut at the
box office with Roberts in a lead role since America's Sweethearts in 2001. In its initial ten-day run,
it increased its revenue to a total of $47.2 million. Competing film The Expendables features Eric
Roberts, Julia Roberts' brother, and the box office pitted Roberts versus Roberts. Hollywood.com
commented that "sibling rivalry is rarely as publicly manifested" as this.
Based on 143 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an overall approval rating of
38%. Its consensus states "The scenery is nice to look at, and Julia Roberts is as luminous as ever,
but without the spiritual and emotional weight of the book that inspired it, Eat Pray Love is too
shallow to resonate." Another review aggretate, Metacritic, which creates a normalized score
incorporating multiple reviews, calculated an average score of 50 based on 38 reviews.
Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe gave the film 3 out of 4 stars while writing "Is it a romantic
comedy? Is it a chick flick? This is silly, since, in truth, it’s neither. It’s simply a Julia Roberts
movie, often a lovely one." San Francisco Chronicle film critic Mick LaSalle overall positively
reviewed the film and praised Ryan Murphy's "sensitive and tasteful direction" as it "finds way to
illuminate and amplify Gilbert's thoughts and emotions, which are central to the story".
Negative reviews appeared in Chicago Reader, in which Andrea Gronvall commented that the film
is "ass-numbingly wrong", and Rolling Stone, in which Peter Travers referred to watching it as
"being trapped with a person of privilege who won't stop with the whine whine whine."[16] Pop
culture website Somethingawful.com ran a scathing review. Martin R. "Vargo" Schneider
highlighted several aspects of the film that he considered completely unrealistic.
In The Huffington Post, critic Jenna Busch wrote:
Eat Pray Love is ultimately charming and inspirational. Though it doesn't have quite the impact of
the book, it will likely leave you pondering your life choices and forgiving your flaws. It will
certainly have you forgiving the few flaws in the film. The performances are just too fantastic, the
vistas too lovely to pay too much attention to anything else.
In the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, journalist Curzio Maltese wrote:
How many platitudes fit in a two-hour-twenty-minutes-long movie? Several, if Eat Pray Love is
anything to go by. Sure, if TV director Ryan Murphy's directing weren't so slow, even more would.
For example, in the long part shot in Rome, the mandolin is conspicuously absent. There's a shower
of spaghetti, Italians who gesticulate all the time and shout vulgarities as they follow foreign girls
around. [...] There's lots of pizza. But no mandolin. Why? [...] Goes without saying that the story
would've surprised us more if Julia had found out how well one can eat in Mumbai, how much they
pray in Indonesia, and how one can fall in love even in the Grande Raccordo Anulare, possibly
avoiding rush hour.
The film received generally negative reviews in the Italian press.
Merchandising
Hoping that the film would be successful, marketers created over 400 merchandising tie-ins.
Products included Eat Pray Love-themed jewelry, perfume, tea, gelato machines, an oversized
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Indonesian bench, prayer beads, and a bamboo window shade. World Market department store
opened an entire section in all of their locations devoted to merchandise tied-in to the movie.
The Home Shopping Network ran 72 straight hours of programming featuring Eat Pray Love
products around the time of the film's release. The decision to market such a wide range of
products, hardly any of which were actually featured in the film, brought criticism from the
Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington Post and the Huffington Post.
Controversy
Audiences for the film in the U.S. have been sharply divided, with some seeing it as inspirational
and moving and others seeing it as a celebration of a "shallow" woman's narcissism. On the Internet
Movie Database, the breakdown of user ratings shows far more women than men giving the film a
favorable rating.
Plot Keywords
Divorce, India, Bali, Inner Peace, Distracted Driver, Sage, Motorboat, Gift, Cooking, Bladder
Infection, Singing In A Car, Emotional Healing, Celebration Of Family, Fish Out Of Water, Buying
Woman A Drink, Speaking Italian, Thanksgiving Day, Bicycle Accident, Indonesia, Sanitary
Conditions In India, Bare Chested Male, Tropical Paradise, Searching For Happiness, Reference To
Phil Collins, Scenic, Wedding, Traveling, Single Woman, Anti Materialism, Lone Traveler, Durian,
Meditation, Hiking, Kiss On Forehead, Fortune Teller, Man Cooking For Woman, Run Off The
Road, Emotional Balance, Materialism vs Altruism, Crying Man, Father Son Kiss, Beauty, Rome
Italy, Seduction Music, Self Actualization, Disco Dancing, Three Word Title, La Dolce Vita, Tour
Guide, Based On Memoir, Fear Of Intimacy, Reference To Yoda, Feminist, Brazilian Music, Bare
Butt, Female Protagonist, Self Forgiveness, No Opening Credits, Skinny Dipping, Father Son Hug,
Reference To James Taylor, Open Air Market, Hangover Cure, Based On Novel
REVIEWS
By Kirk Honeycutt, Agosto 11, 2010 03:00 ET
"Eat Pray Love"
Bottom Line: A heavily idealized journey of self-discovery with a pretty woman (Julia Roberts), pretty scenery and a pretty shallow view of
Eastern spirituality.
In "Eat Pray Love," Julia Robert's character, Liz Gilbert, takes a holiday from her miserable life as a wellrespected, financially secure New York writer, loved by men she cannot love back and despairing of her own
inner emptiness. She travels the world to seek enlightenment, a journey -- she never hesitates to tell anyone
she meets -- outside her own comfort zone. For the viewer though, it's anything but. The film never ventures,
even once, into a situation that does not reek of comfy familiarity.
Of course, the Elizabeth Gilbert memoir on which the movie is based also got criticized for its Western
fetishization of Eastern thought and the overly self-conscious nature of this journey -- reportedly paid for with
a publisher's advance for the book itself. None of that stopped her memoir from becoming a bestseller
translated into 40 languages. So with Julia Roberts making one of her increasingly rare starring appearances
and the sensual beauty of Italy, India and Indonesia as backdrop for the romanticized navel-gazing, "Eat
Pray Love" should attract a substantial female audience, a demographic ill-served by the summer's mostly
testosterone-fueled movies.
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Working from a screenplay he wrote with Jennifer Salt, director Ryan Murphy, the creator of TV series
"Nip/Tuck" and "Glee," never loses track of the story's bestseller attributes: foreign landscapes photographed
at sunset or sunrise, food displayed with mouth-watering intensity, peripheral characters bursting with vitality,
all men unnaturally gorgeous -- or at least interesting -- and female self-discovery as the unwavering central
focus.
Reeling from a divorce and an affair that didn't do the trick either, Liz tells her best friend and publisher (Viola
Davis, not given nearly enough to do) that she intends to chuck everything for a year to research herself in
exotic foreign climes. Everyone including her ex (Billy Crudup) and new boy toy (James Franco) pull long
faces, but this gal makes a career out of thinking of nobody but herself.
Several months are spent in Rome to enjoy food and life (Eat), then off to India for meditation in an ashram
(Pray) and finally to Bali, Indonesia, to search for "balance" but finding herself off-balance instead with a
Brazilian divorcee (Love).
Each segment is thoroughly enjoyable in a touristic sort of way. And Roberts throws herself wholeheartedly
into the role of the inner-truth seeker.
There, of course, lies the problem. One can line a bookcase with memoirs, novels and DVDs about urban
malcontents discovering food and life in Mediterranean climes. At least another bookshelf could be devoted
to popular entertainments where Westerners seek spirituality in the East, dating back to Somerset
Maugham's "The Razor's Edge" if not the earlier works of Hermann Hesse. Bali is a bit off the beaten path
for such self-help entertainments, but after those terrorist bombings the place could use positive publicity.
In each segment, Liz is given role models. In Rome, a Scandinavian (Tuva Novotny) and local language
coach (the absurdly handsome Luca Argentero) show Liz how to embrace life through cuisine. The girls even
nip away to Naples for a pizza sequence! Her Roman lesson: Don't be afraid to attack life.
In an unnamed Indian ashram, Richard Jenkins plays a Texan who struggles to forgive himself for his
alcoholic past. He mocks and kids Liz to cajole her to do likewise. Then a young girl (Rushita Singh), who
dreads her arranged marriage, reminds Liz of her own unarranged marriage and its failureHer Indian lesson:
God dwells within me.
In Bali, two healers (Indonesian screen legend Christine Hakim and newcomer Hadi Subiyanto) provide Liz
with medicine for her ailing soul. Her Bali lesson: If you're a good girl, you may get Javier Bardem.
As Liz literally sails off into a sunset, you imagine that last lesson will be the one that sticks.
There is an undeniable attractiveness to all this, however doubtful the self-realization lessons may be. One
can imagine whiling away pleasant hours watching this movie again as a late-night DVD or in-flight movie.
The charms of each location and the vigor of the film's supporting players cast a romantic glow. No, travel -and certainly self-realization -- is never quite like this with Robert Richardson's iridescent landscapes and
loving portraits of colorful bystanders, the brilliant, exotic sets and costumes by Bill Groom and Michael
Dennison and nicely unhurried pace of Bradley Buecker's editing. But it should be.
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BY ROGER EBERT / August 11, 2010
Elizabeth Gilbert's book "Eat, Pray, Love," unread by me, spent 150 weeks on the New York Times best seller list and is by some accounts a good one. It is
also movie material, concerning as it does a tall blond (Gilbert) who ditches a failing marriage and a disastrous love affair to spend a year living in Italy,
India and Bali seeking to find the balance of body, mind and spirit.
During this journey, great-looking men are platooned at her, and a wise man, who has to be
reminded who she is, remembers instantly, although what he remembers is only what she's just told
him.
I gather Gilbert's "prose is fueled by a mix of intelligence, wit and colloquial exuberance that is
close to irresistible" (New York Times Book Review), and if intelligence, wit and exuberance are
what you're looking for, Julia Roberts is an excellent choice as the movie's star. You can see how it
would be fun to spend a year traveling with Gilbert. A lot more fun than spending nearly two hours
watching a movie about it. I guess you have to belong to the narcissistic subculture of Woo-Woo.
Here is a movie about Liz Gilbert. About her quest, her ambition, her good luck in finding only nice
men, including the ones she dumps. She funds her entire trip, including scenic accommodations,
ashram, medicine man, guru, spa fees and wardrobe, on her advance to write this book. Well, the
publisher obviously made a wise investment. It's all about her, and a lot of readers can really
identify with that. Her first marriage apparently broke down primarily because she tired of it,
although Roberts at (a sexy and attractive) 43 makes an actor's brave stab at explaining they were
"young and immature." She walks out on the guy (Billy Crudup) and he still likes her and reads her on
the Web.
In Italy, she eats such Pavarottian plates of pasta that I hope one of the things she prayed for in
India was deliverance from the sin of gluttony. At one trattoria she apparently orders the entire
menu, and I am not making this up. She meets a man played by James Franco, about whom, enough
said. She shows moral fibre by leaving such a dreamboat for India, where her quest involves
discipline in meditation, for which she allots three months rather than the recommended lifetime.
There she meets a tall, bearded, bespectacled older Texan (Richard Jenkins) who is without question the
most interesting and attractive man in the movie, and like all of the others seems innocent of lust.
In Bali she revisits her beloved adviser Ketut Liyer (Hadi Subiyanto), who is a master of truisms
known to us all. Although he connects her with a healer who can mend a nasty cut with a leaf
applied for a few hours, his own skills seem limited to the divinations anyone could make after
looking at her, and telling her things about herself after she has already revealed them.
Now she has found Balance, begins to dance on the high wire of her life. She meets Felipe (Javier
Bardem), another divorced exile, who is handsome, charming, tactful, forgiving and a good kisser. He
explains that he lives in Bali because his business is import-export, "which you can do anywhere"
— although later, he explains she must move to Bali because "I live in Bali because my business is
here." They've both forgotten what he said earlier. Unless perhaps you can do import-export
anywhere, but you can only import and export from Bali when you live there. That would certainly
be my alibi.
The audience I joined was perhaps 80 percent female. I heard some sniffles and glimpsed some
tears, and no wonder. "Eat Pray Love" is shameless wish-fulfillment, a Harlequin novel crossed
with a mystic travelogue, and it mercifully reverses the life chronology of many people, which is
Love Pray Eat.
Rolling Stone
BY PETER TRAVERS
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AUGU S T 12 , 2010
Having not read Elizabeth Gilbert's bestseller about her yearlong journey to Italy, India and Bali to achieve balance and spiritual
enlightenment, I can only speak of the torture of watching the movie. Despite the star shine of Julia Roberts as Gilbert and the
presence of gifted Glee creator Ryan Murphy in the director's chair, the movie left me with the feeling of being trapped with a
person of privilege who won't stop with the whine whine whine. Endless scenes of Gilbert, bathed in golden light by the great
cinematographer Robert Richardson, complaining about guys (Billy Crudup, James Franco, Javier Bardem) who don't
understand her needs made me want to starve curse hate and put commas where they belong. Murphy's magic touch on TV
with Glee and Nip/Tuck mysteriously deserts him in movies (he stalled with his 2006 debut, Running With Scissors). As I
watched Gilbert swirl pasta, pet an elephant and visit an ashram, I kept wishing that Glee coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch, my
personal guru) would appear — her voice engorged with venom — and seriously puke in Gilbert's bromide-spouting mouth.
"Eat, Pray, Love": A phenomenon goes bust
Julia Roberts finds grub, God and guys in a frequently frustrating adaptation
of Elizabeth Gilbert's bestseller
BY ANDREW O'HEHIR

Javier Bardem and Julia Roberts
The enormous success of Elizabeth Gilbert's travel memoir "Eat, Pray, Love" is one of those paradoxes that pretty much define
modern life. There is nothing affluent Westerners of the information-economy class like better than being told that our lives lack
soulfulness, sensuality and a sense of purpose -- except, perhaps, for heaping derision on those who bring us this news. Every
move in this dance is so well rehearsed that none of it can escape cliché: not the original complaint about our shallowness and
materialism, not the presumptive moral high ground and false modesty of the evangelist-observer, not the exaggerated, Bill
O'Reilly-style scorn of those who feel their iPhoned and Twitterized lifestyle is under attack.
As almost everyone reading this will already know, "Eat, Pray, Love" is the autobiographical and presumably truthful story of a
woman who "pulls a geographic" (as some 12-steppers say) on an epic scale, fleeing first her troubled marriage and then her
relationship with a hot, younger boyfriend for a year-long voyage of self-discovery to Italy, India and Bali. Gilbert is a sharp and
amusing prose stylist and an openhearted critic of her own foibles and failings. She's aware that her personal and literary
odyssey contains potential contradictions: The tale of a well-connected New York writer traveling the globe on somebody else's
dime and sampling an array of seemingly disconnected experiences might strike many people as a symptom of our cultural
dislocation and commodity fetishism, not a cure.
(A personal note before continuing: I knew Elizabeth Gilbert some years ago, when we worked together at Spin magazine. (She
was then married to the man she leaves at the beginning of "Eat, Pray, Love.") She's a wonderful writer and an even better
human being. There's no question that I think about her book -- and the mediocre Hollywood movie resulting from it --
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differently than I otherwise might, because I have no doubts about the genuineness and generosity of Liz's intentions. I'm not
surprised that she ended up writing a bestseller, and she's well suited to handle money and fame. I could speculate about her
reactions to the merchandising campaign around "Eat, Pray, Love" -- which encompasses clothing, jewelry, tea and candles -but then, many of her readers will have asked themselves the same question.)
At any rate, the secret of Gilbert's book was not so much in the subject matter or the story but in the execution. Whether you find
it captivating or maddening -- and the marketplace has clearly voted for the former -- it's an artfully managed literary exercise, a
thoughtful work of self-examination that's designed to encourage the reader's own. Movies don't do that well, or at least not the
kinds of movies people build around Julia Roberts. Inevitably, director Ryan Murphy's version of "Eat, Pray, Love"(he also cowrote the screenplay, with Jennifer Salt) is a shorthand romantic fiction, a pretty but hollowed-out imitation that's one remove
from Gilbert's commentary on her experience and at least two removes from the experience itself.
