Deepak Chopra and Intent

Deepak Chopra and Intent

Can Wisdom Save Us? Why It Has To

posted by Admin

There’s always a sense of crisis in the air generated by whatever bad news is making the headlines. At the moment, the greatest alarm is being stirred by terrorism and the spread of Islamic extremism. Yet at a deeper level, our anxiety centers on something much deeper, the possibility that the human experiment has reached a dead end. A set of enormous problems face us, from climate change and overpopulation to epidemic disease and global water shortages, that test the limits of human nature.

 

The terrible possibility of moving backward in our evolution as a species seems possible to many observers.  We occupy a unique place in Earth’s evolutionary history, being the only creatures threatened not by natural selection but by our mindset. Pessimists point to climate change as a stark example. Despite the overwhelming scientific evidence in favor of global warming, no solution is being acted upon quickly enough. The American public has become numbed by issue fatigue. Deniers have political clout, and ordinary citizens feel helpless to the point that many feel doomed. We continually prefer to either ignore the problem or push it away as the consumer lifestyle adds more and more to the underlying problem of greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Where can hope come from in this scenario, when the creatures gifted by evolution with rationality are acting so irrational that self-destruction looms as a real possibility?

 

Human history is filled with crises that reason couldn’t solve, including periods of famine and plague, not to mention the persistence of war in every era.  Millions of people have died as a result and well into the scientific age two world wars arose as if to prove that the underside of human nature will forever take its toll.  Science failed to save the tens of millions who perished needlessly in the twentieth century. In fact science multiplied these fatalities thanks to new and improved methods of mechanized death.

 

How can we reasonably expect that science alone will save us, when it gave us the atomic bomb? The future being planned by so-called rationalists includes robot armies, cyber warfare, genetically modified crops, and remaining on a perpetual war footing, going back to Pearl Harbor in 1941? Unlike militant atheists and other groups that believe science is always the answer, I don’t buy that reason itself is in jeopardy.

 

The problem lies in how we use our reason. We aren’t the victims of irrationality. Instead, we are victimized by refusing to use enough of our inner potential. Reason isn’t the savior of the future. That role belongs to wisdom. With all the threats to human survival that we now face, I resort to a hopeful phrase coined by Jonas Salk: the survival of the wisest. Although a great researcher in medicine, Salk had the vision to look beyond materialism. He saw that evolution, as it applies to modern human beings, isn’t Darwinian. We no longer live in a state of nature. Competition is more mental and technological today than physical. The survival of specific gene pools, which is the crux of animal survival and adaptation, is irrelevant for us.

For at least two thousand years, our evolution has shifted to the following:

–We assimilate new information and evolve mentally.
— We evolve physically to grow healthier and live longer, but far more important is mental evolution, using technology to overcome our physical limitations and gain more power over Nature.
–We gain a higher vision of ourselves and evolve spiritually.

The progress made through the first two factors has reached a tipping point. Our technology and our challenge to Nature may destroy us. So where is evolution going to go? In an age of information, anyone can access knowledge for incredible destruction or incredible creation. The choice isn’t left to governments, churches, or isolated geniuses. Putting technology in the hands of everyone is progress only if the third factor–our vision of ourselves–evolves at the same time.

Arch materialists miss the whole point of human evolution, which is that it long ago broke out of the prison of physicality. True, modern athletes are stronger, bigger, faster, and more accomplished than those of the past, but this doesn’t affect anyone’s survival the way becoming a bigger, stronger, faster gazelle would.

Taking all factors together, humans evolve through the metabolism of experience. That is, we absorb everything going on in our environment, and in some rather mysterious ways, the next generation knows more and can do more than we can. I am not being mystical here. When Einstein published his General Theory of Relativity, Bertrand Russell famously said that he was one of three people in the world who understood it. Now a bright high school student can grasp Einstein’s principles, if not his mathematics.

