on 2 September 2008
This book was really hard to put down. It is an autobiographical story that I wished would go on, that I just did not want to end. And of course, it has not ended, because life goes on, it's just that we are no more allowed access to the inner workings of the author's innovative mind. This book is a great window towards viewing how great emotional pain can be transmuted to an experience of grace and blessing, and leading to the proverbial happy ending, a life, infused with much greater joy, variety and color, besides including worldly success and financial prosperity.
As seen on the cover, this book is about one woman's search for wholeness and healing after two 'failed' relationships. To this end, the author, Elizabeth Gilbert, gives herself a year to investigate three different milieus, each for a more or less equal period of time. The first period would involve feasting in Italy and learning the Italian language, the second, fasting in an ashram in India, and the last, in Indonesia, where she would seek a balance between the two extreme environments.
So, knowing that her basic aim is to heal herself, the author indulges in the epicurean pleasures that Italy has to offer. After four months of travel and partying she moves on to a form of monastic living that is austere in the extreme. She spent her days in service at the Ashram, beginning with menial chores, and going on at a later stage, to administrative duties. All this she did, while meditating several hours a day, practising the Vipassana form of meditation, which is not easy on the ego, as most people, familiar with it, know. She cleared this test of her life with flying colours, being blessed with the experience of Immanence, Finally, after these events, Elizabeth Gilbert, moves on to Indonesia, seeking a balance between the two extremes in living conditions that she has experienced. There, she makes a lot of new friends, becoming part of their lives, and finally achieving true love. The happy ending shows her jetting between continents to family and friends strewn all over the globe.
One important lesson coming across from the book, that I myself, needed to be re-minded of, is that it is the journey towards the goal, that is more important. That the means are even more important than the goal. That your commitment to walk the path that has been charted out, with sincerity is what draws desired circumstances to you, either positive or negative. That full fledged, hundred per cent commitment can and does bring rewards. Many of us have forgotten this in our lives, our cynicism has taken over and shuts out our inner selves with its protectionism. Cynicism does not seem to have affected Elizabeth GIlbert's experience in this book.
An outstanding feature of this book is the heartwarming intimacy with which it has been written. Always open to trying out new games, the author freely makes jokes against herself. Some of her games have amazing repercussions. In one such incident, the author plays a game with a friend, affirming one after one, that several important people would like her to have a certain desire granted. And lo and behold, it was! This particular game alerted me once more to the greatest and most well concealed spiritual secret of the century, 'We are all One'.
The after-effects of this book have stayed with me like a warm blanket. I feel I am a better person for having read it. And of course, I recommend it with all my heart.