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Deepak Chopra and Intent

Deepak Chopra and Intent

The Best Way to Get Rid of Evil

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By Deepak Chopra, MD.

 

The best way to get rid of evil is to change our ideas about it. The two concepts about evil that do nothing to end it are, first, the concept of cosmic evil embodied by Satan, and second, the concept of human evil as a permanent human inheritance, part of  our nature.

If you Google the phrase “Americans believe in heaven,” you find that about 90 percent do, with 75 percent believing in hell and 70 percent in the devil. Those statistics remain fairly uniform from poll to poll; it’s strange that there’s a drop off between heaven and hell since the two go together in the mind. However, it seems possible that believing in the devil is a matter of having nothing better to put in his place. Evil so perplexes people that attributing it to a cosmic Prince of Darkness provides some explanation at least. It saves the trouble of taking responsibility for evil ourselves.

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As a practical matter Satan is all but useless. The number of people who have met him is minuscule. After coming back from near-death experiences, only a small fraction of reports picture hell and its torments; the vast majority experience a benign light and feel a divine presence. Perhaps this is a sign, psychologically or spiritually, that Satan is withering away –over 85 percent of Americans say that they expect to go to heaven, and fear of hell isn’t used so intensely by organized religion to frighten children anymore.

Despite the prominent place that old-fashioned sin and the devil occupy in fundamentalism of every stripe, Satan has been culturally evolving over the years. Theologians now describe him as an archetype, myth, psychological projection, or a symptom of guilt and shame. It is indisputable that Satan rises and falls according to changing conditions in society, which means that evil is changing, too. Original sin, which once brought evil into the world as an inevitable birthright, has largely been replaced by evil as a psychological force, which means it has the potential to be treated as a mental disorder and healed.

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Inherent evil, whether satanic or human, becomes more real under the following conditions:

–People feel they deserve punishment instead of healing.
–A culture believes in the Satan myth.
–Believers pay attention to that myth and give it value.
–Guilt is projected outward on to demons instead of healed inside.
–Wrong-doing accumulates without a means for finding forgiveness, atonement, or purification.
–Children are put in fear of demons and told that they have power.

Evil, satanic or psychological, becomes less real under the following conditions:

–People feel they deserve healing instead of punishment.
–A culture is aware of how myths are made.
–People are self-aware and take responsibility for their own emotions.
–There is a belief in forgiveness, healing, and atonement.
–Outlets for negative energies are found (through therapy, sports, open dialogue, healthy family dynamics, education, etc.)
–Children are not conditioned to believe in demons ad other external enemies.
–Society promotes the evolution of consciousness.

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By these standards one can say that modern America is moving further away from Satan, as it has been for a century. What’s harder to measure is whether the grip of evil has been easing psychologically. The most important step is to accept responsibility for one’s own sense of wrongdoing and judgment against the self. Evil isn’t an inevitable part of human nature once we realize that we have the power to shape human nature and make it evolve.

Perhaps that sounds too optimistic given the prevalence of fanaticism and religious fundamentalism in the world, and I’m not slighting war, crime, and other forms of destructive violence. But I take heart that dying people no longer tremble at the prospect of meeting Satan and that those who come back from near-death experiences haven’t met him. In addition, the number of people dying in mass warfare has declined drastically, along with despotic regimes. Slim evidence, I know, but promising.

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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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Can Wisdom Save Us? Why It Has To (Part 2)

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Although almost everyone fears the effects of climate change and deplores the inaction of governments around the world, neither attitude gets us any closer to solving the problem. Many pin their hopes on a breakthrough in technology that could somehow clean the atmosphere of greenhouse gases, while others resign themselves–and the world–to accepting global warming as a fait accompli that we must adjust to. In the first post of this series it was proposed that humanity has reached a turning point. Not just climate change but several other global problems (for example, AIDS, pandemics, overpopulation, a lack of clean drinking water) will be unsolvable unless our evolution as a species changes course.

For centuries human evolution has primarily depended on how we use our minds. Natural selection, random genetic mutations, and raw competition for food and mating privileges, which form the foundation of Darwinian evolution, either don’t apply to us anymore or have been drastically minimized, pushed to the fringes while mental evolution occupies center stage.

