So how does Gilbert feel about Oprah, who helped, "Eat, Pray, Love" become a phenomenon, dedicating two hour-long shows to "The Secret?"
Gilbert: I won't hear a word spoken against Oprah Winfrey. I really won't. Not just because she obviously helped me enormously, but I think she is an agent of good, and I think she has helped a great deal of people. But I think there is stupidity everywhere. I think we run a risk [because] we love to make categories, to look at trends and say, "self-help is good, self-help is bad." There are self-help books that are beneficial to people and there are self-help books that are written by opportunistic idiots who do nothing.
Despite that, Gilbert rejects the argument made by critics that self-help simply makes people selfish.
Gilbert: I remember a monk in India telling me about seeing one of his masters: A young girl came to him and she was a mess and said, "All I want to do is help people. That's all I want to do." The guy just took her hands and said you're useless to anybody until you get yourself together. I know that in my own life. I was useless to anyone until I got myself together. It's a community service to get yourself together.
Harris: A community service?
Gilbert: I agree. I submit that it is. When I was walking through New York City sobbing, crying, jagged, sleep deprived, stressed out, anxious, I don't know who I was assisting.
While Gilbert is not nearly as diligent in her spiritual practice these days, she is happily married and living in New Jersey. She stands firm in the belief that there is a kind of daily, dirt-under-the-nails divinity to being settled and happy.
Gilbert: There is great divinity, but it's the linoleum, fluorescent divinity, you know what I mean? It's not the sort of on the top of a mountain, incense, dimly lit, very holy divinity. It's very, as you said, dirt-under-your's-nails divinity.
Gilbert's new book, "Committed," chronicling her struggle and ultimate embrace of the institution of marriage was released Jan. 5.