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Deepak Chopra and Intent

Deepak Chopra and Intent

How the Universe Pulled a Vanishing Act

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The issues facing modern physics are so baffling that they’ve crossed a threshold and now fascinate the general public. We laymen have very little at stake, personally speaking, when scientists argue over the Big Bang—without advanced mathematical training, it’s all but impossible to follow the arguments. But we do have a stake when the universe starts to disappear, as it is doing right this minute.

 

The cosmic vanishing act began, approximately, when dark matter and dark energy showed up on the radar of cosmology. “Dark” is a misleading term, because the space between the stars is pitch black, but it isn’t dark in the way that dark matter and energy are. They are dark as in totally mysterious. No light is given off by them, or any known form of energy we associate with the universe. They cannot be measured, and so far as anyone can guess, dark matter is probably not constituted of anything resembling atoms or subatomic particles.

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The reason that dark matter and energy are important is arcane to the layman, having to do with the fact that instead of moving apart at a constant rate or slowing down, the galaxies are accelerating as they move away from each other. This acceleration defies gravity, so at the very least dark energy is some species of antigravity (to put it in very general terms—the actual nature of this unknown force is complex, arcane, and much speculated over).

 

Even knowing this, you may shrug your shoulders and ignore such an abstruse problem, until you discover that only around 4% of the created universe is accounted for by the matter and energy visible to the eye or to scientific instruments, bound up in galaxies and interstellar dust. The vast majority, around 96% is dark, hence unknown. Far beyond the abstractions of scientific theory, the known and knowable universe slipped out of reach—that’s the cosmic vanishing act.

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Annoyed physicists can attach comments to the effect that a mere layman has no business poking his ignorant nose into their profession, a line of inquiry where quantum mechanics is boasted of as the most precise theory in scientific history.  Which is laudable, but it does seem as if someone has patched a hole in a flat tire and claims to have built the whole car. As headlines are grabbed by the discoveries made at billion-dollar particle accelerators, the whole fabric of reality is being shredded to tatters.

 

If you have heard the terms multiverse, string theory, superstring theory, and dark matter and energy, you need to realize the unmentioned problems with all of them:

 

  1. None of these things called strings, superstrings, or multiverses has ever been observed.
  2. There is every likelihood that they never will be observed.
  3. None can be experimented upon in order to prove whether they exist or not. (There are supposedly some exceptions having to do with prying evidence out of the quantum field for dark matter, but no success yet.)
  4. There is a good chance that the hidden fabric of reality cannot in fact be known through scientific means. Dark matter and energy, for example, if they are outside the framework of all forms of discovered matter and energy, may be so alien to our brains (which are composed of that ordinary matter and energy) that they are literally inconceivable.
  5. If 96% of creation is conceivable, all the brilliant mathematical models in the world can’t undo the fact that the universe, as we conceive of it, has vanished.

 

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These aren’t just theoretical difficulties. What we are finding out is that reality isn’t what science has been describing. Instead, science has been relying on an assumption that measuring something and fitting it into a neat mathematical model is the same as knowing what’s real. This is like a deaf person examining a graph of the sound frequencies associated with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and claiming that he knows the music. The fact that you have a map in your hands doesn’t mean you have experienced the territory.

 

Someone should have predicted the vanishing universe long ago. The famous physicist-astronomer Sir Arthur Eddington is often quoted as saying, “Something unknown is doing we don’t know what.” These words are generally taken as a quip from an era decades ago before physics had figured out so much about the cosmos that a Theory of Everything was just around the corner. But the quip should be taken soberly. Even a confident mind like Stephen Hawking has more or less given up on the Theory of Everything, settling for a patchwork of smaller theories that will serve to explain local domains of physics.

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Yet the obvious point to be drawn isn’t technical and requires no Oxbridge postgraduate degrees: Reality is still unknown. The more one contemplates this strange situation, the more uneasy the situation becomes.

 

Aren’t all these subatomic particles getting us closer to the nature of matter and energy? No, because at bottom, matter isn’t material. It isn’t tangible or visible.

 

Doesn’t scientific research count for anything? That depends. If most of the universe is totally inconceivable—or even well hidden—empirical data has reached its limit. The so-called subempirical domain may be running the whole show.

 

But surely the scientific method is the greatest tool ever devised by the rational mind. It has gotten us where we are today, at the height of understanding Nature, hasn’t it? Dubious. All theories ae right about what they include and wrong about what they exclude.  The scientific method, with its basis in reducing difficult problems to manageable bits and pieces that can be explicated, happens to exclude consciousness. It fails to entertain that we haven’t the slightest idea how the brain’s gray matter produces the mind. There is no biological basis for thinking. No one knows what preceded the Big Bang, if that’s even a meaningful question, since the Big Bang may be the beginning of time and space as we know it.

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These aren’t just gaps in a fabric that needs mending and more weaving. They strike at the false assumption that if you measure a thing, you know the thing. Reality can’t be modeled; it’s infinite, every-changing, mostly hidden from view, based on inconceivable beginnings, and at times walled off even from mathematics, the primary language of science.

