Sunday, January 4, 2009

Eat Pray Love (then Blog), Part II: India

Note to reader: Since "intention" is a recurring theme in this post, please accept this apology if this entry isn't the usual book-club fare. In fairness, though, this book is bound to be intensely personal to many readers, and I am no exception. I would share many more thoughts and feelings on this section, but I swear I worked to keep it to just a few. That said, discuss away.

Tears and Prayers

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. (Page 137)

So how to tell the difference between types of tears? The Inuit are said to have something like thirty different words for "snow." I wonder how many different words there are for "tears," if some can be so right and others can be, well, a mere tendency. What is cathartic and what is chronic?


Has this happened to you, that you read a particularly powerful work at just the right time in your life? Where it seemed like you were meant to encounter it exactly when you did? This was Eat Pray Love for me.

Again, I was "given" this book by a recent reconnection, and we discovered that the reconnection was mutually meant, or intended, although we had not expected it at the time. In our conversations about healing old and new wounds, I called her my "Witness to Change," a notion she reciprocated. Oddly (or not), the feeling and the statement came the night of November 4, as millions of us felt as though we were bearing witness to a long-awaited change. Less than a week later, I came to chapter 66, wherein Liz describes the fourth state of consciousness, known as turiya. The three typical states are waking, dreaming, and dreamless sleeping, but "this fourth level is the witness of all the other states, the integral awareness that links the other three levels together." On top of all that, when I spoke the word aloud I realized it is a striking pun on my witness' name, at which point I about freaked out.

I had to laugh, remembering Liz' earlier inner argument -- her "Me" versus her "Mind," that erupted while she was trying to meditate (Pages 134-137). Her overactive brain was impeding her spiritual progress. Not too many pages afterward, she describes her shocking "personal encounter with the divine," and relates St. Theresa's observation about the challenges of relating that experience to others - once the troublesome mind "begins to compose speeches and dream up arguments, especially if these are clever, it will soon imagine it is doing important work."


Ria, your thoughts on prayer in your last post remind me of this:

"Half the benefit of prayer is in the asking itself, in the offering of a clearly posed and well-considered intention." (Page 177)

Jewish mystics call this intention kavanah. It is the backbone of several versions of the story of the poor, illiterate or uneducated Jew in the back of the synagogue fervently reciting the alphabet, playing the violin, or standing completely still--depending on the storyteller--and despite the ridicule of many more "sophisticated" templegoers earns the praise of the wise old rabbi for praying with the greatest sincerity.

Perhaps this is the resolution to the Me vs. Mind problem - acting on what I want to do rather than continuing to do what I know I can.


  1. I passed along my copy of the book so the passage I associate with India may not really be in India. Regardless, it was "Look for God the way a man whose head is on fire looks for water." Since the spring of last year, my personal "mantra" has been "Let your eye be single, fixed on God." I mean mantra in it's traditional sense, the thing that I repeat again and again, so as to create grooves in my brain. After a few months of this practice, I recall writing in my journal after meditating, "We burden our human relationships for our longing for the Divine." I'm sure it was not original but an echo from some book I had recently read. It spoke to me then.

    One of my closest friends had brought my attention to the fact that I was a "serial relationship girl" to which I had thought to myself... What are you talking about??? I've always been ALONE. It's always been me and my journal. Interesting, isn't it? That despite my serial relationship behavior, I have always felt that my only constant was... God. Whether you call it God or Higher Self or Spirit or the Divine Spark, this is who speaks to me in my journal. I know... that's sooooo Liz! Anyway, it occurred to me that the passage from EPL were, in fact, my marching orders. I needed to stop burdening my human relationships with what I was truly longing for... the connection to Self! This is why I said in my last comment, this is the PRAY part. My focus must be fixed. Consciously. On that ONE thing. This is my kavanah.

    This passage also triggered an interesting set of events. I received an email from a girlfriend re: Look what God gave me. She explained that after a recent conversation with me, she had decided to start a journal called her Look What God Gave Me journal. She said she was inspired by a blog post:

    The post had several pictures of a pink and gold sunset and starts off with "I love you, anak." WTF? "Anak" is tagalog for "my child." And the pictures were taken in the city where I was born and raised! Pink and gold have been described by my energy-working friends as the dominant colors of my aura . This was a personal message to ME! Look what God has given ME! That is how I replied to my girlfriend and she said, "Of course. Because after we had talked and I read that passage in EPL, I google "How to look for God."

    So in my personal quest, what did I find? Self. A few days ago, I found one of my oldest journals, from when I was maybe 16. One of my entries: We may not understand God. But He understands us. He gives us exactly what we need — each other. When one causes despair, in another you will find strength.

    Was that really me?! Just as I can look back on a painting or a print and be surprised because I don't recall having made it, I know THAT thought came from that inspired place, where we ALL know.

    I found water. Like a man whose head is on fire. AND, like a fish looking for water. It was my intention.

  2. BTW. In that blog post that I referred to... the writer says he is reading the latest Paulo Coelho novel... which is what inspired me to pick up The Alchemist again.

    But THAT is another long story!!! :)

  3. I was the girlfriend Ria is referring to..that was so weird. This chapter did inspire me to believe in "the magic" that happens in our lives everyday. I have a hard time trusting in general, let alone trusting in prayer. It inspired me to pay attention to the signs. It's not that we can't take initiative, in fact we are supposed to, it's that we have to pay attention to both the "surroundings and the spoon of oil", not one or the other (that is from The Alchemist).

    It's still hard somedays, but I do try to at least verbally "Look at what God gave me" or at least say a little thank you right after.

    The one thing I have yet to do is learn meditation. I would so be like Liz was in the beginning and I need to learn to quite my mind.