Gilbert's fans may enjoy the lovely locations and the appealing supporting cast -- especially James Franco as her New York postmarriage lover and Javier Bardem as the Brazilian dreamboat who sweeps her off her feet in Bali -- and Murphy works hard to
incorporate snatches of her wry, warm prose without turning the project into an audiobook. But the story of "Eat, Pray, Love"
isn't really about people, places and things (although it has apparently done wonders for Bali's tourist trade). The pasta dinners,
the long sessions of Hindu meditation and the glorious, curtain-fronted Balinese gazebos are meant to be accoutrements that
enable a questing consciousness to uproot itself from routine and make a crucial inward journey. That's tough to convey when
you've got Julia Roberts drifting around looking lovely and vulnerable in a succession of going-native costumes.
Roberts doesn't look much like Liz Gilbert -- although she has indeed absorbed some of her mannerisms -- but after all she gets
paid to look like Julia Roberts. She gives a nice performance here, ranging from brassy to vulnerable to drunkenly flirtatious. It
isn't her fault that the script tries to jam a memoir into the romantic-comedy template, spiced liberally with New Age nostrums,
and can't quite get it right.
Non-devotees of the book are likely to find Murphy's "Eat, Pray, Love" an emotionally murky, inflated Lifetime Channel movie,
alternately charming, cloying and dull. At 140 minutes, it's much too long to tell a compact story, but not nearly long enough to
explain itself adequately. Stephen, the suburban husband Gilbert ditches, appears in several scenes but is more like a
personality-free ghost than a character; marrying him and leaving him seem like equally mysterious decisions, since he doesn't
exist. Her ensuing relationship with David, the underemployed, guru-devoted actor, appears to go instantaneously from hot latenight hookup to shacking up to angry, sexless unhappiness.
Murphy and Salt's screenplay skips over logistical realities that Gilbert herself never conceals: She was a highly-paid freelance
writer who financed her world travel with a substantial publisher's advance; she had no job to quit because sampling Roman
restaurants, Indian meditation centers and Indonesian oceanfront bars pretty much was her job. Gilbert's first two travel
episodes, sampling Italian cuisine and Indian religion, play out as reasonably diverting light comedy, the first frivolous and the
second more rueful. Characters come and go quickly -- Tuva Novotny as a Swedish gal-pal in Rome, Richard Jenkins as a
heartbroken, aphorism-spouting Texan in India -- providing Gilbert with teachable moments along the way.
Of course a few scenes in a movie can do almost nothing to explain why Gilbert spent months in an Indian guru's ashram, or
what it is she thinks she found there. And why should it? If the book flirted with the most hackneyed kinds of female escape
fantasy, and dared itself to escape that genre, the film has almost nothing else to offer. When we finally get to Bali and rumpled
Brazilian divorcé Felipe runs Gilbert's bike off the road with his jeep, you can almost hear a collective sigh of relief from the
filmmakers (and their audience). A lonely guy, a lonely girl, a comic pratfall and an exotic location -- from here on in, we're
golden.
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It's not even ironic that one woman's painful and almost desperate attempt to reconnect with herself and the world became a
calculated publishing phenomenon that has spawned a Julia Roberts movie and lines of prayer beads and leather-bound diaries.
It's just the way the world is in an age when the most desirable commodities are private experiences that, at least at first, do not
present themselves as commodities at all. (Am I wrong, or is going "off the grid" nearing critical mass as a hot lifestyle trend?)
"Eat, Pray, Love" is a minor and superficial summer diversion that offers female viewers not much more than a two-hour escape
fantasy, but that's not a crime. The fact that we find it almost impossible to talk seriously about the pervasive emotional or
spiritual or psychological yearning that a story like this represents -- that's a bigger problem.
Mick LaSalle, Chronicle Movie Critic
Comedy-Drama. Starring Julia Roberts, Billy Crudup and Javier Bardem. Directed by Ryan Murphy. (PG13. 140 minutes. At Bay Area theaters.)
Julia Roberts spends a lot of time meditating in "Eat Pray Love," and at a certain point the movie replicates the
effects of meditation within the audience. About two-thirds into the film - probably during one of the hundred or
so times someone tells our heroine that she should open up to love - my mind shut off. When it switched back on a
minute later, I didn't know the day or time, or where I was or what movie was onscreen. "Eat Pray Love" had
induced a state of pure, undifferentiated being.
This experience, unique in a lifetime of moviegoing, says something about the numbing quality of "Eat Pray Love"
at its worst. It is 140 minutes long and repetitious beyond belief. Yet for all its weaknesses - unconscious
contradictions, travelogue simplicity and mix-and-match spirituality - "Eat Pray Love" is, like its central character,
on a genuine quest. It's about something important, the search for meaning and happiness, about finding one's
inner life amid the clutter and confusion of modern existence.
Based on the memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert, it's the story of a successful writer who, like Dante, finds herself in her
mid-thirties feeling lost and without direction. She ends her marriage to her sweet but hapless husband and, after
the obligatory affair with a sensitive young hunk, she decides to renew herself through travel. First she'll go to Italy
and enjoy good food. Then to India, to pray in an ashram. And then to Bali, to find love.
There's an irony here that the movie can't acknowledge without imploding the whole enterprise. Much of the
message of "Eat Pray Love" is that people - success-driven Americans, in particular - need to kick back, enjoy
themselves and let life in, just let things happen. But Gilbert's spiritual journey may be the most programmatic in
history, with realizations and discoveries planned in advance, from a desk in New York City. Thinly veiled in
15
Eastern robes, "Eat Pray Love" is the ultimate American success story, in which every warm human contact
becomes grist for commerce.
That we can push these dark thoughts aside is largely due to Julia Roberts, who has never seemed so relaxed and at
home with herself. She doesn't push, has no underlying sense of aggrievement. She is, instead, a nice travel
partner, easy to take over a long, long trip, and we believe, at all times, that she's searching for happiness and not
merely filling out a pre-packaged best-seller.
The movie benefits also from Ryan Murphy's sensitive and tasteful direction, which finds subtle ways to illuminate
and amplify Gilbert's thoughts and emotions, which are central to the story. Her dark night of the soul, early in the
film, in which she decides to leave her husband, is handled simply: It takes place in the middle of the night, with a
languor and a quietness that distills a sense of aloneness and mental oppression. When the film switches to Rome,
Murphy uses the natural soundscape, so that we can hear the unique sounds of that city.
At times, "Eat Pray Love" feels like Travel 101. When the Italians tell Liz, for example, about the Italian art of "La
dolce far niente" - the sweetness of doing nothing - that's something you can hear five minutes into any Rick Steves
or Samantha Brown travel video. Still, the movie conveys a genuine feel for the mood and the sights of the city, and
in the end, it does for Rome what Frances Mayes did for Tuscany.
"Eat Pray Love" has three challenges it never completely overcomes. The first is that leaving Rome is never a good
idea. The second is that much of the movie is about the spirit, but you can't make drama out of someone
meditating. The third is that, for all its length and ambition, the film's spiritual insight is superficial. Liz's journey
toward self-acceptance arguably borders on solipsism. Perhaps not accepting herself might have been a more
enlightened first step.
For all these reasons, the India section sags woefully. But then, things pick up in Bali, with the arrival of Javier
Bardem, who's just more manly and elemental than Franco and Crudup, definitely more suited to Roberts, who
looks like she could eat those other guys alive. "Pray" is rough going, ideal for a bathroom break or a soul-renewing
trance. But "Eat" and "Love" are cinema friendly.
By Claudia Puig, USA TODAY
In Eat Pray Love, Julia Roberts communes with an elephant, is counseled by a toothless medicine
man and eats a lot of pasta. It's a Roman/Indian/Indonesian holiday in which Roberts, as journalist
Elizabeth Gilbert, searches her soul ad nauseam — in an ashram, among the ruins and in a remote
lush landscape that looks like Club Med.
It's a thin story, on paper as well as on screen. A privileged woman ends her marriage for vague
reasons and decides to get in touch with her true self. She ventures to Italy for the cuisine, goes to
India to meditate and finds love in Indonesia. The whole quest feels a bit forced, though it's an
appealing travelogue.
The soul-searching is glib: Liz absorbs aphorisms and spouts truisms as if she has unlocked the
mystery of life. In India, Liz accuses fellow traveler and searcher Richard (an affable Richard
Jenkins) of "speaking in bumper stickers." The same could be said of the entire screenplay.
Anyone who has read Gilbert's best-selling book already knows the dimensions of her personal
analysis and philosophy. Roberts is often charming as she brings the sometimes-unsympathetic Liz
to life, but the film, as directed by Ryan Murphy, spends too much time in long close-ups of her
troubled face, misty-eyed or deep in contemplation. A little navel-gazing goes a long way.
Murphy, the creator/writer/director of TV's Nip/Tuck and Glee, is an unusual directorial choice. But
there's not much glee, and plenty of overwrought despair, surrounding Liz for the first half-hour of
the movie.
Roberts strikes convincing sparks with the charismatic James Franco, who plays David, a struggling
actor and Gilbert's first lover after the dissolution of her marriage.
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Liz's husband, Stephen, is an unpredictable and lovesick puppy, lacking in personality and career
direction. But the movie gives the character a bit more dimension than Gilbert does in the book.
After Elizabeth meditates in India, her final destination is Indonesia, where she reconnects with
dentally challenged sage Ketut. She also meets Felipe, a strapping and warmhearted Brazilian
played winningly by Javier Bardem.
Murphy tries to fill in the story's blanks with a few too many montages and shots of exotic locales
as seen from the heavens. Though there are a handful of funny lines, the deeper observations are
facile. The whole journey feels like a rich girl gone slumming.
And for those of us along for the ride, it's a bit of a slog.
A celebrated writer's irresistible, candid, and eloquent account of her pursuit of
worldly pleasure, spiritual devotion, and what she really wanted out of life.
Around the time Elizabeth Gilbert turned thirty, she went through an early-onslaught midlife crisis.
She had everything an educated, ambitious American woman was supposed to want—a husband, a
house, a successful career. But instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed with panic,
grief, and confusion. She went through a divorce, a crushing depression, another failed love, and the
eradication of everything she ever thought she was supposed to be.
To recover from all this, Gilbert took a radical step. In order to give herself the time and space to
find out who she really was and what she really wanted, she got rid of her belongings, quit her job,
and undertook a yearlong journey around the world—all alone. Eat, Pray, Love is the absorbing
chronicle of that year. Her aim was to visit three places where she could examine one aspect of her
own nature set against the backdrop of a culture that has traditionally done that one thing very well.
In Rome, she studied the art of pleasure, learning to speak Italian and gaining the twenty-three
happiest pounds of her life. India was for the art of devotion, and with the help of a native guru and
a surprisingly wise cowboy from Texas, she embarked on four uninterrupted months of spiritual
exploration. In Bali, she studied the art of balance between worldly enjoyment and divine
transcendence. She became the pupil of an elderly medicine man and also fell in love the best
way—unexpectedly.
An intensely articulate and moving memoir of self-discovery, Eat, Pray, Love is about what can
happen when you claim responsibility for your own contentment and stop trying to live in imitation
of society’s ideals. It is certain to touch anyone who has ever woken up to the unrelenting need for
change
In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was
supposed to want-husband, country home, successful career-but instead of feeling happy
and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is
the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and of what she found
in their place. Following a divorce and a crushing depression, Gilbert set out to examine
three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures:
pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance
between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence
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Reading Guides
INTRODUCTION
From the way Elizabeth Gilbert’s tale begins—with our heroine in Rome, fawning over a
sexy, young Italian—one could be forgiven for thinking that Eat, Pray, Love might just
belong on the chick-lit shelf next to Amy Sohn’s Run, Catch, Kiss. But first blushes can be
deceiving, and from the book’s introductory quote—“Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the
truth”—we know Gilbert’s not out to deceive. Not her readers and, most important, not
herself.
In what could be construed as a coming-of-age story for thirtysomethings, Gilbert leaves
behind an excruciating divorce, tumultuous affair, and debilitating depression as she sets
off on a yearlong quest to bridge the gulf between body, mind, and spirit. Part selfdeprecating tour guide, part wry, witty chronicler, Gilbert relates this chapter of her life with
a compelling, richly detailed narrative that eschews the easy answers of New Age rhetoric.
In the book’s early pages, a flashback finds the smart, savvy, successful Gilbert on her
knees on the bathroom floor of the Westchester house she inhabits with her husband,
wailing and wallowing in sorrow, snot, and tears (“a veritable Lake Inferior”), awkwardly
embarking on her first conversation with God.
During the interminable wait for her divorce, Gilbert accepts a magazine assignment in
Bali, where she meets a ninth-generation medicine man “whose resemblance to the Star
Wars character Yoda cannot be exaggerated.” He evaluates her palm, forecasting her
return to Bali—a prediction that resurfaces when she hatches an escape plan from pain:
“to explore the art of pleasure in Italy, the art of devotion in India, and, in Indonesia, the art
of balancing the two.”
Drawn by the beauty of its mother tongue, Gilbert arrives in Rome dead set on a selfrestoration remedy rooted in pleasure and chastity, a peculiar pairing she describes as the
antidote for decades spent sublimating herself to lovers with the dedication of “a golden
retriever and a barnacle.” For Gilbert, luxuriating in simple pleasures means sounding the
curtain call on personal demons—in this case a good-cop, bad-cop routine starring
loneliness and depression—and allowing her own desires (gelato for breakfast!) to take
center stage.
Pleasure triumphs, and our protagonist is prepared for the next leg of her journey: an
ashram in India, where racing thoughts eventually yield to successful meditation and a
cast of supportive characters, including a plumber-poet from New Zealand, an everamiable, sage Texan, and the Indian tomboy she scrubs the temple floors with as part of
her devotional duty.
By the time Gilbert arrives in Indonesia, she has shed her grief, realizing her own ability to
control her reaction to life’s events. She is strong, enjoying a succession of simple days
spent with the medicine man, a Javanese surfer dude, and a woman healer. Bicycling
around Bali, she finds balance and, as the title suggests, love. Happiness, Gilbert comes
to realize, “is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it,
and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it.”
ABOUT ELIZABETH GILBERT
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Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of a short story collection, Pilgrims, a finalist for the
PEN/Hemingway Award, and winner of the 1999 John C. Zacharis First Book Award from
Ploughshares-and a novel, Stern Men. A Pushcart Prize winner and National Magazine
Award-nominated journalist, she works as writer-at-large forGQ. Her journalism has been
published in Harper's Bazaar, Spin, and The New York Times Magazine, and her stories
have appeared in Esquire, Story, and the Paris Review.
A CONVERSATION WITH ELIZABETH GILBERT
Q. The realization that you did not want to have children serves as a turning point in
the reevaluation of your life that led to divorce. Later you quote Virginia Woolf—
“Across the broad continent of a woman’s life falls the shadow of a sword”—writing
about a woman’s choice between convention and tradition versus “a far more
interesting” yet “perilous” life. Do you think this is as true today for the modern,
urban American woman?
When modern American women make the deliberate choice not to have children they are
still called upon to defend that choice, in a culture where motherhood is still regarded as
the natural evolution of a woman’s life. But I remember my own mother musing once that
she thought women had been “sold a bill of goods” during the 1970s, in terms of being
promised that they could have everything simultaneously—family, career, marriage,
privacy, equality, femininity, and autonomy. Reality has taught us that no woman can build
an honest life without sacrificing something along the way. Deciding what will be sacrificed
is not easy. But the good news is this: increasingly, that decision is ours.
Q. Joseph Campbell spent a lifetime studying myths from around the world,
ultimately sketching the archetype of the hero as a protagonist who sets out on a
journey that ends in personal—and spiritual—transformation. Do you see echoes of
the hero’s tale (well, heroine’s) in your own story?
