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Deepak Chopra and Intent

Deepak Chopra and Intent

How to Be at Peace When the World Isn’t

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We seem to be living out the Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” The curse is probably mythical, but our interesting times contain much turbulence. The horrific refugee situation in Syria, the rise of the even more horrific ISIS movement, not to mention Ukraine and news of natural disasters that never ends–from media reports you might think the humanity is unraveling and the planet with it.

 

But in the face of chaos, some facts remain constant and stable:

 

To advance the cause of peace, you must be at peace.

The wars around the world reflect a war in human nature.

No dispute is ever settled unless both sides achieve a level of mutual satisfaction.

 

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When politics comes down to rigidly opposing views, such as one side wanting armed intervention in the Middle East while the other side wants to stay out, all of these facts are being ignored. That’s why the Iraq War ended in chaos, because the issues were never resolved so that all sides achieved mutual satisfaction, and why grudges that simmered for centuries suddenly erupt today.

 

But the fact that is critical is the first one. You can’t help the cause of peace unless you are peaceful. This means several things on the personal level:

You sympathize with all suffering, no matter which side you take in a conflict.

You don’t see violence as the solution.

You can detach yourself from judgment and blame.

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You don’t give in to us-versus-them thinking.

 

If you can achieve these things, you will stop being inflamed by constant streams of bad news from around the world. You will be detached form partisanship, and you won’t buy into demagoguery. People who aren’t at peace are sucked in by the thrill and anguish of catastrophic events, and when that happens even a President can act out of impaired judgment, leading the nation into reckless ventures doomed to failure from the start.

 

It’s sometimes hard to accept that being at peace is actually a form of “active detachment.” It’s active in that you want to help the situation. It’s detached in that you keep your head about you and see that the world doesn’t change from crisis to crisis–it changes when people’s awareness changes. To an outsider religious disputes seem pointless and totally unnecessary. But if your worldview tells you that God is testing your faith every moment, detachment isn’t possible.

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To be at peace doesn’t detach you from the values you get emotionally involved with, but it guards you against the constricted awareness that fuels conflict. I think that Pope Francis understands active detachment. He stands above the fray, as all Popes do, to minister to humanity, but at the same time, unlike many of his predecessors, Francis doesn’t stand idly by but offers practical proposals.  It’s totally worthwhile, even morally our obligation, to aid the programs that might heal divisions and ultimately the planet. But a viable action plan must come from peace or else it has no chance of succeeding.

 

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 13th Disciple: A Spiritual Adventure.

 

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Does Everything Happen for a Reason?

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By Deepak Chopra, MD, and Jordan Flesher, MA Psychology

 

The human mind can adapt to almost anything, but not chaos. No one can lead a completely random and chaotic life. The messy room of a teenager may look completely chaotic, but even there a decision was made. The choice was to be messy rather than straighten up the room, and as long as choices exist, true randomness isn’t in charge.

Yet clearly there are random events in Nature, and a vast body of science is based on them, from the random collision of atoms to the random mutations that drive Darwinian evolution. It’s hard to square the randomness in Nature with the incredible orderliness of human thought at its best (allowance must be made, unfortunately, for our own random impulses, which can be capricious, self-defeating, and violent.) Science tends to ignore the fact that the researcher who is driving to work in order to study random particles isn’t heading for a random place on the map. He is guided by purpose, meaning, and direction.

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In the last few posts we’ve been looking at how to break this deadlock through synchronicity, or meaningful coincidences. This is a perfect junction point, since “meaningful” has a purpose and “coincidence” is by definition random. What often accompanies experiences of synchronicity is a feeling of trust. The synchronous event seems to reveal to that there is a meaning, purpose, and direction “out there,” somewhere in a mysterious domain where the event was organized. This is what is meant when people say “Everything happens for a reason” – synchronicity is a reminder that randomness is being countered. But saying that everything happens for a reason isn’t provable. It exists as a shared belief, an article of faith, or wishful thinking, and sometimes all three.