The same holds true for today’s five-year-olds who can navigate through a computer better and faster than many adults of an older generation. We assimilate difficulties, solve them, and move on to a new future as more evolved humans. The evolution of the wisest holds that this cannot be a random process. No one is going to stop the diabolical creativity of weapons research except us. Nature is perfectly willing to let us destroy ourselves through ecological collapse. Are we to be regarded as one of Nature’s most interesting failed experiments? And one of the most short-lived, it might be added.

No one really doubts that science and technology have the capacity to find the means to reverse climate change if the entire world community focused on that single goal. Such a choice would be evolutionary, and it can only be made by rethinking who we are as a species. What will save us is self-awareness, the key to evolution of the wisest. Self-awareness and how it grows will be the subject of a follow-up post.

 

 

Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 80 books with twenty-two New York Times bestsellers. He serves as the founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing. His latest book is The Future of God 

 

Your Body Is Wise, But It Needs for You to Pay Attention

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Although complementary medicine has made strong advances, mainstream medical practice still keeps faith with drugs and surgery as the default methods of treatment. The way forward for anyone who wants to establish a high level of wellbeing isn’t going to come via the family doctor but through self-care. The first rule of self-care is to trust in the body’s wisdom and to make choices in line with it.

 

Living in accord with your body’s wisdom is simple and natural, which is why practices that hovered on the fringe when I was first practicing medicine in the Seventies are now tried and true.  The following points are unarguable.

 

  1. A diet that minimizes meat is good for you.  There are two reasons for this. First, avoiding meat is a way to keep your weight down. Second, you have to eat a lot of vegetables to get enough calories per day, and this increases your intake of vitamins and minerals. Changing dietary patterns aren’t easy, because eating habits are formed in childhood and influenced by culture and emotions. So do not try to go entirely vegetarian if you find it stressful. You can eat less meat or go meatless one day a week, increasing gradually on your intake of veggies. For the meat you do eat, make sure it is organic, and that the fish is wild caught.

 

 

  1. Stress reduction works.   The best studies of heart disease and cancer indicate that high stress is harmful. Stress reduction brings the body back into balance generally, which is itself a good thing. It reduces high blood pressure, although it isn’t a cure.  Meditation is a proven stress reducer.

 

  1. Small amounts of exercise are absolutely necessary. Your body is designed to move. A completely sedentary life is a major cause of overweight ad higher risk of many diseases. An adequate amount of exercise would include regular housecleaning, walking on a daily basis, taking care of a small child, climbing the stairs instead of taking the elevator, etc. As far a weight loss goes, it’s been shown that walking a mile loses more weight than jogging a mile, and jogging loses more than running. This is because heavier exercise is anaerobic (doesn’t use oxygen) and causes the body to preserve calories rather than shed them.

 

  1.   Fresh pure food is best. Even though organic food has not been proven to be a major factor in good health, it still makes perfect sense to opt for the least contaminated food you can.   The general public is right to be suspicious of chemical preservatives in goods, and processed food tends to have too many calories in proportion to vitamins and minerals. Life span is steadily increasing, with the decrease in the incidence of heart disease and strokes, but the worldwide intake of processed and junk food is promoting gross obesity and type 2 diabetes.

 

  1. Staying away from the doctor is good for you. The medical establishment gave up on the old recommendation that everyone get a six-month checkup because it wasn’t working. About 90% of serious illness is first detected by the patient. Secondly, people who live to great old age tend to not see doctors and to avoid taking drugs.  It’s not healthy to rely on drugs, to haunt the doctor’s office, or to worry over minor illness and discomforts.

 

  1. Moderation is the best preventive. It sounds banal, but doing a bit of what’s good for you is the best medicine, while too much of a good thing is bad. Eat when you are hungry, and stop eating when you aren’t hungry. Omega 3 fish oil is good for thinning the blood, but too much runs the risk of stroke. Red wine is good for you, but too much is bad for the liver.  Eating your vegetables is good for you, trying to live on megavitamins probably isn’t.  For lacto-tolerant individuals, organic milk remains a healthy food, (men who drink a quart of milk a day seem to reduce their risk of heart attack, for example).  Making sure you exercise into old age is good, but over-exercise at younger ages can lead to joint problems later on. Finally, natural exercise like jogging outside does more good to more muscle groups than running on a treadmill. Using gym equipment is fine, but being outside in the sunshine is better.