Back when Campbell (whom I love, by the way) was teaching at Sarah Lawrence College,
his female students would sometimes ask, “But what about the heroine’s journey? Don’t
women get to participate in this universal questing epic?” Traditional world mythology,
however, frankly replies: “Nope.” Women (as life bearers) have always been seen by
mythmakers (men) as being automatically perfect for their task; they don’t need to
transform. Well, I was never going to be a life bearer and was painfully yearning for the
classically soul-changing quest. So throughout my journey, I definitely identified much
more closely with the struggling hero archetype than with the self-possessed goddess
archetype.
Q. Do you think travel necessitates personal growth because one is forced to
respond to and accept the unfamiliar? In your opinion, how much does it depend on
an individual’s willingness to embrace opportunity?
No experience in this world has ever been cathartic without the willing participation of the
individual. Life does not automatically bestow wisdom or growth upon anyone just for
showing up. You have to work ceaselessly on your end to digest and imbibe your
opportunities or, I have come to believe, they will gradually slip away and knock on
someone else’s more receptive door.
Q. You have a strong distrust of antidepressants, portraying them as Western
medicine’s easy answer to despair. In light of the experiences related in the book,
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do you now believe that seeking help when one needs it is a sign of courage and the
first step on the road to healing?
I actually have a great deal of respect for antidepressants; I think they can be enormously
mighty tools toward recovery. What I question is the current notion that a little vitamin P is
the only thing needed to restore a torn life. We are multifaceted beings, and if we are to
heal our suffering we must address our wounds on every imaginable level, seeking help
from as many sources as possible, not just from pharmaceutical companies. And, yes, that
all begins with the brave admission that one is lost and wants to be recovered.
Q. You ended up structuring your book conceptually using japa mala—the beads
used as an aid in many strands of Eastern meditation—as your model. This allowed
you to tell your tale using 108 sections, divided into three groups of 36, your age at
the time, with each group representing a different leg of your travels. How did you
decide to use this device, and how difficult was it to remain faithful to this format?
Brace yourself for the world’s hokiest answer: the idea came to me in meditation in India.
The idea arrived fully formed. In one glorious instant I was shown a complete vision of how
the book would be organized. This idea was a massive gift to me; the structure kept my
storytelling in order, preventing me from rambling digressions. And the idea of the prayer
beads kept me on topic emotionally, too, reminding me at every moment that this book
was ultimately a spiritual exercise, an offering.
Q. How did you come to the decision to have your sister and, to a lesser extent,
your mother serve as points of comparison for your own life?
How could they not be comparisons? I think we all compare ourselves to our mothers and
sisters, and, in my case, these are the two most influential women in my life—powerful and
inspiring. And yet they’ve made markedly different choices than I have. But I witnessed
this truth in them, too—that it was not without a certain level of sacrifice and struggle that
they embraced motherhood and marriage. I learned a lot about my own ambivalence by
studying theirs from every visible angle, using their experiences to teach me about myself.
Q. The personal encounters you have in Italy, India, and Indonesia seem to affect
you deeply, and your guru’s philosophy clearly informs your own. Do you think that
self-discovery requires the insights of others? What do you make of this paradox?
I don’t see the paradox; I think sincere self-exploration requires the insight of everyone.
One of my guru’s most helpful instructions is to “become a scientist of your own
experience,” which I take as an invitation to explore every possible line of human spiritual
thinking. The world has been blessed with some extraordinary teachers over history—use
them! That said, studying can only take you so far. At some point you have to lay aside the
books, hope that your mind has actually absorbed some wisdom, and just sit there in
silence, letting your soul ascend to its own leadership. And that’s something nobody can
do for you.
Q. Before you leave India, your poet-plumber friend from the ashram writes a few
lines of verse as a good-bye. In his poem, he describes you as “betwixt and
between.” Do you think one can remain continually betwixt and between or is there
a point at which this approach to life would become a burden?
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Well, you don’t want to become a hunk of driftwood. When I was in India I ran into some
travelers who’d never settled down, and they all had that look of tight madness around the
eyes. What you do want to remain, though, whether you are traveling or not, is alert. Pay
attention to the signals—is it time to lay down roots? Or time to go exploring again? As for
me, I’ve come to trust the power of a lifelong quest; if you keep asking honest questions
and keep giving honest answers, you will always be instructed clearly on what to do next,
and when and with whom. (In other words: I’m happily and quietly living with my
sweetheart, for the time being, in Philadelphia.)
Q. Eat, Pray, Love marks a point of departure from your previous work by focusing
on your own life. Was it difficult for you to turn your talents to your own experience,
revealing so much to readers about your internal life and personal journey?
Oddly, I never thought of it as a particularly personal story. To me, the arc of the narrative
felt completely universal—doesn’t everyone struggle with these same questions, doubts,
and longings? So, no, it wasn’t difficult to write this. Though I do feel it would have been
impossible not to write it. I was so consumed by questions that I needed the ordering
process of writing to help me sort through them. As Joan Didion once said, “I write so I can
learn what I think.”
Q. How important does that year in your life seem to you now?
How important was the first breath you ever took the day you were born?
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. Gilbert writes that “the appreciation of pleasure can be the anchor of humanity,”
making the argument that America is “an entertainment-seeking nation, not
necessarily a pleasure-seeking one.” Is this a fair assessment?
2. After imagining a petition to God for divorce, an exhausted Gilbert answers her
phone to news that her husband has finally signed. During a moment of quietude
before a Roman fountain, she opens her Louise Glück collection to a verse about a
fountain, one reminiscent of the Balinese medicine man’s drawing. After struggling
to master a 182-verse daily prayer, she succeeds by focusing on her nephew, who
suddenly is free from nightmares. Do these incidents of fortuitous timing signal fate?
Cosmic unity? Coincidence?
3. Gilbert hashes out internal debates in a notebook, a place where she can argue
with her inner demons and remind herself about the constancy of self-love. When
an inner monologue becomes a literal conversation between a divided self, is this a
sign of last resort or of self-reliance?
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4. When Gilbert finally returns to Bali and seeks out the medicine man who foretold
her return to study with him, he doesn’t recognize her. Despite her despair, she
persists in her attempts to spark his memory, eventually succeeding. How much of
the success of Gilbert’s journey do you attribute to persistence?
5. Prayer and meditation are both things that can be learned and, importantly,
improved. In India, Gilbert learns a stoic, ascetic meditation technique. In Bali, she
learns an approach based on smiling. Do you think the two can be synergistic? Or
is Ketut Liyer right when he describes them as “same-same”?
6. Gender roles come up repeatedly in Eat, Pray, Love, be it macho Italian men eating
cream puffs after a home team’s soccer loss, or a young Indian’s disdain for the
marriage she will be expected to embark upon at age eighteen, or the Balinese
healer’s sly approach to male impotence in a society where women are assumed
responsible for their childlessness. How relevant is Gilbert’s gender?
7. In what ways is spiritual success similar to other forms of success? How is it
different? Can they be so fundamentally different that they’re not comparable?
8. Do you think people are more open to new experiences when they travel? And
why?
9. Abstinence in Italy seems extreme, but necessary, for a woman who has repeatedly
moved from one man’s arms to another’s. After all, it’s only after Gilbert has found
herself that she can share herself fully in love. What does this say about her earlier
relationships?
10. Gilbert mentions her ease at making friends, regardless of where she is. At one
point at the ashram, she realizes that she is too sociable and decides to embark on
a period of silence, to become the Quiet Girl in the Back of the Temple. It is just
after making this decision that she is assigned the role of ashram key hostess.
What does this say about honing one’s nature rather than trying to escape it? Do
you think perceived faults can be transformed into strengths rather than merely
repressed?
11. Sitting in an outdoor café in Rome, Gilbert’s friend declares that every city—and
every person—has a word. Rome’s is “sex,” the Vatican’s “power”; Gilbert declares
New York’s to be “achieve,” but only later stumbles upon her own word,antevasin,
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Sanskrit for “one who lives at the border.” What is your word? Is it possible to
choose a word that retains its truth for a lifetime?
Daily News
The Oprahfication of Religion
BY STEVEN D. GREYDANUS
Julia Roberts embarks on spiritual and culinary quests in Eat Pray Love.
In our consumerist therapeutic culture, if your life has fallen apart and you want to find yourself,
heal yourself, indulge yourself, and possibly find God — or whatever is the next best thing — you
can take a year off and travel to exotic places, like Italy, India and Indonesia, if you can afford it.
If you can’t afford it, then you may be able to fund the trip with an advance from a publisher on the
memoir you will write after your trip. If you’re lucky, Oprah will like your book, and it will spend
up to three years on The New York Times best-seller list.
And if you can’t do that either, then you can at least buy the book, watch the Oprah show, and go
see the movie. There are lots of books out there to choose from, and some movies too, and no end
of Oprah shows, to learn all about what it is that is missing in your life and what you can do about
it, or what other people have done about it who have more money than you.
Elizabeth Gilbert is such a person, and her best-selling memoir Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s
Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia is such a book. The book — and the movie
starring Julia Roberts — suggest a fusion of Julie & Julia and Under the Tuscan Sun, with a dash of
Eastern exoticism and pop spirituality. Originally (like Julie & Julia) a yearlong writing project by
an introspective, self-absorbed American writer who (as in Under the Tuscan Sun) divorces her
husband after an affair (in this case it’s the wife who has the affair; in Tuscan Sun it was the
husband), it’s the chronicle of a woman’s journey to discover herself by recording her adventures in
food and/or travel.
Clearly, there’s a market for this sort of thing. Gilbert is apparently an engaging writer, and even the
vicarious experience of other countries and cultures can be enjoyable. Americans have an abiding
affinity for consumerist self-indulgence and for pop spirituality, and a marriage of the two is a
winning combination. “God never slams a door in your face,” Gilbert writes, “without opening a
box of Girl Scout cookies.” Yep, there’ll be no shortage of people eating that one up. I suspect there
may be a lot of people out there who feel as if doors have been slammed in their faces and who find
the idea of opening a box of Girl Scout cookies, or even opening a book that talks about Girl Scout
cookies, more gratifying than waiting for God to open a window.
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In particular, this seems to be truer of women. Recent studies suggest that married women are on
average less happy than their husbands, which may have something to do with the recurring theme
of divorce and marital unrest in books in this vein. (Julie & Julia seems an exception, but see Julie
Powell’s follow-up book, Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession, detailing her affair
with an old flame.)
For what it’s worth, at least one book of this sort reflects a male point of view: Andy Raskin’s The
Ramen King and I: How the Inventor of Instant Noodles Fixed My Love Life. Raskin’s romantic
woes were different from his female colleagues, involving too much sex with too many partners to
keep track of. Still, I think this supports my impression that the genre is largely about wish
fulfillment, only the women writers are catering to different wishes.
Just going by the title, Eat Pray Love sounds like an affordable DIY project that you can undertake
without leaving home, even if you won’t be eating bucatini all’Amatriciana in some
Roman trattoria or praying in Sanskrit in a Hindu ashram. The title is a little misleading, though.
In a way, it’s the missing commas. The book’s correct title, it seems, is Eat, Pray, Love, although
the cover designers omitted the commas, and the movie version is unambiguously titled Eat Pray
Love. This makes it sound as if the three verbs are ingredients all mixed together in a life well lived.
In fact, each of the title words represents a separate stage in Gilbert’s yearlong journey, one for each
of Gilbert’s three destinations — a schematic approach that isn’t clearly spelled out in advance in
the movie version.
First come four months in Italy, where repeated shots of St. Peter’s in Rome seem to suggest that
praying may be just around the corner. But no, in Italy, it seems Liz is only interested in feeding her
body. It isn’t until India that she shows much interest in feeding her soul. In the end comes Bali,
where she finds love.
Liz isn’t really trying to learn what these cultures have to offer. She’s like a student auditing classes
rather than for credit, having decided in advance which parts of each teachers’ curricula really
matter. In Italy, the lesson is to relax and enjoy life: il dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing
nothing). Americans, Italians agree, are addicted to doing and achieving; they know entertainment,
but not enjoyment. The movie omits the flip side of the coin, acknowledged in the book, that Italian
young men tend to be mama’s boys living at home and catered to by their mothers well into
adulthood.
In Italy, even in the Eternal City itself, religious reference points are basically limited to those
images of St. Peter’s and a shot of a couple of nuns eating gelato. Gelato figured significantly in my
recent pilgrimage to Italy, as I mentioned in my own account at my Register blog, but the shots of
St. Peter’s only underscore that Liz is in a major pilgrimage destination. Her strange incuriosity
regarding Italy’s spiritual heritage is all the odder in light of her spiritual aspirations during her time
in India. (The book at least mentions Liz going to Mass at some point; I’m speaking here of the
film.) Can you imagine a story about a spiritually curious person spending several months in Israel
or Egypt or Tibet and completely ignoring local religious life?
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Of course, had Liz explored Western religious tradition, she wouldn’t have found such flattering
and fashionable nuggets of wisdom as “God dwells in me as me.” The book version expresses this
in a local catchphrase too: the mantra “Ham-sa” (I am That).
The movie, though, prefers the bumper-sticker epigrams of Liz’s Balinese medicine man and
Richard Jenkins’ fellow traveler from Texas that Liz meets in India, whom you can tell is profound
by how obnoxious he is. (He calls Liz “Groceries,” for starters.) Jenkins’ performance is winning
praise, particularly for a powerful emotional scene, although I liked Richard Dreyfuss better in a
similar role in a generally more unpleasant film, the Nia Vardalos vehicle My Life in Ruins.
Don’t expect much attention to central Hindu ideas like karma and reincarnation, in any case. Even
Eastern religion is all very well up to a point — or, as Liz’s Balinese medicine man puts it, “Not too
much God, not too much selfishness.” It’s the Oprahfication of religion; the movie is ultimately no
more authentically interested in Hindu or Indian culture generally than it is in Italian culture. Liz’s
time in India is spiritual tourism, as her time in Italy was culinary tourism; it’s all a self-help
consumerist approach to world cultures.
Roberts is both an asset and a liability — an asset because we can’t help liking her and a liability for
the same reason. One of the book’s more winsome qualities is a sense of self-critical frankness that
the movie can’t bear to apply to our adorable Julia. This is a problem from the outset, since the
movie has no idea why Liz is suddenly so unhappy in her marriage after eight years with her
husband. (In the book, Gilbert describes her husband watching her “fall apart for months now,
behaving like a madwoman (we both agreed on that word).” Nobody wants to see Roberts behaving
like a madwoman, but the down side is that her discontent seems rooted in nothing.
The movie actually makes a stab at blaming God by shifting a scene: In the book, Gilbert’s
marriage is already falling apart when she first goes to Bali and meets the medicine man who tells
her that she will be married twice, once short, once long. The movie chooses to open with this
scene, so it’s like God himself has pronounced the marriage’s death sentence. Attempting another
explanation, the 42-year-old Roberts actually utters the line “We were too young to get married.”
(Coincidentally, just last week Suz and I celebrated our 19th anniversary. Roberts has a year on me
and over a year on Suz.) Okay, Gilbert was a decade younger at the time, but still.
One interesting symptom of marital malaise does come across from the book: Liz doesn’t want to
have a baby. “Having a baby,” someone helpfully tells her, “is like getting a tattoo on your face.
You want to be really sure you’re committed.” Well, yeah, that’s why we call marriage a
commitment. (This actually comes across in the book, which spells out that the couple’s life plan
always included offspring.) In our contraceptive culture, of course, the idea of openness to life as an
integral dimension of marriage is so foreign it might as well be Sanskrit. Actually, Liz seems more
comfortable with Sanskrit. By the end of the film, she has learned to love again, but openness to life
seems nowhere on the horizon.
The portrayal of Liz’s husband Steven is worth noting. He contests the divorce (something he could
do in New York, which is only now at this writing in the process of passing no-fault divorce laws),
and his pleas for their marriage almost border on touching. He declares emphatically that the vows
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he took till death mean something to him, and when Liz angrily says that he is so full of contrary
dreams that he never chose one thing to pursue, he shoots back, “Okay, I’ll choose! I choose you!”
Ultimately, though, Steven is angry and petulant. (At one point, he starts to sing a song he says he
wrote for her, but he’s not exactly trying to woo her back.) Obviously, it wouldn’t do for women in
the audience to wonder why exactly Liz is leaving him.