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It would be more accurate to say, “Everything happens for a reason, despite appearances to the contrary.” Life isn’t about both things, an apparent orderliness and a lot of messiness at the same time. It’s orderly for a teenager to go to school every day; it’s messy to keep your bedroom a shambles. The key word, “I believe, is “appearances.” Things can appear random when in fact this is true only in appearance. Einstein appeared to be a clerk in the Swiss patent office when in fact he was cogitating over the deepest questions in physics. Creative people appear to muddle and mutter while they are actually searching for their next inspiration. To someone who can’t read, letters on a page appear to be randomly chose when in reality they are precisely ordered.

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This basic notion that appearances can be deceptive leads to some very intriguing possibilities.

  1. Randomness itself may be a false front. The great Dutch-Jewish philosopher Spinoza said, “Nothing in Nature is random. A thing appears random only through the incompleteness of our knowledge.”
  2. Our main difficulty may be narrow perception. We look at unpredictable events and label them as random because we don’t see the whole picture. If you put a close-up lens on a painter’s palette, his brush dives for various colors at random, but if you use a wider lens, you see the picture he’s actually painting, and it’s totally orderly.
  3. It’s unreasonable to make the inner world obey strict rules of cause and effect. Those rules are mechanical. If you kick a football, it flies through the air. If you kick a person on the street, be prepared for any kind of reaction.
  4. The processing in the brain that allows us to respond to any circumstance isn’t a matter of straight-line logic by which A is rationally connected to B. In everyone, there is a cloud of causes, not a straight line. Inside this cloud are memories, conditioning, habit, reason, emotion, relationship, genes, and many hidden biological factors. How this cloud comes to a decision is completely beyond the reach of scientific explanation.
  5. Because we can’t explain ourselves to ourselves, we devise stories to do the job for us. Without a story, life would be uncomfortable in its unpredictability.
  6. The way you explain your life, and every event in it, derives from your story. In essence, you areyour story.

Having gotten this far, we reach an intriguing conclusion. People’s stories contain a mixture of order and chaos, so it may be that reality is completely orderly and meaningful, the only difference being how much orderliness we choose to bring into our lives. In other words, the reason that synchronicity smooths the way for one person and not for another depends upon them.

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Everything happens for a reason if that’s how you perceive life; you allow the underlying meaning to express itself. You hold back chaos by trusting in orderliness. Trust isn’t sufficient, not by any means. It’s just one ingredient. The larger picture is about setting up a partnership between yourself and larger, invisible forces. They aren’t mystical forces but aspects of your own consciousness.

The invisible forces include creativity, insight, intuition, intention, and attaining a state of mind where you are centered enough to know who you really are. The partnership between you and Nature lies at the core of the world’s wisdom traditions. No topic is more fascinating, and we must go deeper to explain how the right connections are made.

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(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 13th Disciple: A Spiritual Adventure.

 

 

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Is Physics the Next Guru?

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The worldview of modern physics teases us with spiritual suggestions like the discovery—premature it seems—of the “God particle.” That nickname embarrasses some in the field, but ever since Fritjof Capra’s book The Tao of Physics, the links between Eastern spiritual traditions and the findings of quantum physics have been tantalizing.

 

Now they are much more than that. In three previous posts I’ve argued that synchronicity, the experience of a meaningful coincidence, points toward a new way of life, one where the strange and spooky behavior of the quantum domain can be used to change our view of everyday reality. There is a staunch band of physicists and their skeptic hangers-on who erect a brick wall between the quantum and classical domains, but more and more they are in the minority.

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This is because we exist in only one reality, not two. Nature didn’t separate the quantum and classical worlds; this division exists in the mathematical models of physics. If you keep normal, everyday life on one plane and quantum behavior on another, a bridge must eventually be built. In everyday life, as human beings live it, there is intelligence, meaning, purpose, intention, creativity, evolution, and consciousness. To date, no one has constructed a plausible way for these things to arise out of the random, mindless, meaningless operation of subatomic particles.

 

This matters. Instead of trying to keep the brick wall intact, more scientists are looking at the common ground between the classical and quantum worlds. Their purpose isn’t to make everyday life quantum, nor is mine. The sensible goal is to explore how common principles uphold reality as a whole.

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One principle is self-organization, which applies to the atom and to the human body. Both are self-sustaining systems that use feedback loops to remain in balance.   Another principle is qualia, the qualities we experience through the five senses and the mind. Qualia aren’t about numbers; they are about how reality is experienced. The color red is a qualia; its wavelength is a number. Middle C on a piano is a qualia; it also has a measurable wavelength. Qualia define every moment of human existence, but science has resisted the concept, preferring numerical measurement. But numbers will never get you to intrinsic qualities that are imbedded in reality, such as beauty, truth, harmony, goodness, and love.

