Deepak Chopra and Intent

Deepak Chopra and Intent

A New World or No World? (Part 3)

posted by dchopra

Continuing the list of what we need in terms of awareness to prevail in difficult times:
3 A vision of the future.
When people are asleep, the future is a repetition of the past, because inertia can do little else. Conservation, the party of inertia, represents the impulse in each of us not to wake up –it says “Leave me alone. I like the way I am.” The growth of consciousness never happens until a person overcomes inertia first. All progress occurs first at the level of consciousness and then, as if by magic, a discovery appears in the outer world. A famous example is the discovery of penicillin. In the lab millions of petri dishes had been thrown out because common air-borne Penicillium mold had contaminated the bacteria that a researcher wanted to culture. The mold was a nuisance until Alexander Fleming saw instead that killing bacteria was a positive thing — he was awake to a new possibility. The key was a change of perception.
New discoveries don’t occur because Nature suddenly reveals more of its potential. All of Nature is available all the time. We are the discoverers of hidden dimensions in ourselves, and a tiny flicker of waking up stimulates new revelations. Ultimately, science is a way for mind to speak to itself — it’s an inner exploration that leads to external findings. But at the present moment, with reactionary forces so dominant, there is no viable vision of tomorrow. By definition reactionary forces want to freeze progress, usually by idealizing the past and grossly exaggerating the risk of moving forward.
4. The courage and will to carry out that vision.
The unknown is frightening to contemplate (a fear bolstered by anything that represents losing control over our surroundings — e.g. oil prices, nuclear proliferation, terrorism, and a planet made unstable by global warming. But being uncertain is also necessary. Finding a new way means destroying and old way, and nobody can predict what happens when both forces hit each other head on.
It takes courage to discard what we know — the tried and true, the comfortable and reassuring . It takes no courage to enforce “traditional values.” Traditionalism rarely, if ever, advanced the world at large. However, that lesson must be relearned over and over, because fear is ever-present. It must be surmounted every day. Driving fear away doesn’t solve anything; it only sets the stage for what really solves problems: quantum leaps in creativity, new discoveries, liberating insights.
Clearly we are at a point where traditionalism has shown far more negatives than positives. Religious intolerance taints the churches and mosques, homophobia and anti-immigration taint the desire for community. We live at a time when traditional values shouldn’t be allowed to hold consciousness back. After all, it wasn’t long ago that racism was a tradition — the recent Democratic primaries in West Virginia and Kentucky show how enduring that tradition is. Courage is a dynamic quality. It must be seized eery day. Courage is the implementing force of vision, and both begin in consciousness.
5. A viable definition of personal happiness.
In the end, arriving at a new world comes down to what makes us happy. We use oil because driving our own cars and traveling at will makes us happier than being limited to railroads and mass transit. Reformers lament that more people don’t give up their cars and resort to mass transit. When you think about why they don’t, the answer isn’t decades of cheap gas, ingrained American selfishness, or a crass indulgence in personal pleasure over the health of the planet. We don’t change to a new way of life because we are following an old way of happiness. Duty and guilt tell us to save the planet. But another voice speaks louder, and it asks if we would be giving up our happiness. Global warming won’t be solved by lecturing the human race about saving the polar bear.
Here we face the most difficult challenge of all. Our conception of happiness has to move away from materialism. Every wise teacher has declared that external comforts are unreliable and not to be trusted. Christ didn’t say “The Kingdom of God is within a four-bedroom condo.” He said it lies within us. In India, turning inward became a powerful social force because people agreed that the inner path was real and desirable. To back up this conviction, .most ancient people looked around and saw disease, poverty, and violence in all directions. The seductions of money and physical comfort weren’t present. Our situation now teeters on the rink of peril, too. We have reached a crossroads that appears only once or twice a century. Two roads aren’t diverging in a yellow wood, however the divide exists in consciousness. The world’s wisdom traditions inform us which way to go. Only time will tell if waking up was the way we chose. If so, peril will turn into a creative opportunity. The other way surely leads into more inertia, reactionary values, dead habit, and worst of all, deeper and deeper sleep.

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posted July 1, 2008 at 8:01 am

Good morning Deepak,
Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us here.
I am curious as to this reading regarding inertia and waking up. I think there was the inertia when I was a teenager because I lived in my parent’s shadow, under their rules and it was all sameness. Since I’ve been an adult I’ve shaken that shadow and made my own rules that were in line with society but also brought me comfort. I’ve reached out into the community by joining groups designed to improve and comfort the lives of others. I’ve gotten involved in politics and some degrees of religion while enjoying the comforts I’ve worked hard to gain for myself.
I love this life. It is exciting and productive. I am not seeing a reason to change everything that I love and have worked for. I do not have inertia. My government is making massive changes against my (and others) wishes. These changes will remove most things my life has been based upon since kindergarten days. Now, I’m wondering if somewhere in this picture, I am not quite awake enough to accept it gracefully, or if they could be doing a great wrong. How do I find out the answer without diving into the boiling water? Once done, it is too late to return.
Thank you

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posted August 10, 2008 at 12:41 am

Dear Dr.Chopra,
I really enjoyed reading this post, as I do most of your other work! I completely agree with you that it is not that people DON’T care; it is that people care, but are too COMFORTABLE with where they are to give anything up. Either that, or there are just too many pressures from other areas that denies them them the ability to focus on such higher ideals as world improvement … for example, being a college student myself, it is simply too hard to give up one’s comforts, and once into the semester, it is simply too difficult to think about anything besides one’s school work. Then, there are pressures from friends to go out drinking/partying, etc. which I don’t engage in, but find too many of my friends doing so. Not that they are careless about the world; I know that they do. It is just that they feel helpless, or have far more immediate concerns to attend to. As for the adults I see around me, well they are far too busy with going to work (in their cars, of course) and dealing with the daily day-to-day events to think about much else. It is not that they don’t care; it is that thare are more immediate concerns in mind. And life is working well so far…why change?
But it MUST be changed … I know that. I just don’t know … how.

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