Later, there’s a key scene in which Liz imagines herself dancing with her ex-husband on their
wedding day, a fantasy sequence that offers her the amicable parting of ways and mutual
forgiveness that she couldn’t have in real life. What the moment is really about, of course, is Liz
forgiving herself. Forgiving yourself can be a legitimate part of healing, but of course authentic
forgiveness requires clear acknowledgement of wrongdoing — and if it’s yourself that you are
forgiving, you should be sure that you’re sorry and willing, if possible, to seek the forgiveness of
others and make amends. What exactly did Liz do wrong again?
Content advisory: Sexual themes including extramarital and nonmarital relationships (nothing
explicit); brief rear male nudity; some profanity and crass language; muddled religious themes.
Mature viewing.
Filed under
Comments
” In our contraceptive culture, of course, the idea of openness to life as an integral dimension of
marriage is so foreign it might as well be Sanskrit. “
Awesome quote !!!
And ‘thank you’ for this review.
Yeah… I read only the first section of this book (on Italy) before going to Rome in April with my
husband. I liked her most when she was describing what she was eating and seeing, and least when
she was waxing poetic about herself. At one point in the book, though, when talking about her plan
(at the beginning) to remain celibate during the year, she says something pretty good: “I resolved
never to use another for my own selfish pleasure.” or something of that sort. Of course, when using
contraception, that’s exactly what one does, but I suppose even a blind squirrel finds a nut every
once in a while.
I have to admit, I never planned on seeing this movie. I still won’t, of course, but I appreciate the
review. It sounds like they should have called this one Stuff Your Face (which is far more
charitable, I suppose, than Twilight, For Obese, Middle-Aged Women Who Wonder WHy Their
Husbands Don’t Pay Any Attention To Them Anymore... but I repeat myself).
I endured the book as a book club section at my library and disagreed with a good portion of the
group who thought it lovely. I found it self-centered and lacking in any real depth. I wondered,
back then, if perhaps I ‘didn’t get it’ because, with a large family, I eat mostly mac n’ cheese from a
box, I pray quite contentedly as a committed Catholic and have loved the same man for over 26
years. We also married ‘too young’ w/ him at 19 and myself at 21.
Reading your review of the movie confirmed that I was ‘right’ about the book. Nice to know. I’ll
be sitting this one out - the book was ‘bad’ enough!
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Victor and Nick, I read someone allude to the book as Masticate, Meditate, Masturbate. That’s
actually pretty accurate, especially if you take the last term as characterizing the generally selfindulgent nature of the whole journey and in particular the self-gratifying sort of “prayer” or
meditation in which you conclude that “God dwells in me as me,” etc.
Verb: Propel (something) with force through the air by a movement of the arm and hand.
Noun: An act of throwing something:
AS IN “THROW IT OUT THROUGH THE WINDOW”
That M-cubed variation of the title definitely sounds more accurate. I guess what’s a little
distressing, as you note, is the sheer number of books and movies of this type (reveling in the
pleasures of body and yet so wholly dismissive of what the body really means)... perhaps we should
start calling this genre “Gnosh-tic Literature” or something.
“God never slams a door in your face,” Gilbert writes, “without opening a box of Girl Scout
cookies.”
I don’t get it. Everytime God slams the door in someone’s face, He helps himself to some cookies?
My impression of the movie was different. There were some good messages and profound insights
in the movie which I appreciated and was touched by, even though, yes, some errors were mixed in.
Catholics can look at secular movies such as this (and the world in general) in one of two ways: (1)
negatively (in the strict sense of the word) by focusing “exclusively” on the errors and thus seeing
the whole as being dangerous or defective and thus to be rejected; and (2) positively, by focusing
“largely” on the truths and appreciating them and showing how the truths that are in them are
encompassed by and lead towards the fullness of truth that the Catholic Church possesses.
Thomas Aquinas was criticized for using the writings of the pagan Aristotle in helping him
formulate his own thought and express the same in his magnum opus, “Summa Theologica”. The
critics said Aristotle was a pagan and his work was filled with errors, and thus his work should not
be used by the theologian. Thomas countered by saying that among those errors were many truths,
and those truths can help the Christian more deeply discover and more profoundly appreciate the
truth, goodness, and beauty of God and all that He has revealed. That is the lens through which I
watch such movies.
Wade St. Onge, thanks for your thoughtful comments. Your distinction between “positive” and
“negative” approaches is helpful, and I agree—in fact it is a key principle in my work as a critic—
that it is important to be able to appreciate positive elements even in mixed presentations, especially
since we seldom if ever encounter presentations that are so perfectly and purely good that they
admit no criticism whatsoever. As I’ve noted before, if we insist on perfection in this life—if we
insist on, say, perfect friends, a perfect parish, perfect food and so on—we will die friendless,
unchurched and quickly.
However, I would like to propose a third way in addition to your “positive” and “negative” ways,
that is the critical way. The critical way evaluates both positive and negative, but does not
programmatically emphasize one or the other. Rather, it seeks to arrive at a balanced judgment
about the fundamental character of a presentation. It’s true that I can’t insist on prefect friends, a
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perfect parish or perfect food—but it’s also true that some friends, some parishes and some food
will do you more harm than good. We can’t insist on perfection—but we should insist
on wholesomeness. Just as it is unhelpful to reject any presentation for the slightest objectionable
elements, regardless how much good they offer (the “negative” way), so it is unhealthy to look for
the silver lining in every cloud, regardless how much darkness there is (the “positive” way).
Sometimes it is worth, as it were, cutting off a bit of inedible gristle from an otherwise delicious
steak. Other times, paring away all the fat and burnt and so forth for one or two bites of edible steak
just isn’t worth it. Some things should be shunned even if there is some good in them, because the
good is outweighed by the bad. Judging between the two is the critical way, the way of discernment.
In my critical judgment, Eat Pray Love falls into the latter category.
Steven, I agree with what you say about “the third way”. However, with the “third way”, one can
still lean toward one or the other - the positive or the negative. I would say that if this was a
“spectrum”, few would find themselves at dead center (ie. the purely “critical” way).
I also agree with what you say about the dangers of such movies, and for a secular audience, it
certainly has some things that may very well mislead people who are searching or confirm them in
errors that they might already hold (a lot of gristle). I think that is the perspective from which you as
a Catholic movie critic wrote. However, for us Catholics who know how to sift truth from error, the
movie has some beautiful things we can take from it. That is the perspective from which I as an
individual Catholic viewer wrote.
But I would also submit my opinion that a critical review that leans more toward the “positive”
would be more likely to attract those who are searching to appreciate our perspectives and opinions
and such people would be much more likely to open up to the fullness of truth we propose and offer
and point towards more than a more “negative” review would.
Wade, I don’t think “critical” means coming down dead center on every movie—far from it! By
“critical” I mean being willing to go “positive” or “negative” based on an evaluation of the movie’s
total pluses and minuses and drawing responsible conclusions about whether a movie meets a
threshold of more or less “good for you” (positive) or not (negative).
I’m not saying that people can’t get something good from a movie like Eat Pray Love—far from it.
People can find good things almost anywhere. I know people who have found good things in The
Last Temptation of Christ and The Da Vinci Code. You could go to a church where a pastor
preaches a thoroughly heretical homily and still find something good in it. If you are on the road
and pick such a church at random, maybe looking for the silver lining is the best you can do. But no
one would choose to live that way week in and week out if he had any other choice. And I think
most Catholics will not want to go to a movie like Eat Pray Love for the bits of gold and silver that
might be gleaned from so much dross and dung.
My experience over a decade of writing film criticism suggests a different conclusion regarding
what is likely to attract other people to our opinions and perspectives. One of my early goals in
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developing Decent Films was to write commentary on films like The Last Temptation of
Christ and The Da Vinci Code that would make orthodox Catholic objections to these films
intelligible to outsiders inclined to dismisse objections to these films as fundamentalist fulminating.
Over the years I’ve gotten any number of gratifying responses from sympathetic atheists and
agnostics who’ve written things like “I never understood what all the furor over Last
Temptation was about, but after reading your essay I understand your point of view.” I think I’m
doing a service there that I couldn’t do any other way, certainly not by capitulating and trying to go
“positive” on Last Temptation and only praise the things that could be praised. (Not that I’m not
willing to praise where praise is possible, even in an otherwise contemptible work.)
So you see, I’m writing as an orthodox Catholic, not just for either sort of reader (Catholics or nonCatholics), but for both. It’s the only way I know how to do what I do, and I hope readers find it
helpful. If they do, they’re welcome to come back; if not, they’re free to go elsewhere. My work is
here for whomever finds it helpful.
Steven, thanks for the response and for the background information on “Decent Films” - which
helped me understand your perspective better and appreciate this particular review and by extension
other such reviews better. It is a perspective that is obviously needed in this particular milieu, as
your examples show. I think we will have to agree to disagree - I went “positive” on this one,
although of course I may be wrong.
What I find amusing about this movie is that not even hardcore feminists like it (granted, they
dislike it for different reasons than you do, but it’s still pretty funny). I was never a fan of this sort
of movie, anyway. I mean, how many times do we have to watch some random woman go through
a mid-life crisis and “fix” it through some journey of self-discovery? And why do people find this
“me me me” thing “inspiring”? Sam carrying Frodo up Mount Doom is inspiring. This is not
inspiring. It’s just downright stupid.
Wade, I’m happy to agree to disagree; I wouldn’t even necessarily say it’s a matter of one of us
being “wrong.” Like I wrote not long ago to another correspondent who disagreed with me, perhaps
we were both paying attention, but to different things.
Not always, but often I suspect it’s less helpful to think of conflicting responses to a creative
presentation as “right” or “wrong” than as more or less persuasive or illuminating to other audience
members (or to a majority of audience members), and more importantly as more or less
comprehensive and helpful in accounting for the larger significance of a work in its cultural context.
I recently avowed my loathing of Babe: Pig in the City, and went so far as to say that the people
who liked it were “crashingly wrong.” That was a tongue-in-cheek oversimplification. It would be
more accurate to say I think their take is tragically limited. :)
And you get “eating” and the many different places the crews goes for chow; prayer, of course, it’s
St. Peter’s and all the other churches and sites, with hefting dose of faith formation free. And there
is “Love” alas, not romantic love for Lino, but definitely “love” of a close group of friends, and of
God’s love for us.
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@Mr. Greydanus: Valid point. I mostly singled out the ones about the female midlife crisis because
there seem to be more of them, and from what I’ve seen, all of them are so generic. If the subject
matter was handled well, or if the women actually DID something rather than just run around the
world on a journey of self-indulgence, then I wouldn’t mind the movie so much. But as far as I can
tell, the genre itself doesn’t have much to offer.
@Kathleen (“The women who have this lifestyle are thin, weathy, trophy wives. Poor obese women
don’t have the cash to stop working and fly off to Italy, India, and Bali for a year! Neither do they
collect lovers like designer jeans.”):
True enough, which is why the obese, middle-aged women have to live that lifestyle vicariously, via
bookclubs, movies, and whatever their daughters are into But I will grant you that my jibe was
undeniably a stupid one.
Whoa. The consumerist spirituality push is more far-reaching than I thought.
This whole article reads like a high school drama queen diary.
How dare Gilbert choose to live her life differently then how Catholics demand? How dare she go
to Rome and not seek out the Vatican? How dare she embrace a spirituality that’s not mine?
@Andy
She lives exactly as millions do, or want to—a life of shallow, indulgent pseudo-enlightenment,
seeking only what will support her no-commitment lifestyle. What is ‘living different’ about that?
The movie makes a point of showing St. Peter’s several times. In the book she went to Mass at least
once. Maybe the movie makers were afraid, that actually showing the inside, or some real worship,
would be attractive, and upstage the shallow ‘time to gnosh on a little bit of India’ that comes later.
You can’t be too careful about what you show people, they might start wondering, maybe even
thinking.
She didn’t embrace any spirituality. She played dress up. Real Hindu and Buddhist spirituality are
as demanding as real Catholic spirituality. Real masters have seen scores of her type of Western
wannbe’s for every real searcher for truth. That’s why she listened to her Balinese master—because
he told her not what she needed, but what she WANTED to hear.
It’s always interesting to see how people choose to take things. I’m aware of nothing in my essay,
Andy, corresponding to the indignant “How dare she…?” tone you ascribe to me ... dancingcrane’s
comments in that regard are pretty much on the money ... and you may have noticed that I
specifically compared Gilbert’s puzzling apathy to Rome’s religious heritage to someone displaying
similar apathy in religio-cultural contexts NOT my own (Egypt, Tibet). So I don’t think I’m
speaking particularly as a slighted Catholic, there. But you’re welcome to your reading. Cheers.
Thanks, Steven, I really loved your blog post. I once studied Eastern faiths with the intensity of the
starving. When I embraced Catholicism (not without stiff resistance first), I thought at first God
would want me to put all the past aside. He didn’t. He wanted me to use it. I can respond to this
issue of “other spiritualities” because I know what the real thing looks like—and feels like—from
the inside. I’m tired of the “Gnosh-ticism” (thank you, victor!) that permeates our culture, but I
love any story of a real searcher for God (Ben KIngley’s ‘Gandhi’ comes to mind), even if they
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don’t end up where I did. I figure (hope, pray) that when they and we die, we’ll all find the one
Truth we always sought, and embrace it then.
To be clear, I agree that the story is about “a life of shallow, indulgent pseudo-enlightenment,
seeking only what will support her no-commitment lifestyle.”
But when I hear Catholics complaining about it, I hear the pot calling the kettle black.
Thanks for your follow-up comments, Andy. It’s interesting that we seem to agree on the film. I’m
not sure how to take your other comments, other than to say that (a) as a critic I naturally think
there’s a difference between criticizing and “complaining,” and (b) I’m hardly criticizing in a nonCatholic context something I would give a pass to in a Catholic context. If anything, I would go
after a Catholic-flavored Eat Pray Love ten times harder than a Hindu-flavored one. So, I’m not
really sure just what pot you’re tarring with what sort of black.
Hello! I found this article whilst searching for “Oprafication.” I wanted to find words to express
what I have often felt in others (and sometimes even myself) as the desire to be spiritual—-but with
a disregard of the discipline that most religions require, which is exactly how I see the Oprah
machine and that Eat, Pray, Love movement, which has seemingly become a joke in itself (saw a
sitcom the other night in which a very shallow character joked, “Oh I’m doin’ the Eat Pray Love
thing ya’ know..” So thanks for the essay, it’s exactly what I was looking for..and the comments
too, interesting! BTW, I am a Muslim—American woman and I find that in our Islamic
communities (which differ in race, ethnicity, sect, etc) there is a growing trend: as Islamaphobia
rises, so increases a shallowness in belief and religious practice, sad huh? I think so. Peace.
Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/the-oprahfication-of-religion/#ixzz1YB3nL81C
From the way Elizabeth Gilbert’s tale begins --- with our heroine in Rome,
fawning over a sexy, young Italian --- one could be forgiven for thinking
thatEat, Pray, Love might just belong on the chick-lit shelf next to Amy
Sohn’sRun, Catch, Kiss. But first blushes can be deceiving, and from the
book’s introductory quote --- “Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth” --- we
know Gilbert’s not out to deceive. Not her readers and, most important, not
herself.
In what could be construed as a coming-of-age story for thirtysomethings,
Gilbert leaves behind an excruciating divorce, tumultuous affair, and
debilitating depression as she sets off on a yearlong quest to bridge the gulf
between body, mind, and spirit. Part self-deprecating tour guide, part wry,
witty chronicler, Gilbert relates this chapter of her life with a compelling, richly
detailed narrative that eschews the easy answers of New Age rhetoric. In the
book’s early pages, a flashback finds the smart, savvy, successful Gilbert on
her knees on the bathroom floor of the Westchester house she inhabits with
her husband, wailing and wallowing in sorrow, snot, and tears (“a veritable
Lake Inferior”), awkwardly embarking on her first conversation with God.
