Literature Study GuidesEat Pray LoveBook 2 Chapters 55 57 Summary

Eat, Pray, Love | Study Guide

Elizabeth Gilbert

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Eat, Pray, Love | Book 2, Chapters 55–57 | Summary

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Summary

Book 2, Chapter 55

After conquering the Gurugita, Gilbert makes the decision to stay at the ashram for the entirety of her time in India, believing it would be "spiritually negligent" to go now when so much is happening to move her forward on her spiritual path. Richard's advice seals the deal for her: "Stay put, Groceries .... Don't cop out and only go halfway to your potential."

Book 2, Chapter 56

Gilbert finds that meditation remains challenging, so she keeps trying various methods to stay focused. One evening she attempts the challenging style of meditation called Vipassana that requires you to sit silently without shifting your body at all for long stretches of time and without the use of a mantra to soothe your mind. She tries Vipassana on a bench in the garden, right at the hour of the evening when the mosquitoes come out. She remains still for two hours, watching herself "get eaten by mosquitoes," disregarding the desire to slap or scratch.

Book 2, Chapter 57

Gilbert comes fairly close to giving a lecture on the search for God in this chapter. She defines the terms disciple, devotion, and faith. At the end of it she defines what is driving her in her spiritual search: "I just want God. I want God inside me."

Analysis

With Chapters 55 and 56, Gilbert may be making sure that her readers don't think she is staying in the ashram because it is like a resort. Spiritual practices are difficult and emotionally demanding, and she is serious she about her devotion. Similarly, in Chapter 57 Gilbert doesn't employ her usual light tone, and she seems to need to justify what she is doing at the ashram in India. Perhaps at this point in her sojourn there she needs to do this for herself. After all, she has just made the decision not to see the wonders of India, not to go see the Dalai Lama, not to experience India's culture.

This turn in these chapters can be seen as an anticipation of the sorts of critiques that have been leveled at Eat, Pray, Love since its publication. Some have criticized the memoir for maintaining a privileged perspective on non-American parts of the world—especially India and Bali—and ignoring the very unattainable nature of Gilbert's journey. After all, not all people could pick up and leave their home for one year. Yet these chapters serve as a gentle reminder of the real material work Gilbert performs while at the ashram. She is not coddled there, but she is pushed to her mental and spiritual limit.

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