“Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert

Thought provoking, spiritually enlightening, pleasure revitalising with a touch of humor throughout!

This book could well be anyone’s journey, the only thing the author does is that she dwells in the split of a second moment, enjoying, contemplating, reviewing, all complemented with perfect choice of words, amazing details and thrilling style of writing!

Elizabeth Gilbert goes into a journey of self discovery after a traumatic divorce. She lands in Italy for sheer pleasure, in India for mere devotion and to Indonesia for the balance between pleasure and devotion.

In Italy, it’s pleasure, pleasure and more pleasure throughout in the form of food and language! How digestible this part is, you literally gain a few Kg’s just reading and picturing her mouth-watering description of food. She is also on a mission to learn Italian, mostly through interaction with the natives, which in itself is an interesting voyage full of ciaos and attraversiamos, Haha!

In India, she looks for spirituality and devotion in an Ashram (secluded place of worship) with rigorous spiritual routines. Although this chapter is all about what I exactly don’t believe in and even find hard to digest, she relays her story in a manner that makes you live in an Ashram yourself. I literally started looking around for every tiny little beautiful thing to cherish, so it wasn’t necessary all opposing stuff, it just opens your eyes to beautiful things that already exist in Islam.

She mentions Islam and Christianity with relation to Hinduism and spirituality, I do not think she got all facts right. One example, 

“….you may use your Yoga -your disciplined practices of sacred union- to get closer to Krishna, Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha or Yahweh” (p.128)

First and foremost, she got the basics wrong, because unlike Christians we aim to get closer to the One and Only God and not his messenger Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). We do however strive to follow the way the prophet lived. Secondly, I may be mistaken, but I do not think Muslims perform yoga to get closer to Allah (!) haven’t heard of any at least!

I came out from this chapter with one solid conclusion. These Ashram-Monk-Yoga-Guru beliefs confirm that if you are to connect with God you need to disconnect yourself from the outer civilized modern world. You could imagine how our lives would be if we were all monks, gurus and yogis. There would either be (a) no civilization whatsoever, we all live in caves meditating or else (b) prayers and meditation should only be carried out in certain times of the year! I appreciate my religion for having us build a good balance of both pleasure and devotion.

In Indonesia, Liz goes searching for balance in her life, there she be-friends a medicine man and a lady healer. This Indonesia journey does not seem to really fulfill the “balance” aspect and I do not really understand the reasons behind her long hours of sitting with the medicine man.  The most exciting part about this last trip is that with the claimed balance she found love!

A true page turner..

One last word, this book like others is not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s highly recommended for those who question their mind, soul and heart in certain matters, and also enjoy reading memoirs. Not so for people who are looking for rich literature, guide to the countries visited or humanitarian issues. Oh and it is definitely not meant to be a man’s book at all!

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16 Comments

  1. elia said,

    July 13, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    “…confirm that if you are to connect with God you need to disconnect yourself from the outer civilized modern world” – alhamdulillah, Islam is not like that 🙂 even fulfilling one’s responsibilities at home and at work with sincerity is ibadah!

    i have this book, but i havent read it yet… later, insya Allah. thanks for the review!

  2. um3azzan said,

    July 13, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    lool I liked the last sentence.
    You told me that I might not enjoy the book, but hey I like to question my mind, soul and hear! I read few pages and I think I would enjoy it .. I am next after cousin S finish!

    • Shahrazad said,

      July 15, 2009 at 8:25 pm

      Yah go for it.. I’m not sure it’s your cuppa tea, will see 😀

  3. Hicham said,

    July 15, 2009 at 3:36 am

    Sister, what should I do now since I am a Man and already read this book? 🙂

    Seriously, I agree with your that the books is neither everybody’s cup of tea nor for who seek a touristic review; it’s a very personal intellectual and spritual journey for Liz and yup she knows nothing about Islam but seem to meet many Muslims.

    • Shahrazad said,

      July 15, 2009 at 8:28 pm

      Oh, lol… you should’ve been warned 😀 how did you find it?? I thought it’s too sensual and compassionate for a man to read, hehehe!

      thanks for dropping in Hicham. Nice to have someone from Um ELduniyaa in my blog 🙂

      • Hicham said,

        July 16, 2009 at 8:09 am

        Pobably YES 😀 and you are welcome, Sharazad too 🙂 A friend of my sister recommende it and worth to do so but as you said not 4 anyone.

        Anyway, I think Liz meant via this book to preach that ‘balance’ between two extreems is the way to solve problems. So extreeming either to the materialistic side (represented as in Italy) or the spritual one (represented in India) hasn’t save her till she find that balance between both (represented in Indonisia).

  4. AD said,

    July 16, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    this makes me write my own tale 🙂
    i m yet to come out and maybe in the process of it will help me a lot!

  5. Shahrazad said,

    July 17, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Hicham, true…. it’s not an easy journey finding balance. As a believer and a practicing Muslim, this search has always been easy Alhamdlilah!

    AD, good… go for it, your blog is one example of how good your writing is.

  6. Hicham said,

    July 18, 2009 at 3:48 am

    Eaxctly, we are talking about ‘her own journey’ and remeber this balance she reached is what alreay Islam is telling about; the moderate way between two extreems 🙂

    Oh this book took more than review 😀

  7. Gchaan said,

    July 23, 2009 at 10:08 am

    I really want to read this book…it’s definitely on the list.
    Sounds really interesting and such a good read.

  8. Nadia said,

    July 26, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Great post. I’m glad you enjoyed the book. I read it through five airports last summer and it really helped! She’s a great writer, a spiritual person, and she inspires readers to question their lives and discover their inner selves. Everyone needs a spiritual journey of renewal every once in a while, and it doesn’t have to mean taking a year off to eat your way through Italy. It could be anything. Yes, I remember noticing the Muhammad PBUH note. It’s no big deal, although she should have done her research before assuming Muslims worship a person, since so many millions of people have read the book. As for gurus and monks, I believe that true balance occurs when you live with one foot firmly placed in the modern world and the other firmly placed in the spiritual world. Balance is the only way to happiness. Balance between family, work, religion, self, etc. I’ve started ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’. I’ll let you know how it goes. It’s supposed to be really good.

    • Shahrazad said,

      July 27, 2009 at 11:47 am

      It is a good indirect self-help inspirational book. I loved it despite the negative reviews I saw at amazon.com.

      I’ve done an NLP course a couple of years ago, it mentioned the balance that us beings should strive to achieve in order to lead a happy life and fulfill our dreams, and guess what, it’s all summarized in this Hadith:

      ” إن لنفسك عليك حق، و ان لبدنك عليك حقا، وإن لأهلك عليك حقا، وإن لربك عليك حقا؛ فأعط لك ذي حق حقه”.

      Isn’t this what all modern books call for? The right balance between your self-duties, physical duties, social duties and spiritual duties.

  9. Essence Oman said,

    September 2, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Again, another good book review 🙂

    The first to give an honest not over rated review about this book and im glad i read it before buying it.

    keep updating

  10. arabarti said,

    October 3, 2011 at 3:48 am

    I thought it was a great book. I too said al hamdulilah after reading it. Al hamdulilah that we are SUPPOSED to balance this dunya and religion in order to be good Muslims. I wanted to tell you, though, that I did go to a buddist temple to try to learn how to meditate in order to perfect my salah. it definitely helped. If you find yourself thinking about other things when praying, then I do recommend a guided meditation class, yoga, or this class: http://www.noesisinstitute.com/Prayer_Beyond_The_Motions.aspx
    I wish I had known about that class before going to the temple, but oh well.


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