'Eat, Pray, Love' Author Liz Gilbert Tackles Self-Help Charlatans, Divinity and Oprah

Liz Gilbert, author of the mega best-seller "Eat, Pray, Love," is so wildly popular that her followers have sometimes been referred to as the "cult of Liz."

That "cult" has some pretty high-profile members, including Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton and upcoming movie.

In addition to celebrities, there are the average readers, more than five million of them, mostly women, who bought Gilbert's book.

Elizabeth Gilbert On Eat, Pray, Love
Elizabeth Gilbert On 'Eat, Pray, Love'

"Eat, Pray, Love" is a memoir about a spiritual journey Gilbert took after a nasty divorce, which included praying, meditating and achieving spiritual transcendence in India. But while many look at Gilbert as something of a guru, she admits that she no longer practices some of what she so richly describes in her book.

ABC News' Dan Harris spoke with Gilbert recently.

Harris: Do you still meditate?

Liz Gilbert: Sometimes, and badly. I think if people want a meditation teacher they should certainly look to somebody other than me.

Harris: There's an amazing scene in your book where you talk about being "pulled into the wormhole of the divine" where you talk about sitting in "God's palm." Why would you not want to go back there?

VIDEO:Measuring Happiness With Eat, Pray, Love? Author
null

Gilbert: Because I'm not a monk. It was really clear to me, even in that moment, that if you want this all of the time, this extremely poignant and pungent esoteric experience, this must be what you dedicate your life to, and now you know how. I don't belong in a monastery, you know. I belong in the world. I'm a stuff doer. I'm not a monk.

Although Gilbert is not as strict in her practices as she once was, she does believe the techniques she used to achieve inner peace in India continue to help her today and can help others, "create space for themselves."

Gilbert: I also think it's important that we not lie to people and tell them that they can do that [meditate] at least 24 hours a day.

Harris: But you can do it 10 minutes a day.

Positive Thoughts Don't Necessarily Mean Positive Outcome

Gilbert: Ten minutes a day isn't bad. Ten minutes a week isn't bad. Let us not kid ourselves. I'm very wary of anyone who comes along with a message and says, "It's very easy. All you have to do is read my book and take my seminar, and change your manner of thinking and

That directly contradicts other self-help books such as "The Secret," which often appears next to hers on store shelves. "The Secret" tells readers they can attract whatever they want, through their thoughts.

Gilbert: I think if that was necessarily true, then none of us would ever have lost a beloved one to cancer. There would be no death, there would be no suffering, there would be no injustice. [That philosophy] leaves out the reality of human suffering. Any philosophy that leaves out the reality of human suffering and the reality of random capricious failure, random capricious disaster, and it does sometimes, I think have the unintended effect of making the victims be blamed. When people read the book they get that first wave of euphoria where they think, "oh I want to change my attitude. I want to change my life," then two weeks later, surprise, surprise, their life is still the same. Then they only feel worse about themselves.

Harris: Because it's another failure.

Gilbert: Yeah. They've now brought this on themselves.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Salvager Eric Schmitt was combing through the wreckage of a convoy of Spanish ships that sank off the coast of Florida in 1715 when he discovered a missing piece from a gold Pyx.
Courtesy 1715 Fleet - Queens Jewels, LLC
Lisa Kudrow
Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library | Getty Images
PHOTO: In this April 26, 2013 photo, a large home intended for the family of Warren Jeffs is seen in Hildale, Utah.
Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune/AP
PHOTO: Zac Efron seen at BBC Radio One, April 24, 2014, in London.
Neil P. Mockford/GC Images/Getty Images