Deepak Chopra and Intent

Deepak Chopra and Intent

A Book That Peers into Eternity

posted by dchopra

An article written for the Washington Post On Faith section.
There’s a single book that I reread every year: “I Am That” by Nisargadatta Maharaj (1897-1981). The title is a quotation. In India the goal of enlightenment is to see reality as a whole. When all illusion has fallen away, one looks around and can say, with complete confidence, “I am That, you are That, and all this is That.”
What does the word “That” mean? It means the essence of existence. What does the essence of existence mean? There is no adequate definition, and therefore a huge mystification has built up around “That.” Nisargadatta
Maharaj, whose name is almost totally unknown in the West, comes as close as possible to putting pure essence into words. In my experience, every reader who has discovered his book considers it magical, and those of us who treasure it feel that it opens a window into eternity, in part because of what Nisargatta says, but much more because of its astonishing ability to change the reader.
The Wikipedia article on Nisargadatta informs us that the 1973 publication of “I Am That” made him world famous. That’s a stretch, but the book did rise to the top of required reading in modern Indian spirituality.
The text is made up entirely of transcripts of informal talks given above the tiny shop that Nisargadatta ran in Mumbai. He himself couldn’t write, being an uneducated farm boy who moved to the big city. He reached
enlightenment in a remarkable way. As he walked behind his plow in his native village, he reminded himself that he was the essence of Being, not a person with human limitations. Or to be precise, his guru told him “You are
That.”
There’s a single book that I reread every year: “I Am That” by Nisargadatta Maharaj (1897-1981). The title is a quotation. In India the goal of enlightenment is to see reality as a whole. When all illusion has fallen away, one looks around and can say, with complete confidence, “I am That, you are That, and all this is That.”
It is believed in India that the liberated state, or Moksha, takes hundreds of lifetimes to attain. One supposes, then, that this illiterate farm boy must have prepared a long time for the breakthrough into enlightenment. So
far as we know he never practiced spiritual disciplines. As he put it, his guru told him “You are That,” and Nisargadatta believed him.
I won’t give away what Nisargadatta talks about in this book — he is never trivial, however. One is immediately transported into his extraordinary presence. Just as reading one scene of Hamlet is enough to convince you
that Shakespeare is a great writer, reading five pages of Nisargadatta convinces you (if you can be convinced at all) that this untutored man is in touch with deepest wisdom — he breathes an air more rarefied than ours. He
possesses a quality we struggle to express in English– absolute knowingness. As simply as Nisargadatta speaks — simple enough to be understood by a ten-year-old — the effect upon the reader is powerful
enough to cause deep sympathy and trust, and in some readers there is actual transformation. Every time I reread “I Am That,” I close the book convinced that the world would change entirely if everyone in it took
Nisaargadatta’s wisdom to heart.
www.intentblog.com
www.deepakchopra.com
http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/deepak_chopra/

A New World or No World? (Part 2)

