Deepak Chopra and Intent

Deepak Chopra and Intent

A New World or No World? (Part 1)

posted by dchopra

Societies never act in totally predictable ways. In response to the global economic crisis of the mid-Seventies, induced by OPEC tripling the price of oil overnight, every country was put to the test. Energy policies proposed by Jimmy Carter, which rested on the notion of consumer restraint (e.g., turning the thermostat down in the White House to 68 degrees), were unpopular, demoralizing, and ultimately a flop. But England, France, the Soviet Union and others adopted widely differing energy policies that were equally a flop.
Today OPEC is enormously stronger than thirty years ago. Thomas Friedman of the NY Times calls the Arab oil producers “petro-dictators.” With unrestrained speculation driving oil prices skyward, Saudi Arabia alone possesses more wealth in its oil reserves than all the stock and bond markets in the world combined — and that was calculated with oil at $100 a barrel. In addition, by silent collusion the Saudis and the American oil companies started keeping more of their income as pure profits while no longer planning adequately for new oil fields. As a result, even if OPEC decided to undertake new drilling today, the first drop wouldn’t enter the pipeline for a decade.
This looks like the making of a global crisis lasting for the foreseeable future, intensified by the sudden and dramatic demand for oil from India and China. No extra production and ever- growing demand means that $200 a barrel oil will arrive soon and stay there (absent unexpected changes like switching to ethanol on a massive scale, as Brazil has done, or radically new car engines that get 60 miles to the gallon). The shock to the American economy has been swift and highly threatening, but the psychological impact is equally severe. Americans are used to being rich and stable. We accept without question that this country deserves to bestride the world as the British did before 1900.
So far, during the disastrous years of the Bush administration, no energy policy has existed, and all the toughest problems were kicked down the road willy-nilly. Denial has lulled the public into thinking that global warming, overpopulation, pandemic disease, and the end of cheap energy would somehow solve themselves. This attitude, based on the right-wing worship of the free market, made the country’s recent economic woes more shocking psychologically. Now the consensus among global analysts is as follows:
1. Severe swings in the economic outlook for America cannot be avoided.
2. Continuing to do nothing would be disastrous on all fronts. Yet no general agreement on what to do has been found.
Divisive politics still trumps intelligent reform.
3. Arab oil producers are absorbing undreamt of profits so fast that its effects cannot be dealt with either by them or their customers.
4. The political will barely exists to cope with emerging problems, much less the radical policies that would solve
those problems.
5. Escalating oil prices threaten the world with food shortages and widespread outrage against OPEC, creating the
conditions for global rebellion and, at worst, an attack on the Middle East to seize their oil fields.
6. Worldwide inflation has begun and could spiral out of control.
7. As China and India rise, the U.S. will slowly but surely become less relevant as a dominant economy. We are already highly dependent on foreign lenders and hugely in debt.
What, then, the future?
We find ourselves at a fork in the road. One way leads to a new world, one being born with frightening convulsions but eventually benefiting every economy. This is the way of globalization. The other way is the road to protectionism, tariffs, anti-immigration, and the shutdown of alliances. This is the way of nationalism. One way is optimistic and evolutionary, the other is pessimistic and reactionary. One way looks outward to the world at large, the other looks outward and puts national security ahead of every other interest. To date, the general U.S. response has tended toward the latter. Nationalism, including toxic xenophobia, is the province of the right wing, which blocks all things progressive and stigmatizes anyone who opposes them.
Until two or three years ago, hesitating at the crossroads was excusable. Suddenly the dam broke with the collapse of the U.S. housing market and the irrational rise in oil speculation. Decisions must be made in a matter of months, not years (the only historical parallel is the first hundred days of the New Deal in 1933 and the immediate postwar era when Stalin invaded Eastern Europe). Therefore, one needs to look carefully at the forces that will drive us to choose one road or the other. In particular, how can we gain enough confidence, will, and optimism to create a new world instead of collapsing into no world that we would ever recognize today?
(To be cont.)
www.intentblog.com
www.deepakchopra.com

Deepak Chopra: Does God Need Defending?

posted by dchopra

If you are easily offended when someone questions your faith, do you have faith? I believe if you’re really spiritual then you don’t need to get offended.

