Deepak Chopra and Intent

Deepak Chopra and Intent

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 

How to Save the World–A Simple Answer

posted by Admin

Around a decade ago, when I first started posting at Huffington Post, one entry considered the world’s four greatest problems. They were over-population, climate change, pandemic disease, and refugeeism. Despite the suffering and fear it creates, terrorism affects far fewer people than these four issues, but if anyone wants to add it to the list, there can be no objection. Compared to a decade ago, all of these problems have worsened. Many observers, along with people in their everyday lives, feel that the world is in total chaos.

 

The greatest factor that fuels chaos is an inability to see a solution. Solutions, if they sound reasonable and have a chance of working, give rise to optimism and a willingness to return to orderly existence. In the absence of a solution, or the prospect of one, irrationality takes over and chaos deepens. Ultimately, chaos fights order not in the world “out there” but in ourselves.

 

In my mind I decided to set aside personal distress over the state of the world to see what part of the current chaos I am playing. Self-reflection is one way to hold off inertia and lack of responsibility. When I looked inside, I found that indeed there is a single factor that makes me–and perhaps most people–part of the problem rather than part of the solution. It’s the tendency to act against my own happiness.

 

When anyone acts against their own happiness, some or all of the following is occurring:

— They do things that create misery and unhappiness.

— They mistake what happiness is, pursuing an illusion of happiness instead.

— They find outside causes (usually “them,” the ones who are different from “us”) for their suffering.

— They cling to divisive habits of nationalism, tribalism, and religious affiliation.

— They ignore the long-term consequences of their actions.

— They leave solutions to others.

 

If you take any problem that seems completely disheartening, not just the four or five big ones but any cause of unhappiness in your own life, the items on this list will keep you–or the world at large–from finding a solution. Climate change? Looking at myself, I am keeping the solution at bay if I leave it to others, ignore what my use of fossil fuels means for the future, blame energy companies and other bad actors for causing the problem, and mistake my short-term pleasure for true happiness, since beneath that pleasure we are all terribly anxious about climate change.

 

By acting in a different way, pursuing real happiness and ending my allegiance to its opposite, I become part of the solution.  The changes that are required can be big or small. Supporting an action group and backing politicians who rationally try to solve problems is a small change. Re-examining the whole system of endless consumerism and giving up narrow-minded nationalism would be big changes.

 

As harmful as inertia is, my purpose isn’t a call to action. At a deeper level, people need to realize something important that can do much to fight despair. This is the realization that human awareness can evolve and in fact is evolving all the time. Terrorism is frightening and costs thousands of lives, but the two world wars cost tens of millions of lives. AIDS and Ebola are deeply distressing, but rational solutions exist for both, and the pursuit of vaccines and treatments never stops. By seeing that human awareness contains unlimited potential, fear can be staved off.

 

It’s also crucial to accept the fact that the future is a common fate, more so than ever. You can pick any face in the crowd on the evening news and say, “that’s not me, thank God” or “I hate and fear what that person is doing.” Such feelings seem justified, but they lead nowhere, certainly not to a solution. Divisive thinking doesn’t settle anger or fear but fuels both. In our common future, the problem is always the same everywhere–acting against our own happiness. The solution is to stop doing this and to find a new way to be happy.

 

Is this a reasonable and workable way to confront the world’s big problems? I think so, and after a decade of watching the harm that chaos creates, I’m convinced that only an inward solution is workable. In the next post I’ll address in more detail how a consciousness-based solution could work.

(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 

 

God Is the New Physics

posted by Admin

When spirituality and physics started to be linked, many scientists called it the use of metaphor. It couldn’t literally be true that there was a Tao of Physics that linked quantum mechanics to ancient Chinese philosophy. At best there might be a weak link–God and the new physics–the way one might say God and DNA. With a little imagination, the two could be joined, but there was no possibility that God could intrude into hard science. There might be a gene for faith (so the speculation went), yet physics is couched almost purely in the language of mathematics, and no matter how you cut it, God isn’t numbers.

 

In the past decade the picture has radically altered. It’s no longer a matter of metaphors. Some problems in physics are beyond mathematics–the universe is no longer a numbers game, either. If that’s true, then God and the cosmos stand on a level playing field. The day may not be far off when God is the new physics.  For that day to arrive, both sides of the traditional religion versus science stand-off must change their value systems and beliefs.

 

Religion must step down from fixed dogmatic views that long ago were shattered by science, such as the creation myth in Genesis. Images of God must be jettisoned next, since a bearded patriarch sitting above the clouds has never been anything but a metaphor. Finally, and hardest of all, religion must abandon its claim to the supernatural. As long as there is one reality for science (Nature) and another for religion (the mystical supernatural), a unified understanding of reality will be unreachable.

 

Science has cherished beliefs it must give up also. The first is exactly the same as for religion. The belief that all spiritual experience is supernatural and therefore invalid prevents a full understanding of the universe and our place in it. The division between objective and subjective, along with rational versus irrational, must be abandoned, because it’s a false duality. All experience is subjective, including the experience of doing science.

 

Having gotten this far, as quite a number of spiritual seekers and scientists both have, there is a goal that unifies the two sides even further. This is the search for a single explanation that encompasses reality as a whole. Physics realizes that Nature can’t be comprehended within the accepted bubble of time and space. Too many advanced theories (such as superstrings, the multiverse, and eternal inflation) point toward ultimate answers lying beyond the quantum horizon. At the same time, religion can’t convince us that rationality is the enemy of faith. God must be subject to rational understanding just as much as quarks and the Higgs boson.

