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「享受吧,一個人的旅行」(Eat, Pay, Love),作者(Eliazath Gilbert)以第一人稱的角度,娓娓道來她的自我追尋。副標題(OneWoman’s Search for Everything across Italy, India and Indonesia)揭示這是一個女人的故事,她的追尋橫跨了義大利、印度及巴里島。故事的主角Lisa在三十幾歲出頭時,就已擁有時下美國女性該擁有的一切,包括有成就的丈夫、鄉村別墅、以及成功的事業,然而她卻感受不到滿足與喜悅,反而因困惑與驚恐而被受煎熬。故事從這裏開展,接下來就描繪她如何放下世人所欣羨的成功表象,轉而去追尋自己真正想要的東西。她用一年的時間,到三個不同的國家旅行,體察三種不同的文化,也發掘出最真實的自我。她在義大利體驗愉悅(pleasure), 在印度發掘虔誠(devotion), 最後在巴里島找到世俗享樂(wordly enjoyment)及靈性超越(divine transcendence)兩者間的平衡。

以西方文學的類別來區分,本書可視為是一本成長小說(Bildungsroman),主角從匱乏到富足,從中學習人生的寶貴經驗(from rags to riches)。此中的匱乏,可以是實際的物質或金錢,亦可以是心靈的枯竭。故事開始於主角的一無所有,必須赤手空拳面對世間的挑戰,但經由勇氣與智慧,或得到貴人的相助,最後終能享有成功的果實。此文類的代表作有狄更斯的大衛考伯菲爾,伯朗特的簡愛等。Lisa從離婚的一無所有,到最後在巴里島找到真愛的過程,就是一部成長小說的典範。用「三」這個數字,代表的是平衡、和諧與禪定。東方的佛教徒或瑜伽行者,在修行時手上的念珠有108顆。108這個數字是三位數,總合加起來是9,亦是三的平方數。西方基督教有三位一體(Holy Trinity)的說法,意思為聖父、聖子及聖靈,可見三所代表的吉祥意涵。作者將她的追尋分成三部分,以呼應它在宗教上的神聖意涵。Lisa在三個不同的文化中,看見潛藏於本性中的渴求,也釋放了真實的自我。透過三種文化的洗禮,她得到了真正的平靜和喜悅,這正是宗教的最終意義----讓世人離苦得樂。

雖說是心靈的探索,全書筆調詼諧風趣,宛如一本具深度的旅遊導覽。以在義大利的旅行為例,Lisa和友人談論羅馬這個城市的特徵時,友人提到一個很有趣的論點。他說世界上每一個城市都有一個專屬的字眼來形容,透過這個字,你可以充分了解這個城市及其居民的意識型態。屬於羅馬的字是Sex(性),屬於天主教廷所在地的梵蒂岡,是權力(power)。對於這樣的看法,作者一度認為只是文化的刻版印象罷了,但仔細省思後不無道理,摘錄原文如下:

that little word---SEX---cobbles the streets beneath your feet in Rome, runs through the fountains here, fills the air like traffic noise. Thinking about it, dressing for it, seeking it, considering it, refusing it, making a sport and game out of it---that's all anybody is doing

「性」這個字,鋪在你足跡所至的羅馬街道上,流過此地的水池,如噪音般瀰漫於空氣中。所有的羅馬人在做的事,無非就是想著它(sex),為它而盛裝,追尋它,考慮它,排拒它,玩弄它。

的確,羅馬這個城市的氛圍就是「性」,此現象非當地人難以察覺。一般人認為梵諦岡是宗教聖地,想當然屬於它的字是faith(信仰),但當地人感受到的卻是power(權力)。從中世紀以來,羅馬教廷和政治糾葛不斷,更引發後來的清教徒革命,實不難想像為何梵蒂岡不是虔誠信仰的代名詞,而是權力傾軋的象徵。書中接著討論屬於其他城市的字。代表那不勒斯(Naples)的字是fight(爭鬥)。作者以紐約人的觀點,認為代表紐約的字是achieve (成就),洛杉磯是succeed(成功),這兩個字有些許的差異。前者是自我挑戰,努力去達成目標;後者是追求成功,獲得世人的肯定。作者的瑞典朋友認為,屬於她的城市Stochholm(斯德哥爾摩)的字是conform (順服)。

除了城市,個人也有專屬的字。Lisa認為她自幼成長的家庭,結合了frugal (節儉)和irreverent(蔑視),因為她在新英格蘭地區的農村長大,母親辛勤忙碌,父親與家人疏離,唯一的姐姐喜歡發號施令,另她十分畏懼。屬於作者生活現狀的字是seek (追尋),過去的她所專屬的字包括marriage(婚姻),family(家庭),depression(沮喪)。在義大利旅遊的這幾個月,她專屬的字是pleasure(愉悅)。但經歷過這個階段後,她將蛻變成devotion(虔誠)。

讓我們來反思自己或所居的城市氛圍吧!藉由觀察體會,不難發覺專屬於自己的一個字!