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The mental activities that have dominated recorded history are mixed, some being evolutionary and others self-destructive. These effects pull against one another, making the picture more confusing. Aggression, competition, and war are closely related in the psyche, and who can say that the benefits of one isn’t tied to the defects of the others? The competitive spirit that drives computer technology also drives arms production. War is annihilating in its destructiveness, but generations of males in particular have felt that the experience of battle was essential to true masculinity. Compassion looks like a completely positive trait, yet it can make you vulnerable to physical attack, as the Christian martyrs were to Roman persecution.

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Even supposedly value-neutral activities like pure science aren’t really so pure when somewhere down the line a bit of pure research gets applied to make chemical and biological weapons. The most benign applications, like the development of antibiotics, can have devastating effects as resistant strains of bacteria become more lethal every day.  If you reduce this complicated picture to the most basic physiological principle, wanting more pleasure and less pain, the things that bring us pleasure turn out to cause pain somehow or other. The fact is that even global warming, about which we feel guilty, can be traced to the normal desire to enjoy the good life, complete with cars, electricity, factories, power plants, and other necessities that turn out to have destructive consequences for the planet.

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We are at a turning point, then, because allowing human nature to run its course, bringing the bitter with the sweet, peace with war, pleasure with pain, and so on, no longer works. Its evolutionary value has diminished to the point that the nasty byproducts of human nature, like war, unregulated greed, rampant consumerism, and toxic nationalism, can no longer be tolerated. We are reaping the results of ill-considered choices, excusing our lack of action for various reasons that never held water in the first place. Allowing nation states to go to war was unacceptable even before World War I led to a century of catastrophic civilian deaths, and the reason world War I didn’t turn into “the war to end all wars” is that human beings failed to look at themselves and take evolution into their own hands.

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When the problem is mental, the solution is also mental. In our consciousness lies the solution to every intractable problem. Survival of the wisest, a phrase popularized by Jonas Salk, represents the biggest evolutionary step in human history that entirely depends upon self-awareness. To date we’ve focused on looking outward in various ways, from conquering Nature to conquering the country next door, and the activity of looking inward was relegated to a minor place occupied by a motley crew of sages, saints, artists, psychologists, and visionaries.

 

Now the motley crew occupies the high ground. Every day brings evidence that our greatest need as a species is self-awareness. The person who cannot control his anger can turn into a lone wolf performing an act of terror. A president too eager for revenge can throw a nation into an ill-considered foreign war. A power company avid for profits can stubbornly block laws to limit carbon emissions. Human nature feels individual, but the survival of the wisest has to be collective, a kind of global awakening that begins with the individual but gets accepted as a social aspiration.

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This is a very general template, leading to a wide array of projects and action steps, like the following:

– Communities choosing to adopt energy plans that don’t depend on fossil fuels.

– Corporate activists pressuring their boards to go green.

– Pushing pension funds to withdraw support for anti-ecological activity.

– Citizen groups forming around goals that are evolutionary, from micro-investments in the developing world to providing sources of clean water.

– Active political organizing to elect pro-environmental officials.

 

None of these activities are original ideas, and some have yet to coalesce into real power bases. But the whole point isn’t to keep looking outward for action plans but to look inward and develop self-awareness. If enough people begin to do this, the right and necessary solutions will begin to emerge on their own. This is the step that is most evolutionary and yet the hardest to believe in. Exchanging brute force, political pressure, corporate ambitions, and technology for inner values represents a huge step. But survival of the wisest is the only way forward. We’ve exhausted all the outer strategies while ignoring the real problem, our own unexamined consciousness. The Greek maxim that the unexamined life isn’t worth living has been ignored on a mass scale. Now it’s become a matter of surviving or not.

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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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Can Wisdom Save Us? Why It Has To

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 

 

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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.

 

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  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.

 

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  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.

 

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  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.

 

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  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.

 

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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 

Previous Posts

The Best Way to Get Rid of Evil
    By Deepak Chopra, MD.   The best way to get rid of evil is to change our ideas about it. The two concepts about evil that do nothing to end it are, first, the concept of cosmic evil embodied by Satan, and second, the concept of human evil as a permanent human inheritan

posted 11:07:42am Mar. 23, 2015 | read full post »

Can Wisdom Save Us? Why It Has To (Part 2)
Although almost everyone fears the effects of climate change and deplores the inaction of governments around the world, neither attitude gets us any closer to solving the problem. Many pin their hopes on a breakthrough in technology that could somehow clean the atmosphere of greenhouse gases, while

posted 11:58:46am Mar. 02, 2015 | read full post »

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 »

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