Self-help guru Deepak Chopra is the subject of an interview in the March edition of Playboy.
Chopra is an Indian-American author and alternative medicine advocate. A prominent figure in the New Age movement, his books and videos have made him one of the best-known and wealthiest figures in alternative medicine. His discussions of quantum healing have been characterized as technobabble – “incoherent babbling strewn with scientific terms” which drives those who actually understand physics “crazy” and as “redefining Wrong.”
On his love of blogging, and what it’s doing on a meta-level to consciousness in our society: “First of all, I love blogging. I love the immediacy. I love the reach. I love the instant connection with so many people. It’s vast and it’s fast. But the impact remains to be seen. If it blunts our emotional intelligence or our face-to-face, eye-to-eye, body-to-body contact—and we’re certainly heading in the direction—it will be extremely detrimental. On the other hand, if you can integrate with it, it’s an amazing technology to reach a critical mass of consciousness. I personally love participating in it.”
On partying with George Harrison in the past: “George was a sweet person. And yes, we did some stuff together, like bhang. You know what bhang is? It’s ganja. It’s similar to cannabis. We drank it together in India. He was a lovely man. We listened to music together. We would discuss everything from creativity to spirituality to the divine. He had his own visions of other realms of existence and was more of a literalist than I was, but he was a lot of fun to be with.”
On his thoughts on cannabis and other recreational drugs: “Drugs are not part of my life, but I have tried them all. I’ve done LSD. At 17 it led me to my first spiritual awakening. I’ve done mushrooms—everything. But all at a young age. I certainly don’t regret it. It gave me a glimpse into a different reality. I recognized that I can actually navigate these realms in my consciousness. I’d go so far as to say that drugs were a source of great joy to me, great nourishment and the source of all my writing. So much of what I’ve written comes from my being able to go into other states of consciousness.”
On the challenges his native India now faces as a growing world economy: “Overcoming hubris is a big one. India is getting a false sense of pride because it made a nuclear bomb—because the middle class is expanding dramatically. Globally, yes, it’s an economic superpower, but Indians are totally ignoring the fact that 30% of their children go to bed hungry — starving. They are ignoring the fact that 300 million people still live in abysmal poverty and there’s still a lot of communal tension and violence. India has huge problems.”
On his enormous success and how he does not save nor invest any of his money: “I’ve hit the jackpot as far as selling books is concerned. That’s where my income comes from. But I put it back into the business, and what’s left I put into my foundation—I don’t invest and I don’t save. I carry maybe $200 and a credit card in my pocket. If you ask me to read a bank statement, I can’t. I believe that when I die there won’t be anything for anyone. In the meanwhile, until I’m dead, my wife is totally taken care of from my royalties. My children are self-sufficient, so I don’t need to give them any money. I keep about $30,000 in my account and the rest goes to keeping the operation running.”
On if he believes that science has proven some of his theories correct: “In many instances, yes—The EEGs of people in meditative states repeatedly show increases in alpha waves [indicating wakeful relaxation], which proves we have the power to change our bodies with our minds. More recently it’s been proved that prolonged periods of meditation, like you see with monks in monasteries, can change the brain permanently. The fight-or-flight centers in the brain that normally light up to trigger alarm and anxiety are quieted—.That doesn’t mean they’re duller to the world. It means they’re more quietly alert in a way that’s permanently hardwired in their consciousness—If we teach patients in hospitals how to relax, to breathe properly, to meditate, to do some passive movements or even bedside yoga—we can get rid of what most drugs are prescribed for, which is insomnia, nausea, constipation, anxiety and pain. That’s 80% of what’s prescribed in a hospital, and it’s unnecessary.”
On his many skeptics in the scientific and academic communities: “The skeptics are all angry people. They’re mostly high school teachers with old science behind them. And now they have a few champions such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. Leonard Mlodinow is co-author with Stephen Hawking of a recent book that refutes the existence of God. They all love to call me the woo-woo master, or Dr. Woo, and I admit, they did anger me. But I decided to reach out to them and engage with these issues. I wrote to Leonard and said, ‘It seems like you know your mathematics, but conceptually you and I have a lot of disagreements. You definitely don’t understand consciousness. So why don’t we get together and hang out, and you teach me physics and I’ll teach you consciousness?’ We’re [now] doing a book together. It’s about the things that physics and spirituality can agree on and what physics and spirituality cannot agree on. It’s called War of the Worlds. It’s a big book. We’ve got a multimillion-dollar contract for it. It’s going to be huge.”
On if he thinks the Catholic Church will survive its many sex scandals: “It’s the hypocrisy I worry about. If it were just saying sexuality or homosexuality is fine, there would be no problems. But condemning certain types of sexuality as sinful while its own clergy is hiding pedophiles, that’s the height of hypocrisy.”
On his thoughts about organized religions: “All religions are hypocritical—Organized religion is all corrupt. It’s just a cult with a large following. Get a large enough following and you can call yourself a religion, and then it becomes all about control and power mongering, corruption and money. We don’t need mediators to experience God.”
On the happiest person he knows: “The Dalai Lama is the real deal. He loves everything. He’s authentically who he is. He never gets upset. He’s not even mad at the Chinese. If you ask him he says, ‘No. What they do is very upsetting, but I’m not mad at them.’—I remember we were with him in London and he ordered bacon and eggs for breakfast and everybody went crazy because they don’t realize that Tibetans are not vegetarians. He looked around because he knew he was being a bit provocative, but we all just started to laugh.”
On his advice for finding happiness, and avoiding conformity: “The highest form of intelligence you can have is to observe yourself. Let it go at that. You don’t need to judge, you don’t need to analyze, you don’t even need to change. This is the key to life: the ability to reflect, the ability to know yourself, the ability to pause for a second before reacting automatically. If you can truly know yourself, you will begin the journey of transformation—As human beings we have unlimited potential and imagination. The worst thing you can do is be a conformist and buy into conformity. It’s the worst possible thing. It’s better to be outrageous—better to hang out with the sages, the people open to possibilities, even the psychotics. You never know where you’ll find the geniuses of our society.”
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