Getting Off the Karmic Cycle

Deepak Chopra talks about fate, the Holocaust and the morality of love in discussing 'Mystic River.'

Deepak Chopra has introduced millions of Americans to Eastern concepts of spiritual and physical health through books like "Ageless Body, Timeless Mind," "How to Know God" and his most recent, "The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire." Raised a Hindu and trained in Western medicine, Dr. Chopra brought his his accustomed blend of compassion and intellectual curiosity to the Best-Picture-nominated film "Mystic River."

"Mystic River" tells the story of three childhood friends whose lives are changed beyond their knowing when one of them is kidnapped from their street in South Boston and sexually abused. Years later, another act of violence reunites them and forces them to reckon with the way the seemingly random evil made their fates inseparable.

Considering the violence they do to each other, it's interesting that the bad things the characters do in "Mystic River" are motivated almost entirely by love. The movie almost implies that love has a morality unto itself. Sean Penn's character's wife has that consoling speech at the end telling him whatever wrong he did, it was done for love.


I was thinking, every terrorist's wife must think that.

Does love override social morality?

What the film teaches us, and what I think spiritual awareness teaches us, is that when you understand the context, you have a deeper understanding for why people do what they do. And when you do then you're ready to forgive and you're ready to love, not withstanding the heinous acts. There's always a historical context, and a karmic context, a mythical context, which means the spiritual inheritance and also the ideologies that have shaped your spiritual worldview. There is a cultural context, there is economic context, there's emotional context. Here, everybody does the worst kind of things but they do them because they love.

After seeing the movie, I came back saying to myself that even the worst terrorists love something or somebody. Nobody goes and does a suicide bombing or becomes a suicide bomber just because--you know, we kind of trivialize it-- saying it's because they've been promised all these women in heaven. But we don't understand the anguish and the pain and the loss and the loss of their love that they have suffered. If we did, we'd have a deeper understanding for why they do what they do.

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