Deepak Chopra and Intent

Deepak Chopra and Intent

Do Your Emotions Help You or Hold You Back?

posted by Admin

Recently, a close friend of mine made the remark that our emotions for the most part are basic, primal, immature, and unevolved. Ever since then, I have been ruminating on the validity of this statement. If our emotions are basically primitive, then how they be our allies, especially on the path to personal growth? Might emotions be so backward that they are enemies of growth instead? Like most generalities, this one about the primitive nature of emotions seems to be equally true and untrue — and therefore, possibly a half truth. In nature’s scheme, nothing is wasted. The universe is a big jigsaw puzzle where everything seems to fit.

 

According to the evolutionary model that goes back to Darwin, nature favors emotionality as a feature of natural selection.  Natural selection has only one intention — survival. According to Darwin, fear readies the animal for flight in dangerous situations. Anger readies the animal for combat. Jealousy alerts the animal to the possibility of usurpation of reproductive chances, etc.

 

Anger by itself is not considered a toxic emotion. On the other hand, hostility is felt to be very toxic. Hostility occurs when there are resentments or grievances, and when there is an unconscious need for getting even, for vengeance, or for retribution. Hostility is considered to be the number one risk factor for premature death from cardiovascular illness by epidemiologists.

 

The best way to handle toxic emotions is to become aware that not all emotional turbulence is necessarily toxic. Fear, hostility, guilt and depression are considered to be the most toxic emotions. Depression undermines the immune system and makes one more susceptible to cancer and infections, according to some psycho-neuroimmunologists. Hostility and aggression predispose one to autoimmune illness and cardiovascular accidents.

 

Psychologists tell us the best way to deal with these toxic emotions is to go through the following processes:

 

  1. Take responsibility for your own emotions. If you are waiting for somebody else to change so you can feel better, you might wait for a long time.

 

  1. Witness the emotion. All emotions are sensations in the body. Feel the physical sensation associated with those emotions.

 

  1. Define the emotions in an emotional vocabulary that does not represent victimization. Feeling sad, for example, is a genuine emotion. Feeling abandoned, on the other hand, represents victimization.

 

  1. Express emotions by journaling, preferably in the first person, second person and third person.

 

  1. Share your emotions with a close and trusted friend, or lover.

 

  1. Release emotions, preferably through ritual practice.

 

  1. Celebrate and move on.

 

If you feel that your emotions are basic, primal, immature and unevolved, remember what Charles Darwin said — natural selection favors them as part of the evolutionary scheme.

 

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 

Powers of Mind: In Praise of Subtle Actions

posted by Admin

At a time when the mass of headlines seem to be about the brain, artificial intelligence, robotics, and smarter computers, not enough is said about the mind. When reduced to a mechanism, the mind somehow is thought to turn into the brain, with no difference between them. It’s true that the brain seems to exhibit physical changes that correlate with every activity of the mind, and one day the word “seems” may no longer be necessary. The brain as mirror of the mind may be completely understood and mapped out.

 

It should be underlined, however, that neuroscience is far from understanding the mind’s subtlety, and the most sophisticated brain scans take broad swipes at mental processes–there is no fine detail. The same areas of the brain devoted to language will light up on an fMRI whether Shakespeare is writing a sonnet or a very bad poet is writing doggerel. There is no area of the brain that can remotely be detected in such detail that a researcher reading the scan can say, “Oh, that’s Mozart.” In fact, if you present our brain scan to a neuroscientist, he won’t be able to identify who you are, either. The broad strokes of current brain research yield interesting and medically valuable information, but they don’t come close to explaining the activity I’d call “subtle action.”

 

Here are a dozen subtle actions you perform every day that no computer can match.

12 SUBTLE ACTIONS

Intending

Imagining

Meditating

Bonding

Surrendering

Accepting

Praying

Loving

Respecting

Appreciating

Contemplating

 

These actions aren’t incidental. The fact that they cannot be programmed into a computer or analyzed on a brain scan is critical, because it’s these activities that make us human.  A computer can be programmed to imitate these actions, but there isn’t anyone at home. Churning out the words “I imagine” or “I appreciate” or “I love”  in a machine-like way doesn’t come close to the aspect of mind implicit in each of these actions: self-awareness.

 

Self-awareness can achieve almost everything we value in a person. Consider the list again and ask yourself, “Would I want a partner or friend with these qualities?” You undoubtedly would. The notion that AI will one day produce a machine that’s self-aware has been a standard feature of science fiction, where robots that feel rebellious or sad have come to be. But self-awareness has no content; therefore, there’s nothing in the form of information or data that can be programmed into a machine. This means that self-awareness will remain a human property, untouched by computers.

