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Deepak Chopra and Intent

Deepak Chopra and Intent

Synchronicity, Evolution, and Your Genes (Part 1)

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

 

Over the past decade, the hunt for genetic connections with behavior as intensified. For any experience, there must be a physical activity in the brain—otherwise, the experience has no basis. Using this irrefutable assumption, researchers have looked for the seat of anger, criminal behavior, gender identification, the sense of self, and many other aspects of human nature. This includes spirituality. Where is God in the brain? To many neuroscientists, that’s not only a valid question but the only one worth asking, insofar as spiritual experiences have any reality.

Now we are hearing about “God in the genes,” as genetics overtakes neuroscience for the top spot in explaining the roots of human experience. Where the brain operates only in the present, genetics peers deep into the past. A geneticist would want to know what evolutionary advantage early humans got from being spiritual—in the broadest sense of the word—that led to a better chance to survive. This whole line of inquiry, whether we’re taking about the brain or our genes, makes sense if you are a materialist. But it runs the danger of saying that spirituality is only about the physical side of the experience, as if music could never be discussed except by looking at pianos and radios, the physical side of delivering the musical experience.

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The materialist explanation is filled with philosophical flaws, but instead of focusing on that, it’s more productive to ask how the brain and genes relate to spiritual experience. The physical side must be accounted for, without making it the whole story. To explore a new kind of explanation that embraces both the physical and non-physical, let’s examine an experience that most people have had. Without experiencing God, angels, the soul, or other traditionally religious things, almost everyone has had at least one or two inexplicable coincidences in their lives.

 

Synchronicity is the commonly used term for a meaningful coincidence, such as thinking someone’s name and having that person telephone a few seconds later, or opening a book at random and finding the answer to a problem you’ve been wrestling with. Synchronicity doesn’t feel random, which is how it is differentiated from coincidences that have no meaning but happen by chance. The spiritual link involves how to explain a meaningful coincidence. When someone is rescued through a string of chance events, did God intervene? If a car is stranded by the side of the road and a stranger appears out of nowhere to offer help, is God answering a need or a prayer? Events without causes lead to all kinds of unusual explanations.

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The term synchronicity was coined by the eminent Swiss psychologist Carl Jung for a phenomenon he experienced with clients in psychotherapy. He first publically discussed synchronicity in a short essay describing synchronicity as an “acausal connecting principle”. By using the word acausal he is pointing to the non-local nature of synchronicity. Non-locality is one of the major principles in quantum physics. Non-locality refers to behavior between particles that doesn’t need a specific cause or location in spacetime. Hitting a billiard ball with a cue entails both a cause and a location. The location is the point where the tip of the cue strikes the ball. The force of the strike is the cause that moves the ball.

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But in the quantum domain there is a mystery known as action at a distance, where two particles react to each other instantaneously, even though they can be separated by light years. The action occurs without regard for distance or the limitation of the speed of light. Action at a distance has been popularly explained as “You tickle the universe here, and it laughs over there.” Two particles that mirror each other’s behavior are said to be entangled, although the mechanism behind action at a distance is unknown. Entanglement fits the mathematical model underlying quantum mechanics, and that is what counts when physics is arriving at reliable, precise calculations.

In the everyday world, however, non-locality is about people, not particles. It’s part of human experience to have a meaningful coincidence happen that feels too profound—or too spooky—to feel random. A strict materialist would dismiss such feelings as unreliable and subjective, but “meaningful” isn’t simply subjective. Finding meaning in our lives, from any source, is essential. So how can we fit synchronicity into a broader context?

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The key is to connect inner and outer, because synchronicity is about an event “out there” that has sudden meaning “in here.” To make the connection, nine principles apply to genuinely synchronous coincidences.

  1. Synchronicity is a conspiracy of improbabilities. The entangled events break the boundaries of statistical probability).
  2. The improbable events conspiring to create the synchronistic event are acausally related to each other. (Buddhist traditions call this interdependent co-arising. This is the equivalent of non-local correlation.)
  3. Synchronistic events are orchestrated in the non-local domain.
  4. As we become aware of synchronistic events, we move to higher or more expanded states of consciousness.
  5. Synchronistic events are actually the result of an intention, which organizes the needed outcome. (The intention may have been introduced consciously or unconsciously.)
  6. Synchronistic events vary in importance. They can seem incidental or can change the course of a person’s life.
  7. Synchronistic events affect our emotions the way random coincidences don’t. A synchronous event creates the experience of emotional fulfillment and joy.
  8. Synchronistic events allow us to discover the meaning and purpose of our life.
  9. Synchronistic events are personal. In effect they are messages from our non-local self.

 

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Taken together, these principles enable us to receive clues about the essential unity of two realities that seem to be separate: the inner world of thoughts, feelings, memories, fantasies, desires, and intentions, and the outer world of spacetime events.  The inner and outer are the same field, one non-dual consciousness that simultaneously creates both the subjective world and the objective world.

Therefore, synchronicity isn’t simply a passing anomaly that can be shrugged off. Something crucial is happening. In the next post we’ll discuss the implications of that something as it applies to everyday life.

 

(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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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 

 

Previous Posts

Synchronicity, Evolution, and Your Genes (Part 1)
By Deepak Chopra, MD, and Jordan Flesher, BA Psychology   Over the past decade, the hunt for genetic connections with behavior as intensified. For any experience, there must be a physical activity in the brain—otherwise, the experience has no basis. Using this irrefutable assumption, re

posted 10:56:38am Mar. 30, 2015 | read full post »

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 »

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