During the interminable wait for her divorce, Gilbert accepts a magazine
assignment in Bali, where she meets a ninth-generation medicine man “whose
resemblance to the Star Wars character Yoda cannot be exaggerated.” He
evaluates her palm, forecasting her return to Bali --- a prediction that
31
resurfaces when she hatches an escape plan from pain: “to explore the art of
pleasure in Italy, the art of devotion in India, and, in Indonesia, the art of
balancing the two.”
Drawn by the beauty of its mother tongue, Gilbert arrives in Rome dead set on
a self-restoration remedy rooted in pleasure and chastity, a peculiar pairing
she describes as the antidote for decades spent sublimating herself to lovers
with the dedication of “a golden retriever and a barnacle.” For Gilbert,
luxuriating in simple pleasures means sounding the curtain call on personal
demons --- in this case a good-cop, bad-cop routine starring loneliness and
depression --- and allowing her own desires (gelato for breakfast!) to take
center stage.
Pleasure triumphs, and our protagonist is prepared for the next leg of her
journey: an ashram in India, where racing thoughts eventually yield to
successful meditation and a cast of supportive characters, including a plumberpoet from New Zealand, an ever-amiable, sage Texan, and the Indian tomboy
she scrubs the temple floors with as part of her devotional duty.
By the time Gilbert arrives in Indonesia, she has shed her grief, realizing her
own ability to control her reaction to life’s events. She is strong, enjoying a
succession of simple days spent with the medicine man, a Javanese surfer
dude, and a woman healer. Bicycling around Bali, she finds balance and, as the
title suggests, love. Happiness, Gilbert comes to realize, “is the consequence of
personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even
travel around the world looking for it.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. Gilbert writes that “the appreciation of pleasure can be the anchor of
humanity,” making the argument that America is “an entertainment-seeking
nation, not necessarily a pleasure-seeking one.” Is this a fair assessment?
2. After imagining a petition to God for divorce, an exhausted Gilbert answers
her phone to news that her husband has finally signed. During a moment of
quietude before a Roman fountain, she opens her Louise Glück collection to a
verse about a fountain, one reminiscent of the Balinese medicine man’s
drawing. After struggling to master a 182-verse daily prayer, she succeeds by
focusing on her nephew, who suddenly is free from nightmares. Do these
incidents of fortuitous timing signal fate? Cosmic unity? Coincidence?
3. Gilbert hashes out internal debates in a notebook, a place where she can
argue with her inner demons and remind herself about the constancy of selflove. When an inner monologue becomes a literal conversation between a
divided self, is this a sign of last resort or of self-reliance?
4. When Gilbert finally returns to Bali and seeks out the medicine man who
foretold her return to study with him, he doesn’t recognize her. Despite her
despair, she persists in her attempts to spark his memory, eventually
succeeding. How much of the success of Gilbert’s journey do you attribute to
32
persistence?
5. Prayer and meditation are both things that can be learned and, importantly,
improved. In India, Gilbert learns a stoic, ascetic meditation technique. In Bali,
she learns an approach based on smiling. Do you think the two can be
synergistic? Or is Ketut Liyer right when he describes them as “same-same”?
6. Gender roles come up repeatedly in Eat, Pray, Love, be it macho Italian
men eating cream puffs after a home team’s soccer loss, or a young Indian’s
disdain for the marriage she will be expected to embark upon at age eighteen,
or the Balinese healer’s sly approach to male impotence in a society where
women are assumed responsible for their childlessness. How relevant is
Gilbert’s gender?
7. In what ways is spiritual success similar to other forms of success? How is it
different? Can they be so fundamentally different that they’re not comparable?
8. Do you think people are more open to new experiences when they travel?
And why?
9. Abstinence in Italy seems extreme, but necessary, for a woman who has
repeatedly moved from one man’s arms to another’s. After all, it’s only after
Gilbert has found herself that she can share herself fully in love. What does
this say about her earlier relationships?
10. Gilbert mentions her ease at making friends, regardless of where she is. At
one point at the ashram, she realizes that she is too sociable and decides to
embark on a period of silence, to become the Quiet Girl in the Back of the
Temple. It is just after making this decision that she is assigned the role of
ashram key hostess. What does this say about honing one’s nature rather than
trying to escape it? Do you think perceived faults can be transformed into
strengths rather than merely repressed?
11. Sitting in an outdoor café in Rome, Gilbert’s friend declares that every city
--- and every person --- has a word. Rome’s is “sex,” the Vatican’s “power”;
Gilbert declares New York’s to be “achieve,” but only later stumbles upon her
own word, antevasin, Sanskrit for “one who lives at the border.” What is your
word? Is it possible to choose a word that retains its truth for a lifetime?
'Eat, Pray, Love' by Elizabeth Gilbert - Book Club Discussion Questions
33
By Erin Collazo Miller
Eat, Pray, Love is Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir of her year traveling to Italy, India and Indonesia in
pursuit of pleasure, devotion and balance. Use these book club discussion questions on Eat, Pray,
Love to lead your reading group through Gilbert's story.
1. Did you like the format of the book, the way Elizabeth Gilbert split it into 108 short
chapters? How did this contribute to the flow?
2. Guilio says Rome’s word is "sex," and Gilbert decides her word is "antevasin." What is your
word? What is your city’s word?
3. What did you learn from Eat, Pray, Love?
4. What is one thing you did not like about the book or disagreed with?
5. Why do you think Eat, Pray, Love has sold so well?
6. What are some of the ways Gilbert found pleasure in Italy?
7. Do you think seeking pleasure is a worthwhile pursuit? How do you pursue it?
8. In many ways, the entire book Eat Pray Love is a spiritual memoir; however, Gilbert
particularly focuses on her spiritual pursuit in the middle section of the book. Did you relate
to Gilbert’s spiritual journey? What parts of her opinions about God did you agree with and
what did you disagree with?
9. Do you think a person can know God?
10. What do you think Gilbert learned in Bali? What did you take away from this final section
of the book?
11. If you were able to travel for a year, where would you go and why?
Eat, Pray, Love: Quotes and Concepts for Discussion
Book By: Elizabeth Gilbert; Excerpts selected by: Stacey Tuttle
Note: With 5 million copies in print and a movie coming out August 13 (starring Julia Roberts,
Javier Bardem and James Franco), Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Eat, Pray, Love, (a New York Times
Bestseller released in 2006) is sure to see a resurgence of popularity and interest. Eat, Pray, Love is
Gilbert’s beautifully written memoirs documenting her journey not just across the world, but more
importantly through her exploration of faith.
Shepherd Project Ministries does not agree with many of her spiritual views, but does think that she
raises some important questions and issues, and that her book has been and will continue to be both
significant and influential in the world at large, and as such is something Christians would do well
to be familiar with and able to discuss. Gilbert, through her book and upcoming movie, has
provided an immense opportunity for believers to engage with others in matters of faith.
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Additional Resources:
Meaningful Quotes:
The japa mala which assists Hindu and Buddhist worshippers in prayer and meditation was admired
by medieval Crusaders and became the rosary. (p 1) (Note: from the first page Gilbert focuses on
connectedness and similarities of religions.)
First page – she mentions Hindus, Buddhists and Catholics as all sharing common worship practices
(rosary, japa mala) and then in next paragraph mentions the Holy Trinity as an example of why
Eastern philosophers deem three as the number representing supreme balance. While this may be
true – she is immediately drawing parallels between all religions (whatever her motives/intentions
may be.)
“Sincere spiritual investigation is, and always has been, an endeavor of methodical discipline.
Looking for Truth is not some kind of spazzy free-for-all, not even during this; the great age of the
spazzy free-for-all. As both a seeker and writer, I find it helpful to hang on to the beads as much as
possible, the better to keep my attention focused on what it is I’m trying to accomplish” (p 2).
“Not to mention that I have finally arrived at that age where a woman starts to question whether the
wisest way to get over the loss of one beautiful brown-eyed young man is indeed to promptly invite
another one into her bed. This is why I have been alone for many months now. This is why, in fact,
I have decided to spend this entire year in celibacy. … This was not my moment to be seeking
romance and (as day follows night) to further complicate my already knotty life. This was my
moment to look for the kind of healing and peace that can only come from solitude” (p. 7-8).
Setting the tone for her spiritual inclusiveness, ch. 1 ends with a prayer of thanks… “First in
English. Then in Italian. And then – just to get the point across – in Sanskrit” (p 9).
“I was trying so hard not to know this, but the truth kept insisting itself to me. I don’t want to be
married anymore. I don’t want to live in this big house. I don’t want to have a baby” (p 10).
As she has introduced “that loaded word—God” (p 13) into the book for the first time, she takes a
chapter to, “explain exactly what I mean when I say that word, just so people can decide right away
how offended they need to get” (p 13). She describes her very inclusive theology saying that even
though she uses the “word God… [she] could just as easily use the words Jehovah, Allah, Shiva,
Brahma, Vishnu or Zeus” or the ancient Sanskrit “That” or “even the most poetic manifestation of
God’s name… “The Shadow of the Turning”” (p 13). She says the terms themselves are all
“equally adequate and inadequate descriptions of the indescribable” (p 13) and she has chosen the
name “God” out of simple preference.
Gilbert was raised Protestant and therefore considers herself a “cultural” Christian and not a
theological one meaning that, though she does “love that great teacher of peace who was called
Jesus” and even occasionally asks herself, “WWJD?”, she “can’t swallow that one fixed rule of
Christianity insisting that Christ is the only path to God” (p 14). Rather, she is drawn with
“breathless excitement to anyone who has ever said that God does not live in a dogmatic scripture
or in a distant throne in the sky, but instead abides very close to us indeed – much closer than we
can imagine, breathing right through our own hearts… and who has [reported]… that God is an
experience of supreme love” (p 14).
She compares her beliefs about God to a “really great dog” she got from the pound – “a mixture of
about ten different breeds [that] seemed to have inherited the finest features of them all” (p 14).
When asked what kind of dog she had, she simply answered “brown.” “Similarly, when the
question is raised, “What kind of God do you believe in?” my answer is easy: “I believe in a
magnificent God”” (p 14).
In the middle of that dark November crisis, though, I was not interested in formulating my views on
theology. I was interested only in saving my life…. I seemed to have reached a state of hopeless
and life-threatening despair, and it occurred to me that sometimes people in this state will approach
God for help. I think I’d read that in a book somewhere” (p 15).
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After her first prayer: “I was just alone. But not really alone, either. I was surrounded by
something I can only describe as a little pocket of silence – a silence so rare that I didn’t want to
exhale, for fear of scaring it off. I was seamlessly still. I don’t know when I’d ever felt such
stillness” (p 15).
The voice, she said, was her own voice, speaking from within herself. She says it was “perfectly
wise, calm and compassionate…what my voice would sound like if I’d only ever experienced love
and certainty in my life” (p 16). What did it say? “Go back to bed, Liz.” (Which, she said was
“true wisdom.” “True wisdom gives the only possible answer at any given moment, and that night,
going back to bed was the only possible answer.”)
“I would not say that this was a religious conversion for me, not in that traditional manner of being
born again or saved. Instead, I would call what happened that night the beginning of a
religious conversation. The first words of an open and exploratory dialogue that would, ultimately,
bring me very close to God, indeed” (p 16).
“In desperate love, we always invent the characters of our partners, demanding that they be what we
need of them, and then feeling devastated when they refuse to perform the role we created in the
first place” (p 18-19).
Addiction is the hallmark of every infatuation-based love story. It all begins when the object of
your adoration bestows upon you a heady, hallucinogenic dose of something you never even dared
to admit that you wanted –an emotional speedball, perhaps, of thunderous love and roiling
excitement. Soon you start craving that intense attention, with the hungry obsession of any junkie.
When the drug is withheld, you promptly turn sick, crazy and depleted ( not to mention resentful of
the dealer who encouraged this addiction in the first place but who now refuses to pony up the good
stuff anymore—despite the fact that you know he has it hidden somewhere…becausehe used to give
it to you for free). Next stage finds you skinny and shaking in a corner, certain only that you would
sell your soul or rob your neighbors just to have that thing even one more time. Meanwhile, the
object of your adoration has now become repulsed by you. He looks at you like you’re someone
he’s never met before, much less someone he once loved with high passion. The irony is, you can
hardly blame him. I mean, check yourself out. You’re a pathetic mess, unrecognizable even to
your own eyes. So that’s it. You have now reached infatuation’s final destination—the complete
and merciless devaluation of self” (p 20-21).
Meaning of the Sanskrit mantra Om Nama Shivaya which Guru gives her students: “I honor the
divinity that resides within me” (p 25).
What she told the medicine man: “I want to have a lasting experience of God…Sometimes I think I
understand the divinity of this world, but then I lose it because I get distracted by my petty desires
and fears. I want to be with God all the time. But I don’t’ want to be a monk, or totally give up
worldly pleasures. I guess what I want to learn is how to live in this world and enjoy its delights,
but also devote myself to God” (p 26-27).
“I explained to Iva my personal opinions about prayer. Namely, that I don’t’ feel comfortable
petitioning for specific things from God because it feels to me like a kind of weakness of faith. I
don’t like asking, “Will you change this or that thing in my life that’s difficult for me?” Because –
who knows?—God might want me to be facing that particular challenge for a reason. Instead, I feel
more comfortable praying for the courage to face whatever occurs in my life with equanimity, no
matter how things turn out” (p 32).
Iva’s response: “Where did you get the idea you aren’t allowed to petition the universe with
prayer? You are part of this universe, Liz. You’re a constituent—have every entitlement to
participate in the actions of the universe, and let your feelings be known. So put your opinion out
there. Make your case. Believe me—it will at least be taken into consideration” (p32).
“It is my understanding that the health of the planet is affected by the health of every individual on
it. As long as even two souls are locked in conflict, the whole of the world is contaminated by it.
Similarly, if even one or two souls can be free from discord, this will increase the general health of
36
the whole world, the way a few healthy cells in a body can increase the general health of that body”
(p 32-33).
“They handpicked the most beautiful of all the local dialects and crowned it Italian” (p 45). (Note:
This is essentially how Gilbert handles God and religion: handpicks the most beautiful of all
religious teachings and calls them God and religion.)
She says that she can always talk to that voice, “even during the worst of suffering, that calm,
compassionate, affectionate and infinitely wise voice (who is maybe me, or maybe not exactly me)
is always available for a conversation on paper at any time of day or night” (p 53). She’s not quite
sure who the voice is, it could be God, her Guru, her guardian angel, her Highest Self, or her own
subconscious. However, life is hard and that is “why you sometimes must reach out of its
jurisdiction for help, appealing to a higher authority in order to find your comfort” (p 53).
At the beginning…I didn’t always have such faith in this internal voice of wisdom. I remember
once …scrawling… “I DO NOT F***ING BELIEVE IN YOU!!!!!!” After a moment, still
breathing heavily, I felt a clear pinpoint of light ignite within me, and then I found myself writing
this amused and ever-calm reply: “Who are you talking to then?”” (p 53-54).
What her voice told her: “I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night
long, I will stay with you. If you need the medication again, go ahead and take it—I will love you
through that, as well. If you don’t need the medication, I will love you, too. There’s nothing you
can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after you death, I will still protect
you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust
me.”
Of her overlapping cycle of men: “And I can’t help but think that’s been something of a liability on
my path to maturity” (p 65).
“How many more different types of men can I keep trying to love and continue to fail? Think of it
this way—if you’d had ten serious traffic accidents in a row, wouldn’t they eventually take your
driver’s license away? Wouldn’t you kind of want them to?” (p 66).
“I’m exhausted by the cumulative consequences of a lifetime of hasty choices and chaotic passions.
By the time I left for Italy, my body and my spirit were depleted. I felt like the soil on some
desperate sharecropper’s farm, sorely overworked and needing a fallow season. That’s why I’ve
quit” (p 66).
She tells herself to “never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your
own unfulfilled yearnings” (p 65).