以下是節錄自本書發人深省的片段文字:

I. Pleasure in Italy

On Pleasure-Seeking:

Americans have an inability to relax into sheer pleasure. Ours is an entertainment-seeking nation, but not necessarily a pleasure-seeking one. . . . Americans don’t really know how to do nothing.(p.80)

Italian culture as individualism-oriented:

In a world of disorder and fraud, sometimes only beauty can be trusted. Only artistic excellence is incorruptible. Pleasure cannot be bargained down. (p.152)

To devote yourself to the creation and enjoyment of beauty, then, can be a serious business---not always necessarily a means of escaping reality, but sometimes a means of holding on to the real when everything else is flaking away into . . . rehetoric and plot. (153)

On Venice:

Venice seems like a wonderful city in which to die a slow and alcoholic death. The whole town is peeling and fading like those suites of rooms that once-rich families will barricade away in the backs of their mansions when it gets too expensive to keep the maintenance up. (134)

II. Spiritual Enlightenment in India

The Essence of Yoga:

The ancients developed these physical stretches not for personal fitness, but to loosen up their muscles and minds in orderto prepare them for meditation. (160)

Yoga is the effort to experience one’s divinity personally and then hold on to that experience forever. (161)

Soul Mate:

Soul mates come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself, and then they leave . . . show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light could get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you had to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master and beat it. (198)

Leaps of Faith:

Faith is belief in what you cannot see or prove or touch.Devotion is diligence without assurance---the decision to consent to any notion of divinity is a mighty jump from the rational over to the unknowable. (233)

Prayer and Destinity:

Prayer is a relationship; half the job is mine. If I want transformation, but can’t even be bothered to articulate what, exactly, I’m aiming for, how will it ever occur?

Destiny is also a relationship---a play between divine grace and willful self-effort. Man is neither entirely a puppet of the gods, nor is he entirely the captain of his own destiny. (234)

Objective of Religion:

The search for divine bliss is the entire purpose of a human life. This is why we chose to be born. . . . just for the chance to experience this infinite love. (262)

The best we can do,then, in response to our incomprehensible and dangerous world, is to practice holding equilibrium internally. (274)

Essence of Transcendence:

In order to be sacred, we have to make some massive, dramatic change of character. . . . we have to renounce our individuality. . . . To know God, you need only to renounce one thing—your sense of division from God.(255)

You will not advance even one inch closer to divinity as long as you cling to even one last seductive thread of blame. As smoking is to the lungs, so is resentment to the soul; even one puff of it is bad for you. (247)

Cause of Pain and Pleasure:

All the pain of a human life is caused by words, as is all the joy. We create words to define our experience and those words bring attendant emotions that jerk us around like dogs on the leash. We get seduced by our own mantras. (I’m a failure. . . .I am lonely. . . . ) and we become monuments to them. To stop talking for a while, then, is to attempt to strip away the power of words, to stop choking ourselves with words, to liberate ourselves from our suffocating mantras. (433)

III.Love in Bali

On Happiness:

Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. . . . And once your have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever. . . . If you don’t, you will leak away your innate contentment. (p.345)----An echo of Emily Dickens’ “Nothing is so stale as yesterday’s surprise.”

The search for contentment is not merely a self-preserving and self-benefiting act, but also a generous gift to the world. (p.346)

On the Ilusion of love:

In desperate love, we always invent the characters of our partners, demanding that they be what we need of them, and the feeling devastated when they refuse to perform the role we created in the first place.(22)

Addiction is the hallmark of every infatuation-based love story. The object of your adoration bestows upon you a heady, hallucinogenic dose of something---an emotional speedball of thunderous love and roiling excitement. Soon you start craving that intene attention, with the hungry obsession of any junkie. Infatuation's final destination---the complete and merciless devaluation of self.(25)

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