If you’ve read Eat, Pray, Love, then Ketut Liyer, 95, is a familiar name for you. This healer and fortune teller – who is portrayed in the movie of the book that’s due for release in August and stars Julia Roberts – lives in Ubud and sees harmony as a simple way to be happy. He shared his day with Ashtra Effendy.
I open my eyes at 8am on my healthy days. I haven’t started my day yet; I rest my body for one hour. My age is 95; my body and my day need to adjust to life at that age. Today I have flu. But I begin my day with a cup of Bali coffee served by my son’s wife. After that she will bring my breakfast, rice with vegetables like cassava leaf or spinach. But sometimes I have porridge. Bali coffee ends my meal.
Around 9am my patients are waiting for me. They come from around the world. When they come to me, before I heal and do my palm reading, I ask how they know me? Is it from the book? I show them the book (Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert) that Elizabeth gave to me. I like my patients to call me kakek (grandfather).
I often remind people who come for readings that if what I see is good I say good and if bad I say bad. In palm reading, there are life lines, brain lines, health lines, prosperity lines and many more. I begin reading it from the ears, eyebrows, lips, nose. And the palm. Then I will check the back of the neck to read the energy. Also, the feet and lower legs can tell. I learned all this from the Book of Lontar Leaves from my ancestor.
I’m the ninth generation of palm readers and healers in my family. The book has passed up through the generations. I don’t know where it comes from or who wrote it, but I learned from it. I’m still learning. I started learning at the age of 10. But I was a painter and a rice farmer first and then I did fortune telling. The book also has healing recipes – how to make medicines from nature. I made some medicine back then. But now there’s no free soil to provide the medicine plants.
Sometimes if I have a lot of patients I may not have lunch. But if I do I will have it around noon with the same food served by the same person. I take some medicine from my grandchild, who is a doctor. My kidney was sick before. That’s why I didn’t do my scene when they were shooting the movie Eat, Pray, Love. But I believe that is for someone else’s fortune.
I heal people and sometimes I heal myself. But when I’m really sick I can’t do both. I have a lot of patients from around the world. But I’m also still the village healer, so when my neighbour needs me I’ll help them as best I can. Last night a Balinese who was sick and crying came. So I made a medicine. Today I also have a request to make a lucky charm for white magic against black magic for a newborn baby here.
At about 6pm I’ll see my last patient. On days when I’m not so good, I will finish earlier. I have dinner around 7pm.
On auspicious days like full moons, I’ll paint before sleeping. My painting is different because I meditate beforehand, so the painting has a healing effect. Every painting has a different purpose. There’s a painting for dancers so they can do well, or painting for a seller. My hobby is painting. But when I have a lot of patients, I get tired and can’t do it.
I never complain about getting tired. I always do my work. The most important things are that I can eat, my children can eat and my grandchildren can go to school. My purpose in life is to be in harmony with my family and everyone who comes here. Arguments are bad things that I don’t like about life.
Around 10pm, before falling asleep, I meditate. I pray for my loved ones: my wife, who passed away five years ago; my grandparents; my parents; my children; my grandchildren; and for harmony in my family and for everyone who comes here. The happiest moment in my life is when my children have harmony, and my family is at peace.
If someone asks what is my recipe for still being energetic at this age, it is the happiness I get from the harmony of my family. Meditation sets my mind at rest, and my eyes too.