Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Strange Spiritual Journey

Early in the pages of Eat, Pray, Love, on her way to India, author Elizabeth Gilbert drops an ominous omen: she recounts a Gandhi joke.

Dining on the intestines of a newborn lamb she says she observed to her companion that Gandhi “never ate lamb intestines in his life.”

“But vegetarians can eat this,” responds Luca. “Intestines aren’t even meat, Liz. They’re shit.”  Ha Ha!

A few pages later, buying a fur hat, Gilbert sees humor in the disappointing veal she recently ate for dinner. “Are these called Mrs. Paul’s Veal Sticks” she and a friend chortle.

Visitors to Gilbert’s web site used to be greeted by an image of a little girl covered with flies in keeping with Gilbert’s spiritual quest and what she calls her “peace summit.”

But nowhere on the site will visitors see the sequestration of the newborn veal calf– or harvesting of “intestines of a newborn lamb”–behind the meals she extols.

Writing a book about looking for God–and finding him and having him talk directly to you!–always puts someone at risk of hubris. Not only do you violate the axiom “those who speak don’t know; those who know don’t speak,” you probably violate the axiom, “don’t think less of yourself; think of yourself less.”

Especially because when God “tells” you to go back to bed as he does to Gilbert twice in Eat, Pray, Love, you’re one step away of saying he found you a parking space or spared your bingo game rain.

Critics have assailed Gilbert’s Italy/India/Indonesia travelogue as a rich woman’s sojourn. It’s not too hard to find God, they say, biking on the beach at sunset on the island of Bali on a big book advance.

But it isn’t Gilbert’s upper middle class hauteur in which scrubbing floors and mosquito bites are the Long Night Of The Soul that makes Eat, Pray, Love a spiritual blasphemy.

It isn’t her aren’t-I-complex-and-interesting! disquisitions that blot almost every page like this passage where she ponders the source of her despair:

“Was it psychological. (Mom and Dad’s fault?) Was it temporal, a “bad time” in my life? (When the divorce ends, will the depression end with it?) Was it genetic? (Melancholy, called by many names, has run through my family for generations, along with its sad bride, Alcoholism.) Was it cultural? (Is this just the fallout of a postfeminist American career girl trying to find balance in an increasingly stressful and alienating urban world?) Was it astrological? (Am I so sad because I’m a think-skinned Cancer whose major signs are all ruled by unstable Gemini?) Was it artistic? (Don’t creative people always suffer from depression because we’re so supersensitive and special?) Was it evolutionary? (Do I carry in me the residual panic that comes after millennia of my species’ attempting to survive a brutal world?) Was it karmic? (Are all these spasms of grief just the consequences of bad behavior in previous lifetimes, the last obstacles before liberation?) Was it hormonal? Dietary? Philosophical? Seasonal? Environmental? Was I tapping into a universal yearning for God? Did I have a chemical imbalance? Or did I just need to get laid? “

No, what makes Eat, Pray, Love a spiritual blasphemy is the progression of veal, pork, rabbits, turkeys, lambs, sausages, sardines, octopuses, oxtails and newborns’ intestines that adorn Gilbert’s spiritual plate.

Gilbert knows all about Yoga, mantras, Brahmans, Buddhism, Hinduism, Zen, the Hopi Indians and Apollonius of Tyana; she’s down with St. Theresa, St. Francis, the Kabbalah and Sufism.

But she was absent the day they taught Ahimsa–the doctrine of refraining from causing pain, injury or violence to any living thing. The doctrine that guides most spiritual leaders–and spiritual paths.

It’s not like Gilbert didn’t think about it. A friend told her eating meat amounted to “eating the fear of the animal at the moment of its death”–a fact confirmed by “red bird” chickens and “PSE pork” (Pale, Soft, and Exudative) which result from the animal facing slaughter terror.

It’s just that she decided it was so much gobbledygook–like wearing “orange colored panties, to rebalance my sexual charkas.”

Besides, says Gilbert after leaving the meat-free ashram in India and digging into some pork, “I could never be a vegetarian, not with food like this in the world,” throwing out compassion and self-denial–the basis of spiritual observance–in one fell swoop.

“There is no such thing in this universe as hell, except maybe in our own terrified minds,” she gushes at the end of Eat, Pray, Love, all warm and fuzzy with God, tucking into her veal.

MARTHA ROSENBERG can be reached at: martharosenberg@sbcglobal.net

 

 

WORDS THAT STICK
?

 

More articles by:

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

October 22, 2018
Henry Giroux
Neoliberalism in the Age of Pedagogical Terrorism
Melvin Goodman
Washington’s Latest Cold War Maneuver: Pulling Out of the INF
David Mattson
Basket of Deplorables Revisited: Grizzly Bears at the Mercy of Wyoming
Michelle Renee Matisons
Hurricane War Zone Further Immiserates Florida Panhandle, Panama City
Tom Gill
A Storm is Brewing in Europe: Italy and Its Public Finances Are at the Center of It
Christopher Brauchli
The Liars’ Bench
Gary Leupp
Will Trump Split the World by Endorsing a Bold-Faced Lie?
Michael Howard
The New York Times’ Animal Cruelty Fetish
Alice Slater
Time Out for Nukes!
Geoff Dutton
Yes, Virginia, There are Conspiracies—I Think
Daniel Warner
Davos in the Desert: To Attend or Not, That is Not the Question
Priti Gulati Cox – Stan Cox
Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End
Manuel E. Yepe
Pence v. China: Cold War 2.0 May Have Just Begun
Raouf Halaby
Of Pith Helmets and Sartorial Colonialism
Dan Carey
Aspirational Goals  
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail