Monday, July 12, 2010

Eat Pray Love: Bali

I have had this post on hold for ages because there is some stuff at the very end of the book that is incredibly powerful, about a time the author took a vow of silence, and I wanted to include it. But I have been really busy, so you will just have to read it for yourself if you are curious! I have mixed feelings about the new movie coming out, mainly because Julia Roberts is playing the lead. I like her OK, and think she will pull off all the humor well, but I just don't see her portraying the intense spirituality parts.... Hopefully she will surprise me. For now, here are two other favorite parts from the Bali section:

He keeps his body strong, he says, by meditating every night before sleep and by pulling the healthy energy of the universe into his core. He says that the human body is made of nothing more or less than the five elements of all creation - water (apa), fire (tejo), wind (bayu), sky (akasa) and earth (pritiwi) - and all you have to do is concentrate on this reality during meditation and you will receive energy from all of these sources, and you will stay strong. Demonstrating his occasionally very accuate ear for English idiom, he said, "The microcosm becomes the macrocosm. You - microcosm - will become same as universe - macrocosm."


The Balinese don't let their children touch the ground for the first six months of life, because newborn babies are considered to be gods sent straight from heaven, and you wouldn't let a god crawl around on the floor with all the toenail clippings and cigarette butts. So Balinese babies are carried for those first six months, revered as minor deities. If a baby dies before it is six months old, it is given a special cremation ceremony and the ashes are not placed in a human cemetery because this being was never human: it was only ever a god. But if the baby lives to six months, then a big ceremony is held and the child's feet are allowed to touch the earth at last and Junior is welcomed to the human race. ...
Everyone was alternately interested, not interested, tired, laughing, earnest. But Ketut and the baby seemed to be locked in their own experience together, riveted to each other's attention. The baby didn't take her eyes off the old medicine man all day. Who ever heard of a six-month-old baby not crying or fussing or sleeping for four straight hours in the hot sun, but just watching someone with curiosity?

At the end of all the chanting... Ketut made a drawing on the bottom of a pottery bowl of the four directions of the universe, filled the bowl with holy water and set it on the ground. This hand-drawn compass marked the holy spot on earth where the baby's feet would first touch.
Then the whole family gathered by the baby, everyone seeming to hold her at the same time, and - oop! there goes! - they lightly dipped the baby's feet in the pottery bowl full of holy water, right above the magic drawing which encompassed the whole universe, and then they touched her soles to the earth for the first time. When they lifted her back up into the air, tiny damp footprints remained on the ground below her, orienting this child at last onto the great Balinese grid, establishing who she was by establishing where she was. Everyone clapped their hands, delighted. The little girl was one of us now. A human being - with all the risks and thrills which that perplexing incarnation entails.

The baby looked up, looked around, smiled. She wasn't a god anymore. She didn't seem to mind. She wasn't fearful at all. She seemed thoroughly satisfied with every decision she had ever made.

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