 

But does this rule out a neuroscience of awareness?  If Shakespeare is sitting at his desk saying to himself, “Maybe To be or not to be is better than To exist or not to exist,” will a brain scan one day tell us exactly how he arrived at this conclusion? Or to be strictly scientific, will a neuroscientist of the future, handed two brain scans, be able to pick out which one belongs to an actor reciting “To be or not to be” and which one to an actor reciting “Oh that this too, too solid flesh would melt”?  The difference is self-evident to anyone hearing the words, because we have understanding, which grows out of awareness.

 

I’ll pose the notion that subtle actions are a dividing line between mind and brain, meaning that these mental activities define how a life unfolds, even though there is little or no evidence of corresponding brain activity. Self-awareness lies completely outside any plausible brain model. More importantly, we should be turning the tables around, because subtle action is the most powerful way to change the brain. In the next post we’ll discuss how this works.

 

(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 Future of God 

 

Can Science and Religion Save Each Other? (Part 2)

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Science is used to being dominant, and religion is used to being defensive–these are familiar poses for two worldviews, the one being on the rise, the other on the decline. Generally when an entire belief system is on the decline, it steadily disappears. There’s no need to believe that the king’s touch can cure disease once modern medicine appears, and no need for bleeding to be a medical practice when its usefulness is experimentally invalidated. But the model of progress that substitutes automobiles for horse-drawn carriages doesn’t apply to religion. It may lose adherents who accept the argument that scientific rationality is superior to faith. The values of modern secular society are constantly on the rise.

 

Yet no matter how far science rises, no matter how convincing rationality appears to be, the triumphs of science do not spell the end of religion–quite the opposite. As we saw in the first post of this series, science may need religion to avoid a dead end, and religion may need science to reinforce its cherished beliefs. The reason for this unexpected turn of events is reality itself. Reality has two components, the physical creation and the domain that lies outside the physical creation. By defining only the former as real, science has made enormous progress. Religion, whose specialty has always been the invisible, transcendent realm beyond the stars, lost its claim to be about reality.

 

But then science found itself stuck–as it remains stuck today–when it reached the limit of what physical investigation can discover. Physical investigation cannot tell us where time and space came from, or what preceded the Big Bang, or how mind and brain are connected. It cannot describe where thoughts come from, or how memories are stored and retrieved, or even what the nature of consciousness is. The fact that the human brain can produce the perception of a three-dimensional world is as utterly mysterious today as it was to the ancient Greeks.

 

Let’s say that a scientist, speaking candidly and off the record, acknowledges that progress on all these fronts has been stymied (the standard line in science stubbornly insists that if we just wait long enough, answers will be forthcoming without altering the same method that has yielded no answers so far).  Assuming that one can find such an obliging, candid scientist, he might say something like the following: Yes, examining the physical world has reached its limits or soon will in the foreseeable future. There is something that lies beyond the physical universe, a pre-created state that gives rise to time, space, matter, and energy. But why should we turn to God for the answers? It’s not as if religion has been a progressive force or a reliable source of knowledge.

 

The objection seems valid as applied to conventional organized religion, which lays no claim to explaining reality according to the standards laid down by science. That’s why it needs rescuing as much as science does. Modern secular society isn’t going to accept faith as a justification for God. Half of reality, the physical half, has so dominated our attention that the other half, the transcendent, has withered into amorphous vagueness. God doesn’t need rescuing, but our mindset about the transcendent does. Therefore, if an obliging, candid scientist questions whether the religious worldview can possibly help science out of its current dilemmas, here are some valid reasons.

  1. The pre-created state isn’t open to physical investigation because it isn’t physical. Another mode of investigation must be developed, and such a mode exists in the world’s wisdom traditions.
  2. These traditions investigate consciousness. They do so because all experiences, including the experience of doing science, take place in consciousness.
  3. Having investigated consciousness for thousands of years, the greatest spiritual thinkers have come to the same conclusion as modern science: reality streams from an invisible source into the realm of space, time, matter, and energy. The fact that this discovery was made has nothing to do with faith. The discovery came about because consciousness is capable of examining itself.
  4. A bridge was formed between inner and outer reality, making the division between objective and subjective much less strict that the division posited by science. The ideal of perfect objectivity doesn’t exist and cannot exist as long as consciousness is part of every phenomenon.
  5. If consciousness is the common link, it may have its own natural laws, rules, behaviors, and parameters. If so, these could be as useful and provide as much valid knowledge as science. In fact, because consciousness can’t be taken out of the equation, any explanation of reality, from the smallest to the largest aspect, cannot be trusted when consciousness is disregarded.
  6. The present exclusion of consciousness, which is standard operating procedure in science outside the most rarefied theoretical circles, is the cause of the rift between the scientific and religious worldviews. Each has arbitrarily put up walls where no walls exist in the structure of reality.
  7. Once the arbitrary divisions and walls are removed, it becomes obvious that there is only one reality, not two. The fact that human perception makes a distinction between the physical universe and the transcendent domain is irrelevant. Reality is what it is, regardless of our stubbornness, denial, hidebound beliefs, and cherished points of view. Without a doubt the human project labeled as religious and the human project labeled as science are incomplete without each other.

