Eat, Pray, Love: An Encounter with Ketut Liyer

This was written by one of our tour members
on our yoga and meditation tour to Bali.
If you are interested in our tour to Bali
please visit our web site at

During our spring vacation to Bali, I had the opportunity to meet with Ketut Liyer, a 9th generation healer in Bali, who was an inspiration for Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel Eat Pray Love.
Bali is a beautiful tropical island located in the middle of the Indonesian archipelago. The Balinese people are dedicated to beauty, art, music, worship and the growing of rice. The religion of Bali is Hindu. The entire rest of the Indonesian islands are Muslim. In the sixteenth century, the existing Hindu royalty of Java, along with their craftsmen and priests, escaped the violent Islamic uprising and fled to Bali. So everyone in Bali is descend from a king, priest or an artist. Some of the world’s most beautiful art is produced in Bali. Colorful paintings and amazing sculptures are seen everywhere. Gorgeous, fine jewelry is produced in Bali and sold throughout the world.

Worship is a major part of Balinese life. Religious ceremonies are of extreme importance. Life is a constant offering of flowers and food at temples and at home and workplace shrines. Rituals must be performed five times a day or more. A typical Balinese woman spends one-third of her waking hours in ceremony preparation, participation, or cleanup. Beauty and color are revered and flowers are seen everywhere.
Our yoga tour was led by Jim Cramer of Bali Advisor, who has lived and studied in Bali for many years and speaks the language. With his knowledge we were able to see a very personal side of Bali and participate in their sacred ways in many special settings. Helen McGhee led us in daily yoga sessions that improved our body awareness as well.
Before my trip to Bali, I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love, a humorous account of finding herself after a bad divorce by spending a year in Italy, India and Bali. Eat represents her four months in Italy, filling her void with food and pleasure while learning Italian. Pray is the four months spent at an Ashram in India in meditation and worship. Love is her four months finding peace and love in Bali.
Her journey is inspired by Ketut Liyer, who she meets two years earlier during a journalism trip to Bali regarding yoga vacations commissioned by a magazine. At the time of their meeting, she is a basket case, in constant worry, crying and not sleeping due to her divorce. Ketut gives her a drawing of a human figure with four legs and wild foliage of flowers and ferns in place of the head and with a smiling face drawn over the heart. He tells her she needs to be grounded like the four legs and use her heart instead of continually living in her head. Ketut is an exceptional artist and often uses his artistic abilities to make healing drawings. Upon departing he tells her she will return to Bali and study with him.
When she returned to Bali two years later, she had become centered after her meditative experiences in India. Ketut has difficulties recognizing her since she had transformed from worry and sorrow to joy and happiness. She spends the next four months assisting him, learning about his amazing healing ways. Their days were filled with local people bring small offerings for his treatments. He treated both physical and emotional aliments with herbs, drawings and advice.

Ketut Liyer was the name his grandfather gave him, meaning Bright Light. I first met Ketut Liyer with a Yoga tour group of 15 people in Ubud, Bali. He has an impressive aura of calm, peaceful friendliness. Gilbert describes him as Yoda, the wise Jedi in Star Wars. Ketut is an ancient, tiny, warm man, smiling with two remaining upper front teeth. The rest of his teeth are broken at the gum line. He showed our group some of his healing sketches and ancient ledgers filled with tiny Balinese Sanskrit, writing of healing knowledge that had been passed down through generations. He described his life path from renowned artist to healer. He had rebelled against his 9 generations of healing duty and became an artist, much to his father and grandfather’s disappointment. But around age 30, Ketut had a terrible accidental burn of his painting arm, and the doctors wanted to amputate. During a dream that night, his grandfather came to him and told him to rub certain herbs on his arm. He did as his dream told and was able to save his arm with full function. From that day, he dedicated his life to healing others.

I was in awe of his guru-like calm presence, but was bothered by his poor dental appearance and health. I arranged a private meeting with him a few days later with an interpreter. In her book, Gilbert relates that Ketut’s only regret in life is his poor dental condition and that he is afraid to have his teeth fixed. I was intrigued to meet this dental compromised healer. The healer in me wanted to see if I could help him. My goal was to find out what was keeping him from dental treatment. I guess dental fear is worldwide.

Next week I will describe my intimate meeting with Ketut Liyer.

Enjoy Life and Keep Smiling!

George Malkemus has had a Family and Cosmetic Dental Practice in Rohnert Park for over 23 years at:

2 Padre Parkway, Suite 200.
Call 585-8595