Gilbert sees the Augusteum as a sort of metaphor for her own changing life, and a sage warning
“not to get attached to any obsolete ideas about who I am, what I represent, whom I belong to, or
what function I may have once intended to serve” (p75).
“Is it maybe a little shallow to be thinking only about your next wonderful meal? Or is it perhaps
the best you can do, given the harder realities?” she asks (p 114). “in a world of disorder and
disaster and fraud, sometimes only beauty can be trusted. Only artistic excellence is incorruptible.
Pleasure cannot be bargained down. And sometimes the meal is the only currency that is real” (p
114).
“The appreciation of pleasure can be an anchor of one’s humanity” (p 115).
“I do know that I have collected myself of late—through the enjoyment of harmless pleasures—into
somebody much more intact. The easiest…way to say it is that I have put on weight. I exist more
now than I did four months ago. I will leave Italy noticeably bigger than when I arrived here. And
I will leave with the hope that the expansion of one person—the magnification of one life—is
indeed an act of worth in this world” (p 115-1116).
INDIA:
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“The Amazing Grace of Sanskrit”: “I adore the cause of the universe…I adore the one whose eyes
are the sun, the moon and fire…you are everything to me, O god of gods… This is perfect, that is
perfect, if you take the perfect from the perfect, the perfect remains” (p 120).
The purpose of Yoga, Gilbert explains, is not simply to become more externally flexible. Yoga
means “to attach yourself to a task at hand with ox-like discipline. And the task at hand in Yoga is
to find union—between mind and body, between the individual and her God, between our thoughts
and the source of our thoughts, between teacher and student, and even between ourselves and our
sometimes hard-to-bend neighbors…. Yoga can also mean trying to find God through meditation,
through scholarly study, through the practice of silence, through devotional service or through
mantra…Yoga is not synonymous with Hinduism, nor are all Hindus Yogis” (p 121).
“The Yogic path is about disentangling the built-in glitches of the human condition, which I’m
going to over-simply define here as the heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment. Different
schools of thought over the centuries have found different explanations for man’s apparently
inherently flawed state. Taoists call in imbalance, Buddhism calls it ignorance, Islam blames our
misery on rebellion against God and the Judeo-Christian tradition attributes all our suffering to
original sin. Freudians say that unhappiness is the inevitable result of the clash between our natural
drives and civilization’s needs. (As my friend Deborah the psychologist explains it: “Desire is the
design flaw.”) The Yogis, however, say that human discontentment is a simple case of mistaken
identify. We’re miserable because we think that we are mere individuals alone with our fears and
flaws and resentments and mortality. We wrongly believe that our limited little egos constitute our
whole entire nature. We have failed to recognize our deeper divine character. We don’t realize
that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme Self who is eternally at peace” (p 122).
“Yoga is the effort to experience ones’ divinity personally and then to hold on that experience
forever. Yoga is about self-mastery and the dedicated effort to haul your attention away from your
endless brooding over the past and your nonstop worrying about the future so that you can seek,
instead, a place of eternal presence from which you may regard yourself and your surroundings with
poise. Only from that point of even-mindedness will the true nature of the world (and yourself) be
revealed to you” (p 122).
““Our whole business therefore in this life,” wrote Saint Augustine, rather Yogically, “is to restore
to health the eye of the heart whereby God may be seen.”” (p 123).
A Yogi is a person who “has achieved the permanent state of enlightened bliss” and a Guru “is a
great Yogi who can actually pass that state on to others” (p 123).
Gilbert opens the chapter by saying that one of her “first roommates at the Ashram was a middleaged African American devout Baptist and meditation instructor from South Carolina” (p 125). As
an editorial note, I question if she mentioned the Baptist meditation instructor first to suggest to
conservatives and Christians that this Ashram’s practices are all-inclusive and are not in opposition
to or offensive to any religion.
She mentions her Guru was not present while she was at the Ashram, but that wasn’t a problem,
because “sometimes you will find that it is easier to communicate with your teacher from within
these private meditations than to push your way through crowds of eager students and get a word in
edgewise in person” (126).
“Remember—everything you do, you do for God. And everything God does, He do for you” (p
131).
“Your ego’s job isn’t to serve you. Its only job is to keep itself in power. And right now, your egos
scared to death cuz it’s about to get downsized. You keep up this spiritual path, baby, and that bad
boy’s days are numbered. Pretty soon your ego will be out of work, and your heart’ll be making all
the decisions. So your ego’s fighting for its life, playing with your mind, trying to asset its
authority, trying to keep you cornered off in a holding pen away from the rest of the universe.
Don’t listen to it” (p 140).
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What Gilbert tells her mind: “Listen—I understand you’re a little frightened. But I promise, I’m not
trying to annihilate you. I’m just trying to give you a place to rest. I love you” Because a monk
told her that “the resting place of the mind is the heart. The only thing the mind hears all day is
clanging bells and noise and argument, and all it wants is quietude. The only place the mind will
ever find peace is inside the silence of the heart. That’s where you need to go” (p 141).
Mantra: Ham-sa meaning “I am That” “The Yogis say that Ham-sa is the most natural mantra, the
one we are all given by God before birth. It is the sound of our own breath…. As long as we live,
every time we breathe in or out, we are repeating this mantra. I am That. I am Divine, I am with
God, I am an expression of God, I am not separate, I am not alone, I am not this limited illusion of
an individual. (p 141-142).
Of her Ham-sa meditation: “I fall asleep for a while. (Or whatever. In meditation, you can never
really be sure if what you think is sleep is actually sleep; sometimes it’s just another level of
consciousness.) When I awake, or whatever, I can feel this soft blue electrical energy pulsing
through my body, in waves. It’s a little alarming, but also amazing” (p 142).
In Indian Yogic tradition, this experience (kundalini shakti) is “depicted as a snake who lies coiled
at the base of the spine until it is released by a master’s touch or by a miracle, and which then
ascends up through seven chakras, or wheels (which you might also call the seven mansions of the
soul), and finally through the head, exploding into union with God” (p 144).
“Mystics across time and cultures have all described a stilling of the brain during meditation, and
say that the ultimate union with God is a blue light which they can feel radiating from the center of
their skulls. In Yogic tradition, this is called “the blue pearl,” and it is the goal of every seeker to
find it. … In mystical India, as in many shamanistic traditions, kundalini shakti is considered a
dangerous force to play around with if you are unsupervised; the inexperienced Yogi could quite
literally blow his mind with it. You need a… Guru…to guide you on this path, and ideally a safe
place—an Ashram—from which to practice. It is said to be the Guru’s touch (either literally in
person, or through a more supernatural encounter, like a dream) which releases the
bound kundalinienergy from its coil at the base of the spine and allows it to begin journeying
upward toward God. This moment of release is called shaktipat, divine initiation” (p 145).
“If you clear out all that space in your mind that you’re using right now to obsess about this guy,
you’ll have a vacuum there, an open spot – a doorway. And guess what the universe will do with
that doorway? It will rush in—God will rush in—and fill you with more love than you ever
dreamed. So stop using David to block that door. Let it go” (p 150).
The Geet is conversation between “the goddess Parvati and the almighty, all-encompassing god
Shiva. Parvati and Shiva are the divine embodiment of creativity (the feminine) and consciousness
(the masculine). She is the generative energy of the universe; he is its formless wisdom. Whatever
Shiva imagines, Parvati brings to life. He dreams it she materializes it. Their dance, their union
(their Yoga) is both the cause of the universe and its manifestation” (p 162).
Swamiji: “He was always scolding people for being jad, the Hindi word for “inert.” He brought
ancient concepts of discipline to the lives of his often rebellious young western followers,
commanding them to stop wasting their own (and everyone else’s) time, and energy with their
freewheeling hippie nonsense. He would throw his walking stick at you one minute, hug you the
next. Hew as complicated, often controversial, but truly world-changing” (p 166).
Of Swamiji: “He’s the master I need when I’m really struggling, because I can curse him and show
him all my failures and flaws and all he does is laugh. Laugh and love me” (p 167). (Editor’s
Note: I noted in the margin of my book as I read that in her Guru she had a god she could manage,
in her image. She didn’t like Swamiji because he was too big, she couldn’t control him and he
wasn’t in her image. As she grew, she began to want a god bigger than herself.)
Following the Geet, Groceries writes, “I walked to the front of the temple and bowed flat on my
face in gratitude to my God, to the revolutionary power of love, to myself, to my Guru and to my
nephew—briefly understanding on a molecular level (not an intellectual level) that there was no
difference whatsoever between any of these words of any of these ideas of any of these people” (p
169).
39
“I’m not interested in the insurance industry. I’m tired of being a skeptic, I’m irritated by spiritual
prudence and I feel bored and parched by empirical debate. I don’t want to hear it anymore. I
couldn’t care less about evidence and proof and assurances. I just want God. I want God inside
me. I want God to play in my bloodstream the way sunlight amuses itself on water” (p 176).
“The harbor of my mind is an open bay, the only access to the island of my Self (which is a young
and volcanic island, yes, but fertile and promising). This island ahs been through some wars, it is
true, but it is now committed to peace, under a new leader (me) who has instituted new policies to
protect he place. And now—let the word go our across the seven seas—there are much, much
stricter laws n the books about who may enter this harbor. / You may not come here anymore with
your hard and abusive thoughts, with your plague ships of thoughts, with your slave ships of
thoughts, with your warships of thoughts—all these will be turned away. Likewise, any thoughts
that ware filled with angry or starving exiles, with malcontents and pamphleteers, mutineers and
violent assassins, desperate prostitutes, pimps and seditious stowaways—you may not come here
anymore, either. Cannibalistic thoughts, for obvious reasons, will no longer be received. Even
missionaries will be screened carefully, for sincerity. This is a peaceful harbor, the entryway to a
fine and proud island that is only now beginning to cultivate tranquility” (p 178-179).
“Guilt’s just your ego’s way of tricking you into thinking that you’re making moral progress” (p
183).
“The rules of transcendence insist that you will not advance even one inch closer to divinity as long
as you cling to even one last seductive thread of blame. AS smoking is to the lungs, so is
resentment to the soul: even one puff of it is bad for you I mean, what kind of prayer is this to
imbibe—“Give us this day our daily grudge”?” (p 186).
On the rooftop, Groceries felt that she and her ex desperately need to release each other, yet she
knew they would never talk. So she prayed and asked God if there would be “some level upon
which we could communicate? Some level on which we could forgive?” (p 186). And the answer
she got during meditation was, “You can finish the business yourself, from within yourself” (p
186). So, in her meditations she invited her ex-husband to “be kind enough to meet… [her]…for
this farewell event,” which he did. “His presence was suddenly absolute and tangible” (p 186). Of
this experience she writes, “I watched these two cool blue souls circle each other, merge, divide
again and regard each other’s perfection and similarity…. They knew everything long ago and they
will always know everything. They didn’t need to forgive each other; they were born forgiving
each other. The lesson they were teaching me in their beautiful turning was, “Stay out of this, Liz.
Your part of this relationship is over. Let us work things out from now on. You go on with your
life” (p 187).
She did a handstand after the time on the rooftop. “That’s our privilege. That’s the joy of a mortal
body. And that’s why God needs us. Because God loves to feel things through our hands” (p 188).
“God dwells within you, as you” (p 191). Meaning that, “God dwells within you as yourself,
exactly the way you are” (p 192).
“To know God, you need only to renounce one thing—your sense of division from God.
Otherwise, just stay as you were made, within your natural character” (p 192).
“Who is the one who is always standing outside the mind’s activity, observing its thoughts? It’s
simply God, say the Yogis. And if you can move into that sate of witness-consciousness, then you
can be present with God all the time. This constant awareness and experience of the God-presence
within can only happen on a fourth level of human consciousness, which is call turiya” (p 196).
“Pure, clean, void, tranquil, breathless, selfless, endless, undecaying, steadfast, eternal, unborn,
independent, he abides in his own greatness,” say the …ancient Yogic scriptures, describing anyone
who has reached the turiyastate” (p 196).
This is why we all chose to be born, and this is why all the suffering and pain of life on earth is
worthwhile—just for the chance to experience this infinite love. And once you have found this
divinity within can you hold it? Because if you can…bliss” (p 197).
40
Turiya: “Simply put, I got pulled through the wormhole of the Absolute, and in that rush I suddenly
understood the workings of the completely. I left my body, I left the room, I left he planet, I
stepped through time and I entered the void. I was inside the void, but I also was the void and I was
looking at the void, all at the same time. The void was a place of limitless peace and wisdom. The
void was conscious and it was intelligent. The void was God, which means that I was inside God.
… I just was part of God. In addition to being God, I was both a tiny piece of the universe and
exactly the same size as the universe. (“All know that the drop merges into the ocean, but few
know that the ocean merges into the drop,” wrote the sage Kabir—and I can personally attest now
that this is true.) / It wasn’t hallucinogenic, what I was feeling. It was the most basic of events. It
was heaven, yes. It was the deepest love I’d ever experienced, beyond anything I could have
previously imagined, but it wasn’t euphoric. It wasn’t exciting. There wasn’t enough ego or
passion left in me to create euphoria and excitement. It was just obvious. Like when you’ve been
looking at an optical illusion for a long time, straining your eyes to decode the trick, and suddenly
your cognizance shifts and there—now you can clearly see it!—the two vases are actually two
faces. And once you’ve seen through the optical illusion, you can never not see it again” (p 199).
“Man is a demon, man is a god. Both true” (p 251).
“Human beings are born…with the equivalent potential for both contraction and expansion. The
ingredients of both darkness and light are equally present in all of us, and then it’s up to the
individual (or the family, or the society) to decide what will be brought forth—the virtues or the
malevolence. The madness of this planet is largely a result of the human being’s difficulty in
coming into virtuous balance with himself” (p 251).
There is nothing you can do about the craziness of the world. “This is nature of world. This is
destiny. Worry about your craziness only—make you in peace” (p 251).
Gilbert contemplates happiness. She says you have to “fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and
sometimes even travel around the world looking or it. You have to participate relentlessly in the
manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must
never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward
into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don’t, you will leak away your innate
contentment. It’s easy enough to pray when you’re in distress but continuing to pray even when
your crisis has passed is like a sealing process, helping your soul hold tight to its good attainments”
(p 260).
So, in her prayers she asks God to help her hold on to the happiness and contentment. She calls this
“Diligent Joy,” remembering what her friend said, “that all the sorrow and trouble of this world is
caused by unhappy people. Not only in the big global Hitler-n-Stalin picture, but also on the
smallest personal level. Even in my own life, I can see exactly where my episodes of unhappiness
have brought suffering or distress or (at the very least) inconvenience to those around me. The
search for contentment is, therefore, not merely a self-preserving and self-benefitting act, but also a
generous gift to the world. Clearing out all your misery gets you out of the way. You cease being
an obstacle, not only to yourself but to anyone else. Only then are you free to serve and enjoy other
people.” (p 260-261).
“Hindus see the universe in terms of karma, a process of constant circulation, which is to say that
you don’t really “end up” anywhere at the end o your life—not in heaven or hell—but just get
recycled back to the earth again in another form, in order to resolve whatever relationships or
mistakes you left uncompleted last time. When you finally achieve perfection, you graduate out of
the cycle entirely and melt into the Void. The notion of karma implies that heaven and hell are only
to be found here on earth, where we have the capacity to create them, manufacturing either
goodness or evil depending on our destinies and our characters” (p 262).
Ketut said he had been to heaven and hell. But Ketut believed they were places, the same place,
and both love. He said the universe is a circle…up and down all the same place, the only difference
is the way you get there, “so better to be happy on journey,” he says (p 262).
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She asked herself to reveal everything that was causing her sorrow and then, as things were
revealed, she told each sorrow “It’s OK. I love you. I accept you. Come into my heart now. It’s
over.” And she would “actually feel the sorrow (as if it were a living thing) enter [her] heart” (p
327). She did the same thing with her anger and her shame. And afterward, she said, “I saw that my
heart was not even nearly full, not even after having taken in and tended to all those calamitous
urchins of sorrow and anger and shame; my heart could easily have received and forgiven even
more. Its love was infinite. I knew then that this is how God loves us all and receives us all, and
that there is no such thing in this universe as hell, except maybe in our own terrified minds.