 

The common ground here, as a number of thinkers agree, is mathematics, which displays harmony, order, balance, and even beauty, not as add-ons or psychological projections but as fundamental properties of math itself. This realization opens the door for other qualia in other parts of science, particularly harmony and balance, which all self-organizing systems display.

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The next common principle is creativity. At the quantum level, genesis is a constant as new subatomic particles bubble up from the so-called quantum foam. It hardly seems an accident that creativity is a constant in the classical world as well. The brain of a skeptic is creating new neurons and pathways throughout life, even if they are being used to deny the principle of creativity, espousing that only random events give rise to new creations in nature. No one has successfully rebutted the clever remark by physicist Fred Hoyle that creating DNA out of random events is the equivalent of a hurricane blowing through a junk yard and creating a Boeing 727.

 

The relevance of these three common principles—self-organization, qualia, and creativity—is hard to overestimate. If they take hold on a wider scale, our view of the cosmos will never be the same. We will look out on a universe where human beings belong at home rather than a cold, alien vacuum. The vacuum isn’t habitable, but that’s not the point. The point is that reality itself is human, created through experience, upheld by the same core values. Such a view has been dismissed as Platonic, poetic, or blindly anthropomorphic. But that’s starting to change.

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The reason for the rise of Platonism in a new, scientifically valid guise is that without common values, reality is either hostile to human beings or indifferent to us. It seems untenable that this can be true, because here we are, the product, as the famous astronomer Sir Arthur Eddington remarked of “something unknown . . . doing we don’t know what.” That something can be relied upon, however. The principles of self-organization, qualia, and creativity are at the heart of human life and of Nature itself.

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 13th Disciple: A Spiritual Adventure.

 

 

 

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Synchronicity, Evolution, and Your Genes (Part 3)

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By Deepak Chopra, MD, and Jordan Flesher, MA Psychology

 

Two views of the universe have been contending with each other to explain why human beings exist. The first view holds that human beings are not special in any way. We evolved through random events that have accumulated over time, taking 13.7 billion years since the big Bang to arrive at the most complex structure in creation, the human brain. This view, long established in physics and biology, constructs evolution in the absence of mind. Matter came first, and mind emerged very late in the game.

 

The contending view, held by every wisdom tradition, holds that mind came first. The universe is a field of consciousness, which made it inevitable that conscious creatures would evolve over time. Using our self-awareness, humans recognize order, harmony, beauty, truth, love, balance, equanimity, creativity, and the other qualities essential to consciousness. Over the course of our evolution as a species, we have come to embody these qualities. Therefore, the link between humanity and the universe is intimate, to the extent that the only creation we experience is the human cosmos.

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Despite science’s enormous prestige, these two views exist on level playing field. The evidence for both is solid. In the previous two posts of this series, we took a single example, synchronicity, and showed how meaningful coincidences can be used to arrive at the same principle of non-locality strongly validated by quantum physics. Working from the other worldview, the eminent British physicist Sir Roger Penrose has theorized that mathematics, the essential language of science, is imbued by a Platonic value like harmony and symmetry—these attributes give mathematics its internal beauty, recognized by every great mathematician and yet inexplicable if you attempt to break this harmony down into reductionist bits of information.

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In both cases, a meaningful trait in the makeup of the human mind becomes a basic trait of nature. Synchronicity as a subjective experience and mathematical symmetry as an objective discovery indicate that an underlying wholeness exists in Nature. Why, then, is there any disagreement about the compatibility of the subjective and objective approaches? The most obvious answer is habit and tradition. The scientific viewpoint has been centered on materialism, Darwinian evolution, randomness, and the exclusion of subjectivity for a long time.

 

This steady focus tells most scientists that they must be right, but in fact it only shows that a model of reality can continue and persist. Outside the laboratory, human experience is measured in millennia, not centuries, and it is reliable. The most reliable aspects are as follows:

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  1. Reality is too complex to submit to models.
  2. Any model explains only the portion of reality that fits the model.
  3. Models ignore what lies outside them because they have to in order to remain intact.
  4. What a model leaves out is just as important as what it includes.
  5. By definition, a model has nothing to say about what it doesn’t include.
  6. Being as complex as reality itself, the human mind cannot be modeled.
  7. Nothing is real in the human world unless we can experience it.

