Saturday, September 01, 2007

Balinese Medicine Man

Eat-Pray-Love by Elizabeth Gilbert is an elixir that attracts at least Joy and sometimes even Fun. Liz travels to Italy, India, and Indonesia in search of herself and God. In Indonesia, she meets Ketut Liyer, a Balinese medicine man. Here are a couple of vignettes from her time with Ketut:

[After he has just seen a rural Balinese family who have brought their one-year-old daughter because she is teething and has been crying for several nights] :

Ketut Liyer has given this family about forty minutes of his undivided attention, for the fee of about twenty-five cents. If they hadn’t any money at all, he would have done the same; this is his duty as a healer. He may turn nobody away, or the gods will remove his talent for healing. Ketut gets about ten visitors a day like this, Balinese who need his help or advice on some holy or medical matter. On highly auspicious days, when everyone wants a special blessing, he might have over one hundred visitors.

[His approach to meditation] :

He tells me there are many ways to find God but most are too complicated for Westerners, so he will teach me an easy meditation. Which goes, essentially, like this: sit in silence and smile. I love it. He’s laughing even as he’s teaching it to me. Sit and smile. Perfect.
“You study yoga in India, Liss?” He asks.
“Yes, Ketut.”
“You can do yoga,” he says, “but yoga too hard.” Here, he contorts himself in a cramped lotus position and squinches up his face in a comical and constipated-looking effort. Then he breaks free and laughs, asking, “Why they always look so serious in yoga? You make serious face like this, you scare away good energy. To meditate, only you must smile. Smile with face, smile with mind, and good energy will come to you and clean away dirty energy. Even smile in your liver. Practice tonight in hotel. Not to hurry, not to try too hard. Too serious, you make you sick. You can calling the good energy with a smile. All finish for today. See you later, alligator. Come back tomorrow. I am very happy to see you, Liss. Let your conscience be your guide. If you have Western friends come to visit Bali, bring them to me for palm-reading. I am very empty in my bank since the bomb.”

And I ask you, when was the last time you paid twenty-five cents to a Western doctor who treated you AND taught you how to meditate?

9 Comments:

Blogger Ruth D~ said...

We wouldn't even need a Western doctor, most likely, if we could learn to meditate with a smile. I need to take time to slow down! Is that a paradox?

9:41 AM  
Blogger Ruth D~ said...

I got thinking after reading your "review." Would you take a look at this and check out the guidelines and consider reviewing?

http://www.internetreviewofbooks.com/

The Internet Review of Books~

9:44 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

RuthD -- Next time I meditate, I will have to remember the SMILE part.

I would be honored to become a reviewer!

11:12 AM  
Blogger steve said...

"You can calling the good energy with a smile"
What else do ya need to know?

1:43 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- Sounds too easy, yes?

Here's the irony. My friend Deborah who is a totally Western-style doctor loaned me this book telling me, "I think you'll like it."

I just got to the point where the narrator has sex in Indonesia after 18 months of abstinence. WOW!

2:42 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

This post made me smile. And now I will have to get the book! (Told you joy was IN there;)

8:30 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- Yes, you should read it. I was sad to reach the last page today.

9:52 PM  
Blogger GEWELS said...

I told my husband I was running off for a year- after reading this book.
I love it, and her spirit of adventure!! Wish I had more of that in me.
Told you the sex part would be fun to read.

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so excited, up to page ten and off to bali on Sunday. I just love how life works
Casey Australia

11:35 PM  

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