This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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What is the Eat Pray Love Bali section about? What does Elizabeth Gilbert do there and why does she go in the first place?
In Eat Pray Love, Bali is a special place for Elizabeth Gilbert. In fact, her resolve to get back to Bali was part of why she started her journey in the first place.
Keep reading to find out about Eat Pray Love, Bali, and how the people there influenced Elizabeth’s journey.
Eat Pray Love: Bali Again
In Eat Pray Love, Bali meant a chance to start over. Gilbert landed with no plan or knowledge of how to find the medicine man she met two years before. But Bali was a major tourist destination, so getting around as a Westerner was easy. She found a hotel in a town called Ubud, which she believed was close to where the medicine man lived. The front desk attendant knew Ketut Liyer, the medicine man, and agreed to take her there. Gilbert thought it would take weeks to locate this man. She should have known God would provide.
Ketut didn’t remember Gilbert right away, and she despaired that she’d misjudged the importance of their last meeting. But when she reminded him that she was the writer from New York, he perked up. He didn’t recognize her at first because she looked so different. Before, she was old and sad. Now, she was young and beautiful. He invited her to visit him every day. He would teach her Balinese meditation, and she would teach him English.
Gilbert and Ketut grew close over the next few weeks. He taught her the meditation practice of sitting and smiling, allowing the smile to reach inside and consume her full body. She did her best to teach him English, but she realized that what he wanted most was her company. Ketut spent every day healing or blessing nearly 100 people who came to his compound. He rarely left and enjoyed seeing the world through Gilbert’s eyes.
One day, Gilbert was hit by a truck and cut her leg. The wound became infected, but Ketut wouldn’t heal it. He told her to find a doctor. She was surprised, but in hindsight, she saw that there was a larger plan in his refusal. The doctor Gilbert found was a female healer named Wayan, and their lives became intertwined.
Living With Purpose
Gilbert learned that Wayan was poor and struggling to make a life for her, her daughter, and two orphan children she’d taken in. She’d divorced an abusive husband and was cast out of the compound to fend for herself. Gilbert wanted to do something to help her new friend. She organized a fundraiser among her friends and family in America and raised enough money to help Wayan build a house.
This gesture was significant, but so was the gift Wayan gave Gilbert. Wayan could see that Gilbert was devoid of love and started praying that she would find romance again. Within days, Gilbert met a man named Felipe. Felipe was a 52-year-old Brazilian who’d come to Bali years before to get over his divorce. Gilbert felt an instant connection to him, and they became close. In fact, in Eat Pray Love, Bali was the reason Elizabeth started her journey.
Gilbert resisted his attempts at affection at first. She’d come this far in her celibacy and spiritual journey and didn’t want to threaten her progress by opening her heart to a man again. But she could see that Felipe was a different kind of man. He was an adventurer like her and already had grown children. He wanted nothing from her other than to love her, and she eventually let him. Their relationship blossomed, and she fell in love with him, as well.
The Eat Pray Love Bali section was coming to an end, and there were a few loose strings to tie up. First, Wayan still had not bought land for her house. Gilbert became anxious, knowing the people in America were expecting to hear good news, so she and Felipe threw themselves into the task of helping Wayan secure a property. This process brought them closer together. Wayan finally found a property, and Felipe and Gilbert were free to take a trip before she left.
Gilbert took Felipe to an island she’d visited after meeting Ketut two years before. She’d spent several days on this island in silence trying to gain control of her pain. She learned that she could acknowledge all her sorrow, anger, and shame and send them away with love. That was the first time she understood the capacity of love in her heart and the first time she felt the presence of God.
That night was also the first time she communicated with the voice in her notebook. The voice told her the same thing it did in Rome—she would always be loved and protected. That notebook and voice would save Gilbert’s life many times over the next two years. Now, she knew whose voice it was. It was the voice of who she was now—her new balanced and happy voice calling her forth to her transformation.
Taking Felipe to the island was her way of celebrating her union with that voice. She was ready for whatever life held for her now. And she and Felipe would find a way to be together in that life. Her journey to enlightenment was complete, but her life was just beginning by the end of the Eat Pray Love Bali chapters.
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Here's what you'll find in our full Eat Pray Love summary :
- Why Elizabeth Gilbert needed to divorce her husband
- How she was able to find joy again in Italy
- How Gilbert was able to find balance with Felipe