 

  1.  Biorhythms are the key to remaining in balance, and the key rhythm is rest and activity. The body is keeping track of dozens of different internal clocks, and maintaining a healthy body is all about keeping them in perfect synchronicity.  A good night’s sleep sounds like standard advice that many people feel free to ignore, but behind it is the mystery of how the brain coordinates every biorhythm, using hormones and genetic expression to fine tune processes that last only a few thousandths of a second, in harmony with long-term processes like puberty and menstruation that are timed by months and years. This invisible synchronicity may one day turn out to be far more crucial than we realize today, but at the very least your body wants a good night’s sleep and periods of rest during the day in order to reset itself.

 

None of this sounds revolutionary, but there is an underlying wisdom at work. Your body knows what it is doing, and if you listen to it and cooperate sensibly, good health is the norm, not the exception. We are a society with incredible advantages in terms of health, and the sooner we stop relying only on outside authorities, and begin to rely more on the wisdom of our bodies, the better.

 

 

Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 80 books with twenty-two New York Times bestsellers. He serves as the founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing. His latest book is The Future of God 

Why Spirituality Matters More than Ever

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In troubled times, when the world seems to be on fire, people think about God and the religion they were raised in–a source of solace and hope matters more in a crisis. I don’t find myself thinking about spirituality in those terms, however. Like a winter coat that’s put away in spring, for many people spirituality, in the sense of going to church or praying to God, gets put away when the crisis has passed.

 

Crises by their nature, come and go, but the deeper need for spirituality remains. This need is rooted deeper than solace and hope. It’s the need for wisdom.  Wisdom is a word that’s open to cheap shots and automatic dismissal. It’s even alien to the kind of spirituality that’s about issues like self-esteem and love. Wisdom is much less personal and mysterious. It gets at the heart of why we exist and what our purpose is. Wisdom gives you a vision of possibilities that are found in consciousness, bridging all ages and circumstances.  It gets at the heart of reality. Ultimately the search for reality is what binds a loose coalition of people who want to reach beyond organized religion and its perceived drawbacks.

 

Ever since Aldous Huxley coined the phrase “perennial philosophy,” people in the West have come to realize that sectarianism is too narrow and religions too orthodox to contain a great body of wisdom that is available to every culture.  The spiritual scene unfolding around us is just today’s Americanized version of the perennial philosophy, as Theosophy was the British version at the turn of the century. In a word, the perennial philosophy is about transcendence. It’s a corpus of thought which holds that higher consciousness is real.

 

For many spiritual people there’s little doubt that organized religion is serving reactionary social forces and a dogmatic version of God. This has left a spiritual vacuum in society, and although many right-thinking people ridicule the carnival aspects of the New Age, it is far more deplorable to ignore the spiritual yearning that exists in every culture. The current spiritual scene may not fill the vacuum perfectly, but it has many virtues.

 

–People feel free to express themselves outside the doctrines of organized faiths.

–They feel open to experiences that earlier generations denied or condemned, and that arch materialists totally deny.

–They are aware that spirituality is a broad river running back many centuries.

–They feel included in a magnificent human quest.

–They believe that evolution of consciousness is real and worth pursuing.

–They believe they can find a noble vision and begin to live up to it.

 

These values are timeless but remain abstract until they become someone’s personal experience, and the current spirituality embraces a huge number of people who have tasted transcendence through meditation and various forms of peak experience–those moments when the veil of the personal self drops away and reality is seen without interference by the ego, memory, and old conditioning. The seekers one meets vary enormously:  Jungians and other therapists who were brought up in the Fifties, freethinkers and flower children from the Sixties, and even earlier Theosophists, followers of teachers like J. Krishnamurti and gurus like Paramahansa Yogananda, not to mention readers of Huxley, Gerald Heard, and other expatriates who brought Vedanta to Southern California in the era before World War II. It’s a big tent and hardly new.