 

So what’s next? In practical terms, the world will crank along doing what it’s already doing, and this inertia applies to science too. No doubt 99% of practicing scientists go to work without considering any of the points I’ve raised. Why bother—the whole thing sounds like metaphysics, which 20th-century science assumed was dead and buried.

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What matters isn’t so much the fate of science, which has created its own self-sustained world. But it’s unsettling to realize that, “Something unknown is doing we don’t know what.” More than unsettling. Humans want to know what’s real and what’s not. Our minds depend on it, and it’s with our minds that we are human. Until the mind can touch reality and be sure that it’s not an illusion, the human project has been stalled, and scientific reassurances aren’t going to help us move forward again.

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 Nature About to Abandon Us?

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Feeling guilty about climate change hasn’t proved to be a good motivator. The most recent report on greenhouse gas emissions puts March at a record-breaking level of emissions. Presidential urging doesn’t move Congress to take significant steps at solving the issue. The world community passes well-meaning resolutions that don’t lead to major global cooperation.

 

We are headed on a downward track, and everybody knows it. But we already know that guilt is a poor motivator. Fear is somewhat better, because it implies imminent harm, yet if the Earth is the Titanic and climate change is the iceberg, there’s enough open sea between us and catastrophe to lull the passengers into one more round of champagne and caviar.

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I’m convinced that the problem will only be solved through higher awareness, not in a lofty spiritual sense but simply by applying self-awareness in place of guilt and fear. Instead of turning our backs on possibilities we’re afraid to confront, we could embrace a positive emotion that everyone agrees upon, which is the feeling that humanity is bound with Nature.  What we’re up against is the equivalent, more than a century ago, of the mass distress over losing faith in God. Only in our time, we are about to lose faith in Nature.

 

It’s still shocking that the rise in ocean temperature of only a few degrees should lead to such rapid and devastating effects: extreme weather patterns, die offs of coral reefs, melting of the polar ice caps and more. It’s like finding out that someone you love and trust has turned away because of a spat you can barely remember.

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The Earth outdoes any lover in its nurturing relationship to human beings, and life in general. We barely understand the intricate ways in which our genes are woven into the fabric of life, but it is known that microbes dating back billions of years were key in building human DNA and continue to play a major role in it to this day. There is no us-versus-them when it comes to planetary life. Earth’s loss is our personal loss, Earth’s gain our personal gain.

 

In the simple idea of “I am the Earth, the Earth is me,” we could educate future generations to take a completely new and healing attitude. For centuries the theme of man conquering Nature has treated the planet on a war footing. Many people, including the most educated and responsible, still implicitly hold this view, only the tables have turned. Nature is winning the battle. We all understand, even if we can’t admit it to ourselves, that Homo sapiens could disappear overnight and the Earth wouldn’t notice. The ecology would rebalance itself in our absence, given a period of adjustment.

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The result, in our own mentality, is a push-pull between hating what the planet is doing to us and taking responsibility for the harm we have done to it. Neither attitude is productive. The institutions that govern wealth and prosperity, from Wall Street to the local power company, coal mines, car makers, and so on, will defend the status quo because, in the end, we ask them to. They advocate selfish denial as our proxies.

 

Which means, if you follow this line of reasoning, that only a shift in awareness can cut through old conditioned habits. Awareness is infinitely more important than an action plan. Action plans built insane nuclear stockpiles during the Cold War. Awareness created that war and eventually a shift in awareness ended it. The same is true of climate change. Our actions keep it going. Our attitudes will either change it or await disaster with white-knuckle dread.

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We need to instigate, in our children and in ourselves, some beliefs that are true if we make them true.

  • The Earth exists to nurture all life, with no special treatment for human beings.
  • In humility and gratitude we revere all life.
  • Morality consists in doing no harm to life.
  • Our personal happiness doesn’t depend on conquering Nature.
  • Cooperation with natural forces is the only way past the imbalances we’ve caused.
  • We can trust Nature to support our evolution if we support planetary balance.

 

None of these are revolutionary ideas, and being realistic, they won’t save us until a critical mass of the world’s population starts to adopt them. But it’s valuable to know what the life-saving beliefs actually are, as opposed to the self-destructive ones humanity has been stuck with in the industrial and post-industrial age. How insane is it, after all, to build weapons of mechanized death that drain hundreds of billions of dollars out of the economy while spending a pittance to avoid the iceberg that our luxury liner is heading toward so inexorably?

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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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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.

 

 

Previous Posts

How the Universe Pulled a Vanishing Act
The issues facing modern physics are so baffling that they’ve crossed a threshold and now fascinate the general public. We laymen have very little at stake, personally speaking, when scientists argue over the Big Bang—without advanced ...

posted 11:01:48am May. 18, 2015 | read full post »

Is Nature About to Abandon Us?
Feeling guilty about climate change hasn’t proved to be a good motivator. The most recent report on greenhouse gas emissions puts March at a record-breaking level of emissions. Presidential urging doesn’t move Congress to take significant ...

posted 2:42:12pm May. 11, 2015 | read full post »

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 »

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