posted by dchopra

Eighty years after the great economist John Maynard Keynes observed that the market is psychological and goes up and down primarily because of how investors feel, few people grasp how profound he was. We still rely on objective standards that are only marginally credible: graphs and models, price swings turned into predictive software, and battling academic theories that never come to a consensus. But understanding Keynes’s insight is absolutely vital, and then going even further to comprehend why we behave the way we do. For a new world to be born, a new mindset is necessary. “Mind before money” encapsulates the truth. There has never been a more threatening time for the U.S. and the global economy since the Great Depression and the era of totalitarianism.
The future depends on consciousness in undeniable ways. Here are the major factors:
1. Self-confidence and optimism.
2. Giving value to things that really matter.
3 A vision of the future.
4. The courage and will to carry out that vision.
5. A viable definition of personal happiness.
Today, the vast majority of decision-making rarely takes these factors into account. Instead, we pretend that economics is a science, and we measure success sheerly in terms of wealth. We maximize selfishness while encouraging the neglect of others. As a result, huge portions of the world’s population have in essence been thrown away. Human beings are now disposable because they are economic pawns. For example, Thailand’s economy was devastated in the 90s by currency speculators on /Wall St. who first inflated the Thai economy as part of the “Asian miracle”, and then allowed it to collapse once the returns of speculation had run their course from boom to bust. The immorality of an outside agency destroying innocent people’s lives meant nothing when Thailand was reduced to a computer model that set to jump ship as soon as profits dropped below expectations. The vaunted free market may “work,” but only if you’re willing to take no responsibility for the harm it does in human terms.
Let’s evaluate what it means to look at markets as Keynes suggested, as a byproduct of how people feel.
1. Self-confidence and optimism.
These qualities emerge naturally when people are prosperous. They dwindle in the face of adversity, just when they are most needed. The trick is how to remain confident under pressure and optimistic when the going gets rough. At present, objective measures of confidence and optimism are basically useless. They are seen wrongly as byproducts of money. We have diminish ourselves into pawns of outside forces. But if that view is false, what replaces it?
The answer is consciousness. People gain in confidence and optimism when they have self-esteem, when they can successfully carry out big projects, overcome obstacles, and acquire an unshakable sense of their own worth and skills — all subjective qualities. Growth of consciousness is the only viable way to obtain inner stability under stress. Look at the American economy. People were made confident by getting richer, but once the housing market retreated by a small degree, near panic set in. Our confidence, it turned out, was tied to low mortgages, high salaries, and cheap goods at the mall. The shallowness of “consumer confidence” is obvious. What’s not so obvious is that true confidence must stand up to change and rise above downturns. By ignoring consciousness and clinging to money, we opened ourselves up to crippling insecurity.
2. Giving value to things that really matter.
In the past, people inherited their sense of value, which came to them ready made and second-hand. Religion, for example, held that nothing mattered more than faith (in Christianity, at least). Obedience was rewarded by God. Original sin doomed humanity to perpetual guilt and whatever could heal that guilt. But with the astonishing rise of science, not only was religion displaced, but it left a vacuum of values. People became more and more free to decide for themselves what really mattered. The good news is that each person could espouse values that don’t come from the outside, imposed by authority. The bad news is that false and trivial values rushed in to fill the vacuum, far ahead of meaningful values.
In the consumer culture that arose, a gorgeous supermodel, a Mercedes, five bedrooms, and the right labels on your clothes leave us helpless to deal with something like global warming. We are submerged in distractions and pulled into a spiral of narcissism. Fickle desire trumps stable human values, and in time consciousness gets stuck in a self-indulgent rut. The greatest harm, however, was done out of sight. Awareness became dull and detached. This is what spiritual teachers mean by being asleep. People get used to a total lack of alertness and self-awareness. “I am what I buy” is so much easier than “I know myself.”
Thus we created a permanent sub-class of Cassandras, awake enough to see looming disasters but unable to attract anyone else’s attention. The warmakers in the White House had ample access to experts who knew the Middle East and foresaw the disastrous results of invading Iraq. Instead, decisions were made with almost no forethought or curiosity about the unknown. Indeed, being too awake came to be seen as a political threat. Trying to alert the public and wake up their conscience was anathema. Leaving the war aside, this dumbing down shuts off growth of consciousness itself, lulling us more and more into the delusion that sleeping through life is good enough to make for a comfortable existence.
(To be cont.)
www.intentblog.com
www.deepakchopra.com

Deepak Chopra: ‘Resist Not Evil’

posted by dchopra

What do you think is the nature of evil? Does it exist? According to Jungian psychology evil is the projection of our collective and our personal shadow. This echoes Jesus’ statement, “Resist not evil.”

How to Approach Religion: Laugh and Laugh Again

posted by dchopra

An article in the Washington Post On Faith Section in response to their question about the controversy over the movie the Love Guru.
The inability of some religious people to laugh at themselves betrays, I think, a great deal of insecurity. What if God was a two-year-old toddler and you were his mother? You’d spend your day keeping close watch and only find calm when your child was taking a nap. But God isn’t two years old, and he /she doesn’t need taking care of. I wish religious people took the analogy seriously, because they are constantly rushing in to protect God, screaming in outrage when he /she is surely laughing. God may very well see the universe as a divine comedy. Every exploding nova could be an explosion of laughter. Nobody knows. But when we look around us, Nature is at play. Every wild animal — at least when young — spends its day playing, apparently in innocent delight. A tiger cub and a human infant have that in common. The difference is that the tiger grows up in peace with its ferocity. Humans grow up to find themselves burdened with guilt, shame, and anxiety.
To relieve these afflictions, we turn to religion but also to comedy. “The Love Guru” is a ridiculous farce, and it has offended some Hindus, but I’d wager it will do more good for people than a week’s worth of sermons. (Personal disclosure: I am lampooned in the movie much more than Hinduism. You might catch me at a screening. I’m the man in the aisle seat laughing loudly.) In an age obsessed with triviality, a silly, light-hearted comedy arouses controversy while religion keeps fostering an unending litany of war, intolerance, and violence.
For all these reasons, more comedies should cross the line between vulgar lampoon and reckless disrespect. Let’s catch God with his pants down — or more especially those who peddle faith in God so self-righteously. Christianity has been mocked in Monty Python’s “Life of Bryan,” Judaism in Adam Sandler’s “Don’t Mess with the Zohan,” and Islam (very mildly) in Albert Brooks’ “Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World.” Let’s look for comedy in the whole world. As for the Hindu fundamentalists who are shocked by “The Love Guru,” let them remember Lila. She is a goddess whose play — and playfulness — runs the activity of the universe. The last time I looked, Lila was a Hindu goddess. That must have escaped the minds of true believers who condemn what they should be enjoying. In the end, comedy equals laughter and religion equals solemnity. You choose.
www.intentblog.com
www.deepakchopra.com
http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/deepak_chopra/

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