 

The net result of this diverse movement is hard to calculate. Certainly there don’t seem to be many inroads into orthodox political or academic thought, but as a grass-roots movement, spirituality is powerful; it stands for the unquenchable idealism of millions of people who either flirt with the perennial philosophy or dive into it more deeply.

 

 

I don’t see an alternative, frankly, unless a person wants to mount a rearguard action to revive organized religion, and that seems highly unlikely. The liberal wing of every major Christian denomination has become quiescent in the face of aggressive fundamentalism, and adopting an Eastern religion has its own compromises. So whatever the spiritual scene morphs into thirty years from now, it seems to be the most viable movement we have, and it deserves to be considered on its own terms, without labels but with a love for wisdom and human possibilities.

 

Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 80 books with twenty-two New York Times bestsellers. He serves as the founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing. His latest book is The Future of God 

The Power of Desire—What Do You Want, Anyway?

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Desire is inescapable, and one could spend years trying to discover if human desire is a blessing of a curse. But right this minute a more practical question demands attention. How can you get what you want? Beyond the basic necessities for food, water, and shelter, which are enough to satisfy the desire to survive, human beings invent countless other desires. What we all experience is that some of our desires come true while others don’t. That seems clear enough, but in fact people approach this simple fact from very different angles. If asked, “How do you get what you want?” or an even bigger issue, “How do you make a dream come true?” people will offer answers that aren’t at all compatible:

–Desires are fulfilled and dreams come true if you work hard enough and never stop fighting for what you want.

–Dreams come true only if they are meant to. It hardly matters what you do; destiny or karma plays the major role.

–It’s pure luck which desires come true and which ones don’t.

–Making your dreams come true is a spiritual journey. Prayer, meditation, and good karma are critical.

–Dreams come true by the grace of God. To make your dream come true, you must surrender to divine will.

–Desire is self-fulfilling. Every intention includes a path to fulfillment within its structure, however remote fulfillment may seem to be.

–Getting what you want is inevitable, but you have to look deep enough. Fulfillment can occur on the level of fantasy, dream, or imagination. It doesn’t have to be physical.

Out of this list of explanations, people pick the ground rules of desire that they choose to believe in, but do principles, rules, and deeply held beliefs really help us? The picture of desire seems more confused than ever, because fulfilling a desire could require hard work or the opposite, total surrender.  If something wonderful falls into your lap, does it matter if God or random chance caused it? These appear to be exact opposites, yet in India’s wisdom tradition, the Bhagavad-Gita fuses opposites when Lord Krishna says, “Perform action without attachment to the fruits of action.” In other words, use focus, determination, and hard work all you want, but stay detached about the outcome.” In that dictum a commitment to action and surrender to the outcome are fused.

But why is this a wise strategy? In everyday life we’re all attached to the outcome of desire. We want the paycheck, the girl, the raise, the nice house. Focusing on those desires without caring about the outcome doesn’t seem like wisdom. It seems self-defeating. We need to go back to the common experience of having a desire. Let’s say three people want a piece of chocolate cake.  Person A goes to work and earns enough money to buy a chocolate cake. Person B comes home to discover that by coincidence, his wife just that day baked a chocolate cake for him. Person C orders chocolate cake at a restaurant only to be told that the last piece was already sold–sorry.

The unlikely truth is that all three desires operated by the same mechanism in consciousness. This mechanism is intention working to a conclusion.  Despite the fact that an actual piece of cake appears–or doesn’t—the entire mechanics of desire takes place in consciousness.  Why don’t people see this automatically and accept it as a fact? Why don’t we expect our desires to come true without hindrance or struggle, letting fulfillment unfold through consciousness alone? According to Vedanta, consciousness is always in play from the seed of desire to its completion in the outer world. If you want chocolate cake in your dreams, it appears instantly. Vedanta holds that consciousness as it operates in waking life is meant to be exactly the same. The possibility that all desire is self-fulfilling is the central mystery of desire.

The inner path of desire is masked because a person’s consciousness varies enormously according to many factors:

–To be effortlessly fulfilled, an intention must be clear. Mixed messages bring mixed results.