Because if even one broken and limited human being could experience even one such episode of
absolute forgiveness and acceptance of her own self, then imagine…what God, kin all His eternal
compassion, con forgive and accept” (p 328).
“Yet what keeps me from dissolving right now into a complete fairy-tale shimmer is this solid truth,
a truth which has veritably built my bones over the last few years—I was not rescued by a prince; it
was the administrator of my own rescue” (p 329).
Zen Buddhists believe that two forces are at work in the creation of an oak tree: the acorn (the
obvious seed with the all the potential for life), and the future Oak tree which so desperately wants
to live, it pulls itself forth from the acorn. Gilbert wonders, in light of this, if maybe that voice
helping her through her hard years was possibly future, whole, healthy, mature version of herself, so
desperately wanting to be in existence she was helping herself grow through it all. “The younger
me was the acorn full of potential, but it was the older me, the already-existent oak, who was saying
the whole time: “Yes—grow! Change! Evolve! Come and meet me here, where I already exist in
wholeness and maturity! I need you to grow into me!” And maybe it was this present and fully
actualized me who was hovering four years ago over that young married sobbing girl on the
bathroom floor, and maybe it was this mewho whispered lovingly into that desperate girls’ ear, “Go
back to bed, Liz…” Knowing already that everything would be OK, that everything would
eventually bring us together here… Where I was always waiting in peace and contentment, always
waiting for her to arrive and join me” (p 330).
In Every Religious Tradition On Earth…
“I respond with gratitude to anyone who has ever voyaged to the center of that heart [the one God
dwells in], and who has then returned to the world with a report for the rest of us that God is an
experience of supreme love. In every religious tradition on earth, there have always been mystical
saints and transcendent who report exactly this experience. Unfortunately many of them have
ended up arrested and killed. Still, I think very highly of them” (p 14).
“Every religion in the world has had a subset of devotees who seek a direct, transcendent
experience with God, excusing themselves from fundamentalist scriptural or dogmatic study in
order to personally encounter the divine. The interesting thing about these mystics is that, when
they describe their experiences, they all end up describing exactly the same occurrence. Generally,
their union with God occurs in a meditative state, and is delivered through an energy source that
fills the entire body with euphoric, electric light. The Japanese call this energy ki, the Chinese
Buddhists call it chi, the Balinese call it taksu, the Christians call it The Holy Spirit, the Kalahari
bushmen call itn/um…the Islamic Sufi poets called that God-energy “The Beloved,” and wrote
devotional poems to it…In the Jewish tradition of Kabbalah this union with the divine is said to
occur through stages of spiritual ascension, with energy that runs up the spine along a series of
invisible meridians. Saint Teresa of Avila, that most mystical of Catholic figures, described her
union with God as a physical ascension of light through seven inner “mansions’ of her being, after
which she burst into God’s presence. She used to go into meditative trances so deep that the other
nuns couldn’t feel her pulse anymore…. The most difficult challenge, the saint wrote…was to not
stir up the intellect during meditation for any thoughts of the mind—even the most fervent
prayers—will extinguish the fire of God” (p 143).
“The search for God is a reversal of the normal, mundane worldly order. In the search for god, you
revert from what attracts you and swim toward that which is difficult. You abandon your
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comforting and familiar habits with the hope (the mere hope!) that something greater will be offered
you in return for what you’ve given up. Every religion in the world operates on the same common
understandings of what it means to be a good disciple—get up early and pray to your God, hone
your virtues, be a good neighbor, respect yourself and others, master your cravings…. The devout
of this world perform their rituals without guarantee that anything good will ever come of it. Of
course there are plenty of scriptures and plenty of priests who make plenty of promises as to what
your good works will yield (or threats as to the punishments waiting you if you lapse) but to even
believe all this is an act of faith, because nobody amongst us is shown the endgame” (p 175).
“I believe that all the word’s religions share, at their core, a desire to find a transporting metaphor.
When you want to attain communion with God, what you’re really trying to do is move away from
the worldly into the eternal (from the village to the forest, you might say, keeping with the theme of
the antevasin) and you need some kind of magnificent idea to convey you there. It has to be a big
one, this metaphor—really big and magic and powerful, because it needs to carry you across a
mighty distance. It has to be the biggest boat imaginable. …
Your job, then, … is to keep searching for the metaphors, rituals and teachers that will help you
move ever closer to divinity. The Yogic scriptures say that God responds to the sacred prayers and
efforts of human beings in any way whatsoever that mortals choose to worship—just so long as
those prayers are sincere. As one line from the Upanishads suggests: “People follow different
paths, straight or crooked, according to their temperament, depending on which they consider best,
or most appropriate –and all reach You, just as rivers enter the ocean.”
The other objective of religion, of course, is to try to make sense of our chaotic world and explain
the inexplicabilities we see playing out here on earth every day: the innocent suffer, the wicked are
rewarded—what are we to make of all this? The Western tradition says, “It’ll all get sorted out after
death, in heaven and hell.” (All justice to be doled out, of course, by what James Joyce used to call
the “Hangman God”—a paternal figure who sits upon His strict seat of judgment punishing the evil
and rewarding the good.) Over in the East, though, the Upanishads shrug away any attempt to make
sense of the world’s chaos. They’re not even so sure that the worldis chaotic, but suggest that it
may only appear so to us, because of our limited vision. These texts do not promise justice or
revenge or for anybody, though they do say that there are consequences for every action –so choose
your behavior accordingly. You might not see those consequences any time soon, though. Yoga
takes the long view, always” (p 205-206).
“The Hopi Indians thought that the world’s religions each contained one spiritual thread, and that
these threads are always seeking each other, wanting to join. When all the threads are finally
woven together they will form a rope that will pull us out of this dark cycle of history and into the
next realm” (p 208).
“In 1954, Pope Pius XI, of all the people, sent some Vatican delegates on a trip to Libya with these
written instructions: “Do NOT think that you are going among Infidels. Muslims attain salvation,
too. The ways of Providence are infinite.
Doesn’t that make sense? That the invite would be, indeed…infinite? That even the most holy
amongst us would only be able to see scattered pieces of the eternal picture at any given time? And
that maybe if we could collect those pieces and compare them, a story about God would begin to
emerge that resembles and includes everyone? And isn’t our individual longing for transcendence
all just part of this larger human search for divinity? Don’t we each have the right to not stop
seeking until we get as close to the source of wonder as possible? “ (p 208).
He encourages Liss to keep up both methods of meditation, Balinese and Indian, because, “both
different, but good in equal way. Same-same. I think about religion, most of it is same-same” (p
241).
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EAT, PRAY, LOVE: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy,
India and Indonesia, by Elizabeth Gilbert
In this day and age, we Americans live in a society where stress-filled days, long hours, and a mere twoweek vacation are the norm in most corporate work environments. We work hard, we play even harder, and
often we get burned out in the process. Therefore, it is no surprise that the dream of dropping everything to
take time off to travel and "find one's self" is one of the most explored fantasies in the entertainment
business. Also, it's no surprise that we number crunchers, penny pinchers, and wheel-grinders flock like
lemmings to read, watch and consume whatever products make us feel like we actually have the ability to
"escape" or outrun our day-to-day woes, if we put our minds to it.
The idea of going somewhere else to fix what's inside is quite characteristic of the overworked, frenetic
culture of the West and certainly intriguing behavior to analyze --- it is ironic that we feel we must travel
halfway around the globe away from our problems in order to gain enough perspective to face and potentially
solve them. But this putting distance between ourselves and our troubles has been the subject of art for
centuries. Where would we be without the constant search for clarity amidst our self-perpetuating chaos and
the incessant impulse to interpret and describe what we learn along the way?
From National Book Award finalist Elizabeth Gilbert (THE LAST AMERICAN MAN) comes a travelogue so
utterly pleasant and inspiring to read that many fellow soul-searchers undoubtedly will be scouring the
Internet for vacation deals or weekend getaways the moment after they finish reading it. In a nutshell, EAT,
PRAY, LOVE is Gilbert's contribution to the "distance begets understanding" canon --- a deeply personal
chronicle of the year she spent living in three different countries (Italy, India and Indonesia) in order to better
understand herself and her ultimate place in the universe.
As the book's flap copy so assiduously suggests and what she thankfully doesn't pretend to ignore, Gilbert
led a fairly privileged life before her decision to drop-and-run. By the time she turned 30, she had a
successful writing career as a reporter and published author (including a PEN/Hemingway nomination and
the Pushcart Prize for her short story collection, PILGRIMS), a husband, a house in the suburbs and an
apartment in New York City, a crew of worldly and influential friends, sufficient income to support her
lifestyle, and a collection of stories from her own travels that definitely would be the envy of any Tom, Dick or
Harry. From the outside, it appeared as though Gilbert had the perfect life.
But, as one might expect, she wasn't happy, and in a moment that can only be described as a bonafide
breaking point (locked in the bathroom with her forehead on the floor tiles, sobbing uncontrollably), she
realized she wanted out. She needed to find out what was missing from her life and how to get it back. As we
all know, these things don't happen overnight. The breakup of her marriage left her emotionally and
physically exhausted. The subsequent ill-fated affair she dove into directly after her divorce left her weak and
dependent on a man who wasn't capable of giving her what she needed. It was around this time that she
started to put the plan in motion that would take her away from these trappings and immerse her in three
four-month-long rounds of intense self-discovery that would permanently alter the course of her life and, in
turn, restore the missing links to her spiritual well-being.
In three separate sections, Gilbert attempts to tackle three different aspects of her personality while living in
the country that best personifies that quality. In Italy (EAT), she explores the Pursuit of Pleasure and spends
four glorious months eating, drinking and carousing her way through one of the most romantic, leisureobsessed, pleasure-seeking cultures in the world. It is here that she remembers how to enjoy the taste of
food without feeling guilty; how to revel in the joy that comes with sharing a bottle of wine in the moonlight
44
while conversing in a foreign tongue; and how to float through her days with only the purpose of enjoying the
fullness of her life from moment-to-moment.
In India (PRAY), she studies the Pursuit of Devotion and spends four strenuous months living on the ashram
of a guru she met in the States. Here, she is taught that humility, patience and perseverance are essential in
obtaining the spiritual guidance she so desires and that enlightenment can only be achieved through sincere
dedication and focused discipline. In this quiet, almost austere environment, we witness Gilbert at her most
humble --- fighting her insecurities and the demons from her past with a fierce intensity that only the most
committed possess.
Her last four months in Indonesia (LOVE) are devoted to the Pursuit of Balance. It is in Bali that she finally
brings her year-long sojourn to a close and, while doing so, achieves the balance she so lacked in the
beginning. While living alone in a house in the hills, she furthers her spiritual study by apprenticing a ninthgeneration medicine man, breaks her year-long vow of celibacy, and unexpectedly falls in love with a 52year-old Brazilian man. In her words, "I was not rescued by a prince; I was the administrator of my own
rescue."
There are far too many invaluable insights in this gem of a book to mention and far too little space to
describe the impact that EAT, PRAY, LOVE most certainly will have on the lives of its readers. Suffice to say
that Elizabeth Gilbert has a gift for storytelling and a knack for making us feel like we are welcome
passengers on her journey. She is wise beyond her years, genuine in her approach, and steadfast in her
attention to what really matters in life. Gratifying, thought-provoking --- a book you can take with you
throughout your own march towards fulfillment.
Reviewed by Alexis Burling
AT, PRAY, LOVE,' BY ELIZABETH GILBERT
The Road to Bali
Review by JENNIFER EGAN
Early on in "Eat, Pray, Love," her travelogue of spiritual seeking, the novelist and journalist Elizabeth Gilbert gives a
characteristically frank rundown of her traveling skills: tall and blond, she doesn't blend well physically in most places;
she's lazy about research and prone to digestive woes. "But my one mighty travel talent is that I can make friends with
anybody," she writes. "I can make friends with the dead. . . . If there isn't anyone else around to talk to, I could probably
make friends with a four-foot-tall pile of Sheetrock."
45
This is easy to believe. If a more likable writer than Gilbert is currently in print, I haven't found him
or her. And I don't mean this as consolation prize, along the lines of: but she's really, really nice. I
mean that Gilbert's prose is fueled by a mix of intelligence, wit and colloquial exuberance that is
close to irresistible, and makes the reader only too glad to join the posse of friends and devotees
who have the pleasure of listening in. Her previous work of nonfiction, "The Last American
Man" (she's also the author of a fine story collection and a novel), was a portrait of a modern-day
wilderness expert that became an evocative meditation on the American frontier, and was a finalist
for the National Book Award in 2002.
Here, Gilbert's subject is herself. Reeling from a contentious divorce, a volatile rebound romance
and a bout of depression, she decided at 34 to spend a year traveling in Italy, India and Indonesia. "I
wanted to explore one aspect of myself set against the backdrop of each country, in a place that has
traditionally done that one thing very well," she writes. "I wanted to explore the art of pleasure in
Italy, the art of devotion in India and, in Indonesia, the art of balancing the two." Her trip was
financed by an advance on the book she already planned to write, and "Eat, Pray, Love" is the
mixed result.
At its best, the book provides an occasion for Gilbert to unleash her fresh, oddball sensibility on an
international stage. She describes Messina, Italy, as "a scary and suspicious Sicilian port town that
seems to howl from behind barricaded doors, 'It's not my fault that I'm ugly! I've been earthquaked
and carpet-bombed and raped by the Mafia, too!' " Later, she sees a Balinese mother "balancing on
her head a three-tiered basket filled with fruit and flowers and a roasted duck — a headgear so
magnificent and impressive that Carmen Miranda would have bowed down in humility before it."
Gilbert also takes pleasure in poking fun at herself. At an Indian ashram, she winningly narrates the
play of her thoughts while she tries to meditate: "I was wondering where I should live once this year
of traveling has ended. . . . If I lived somewhere cheaper than New York, maybe I could afford an
extra bedroom and then I could have a special meditation room! That'd be nice. I could paint it gold.
Or maybe a rich blue. No, gold. No, blue. . . . Finally noticing this train of thought, I was aghast. I
thought: . . . How about this, you spastic fool — how about you try to meditate right here, right
now, right where you actually are?"
"Eat, Pray, Love" is built on the notion of a woman trying to heal herself from a severe emotional
and spiritual crisis; Gilbert suggests more than once that she was at risk for suicide. But where she
movingly rendered up the tortured inner life of Eustace Conway, the gigantically flawed subject of
"The Last American Man," Gilbert has a harder time when it comes to Gilbert. Often she short
shrifts her own emotional state for the sake of keeping the reader entertained: "They come upon me
all silent and menacing like Pinkerton detectives," she writes of feeling depressed and lonely in
Italy, "and they flank me — Depression on my left, Loneliness on my right. They don't need to
show me their badges. I know these guys very well. We've been playing a cat-and-mouse game for
years now. . . . Then Loneliness starts interrogating me. . . . He asks why I can't get my act together,
and why I'm not at home living in a nice house and raising nice children like any respectable
woman my age should be."
But wait a second — Gilbert is a New York journalist who has spent the prior several years
traveling the world on assignment. In her chosen milieu, it would be unusual if she were married
and raising kids in a house at age 34 — by her own account, she left her husband precisely to avoid
those things. I'm willing to believe that Gilbert despaired over having failed at a more conventional
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life even as she sought out its opposite — complications like these are what make us human. But
she doesn't tell that story here, or even acknowledge the paradox. As a result, her crisis remains a
shadowy thing, a mere platform for the actions she takes to alleviate it.