 

If the two camps agree that a unified understanding of reality is their shared goal, only two possibilities exist. Either the unified theory is materialist or it isn’t. If it’s materialist, which is the preferred route for 99% of scientists, we have a long, long wait ahead of us. Materialism promises to explain how life began, the relationship between mind and matter, the origin of consciousness, where thoughts come from, how memory works, and the process whereby the firing of neurons in the brain creates the three-dimensional world, even though the basic elements of that world (sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell) quite obviously don’t exist in or among neurons.

 

Despite the self-evident failure of materialism, belief systems have a way of holding on for many decades past their expiration date, and there is stubborn resistance in science to any other mode of explanation beyond the tried and true. Do neurologists really believe that by jiggling brain chemicals one arrives at Shakespeare and Mozart? Yes. Do cosmologists believe that they can delve into the pre-created domain before the Big Bang, even though the human brain is obviously bound to linear time and finite space? Yes. These and other false trails are likely to seduce investigators for awhile.

 

But a loose cadre of scientists, seekers, philosophers, and open-minded thinkers have already arrived at an agreement that a unified understanding of reality will never be materialist (or physicalist, to use the preferred term). What will work instead? Something else.  The best candidate for “something else” is consciousness, but that’s not really an answer so much as an open door. How to explore consciousness using a method as valid as the current scientific method raises all kinds of contentious issues. It is almost as difficult to explain how mind turned into matter as how matter turned into mind.

 

Yet in that “almost” lies the edge of the wedge. If you take all the toughest questions and filter them through a consciousness-based universe, the answers are at times inconceivable, but there’s one great advantage over materialism. In a purely physical cosmos, the most difficult questions lead to answers that make no sense whatever. Molecules can’t think, end of story. Therefore, if there is a cosmic intelligence that exists beyond time and space, which under the old terminology was called God, it is the most likely basis for the universe and our place in it. God is the new physics, because every other alternative has either failed or is getting ready to.

 

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 

 

Will God 2.0 Be Indispensable in Ten Years?

posted by Admin

The primary difficult with God isn’t belief–more than 80% of US responders tell pollsters that they believe God exists. The problem is that God is irrelevant, providing few if any practical benefits in daily life. In an age of faith the circumstances were in God’s favor. When people got sick or died, had a run of bad luck, committed immoral acts, received unexpected rewards, or couldn’t have children–the list of situations was endless–God was invoked to explain why. In one way or another, the deity was interwoven into the fabric of daily life.

 

In a new book, The Future of God, my pivotal argument is that God only has a future if he (or she) becomes useful once more. We can think of this as God 2.0. Such as shift would have to happen on a level different from faith. Modern secular society isn’t going to reverse history and return to prescientific ways. A new avenue has to open, and it has. We are facing unprecedented circumstances in which God suddenly becomes relevant. These new circumstances extend into many areas of our existence.   For example,

 

— Millions of people have experienced a lack of meaning in a lifestyle devoted to money, career, and success.

— Isolated individuals are unable to resolve the enormous problem of climate change, despite their best intentions.

— Organized religion is losing the hearts and minds of its followers, while skepticism keeps hammering away at time-honored doctrines and dogmas inherited from the age of faith.

— Science finds itself unable to explain the nature of consciousness but finds that it must, in order to adequately explore the brain-mind connection.

–Cosmology has reached the frontier of spacetime, with no explanation for how the seeming void that underlies the physical universe somehow created time, space, matter, and energy.

— Physical explanations for the contents of the universe (i.e., molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles) have been totally undercut by the mysterious existence of “dark” matter and energy.

 

In short, modern society has been based on a mindset that is starting to show serious weaknesses and flaws. The promise of a better life through materialism alone has proved to be hollow. Ignoring the existence of subjective experience is no longer viable, even within “hard science” itself. And looming catastrophic climate change, not to mention over-population, pandemic disease, terrorism, and income inequality, is forcing everyone to re-examine how the human family can exist in comity and cooperation. The arrival of a new paradigm, fervently predicted and hoped for, seems no longer to be a fringe idea. If the human race can’t learn to redefine itself, all the way down to our core values and self-conception, the future looks bleak.

 

Which is not the same as saying that we should fall to our knees and beg for divine mercy. God, as traditionally conceived, is woven into our problems. The deity has always been a reflection of human identity. In fact, most believers who were born into the Judeo-Christian tradition envision God as a human being writ large, with emotions, whims, and judgments familiar in everyday life, only on a cosmic scale. Seeing a benevolent God when times are good and a vengeful or indifferent God when times are bad has been the norm. We will continue to use God as a mirror, no doubt, but the reflection must change if God is to prove useful.

 

A new conception of God might look something like the following:

— God would represent the essence of being human, which is conscious awareness.

— We would seek God by going deep into our own awareness.

— On this inner journey, there would be a resolution of conflict, turmoil, hostility, and fear within each person.

— We would begin to center ourselves in a more evolved state of awareness.

— This evolved state would be more expanded than the ego state, with its narrow, selfish concept of self-interest.

— A sense of shared humanity would emerge, based on the experience of higher consciousness.

— As walls of separation begin to crumble, so would the divisiveness of warring faiths and nationalism, tribalism and racial identification.

— Once enough people recognize that God, absolute consciousness, and Being transcend the visible world, science would find itself with answers to mysteries that can only be resolved by introducing these new terms.

— The existence of consciousness as the pre-created state of the universe would become consonant with the existence of God.

 

These themes are already quite strong in certain minds, including scientific minds, and the trend is upward. No one can predict that God will actually be redefined and become a useful part of how we live and think. But the possibility is open and the potential is limitless. Once we envision an enlightened future for ourselves, God acquires at future at the same moment.  Believe it or not, God 2.0 could be indispensable ten years from now, for all the reasons just outlined.

 

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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