–We send out mixed messages because of hidden beliefs and self-assumptions that muddy the waters (such as, “I don’t deserve to get what I want” or “It’s sinful to want too much” or “God wants me to be pure.”)

–Intentions can take a direct path but also many indirect ones. Forcing your fulfillment to come only one way while being blind to other ways often leads to disappointment.

Intention will reach a conclusion unless blocked or thwarted. A desire is blocked or detoured by karma, unclear or conflicted desires, self-judgment, the person’s level of consciousness, etc., all of which are internal obstacles Intention is not blocked by external obstacles except insofar as they reflect internal obstacles. On its own, the mechanics of intention works to find the shortest and most economical path to fulfillment.

There are so many variables in even the simplest desire that the mind cannot calculate them. Wanting a piece of chocolate cake, persons A, B, and C followed the same mechanics of desire but got three different results, and now we see why. Their intention was the same, but their inner world wasn’t. Your awareness is like a filter through which a desire must pass, or better said, awareness is a maze of twisted turns that intentions must negotiate.

You are too complex inside—and there are too many unforeseen circumstances in life—for you to control or even figure out. Therefore, the Gita’s advice to remain detached isn’t just a snippet of ancient wisdom.  It’s practical advice, which can be literally stated as “Let the mechanics of desire bring your fulfillment without interference. The more you interfere, the less likely you will get what you want.”

A skeptic might protest that this whole scheme makes no sense, for two reasons.

  1. Intention isn’t what makes desires come true. There is no connection between a subjective event (the mind saying “I want chocolate cake”) and the external outcome.
  2. Invoking some kind of inner block anytime a person doesn’t get what he wants isn’t a real explanation. Any sort of imaginary inner block can be hauled in to justify failure.

These are strong objections; they make perfect sense in a belief system where only tangible things are real. Seat-of-the-pants materialism is the default belief of almost everyone. We feel secure with things we can see and touch. To get beyond this bias, you have to experiment with your own desires. If the whole path of intention is inside you, only you can work through the various obstacles in your own awareness. If you remove them and find your desires coming true more effortlessly, then the Gita was right after all.

In the next post I will describe the process of clearing the pathway for desire. This is accomplished by a special kind of action that most people don’t know about but which lies at the heart of getting what you want.

(To be cont.)

Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 80 books with twenty-two New York Times bestsellers. He serves as the founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing. His latest book is The Future of God 

 

Previous Posts

Can Wisdom Save Us? Why It Has To
There's always a sense of crisis in the air generated by whatever bad news is making the headlines. At the moment, the greatest alarm is being stirred by terrorism and the spread of Islamic extremism. Yet at a deeper level, our anxiety centers on something much deeper, the possibility that the human

posted 10:23:44am Feb. 23, 2015 | read full post »

Your Body Is Wise, But It Needs for You to Pay Attention
Although complementary medicine has made strong advances, mainstream medical practice still keeps faith with drugs and surgery as the default methods of treatment. The way forward for anyone who wants to establish a high level of wellbeing isn't going to come via the family doctor but through self-c

posted 11:41:39am Feb. 16, 2015 | read full post »

Why Spirituality Matters More than Ever
In troubled times, when the world seems to be on fire, people think about God and the religion they were raised in--a source of solace and hope matters more in a crisis. I don’t find myself thinking about spirituality in those terms, however. Like a winter coat that’s put away in spring, for man

posted 12:33:52pm Feb. 09, 2015 | read full post »

The Power of Desire—What Do You Want, Anyway?
Desire is inescapable, and one could spend years trying to discover if human desire is a blessing of a curse. But right this minute a more practical question demands attention. How can you get what you want? Beyond the basic necessities for food, water, and shelter, which are enough to satisfy the d

posted 3:43:48pm Feb. 02, 2015 | read full post »

Do Your Emotions Help You or Hold You Back?
Recently, a close friend of mine made the remark that our emotions for the most part are basic, primal, immature, and unevolved. Ever since then, I have been ruminating on the validity of this statement. If our emotions are basically primitive, then how they be our allies, especially on the path to

posted 10:52:25am Jan. 26, 2015 | read full post »


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