Eat, Pray, Love: Damn You, Elizabeth Gilbert [en]

[fr] J'ai aimé Eat, Pray, Love plus que ce à quoi je m'attendais. Le trip "spiritualité indienne sauce occidentale", je m'en passerais, mais il y a plein de bonnes choses -- outre l'écriture, que j'aime beaucoup. Pour plus de détails... lire l'article complet en anglais!

Damn you, Liz Gilbert. I didn’t want to like your book, but I did. I even like you (well, the narrator you). Yeah, of course I can relate: 30-something heartbroken woman finds peace and love. Which single woman in her mid-thirties wouldn’t?

It annoys me, though, that you found them through faith, because I can’t do that.

I don’t doubt that you had a life-changing experience. I’m not either against religious or spiritual paths journeys per se, as long as they actually serve to grow us as human beings. But like the friends you mention near the end of your India book, I *cannot* believe anymore — believing there is a God or some other power, personal or not, is too incompatible with my worldview. A part of me would *like* to believe, so that I could find the peace you found. But I’d be faking it, right? Because another part of me is *certain* that there is nothing up there — or in there, aside from ourselves.

Bangalore 016 Gandhi Bazaar.jpgTo your credit, you do not proselytize, nor try to tell us that your way is The Only Way, and that we should all be doing it too. You bear witness of your own personal path, which involved a spiritual adventure in an ashram in India. I can appreciate that. But I have trouble relating to that aspect of your journey. (There is the Siddha Yoga issue too, which bothers me, but that I won’t delve into here.)

Also, whether you want it or not, your spiritual journey is coloured by a very specific — and modern — Indian school of thought (and by that, I don’t just mean Siddha Yoga). You acknowledge that, but in some respects you are blind to it, for example when you serve us truths about Indian spirituality or religions in general — you are talking from the inside of a specific religious tradition, not giving us access some kind of general truth. It’s a mistake many make, and I guess I can forgive you for it.

I personally believe that our conversations with God are conversations with ourselves. I believe we are much bigger than we think, and probably much bigger than we can ever know. And I say this not in a “mystical” or “magical” or “supernatural” sense, but in a psychological one. So for me, any religious or spiritual path is no more than a path within and with ourselves, using an exterior force or entity (“God”, “energy”) as a metaphorical proxy for parts or aspects of ourselves which are not readily available to our consciousness. Yes, it’s sometimes a bit complicated to follow for me too.

So what I can relate to, clearly, are your conversations with yourself in your notebook. I know I am a good friend. I’m loyal. I can love to bits. If I open the floodgates, I can love more than is possibly imaginable — just like you say of yourself. But I do not let myself be the beneficiary of so much love and care. “To love oneself,” not in a narcissistic way, but as a good friend or a good parent would. I know this is something I need to work on, I knew it before reading Eat, Pray, Love, but your journey serves as a reminder to me. It’s also reminding me that meditation (even when it’s not a search for God or done as religious practice) has benefits — and that I could use them.

So, thank you, Liz Gilbert. We may differ in our spiritual and life aspirations, but your journey has touched me, and inspired me. I didn’t expect it to. Thank you for the nice surprise. And damn you, because now I can’t look down quite so smugly anymore on those who rave about your book.

Inde spirituelle ou matérialiste? [fr]

[en] India's materialism is not anything new. If you dig into vedic religion, it's centred on sacrifices and actions more than interior spirituality. That side of Indian religious expression came about later. As for Gandhi, I think it's important to keep in mind that his background includes connections to the Theosophical Society, and that his philosophy is therefore not a pure traditional product of Indian thought.

J’écoute en ce moment à la radio une émission sur l’infanticide féminin, en Inde entre autres. Sujet et émissions intéressants, mais à l’instant, quelque chose qui me fait bondir. Parlant de la dot, l’intervenante (dont je n’ai pas bien compris le nom) nous dit que l’Inde moderne devient en effet matérialiste, tournant le dos à ses idéaux spirituels du passé, et même à la philosophie de Gandhi.

Holà. Primo, si on va creuser dans la religion védique, c’est une religion du rituel et de l’acte, et non pas de la “spiritualité intériorisée” au sens où nous l’entendons. Ça, c’est venu plus tard. On voit encore aujourd’hui cette primauté de l’action, lorsque vous trouvez des gens qui pratiquent consciencieusement les puja ou qui passent au temple faire des offrandes, sans pour autant croire à l’existence des dieux.

Mais bon, c’est pour dire que l’importance du matériel en Inde n’a rien de nouveau, et que la spiritualisation de l’Inde est entre autres grandement due à son intéraction avec l’Occident. On y voit plus d’expression religieuse, mais cela ne veut pas dire que les gens sont plus spirituels que chez nous, où la religion est une affaire privée et souvent avec peu de manifestations extérieures.

Quant à Gandhi, souvenons-nous de l’influence qu’a eue sur lui la Société Théosophique, et que les valeurs qu’il a prônées (totalement indépendamment de leur valeur) ne sont donc pas un pur produit traditionnel indien.