These seven points are unarguable. Human beings didn’t invent or imagine them. They arise from simple logic, and they pertain to any worldview, including the religious and mystical. Attributing creation to God or to the Big Bang is logically consistent within its own framework and logically flawed outside that framework.

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A model of DNA, for example, explains the structure of living cells, but it says nothing about where life came from. An origins story about life is just that, a story. Similarly, a brain scan can tell you about the firing of neurons in specific areas of the brain, such as the visual cortex. But it says nothing about how the total darkness inside the brain produces the sensation of light and color.

 

When physics declares, as it does regularly, that a Theory of Everything is possible and will one day be arrived at, this “everything” is purely material—it accounts for the four basic subatomic forces in Nature. A reasonable definition of “everything” would also have to include human experience—the search for theories, after all, is itself an experience. But the Theory of Everything excludes human experience, and therefore constitutes an extremely limited definition of wholeness.

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Wholeness is peculiar in that it’s totally necessary for our existence and yet completely inconceivable. Without the universe being exactly what it is, down to the minutest ingredient, the human brain could not have evolved. Yet the human brain isn’t an adequate instrument for understanding how every element was coordinated, either by chance or by some unseen consciousness, to arrive at where we are in our evolution.

 

The eminent physicist Henry Stapp was a student of two great quantum pioneers, Wolfgang-Pauli and Werner Heisenberg. Stapp recalls that in private conversation, Heisenberg believed for his mathematical framework to make sense, there needed to be what he called an “Objective-Mind”. Such a mind orchestrates the cosmos, which is how objective observation suggests so strongly that behind the appearance of random events, reality is self-organizing, purposeful, and continuously evolving. By analogy, if Rembrandt were invisible, an outside observer would see his brush dip randomly into a palette of colors, and yet the picture being produced assumes definite form, shape, and meaning.

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Stapp himself holds to a view originated by another great predecessor, John von Neumann, that “the state of the universe is an objective compendium of subjective knowings.” In other words, the facts collected by science are at the same time subjectively experienced. The “mind of God” has cropped up in scientific discourse form time to time—Einstein used the phrase—as something more than a metaphor but less than a proven fact. It points to a source of infinite potential from which the universe draws its orderliness and at the same time the human mind is able to recognize such orderliness.

 

If wholeness is inconceivable and two worldviews compete on equal footing, a question arises. Which viewpoint should people hold to in their daily lives? We will address this thorny question in the next post.

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(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 13th Disciple: A Spiritual Adventure.

 

Previous Posts

How to Be at Peace When the World Isn't
We seem to be living out the Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times." The curse is probably mythical, but our interesting times contain much turbulence. The horrific refugee situation in Syria, the rise of the even more horrific ISIS ...

posted 11:11:24am May. 04, 2015 | read full post »

Does Everything Happen for a Reason?
By Deepak Chopra, MD, and Jordan Flesher, MA Psychology   The human mind can adapt to almost anything, but not chaos. No one can lead a completely random and chaotic life. The messy room of a teenager may look completely chaotic, but ...

posted 1:54:05pm Apr. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Is Physics the Next Guru?
The worldview of modern physics teases us with spiritual suggestions like the discovery—premature it seems—of the “God particle.” That nickname embarrasses some in the field, but ever since Fritjof Capra’s book The Tao of Physics, the ...

posted 11:48:13am Apr. 20, 2015 | read full post »

Synchronicity, Evolution, and Your Genes (Part 3)
  By Deepak Chopra, MD, and Jordan Flesher, MA Psychology   Two views of the universe have been contending with each other to explain why human beings exist. The first view holds that human beings are not special in any way. ...

posted 10:38:46am Apr. 13, 2015 | read full post »

Synchronicity, Evolution, and Your Genes (Part 2)
Everyone has had a meaningful coincidence happen to them--the classic example is thinking of someone's name and the next minute that person telephones, or seeing an unusual word in your mind's eye and then running across that word the next time ...

posted 12:03:58am Apr. 06, 2015 | read full post »

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