Faith Healing, from Jesus to Neurotransmitters

posted by dchopra

An article in the Washington Post On Faith section in response to their question: “Do you believe that faith can effect your health or is that a lot of new age nonsense?”
Faith is too vast a subject to generalize about, — its effects are indisputably not “New Age nonsense,” unless you want to call Jesus nonsense. When he performed healings, he ascribed them to the faith of the one being healed, not to his own miraculous powers. Now that society has shifted its values radically toward materialism, faith healing is a suspect phenomenon. Proof requires an agent one can see — such as neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and others — to “explain” how the brain might trigger the immune system.
The minute you ask how mind influences body, you find yourself on the dividing line between secular and religious values. If only it were that simple. It tends to be true that people who hold deep religious beliefs (in the power of prayer, for example) are healthier than the norm, but the same holds true for vegetarians, rural dwellers, and anyone who is relatively free of anxiety, depression, and external stress. So if you are a vegetarian who lives on a farm in Iowa, no one can say that praying every day, once it is added to these other factors, significantly increases your well being. (If you believe in a vindictive, angry God, it might even do the opposite.)
Well-being is subjective, and even though Western medicine largely discounts subjectivity, that in itself is a belief system. If you lose a thousand dollars in the stock market and it happens to be all the money you have, the effects on mind and body will be devastating compared to the same loss suffered by a billionaire. The difference comes down to a subjective feeling of helplessness and insecurity compared to a subjective feeling of security and abundance. Yet we know that throwing money at someone’s unhappiness isn’t a panacea. Rich persons don’t necessarily feel secure — depression and anxiety are tricky matters, often needing no external causes.
Nor is it easy even to define faith. Belief can be a form of denial, a defense that covers up underlying problems. Faith, as defined by Jesus, is the key to miracles and the Kingdom of God. This implies that faith creates transformation. It allows a person to transcend physical boundaries and step into the unknown (too bad that Lazarus isn’t around to give his side of the issue). At the very least faith induces subjective well-being with about as much reliability as pharmaceuticals, minus damaging side effects. Which is not to imply that anyone should place absolute faith in faith.
My own view is that faith is a small part of the enormous field of consciousness. In our drugs-and-surgery society, we don’t take enough advantage of non-material approaches. For example, studies in heart disease led by George Vaillant, in the 1950s tried to explain premature heart attacks, then at epidemic levels. Vaillant found a mild correlation between artery disease and high cholesterol levels. This finding changed the course of treatment, ignoring the stronger correlation he found, which didn’t fit the materialistic model. Men who faced their psychological problems in their twenties were considerably less likely to have a premature heart attack then men who didn’t. And the evidence for the existence of a “cancer personality” has gained credibility through studies that show certain traits, such as suppression of emotion, raise the risk of many diseases (although a specific connection to cancer remains tenuous).
Although the deleterious of stress and its connection to the major epidemics of our time such as heart disease, cancer, and infection have been well documented over several decades, there has been little research on what peace of mind does to our biology. I can see how a sense of “peace that passes understanding”, and an internal state of euphoria, could lead to healing. There is more and more evidence that when the mind is at peace and also happy, there are biological consequences. An internal state such as this is more than mere subjective well being. Neurotransmitters such as dopamine, oxytocin, opiates, and serotonin are simultaneously secreted. These neurotransmitters are associated with euphoria, self confidence, and a pleasurable feeling. They also happen to be immunomodulators, in that they fine tune the activity of the immune system and are associated with a return to homeostasis (Homeostasis is a state of dynamic non change in our biology in the midst of a changing environment. Disease is a disruption of homeostasis.) It is, therefore, becoming increasing clear, that the mind and body are inseparably one and that which we call faith is an important component in the phenomenon of healing. It is no accident that the word health, the word healing, and the word holy, all imply a return to the memory of wholeness.

Corn Chips and Spirituality

posted by dchopra

Deepak talks about creating wisdom-based economies on CNN Money. Click http://money.cnn.com/video/ then select video ‘Corn Chips and Spirituality’

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