What comes through much more strongly is her charisma. On a trip to Indonesia well before her
year of travel, she visited a Balinese medicine man who read her palm and proclaimed: "You have
more good luck than anyone I've ever met. You will live a long time, have many friends, many
experiences. . . . You only have one problem in your life. You worry too much." He then invited her
to spend several months in Bali as his protégé. At another point, Gilbert petitions God to move her
husband to sign their divorce agreement and gets a nearly instant result; later she devotes a love
hymn to her nephew, whose sleep problems, she learns the next week, have abruptly ceased. Putting
aside questions of credibility, the problem with these testaments to Gilbert's good luck and personal
power is that they undercut any sense of urgency about her future. "Eat, Pray, Love" suffers from a
case of low stakes; one reads for the small vicissitudes of Gilbert's journey — her struggle to accept
the end of her failed rebound relationship; her ultimately successful efforts to meditate; her
campaign to help a Balinese woman and her daughter buy a home — never really doubting that
things will come right. But even Gilbert's sassy prose is flattened by the task of describing her
approach to the divine, and the midsection of the book, at the ashram, drags.
By the time she reaches Indonesia, Gilbert herself admits that the stated purpose of the visit has
already been accomplished. "The task in Indonesia was to search for balance," she writes, "but . . .
the balance has somehow naturally come into place." There would seem to be only one thing
missing — romance — and she soon finds that with a Brazilian man 18 years her senior who calls
her "darling" and says things like, "You can decide to feel how you want to, but I love you and I
will always love you." Gilbert acknowledges the "almost ludicrously fairy-tale ending to this story,"
but reminds us, "I was not rescued by a prince; I was the administrator of my own rescue."
Rescue from what? The reader has never been sure. Lacking a ballast of gravitas or grit, the book
lists into the realm of magical thinking: nothing Gilbert touches seems to turn out wrong; not a
single wish goes unfulfilled. What's missing are the textures and confusion and unfinished business
of real life, as if Gilbert were pushing these out of sight so as not to come off as dull or equivocal or
downbeat. When, after too much lovemaking, she is stricken with a urinary tract infection, she
forgoes antibiotics and allows her friend, a Balinese healer, to treat the infection with noxious herbs.
"I suffered it down," Gilbert writes. "Well, we all know how the story ends. In less than two hours I
was fine, totally healed." The same could be said about "Eat, Pray, Love": we know how the story
ends pretty much from the beginning. And while I wouldn't begrudge this massively talented writer
a single iota of joy or peace, I found myself more interested, finally, in the awkward, unresolved
stuff she must have chosen to leave out.
Eat Pray Love
Yawn, fidget, stretch. Peter Bradshaw is a reluctant passenger on Julia Roberts's interminable
spiritual journey
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Sit, watch, groan. Yawn, fidget, stretch. Eat Snickers, pray for end of dire film about Julia
Roberts's emotional growth, love the fact it can't last for ever. Wince, daydream, frown.
Resent script, resent acting, resent dinky tripartite structure. Grit teeth, clench fists, focus
on plot. Troubled traveller Julia finds fulfilment through exotic foreign cuisine, exotic foreign
religion, sex with exotic foreign Javier Bardem. Film patronises Italians, Indians,
Indonesians. Julia finds spirituality, rejects rat race, gives Balinese therapist 16 grand to
buy house. Balinese therapist is grateful, thankful, humble. Sigh, blink, sniff. Check watch,
groan, slump.
Film continues, persists, drags on. Wonder about Julia Roberts's hair, wonder about Julia
Roberts's teeth, wonder about permanence of Julia Roberts's reported conversion to
Hinduism. Click light-pen on, click light-pen off, click light-pen on. Eat crisps noisily, pray
for more crisps, love crisps. Munch, munch, munch. Munch, munch, suddenly stop
munching when fellow critic hisses "Sshhh!" Eat crisps by sucking them, pray that this will
be quiet, love the salty tang. This, incidentally, makes me plump, heavy, fat. Yet Julia's lifeaffirming pasta somehow makes her slim, slender, svelte. She is emoting, sobbing,
empathising. She has encounters, meetings, learning-experiences. Meets wise old Texan,
sweet Indian girl, dynamic Italian-speaking Swede who thinks "Vaffanculo" means "screw
you".
Roberts eats up the oxygen, preys on credulous cinemagoers, loves what she sees in
the mirror. Julia shags Billy Crudup, James Franco, Javier Bardem. Ex-husband, rebound
lover, true romance. Crudup is shallow'n'callow, Franco is goofy'n'flaky, Bardem is
hunky'n'saintly. We hate Crudup, like Franco, love Bardem. Divorced Javier is gorgeous,
sexy, emotionally giving. About his ex-wife we are indifferent, incurious, uninterested. She
is absent, off the scene, unnamed. That's how Julia likes it, needs it, prefers it.
Movie passes two-hour mark, unfinished, not over yet. Whimper, moan, grimace. Wriggle,
writhe, squirm. Seethe, growl, rage. Eat own fist, pray for death, love the rushing sense of
imminent darkness. Scream, topple forward, have to be carried out of cinema. Reach life
crisis, form resolution, ask editor for paid year's leave to go travelling. Editor stands up,
shakes head, silently mouths the word: "No". Nod, turn, return to work. Personal growth,
spiritual journeys, emotional enrichment? Not as easy as 1-2-3.
“Eat, Pray, Love” BOOK
A celebrated writer's irresistible, candid, and eloquent account of her pursuit of worldly pleasure, spiritual devotion, and what she really wanted
out of life Around the time Elizabeth Gilbert turned thirty, she went through an early- onslaught midlife crisis. She had everything an educated,
ambitious American woman was supposed to want-a husband, a house, a successful career. But instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was
consumed with panic, grief, and confusion. She went through a divorce, a crushing depression, another failed love, and the eradication of
everything she ever thought she was supposed to be. To recover from all this, Gilbert took a radical step. In order to give herself the time and
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space to find out who she really was and what she really wanted, she got rid of her belongings, quit her job, and undertook a yearlong journey
around the world-all alone. Eat, Pray, Loveis the absorbing chronicle of that year. Her aim was to visit three places where she could examine one
aspect of her own nature set against the backdrop of a culture that has traditionally done that one thing very well. In Rome, she studied the art of
pleasure, learning to speak Italian and gaining the twenty-three happiest pounds of her life. India was for the art of devotion, and with the help of
a native guru and a surprisingly wise cowboy from Texas, she embarked on four uninterrupted months of spiritual exploration. In Bali, she studied
the art of balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence. She became the pupil of an elderly medicine man and also fell in love
the best way-unexpectedly. An intensely articulate and moving memoir of self-discovery, Eat, Pray, Loveis about what can happen when you
claim responsibility for your own contentment and stop trying to live in imitation of society's ideals. It is certain to touch anyone who has ever
woken up to the unrelenting need for change.
Eat, Pray, Love Quotes and Book Review
by ELIZABETH
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert details the author’s journey from New York to Italy,
India, and Indonesia. It could be read as a travelogue, detailing experiences in varying
cultures. But, what separates Eat, Pray, Love from most travelogues is the intensity with
which you as a reader become engrossed in Gilbert’s emotional journey. Gilbert goes
through a painful divorce and spends most of the book trying to find herself.
The book is captivating, heartwarming, heartbreaking, and hilarious. Gilbert’s style is
casual in tone and it’s a comfortable and fun read. Plus Eat, Pray, Love, quotes are
wonderful.
Eat, Pray, Love is the type of book that contains so many anecdotes that any reader –
especially travelers – will find a way to relate on some level.
Instead of walking you through the plot of the book, I’ve compiled some quotes that will
give you a glimpse into Eat, Pray, Love:
Best Eat Pray Love Quotes
“Some time after I’d left my husband, I was at a party and a guy I barely knew said to me,
‘You know you seem like a completely different person, now that you’re with this new
boyfriend. You used to look like your husband, but now you look like David [her new
boyfriend]. You even dress like him and talk like him. You know how some people look like
their dogs? I think maybe you always look like your men.’”
“Like most humanoids, I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the ‘monkey mind’– the
thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit, and howl.
From the distant past to the unknowable future, my mind swings wildly through time,
touching on dozens of ideas a minute, unharnessed and undisciplined.”
“‘Forget about sightseeing–you got the rest of our life for that. You’re on a spiritual journey,
baby.
Don’t
cop
out
and
only
go
halfway
to
your
potential.’
‘But what about all those beautiful things to see in India?’ I ask ‘Isn’t it kind of a pity to
travel halfway around the world just to stay in a little Ashram the whole time?’
‘Groceries, baby, listen to your friend Richard. You go set your lily-white ass down in the
mediation cave every day for the next three months and I promise you this- you’re gonna
start seeing some stuff that’s so damn beautiful it’ll make you want to throw rocks at Taj
Mahal.’”
“The former Catholic nun who oughtta know about guilt, after all wouldn’t hear of it. ‘Guilt’s
just your ego’s way of tricking you into thinking that you’re making moral progress.’”
“‘You don’t want to go cherry-picking a religion’ [a friend tells Gilbert]
Which is a sentiment I completely respect except for the fact that I totally disagree. I think
you have every right to cherry-pick when it comes to moving your spirit and finding peace
in God. I think you are free to search for any metaphor whatsoever which will take you
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across the worldly divide whenever you need to be transported or comforted… That’s me
in the corner, in other words. That’s me in the spotlight. Choosing my religion.”
On the expatriate society in Bali: “Everywhere in this town you see the same kind of
character–westerners who have been so ill-treated and badly worn by life that they’ve
dropped the whole struggle and decided camp out here in Bali indefinitely, where you can
live in a gorgeous house for $200 a month, perhaps taking a young Balinese man or
woman as a companion, where they can drink before noon without getting any static about
it, where they can make a bit of money exporting a bit of furniture for somebody. But
generally, all they are doing here is seeing to it that nothing serious will ever be asked of
them again. These are not bums, mind you. This is a very high grade of people,
multinational, talented and clever. But it seems to me that everyone I meet here used to be
something once (generally “married” or “employed”); now they are all united by the
absence of the one thing they seem to have surrendered completely and forever: ambition.
Needless to say, there’s a lot of drinking.”
Eat, Pray, Love Book Review
Published August 12, 2010 | By Christina Zawadiwsky
Elizabeth Gilbert intentionally divided Eat, Pray, Love into 3 sections
with 36 tales of her travels in each section, just like the japa mala, 108 beads that make up
an Eastern devotional rosary. These three sections represent her stories about, Italy (Eat),
India (Pray), and Indonesia (Love), and how many of us would wish for such a year of
travel luxury (if you can call a spiritual quest a luxury)? Obviously she is a woman who
believes in structure, especially exotic structure!
Coming from “loss upon loss” (a failed marriage followed by a painful love affair), Elizabeth
decides to spend her year of travel being celibate. She is tempted by Giovanni, who wants
an English conversational practice partner in Italy, and is a twin – but no, Elizabeth opts for
“the kind of healing and peace that can only come from solitude.” Fleeing her receding
lover David, who was “catnip and kryptonite” to her, Elizabeth starts studying Italian, which
she has always wanted to do, and which starts her on her journey. “Every word was a
singing sparrow, a magic trick, a truffle for me.” She seeks out a spiritual healer with “tens
of thousands of students who gather in New York weekly to chant and meditate,” involving
the ancient Sanskrit mantra “I honor the divinity that resides inside me.” And from there
Elizabeth, who has heretofore tended to lose herself in her male partners, begins to find
herself, starting with a brief journalistic assignment in Bali where she also visits a Balinese
medicine man(who tells her that she will have another marriage and, later in life, a child,
and that she will return to Bali to teach him English).
A complex life? Whose isn’t? But Elizabeth Gilbert’s life is interesting, so interesting that,
just like her, we never know what’s waiting around the corner for this world traveller who
revels in writing about her experiences. Elizabeth learns that “both pleasure and devotion
require a stress-free space in which to flourish and I’d been living in a giant trash
compactor of non-stop anxiety.” She has always loved travelling (since using her babysitting money to visit Russia), and she can make friends with anyone. We learn about
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Elizabeth through her adventures: what it’s like to be in an Italian language school, her
struggles with depression and her search for pleasure, gaining 25 pounds in Italy eating
magnificently prepared food, her search for spirituality at an ashram in India where she
meets a colorful assortment of characters from all over the world including Richard from
Texas, and how she falls in love with Felipe from Brazil on the highly ritualized island of
Bali (as this is not the lean and spare writing of Marguerite Duras or bare-bones
existentialism!). Elizabeth informs us that “the appreciation of pleasure can be an anchor
of one’s humanity” and “In a world of disorder and disaster and fraud, sometimes only
beauty can be trusted” and “Only in a human form and only with a human mind can Godrealization ever occur.”
Whether battling to maintain silence or particularly disliking long Hindu rituals or her
attempts to help an Indonesian healer (a woman, Wayan, formerly physically abused by
her alcoholic husband) buy a house for her child and two other orphans, we constantly see
Elizabeth seeking and seeking because she so much wants to understand “God dwells
within you, as you.” At the end of her glorious year she writes: “I think about the woman I
have become lately, about the life that I am now living and about how much I always
wanted to live this life, liberated from the force of pretending to be anyone other than
myself,” as now time has passed and her formerly unbearable relationship endings have
become a part of the past for her. Very few writers are able to write in such great detail
about their lives and how they try to understand them, and I highly recommend this book
that will intrigue and entrance you with every page. Eat, Pray, Love has also been made
into a movie starring Julia Roberts now playing in theaters across America.
Preview… I picked up and read Elizabeth Gilbert’s elaborate personal narrative because I was delayed at the airport having
already finished the novel that I had brought with me from home. I saw “Eat, Pray, Love” sitting on a display shelf and recalled
being told by friends that I might like it, so I made the purchase.
Gilbert and I have a few interesting things in common. We are both writers (though she to a far greater degree of success), we
are both tall pale-faced white women, we have both spent substantial amounts of time in India, and we have both felt compelled
to study Italian, just because it felt good in our mouths. There’s one even more important thing that we do not have in-common:
the restless search for spiritual fulfillment. Since I am somewhat laissez-faire about this topic, all of the elaborate recounting of
encounters with prayer, meditation and the like became a bit tiresome to me.
That being said, the parts of Gilbert’s own coming-of-age story that focused on other topics were so entertaining that I knew I
should feature this book in a quick write-up. The reader is entrusted as a close friend to the author; she lets us into her most
intimate thoughts and recounts all of the emotionality surrounding her failed marriage. We travel with her to the three I’s as she
seeks out pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and balance between the two in Indonesia.
She leads us to crave pasta and skilled young lovers (thanks a lot, Liz). She invites us to meditate and partake in seva within
the closed walls of the Ashram. She allows us to look over her shoulder as she finally rediscovers herself and takes another
crack at love. Even I, the admitted apathetic spiritualist, found myself questioning if a visit to an ashram might not be such a bad
idea.
The author shares her hard-earned wisdom completely free of charge and even offers up that of some of her closest friends and
most short-lived acquaintances. The part that I will remember best is when Gilbert informs her friend Iva that she thinks asking
God for specific things is a sign of one’s weakness of faith. Iva, who completely disagrees, convinces her to write out a simple
plea to God asking for help in finalizing her divorce quickly and without further pain. The two friends brainstorm a rather lengthy
list of people who would undoubtedly be happy to add their names to the petition of the almighty and it becomes a bit of a
lighthearted game.
It’s that ability to look at the same circumstance from an entirely different angle, whether applying new wisdom, a new
philosophy or an entirely new culture; it’s this multifaceted gaze that eventually helps us to make the right decisions and to
develop into the people we need to be. So if you had to pick a single word to describe everything that you are, what might that
word be?
You may like this book if…you are a spiritual seeker, you enjoy traveling (even if it is vicariously), you like glimpsing into the
lives of others, you yourself have recently undergone a major life upheaval, you enjoy savvy wit and well-fleshed out metaphors,
you like stories that break apart easily and are easy to read over a long period of time if necessary, you are interested in
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alternative medicine, pasta, meditation or languages, you have battled with depression, you sometimes feel that you are your
own best friend, you like reading about real characters.
You may not like this book if…you don’t care to read so much about how it feels to meditate or you don’t want to read a
spiritual memoir, you prefer a more traditional novel-esque storyline, you want to stay with one set of characters in one setting
for the course of a book rather than jumping about all over the place, you are on a diet and don’t want to be tempted.
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