Literature Study GuidesEat Pray LoveBook 3 Chapters 76 78 Summary

Eat, Pray, Love | Study Guide

Elizabeth Gilbert

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Eat, Pray, Love | Book 3, Chapters 76–78 | Summary



Book 3, Chapter 76

This chapter is Gilbert's lesson about Bali. She provided some details about the island and its people in Chapter 74, but this is a more general overview. Bali is a Hindu island in the middle of "the most populous Muslim nation on earth." Hinduism was brought to the island from India via Java when the Hindu royalty there fled to Bali in the sixth century to escape "a violent Islamic uprising." As a result, most people in Bali are descended from royalty, which helps to explain their "pride and brilliance."

Balinese culture is complex and extremely well-organized, but outsiders cannot hope to understand it. Each person within it knows "exactly where he or she belongs" in the social hierarchy and takes pride in maintaining balance at their point. Religious ceremonies are very important and more or less constant.

Important questions Balinese expect everyone to know the answer to at all times are: "Where are you going?" "Where are you coming from?" and "Are you married?" The proper answer to the last question is "yes." Gilbert learns that to avoid causing concern, her answer should be "Not yet."

Book 3, Chapter 77

On her second morning in Bali, Gilbert buys a bicycle with Mario's help. She rides to Liyer's house and watches him help a young couple who have brought their one-year-old daughter seeking relief for her teething pain. He graciously provides his services for 40 minutes, charging about 25 cents. In between his other patients, Liyer teaches Gilbert her first Balinese meditation, telling her "to meditate, only you must smile. Smile with face, smile with mind, and good energy will come to you and clean away dirty energy."

Book 3, Chapter 78

In this chapter Gilbert recounts the story of Liyer's life. He comes from nine generations of medicine men. He is expected to become one, too, but he does not want that. He isn't willing to do all of the studying, and he wants to be a painter. While working on a huge painting for a rich American man, he is badly burned when his oil lamp explodes. His arm becomes so infected that doctors say it must be amputated. That night, Liyer's forefathers visit him in a dream and tell him how to heal his arm. He follows their instructions, and the infection completely clears up in 10 days.

In their next dream visitation, the forefathers tell him he must become a medicine man. Again, he follows their instructions and is able to see that God is inside of him. So he begins to study. He still paints, but his main calling in life is to be a healer. He says, "I must do good character always in my life, or I will be in hell ... Liyer is name my grandfather gave me when I was little boy. It means 'bright light.'"


Gilbert is doing her usual good job of providing layers of background information about the new environment she is in. Along with providing details about what she sees and experiences, she gives brief lessons that help orient readers historically, geographically, and culturally.

Gilbert's admiration for Liyer deepens as she learns his history. His description of his discovery of God is familiar to her: "I get unconscious ... I see all gold color everywhere, even inside me. Very happy. I understand now. This gold color is God, also inside me." The only difference between the descriptions she has provided of Yogic transcendence and Liyer's experience is the color: hers is pure blue instead of gold. She cannot help but admire the simplicity of the first lesson he teaches her: "Sit and smile," which probably would not have worked for her until she learned to become comfortable with meditation and able to empty her mind, as she did at the ashram. This reinforces the importance of her three-part journey. Without going to India before she went to Bali, Gilbert would never have been able to "sit and smile." And without journeying to Italy first, she would not have relearned pleasure, an essential part of being able to sit for long periods of time with contentment.

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