 

The fact that modern times have widened the separation between these two projects has actually distorted each of them. Religious fundamentalism and arch physicalism are extreme deniers, holding opposite views that are equally untenable. It is untenable that religious scriptures are the indisputable truth; it is untenable that materialism and it sole focus on physical reality are the only truth. From the two extremes have grown many beliefs that are more casual and tolerant but just as flawed, which must be so once your worldview is dualistic. You will always wind up explaining only half of realty while ignoring or undervaluing the other half.

 

The only way forward, then, is a holistic worldview as the starting point.  The correct beginning is to say, “there is one reality. Let’s all agree on this and see where it leads us.” From this unified starting point, every branch of investigation has something to offer. It appears that some scientists, especially in the younger generation, are seeing the value of a unified worldview. They offer the best hope for understanding reality as it is, not as second-hand beliefs and assumptions declare it must be.

 

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 

Can Science and Religion Save Each Other?

posted by Admin

A flurry of controversy surrounded the astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson two weeks ago when he took a jab at religion in the name of science. It began Christmas day with a mischievous tweet: “On this day long ago, a child was born who, by age 30, would transform the world. Happy Birthday Isaac Newton b. Dec 25, 1642.” Then deGrasse Tyson felt that he needed to be more pointed in a follow-up tweet: “QUESTION: This year, what do all the world’s Muslims and Jews call December 25th? ANSWER: Thursday.”

 

Angry responses came his way, and in a follow-up blog entry deGrasse Tyson offered this reflection: “Imagine a world in which we are all enlightened by objective truths rather than offended by them.” Since he also has a history of declaring that philosophy is useless and an obstacle to progress, this champion of materialism, objectivity, and reason underlined a familiar stance.

 

Ninety percent of educated people would probably agree with this stance without looking much deeper. But it’s a shopworn canard that science is superior to religion. Beneath the surface, every term that deGrasse Tyson invoked is problematic. He is stuck in a mindset where “enlightened” applies only to science. How enlightened are the atom bomb, mustard gas, and biological weapons? His reliance on “objective truths” is a creaky relic of pre-quantum science and ignores the mystery of the observer effect as posited by the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics.  Scolding his critics for being “offended” by his tweets is hypocritical, since he obviously relished giving offense and did it on purpose.

 

In reality science and religion—or more broadly speaking, spirituality—have arrived at core issues about the nature of reality. These issues center on the unsolved problem of what is ultimately real and how the human mind works. Most working scientists like deGrasse Tyson remain unaware that their version of naïve realism, which accepts that the five senses give us a true picture of reality, has no actual scientific validation. The three-dimensional world is actually an artifact of the human nervous system, and nobody can explain how this artifact is created. The Jolly Green Giant obviously can’t fit inside the human brain, which in addition has no color inside. So when you visualize a green giant in your mind (or any other product of the five senses), a mysterious process is taking place that can’t be explained as happening in the brain.

 

Physics has arrived at the point where all processes actually occur in the infinite expanse of a field that has no boundaries in time and space.  If the cosmos originated in such a field—and if everyday perception is also taking place there—we find ourselves in a realm of explanation that verges on notions of an infinite creative source labeled as God. But here religion stumbles when it remains anchored to a personal God with human traits sitting above the clouds in Heaven.

 

Because science cannot explain ultimate reality through the collection of data and a reliance on naïve realism, while religion cannot explain God by resorting to outdated cultural myths, the time has come for the two to join forces. This isn’t because it’s good to be friends but because two models of reality, one entirely objective, the other entirely subjective, are inadequate to the task. There is no such thing as perfect objectivity or completely valid subjectivity. The only way beyond this impasse is to transcend duality, no longer seeing objectivity and subjectivity as opposites but as perspectives streaming from a common source.

 

The best candidate for such a source is consciousness, and outside the little dust-up that deGrasse Tyson caused, many scientists are venturing into the study of consciousness as it applies to the cosmos, speculating that the source of the universe may be a conscious field that organizes and governs physical phenomena. At the same time, spirituality in its non-religious guise has been exploring quantum physics for several decades, finding parallels with attributes associated with God, such as timelessness and existence beyond the envelope of space-time.  It’s fascinating to be a part of this dialogue, which has a good chance of causing the next great revolution in human thought. At the very least, it’s time to stop stoking disagreements over outdated notions that do no good for devout believers or inquisitive scientists.

 

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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