David Jay Brown
Interviews Deepak Chopra
Deepak Chopra, M.D. is a physician, inspirational speaker, and a prolific writer. Dr. Chopra combines conventional Western medical approaches with traditional Ayurvedic medicine from India, and has been one of the leading figures in mind/body medicine for around twenty years. His work has had a significant influence on many Western physicians, and he helped to bring the notion of holistic medicine to many people’s attention with his innovative combination of Eastern and Western healing. Dr. Chopra has written over thirty books (both fiction and nonfiction) on the topics of alternative medicine, self-improvement, and spirituality–including the New York Times bestsellers Timeless Body, Ageless Mind, How to Know God, and Quantum Healing. He is especially well known for integrating modern theories of quantum physics with the timeless wisdom of ancient cultures.
Dr. Chopra attended medical school at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, where he was trained as an endocrinologist, and graduated in 1969. Formerly the Chief of Staff at Boston Regional Medical Center, Dr. Chopra built a successful endocrinology practice in Boston in the 1980’s. His teaching affiliations included Tufts University and Boston University Schools of Medicine. In 1985 Dr. Chopra left a successful and highly regarded position as chief of staff at The New England Memorial Hospital in Stoneham, Massachusetts, in order to dedicate his life to expanding the impact and effectiveness of conventional medicine.
Dr. Chopra lectures around the world, and has made presentations to such organizations as the United Nations, the World Health Organization in Geneva, and London’s Royal Society of Medicine. As the keynote speaker, he appeared at the inauguration of the State of the World Forum, hosted by Mikhail Gorbachev and the Peace and Human Progress Foundation, founded by the former president of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace prize winner Oscar Arias. Esquire Magazine designated Dr. Chopra as one of the top ten motivational speakers in the country; and in 1995, he was a recipient of the Toastmasters International Top Five Outstanding Speakers award. He participates annually as a lecturer at the Update in Internal Medicine event sponsored by Harvard Medical School, Department of Continuing Education and the Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in 1997. In 1999 Time magazine selected Dr. Chopra as one of the “Top 100 Icons and Heroes of the century”, describing him as “the poet-prophet of alternative medicine.”
Dr. Chopra’s books explore many spiritual and health-related topics. His book How to Know God: The Soul’s Journey into the Mystery of Mysteries presents a seven stage theory of how people perceive religious experiences. Some of his other bestselling books include The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Unconditional Life, Perfect Health, The Return of Merlin, The Path to Love, and Return of the Rishi. He has also produced more than a hundred audio, video and CD-ROM titles, and his books has been published on every continent, and in dozens of languages. In 1992, he served on the National Institutes of Health Ad Hoc Panel on Alternative Medicine. Dr. Chopra is also the founder of the Chopra Center for Well Being in Carlsbad, California.To find out more visit about Dr. Chopra’s work visit: www.chopra.com
Deepak’s books have been an inspiration to me over the years. He has a real talent for being able to integrate timeless spiritual teachings with the insights of modern science, and to then apply this understanding to finding practical solutions to many of life’s basic problems. I interviewed Deepak on September 4, 2003. I found him to be a very eloquent speaker. He expresses his ideas with clarity, simplicity, and charm. We spoke about the relationship between the mind and body, whether or not one can be certain of spiritual beliefs, psychic phenomena, mystical experiences, and the nature of God and consciousness.
David: What were you like as a child?
Deepak: I grew up in India. I went to a Catholic missionary school, and I was very interested in Shakespeare, the dramatic arts, debating, and cricket. I had a wonderful childhood. My parents were extremely caring and loving. My father was a cardiologist, and he really flooded the house with books of knowledge and literature.
David: How did you become interested in medicine, health and longevity?
Deepak: I wanted to actually be a writer, and I wanted to do fiction, but my father was very keen that I go into medicine. On my fourteenth birthday he gave me several books, which were all fiction, but included physicians as the protagonist. So I switched to medicine at the last moment, went to pre-med, and went on to become a physician.
David: How important do you think our beliefs about aging are, with regard to how our health is effected by age, and what role do you see the mind playing in physical health?
Deepak: Well, there’s physical age, psychological age, and chronological age. The research data shows that your psychological age influences your biological age more than your chronological age. So your expectations, your beliefs, your anticipation of how you will be at a certain age, certainly influences the biochemistry and biology of aging.
David: How has your understanding of quantum physics and Hinduism influenced your perspective on the nature of consciousness?
Deepak: I’ll give you my perspective on Vedanta. I think Hinduism is a corruption of Vedanta, and I’m not very keen on the Hindu rituals. But Vedantic understanding of consciousness, as the ground of existence, has really influenced my understanding of how the universe works. I am convinced by everything I know scientifically that consciousness is not an epiphenomenon– that it’s the other way around. Matter is the epiphenomenon. Consciousness conceives, governs, constructs, and ultimately becomes the physical reality.
I believe that consciousness is the ground of being, and it differentiates into both observer and observed. Today from the perspective of quantum physics we also know that matter is energy and information. But energy and information are a potential, unless there’s an observer to collapse the potential into a space-time event. So I think quantum physics, in many ways, validates the original insights of Vedanta.
David: What are your thoughts on telepathy and psychic phenomena, and why do you think so many scientists have such difficulty accepting the possibility that these phenomena actually exist?
Deepak: I think scientists who do not understand non-locality will have difficulty in understanding, or accepting, these phenomena, because the phenomena can’t be explained by conventional science, or even by information technology. The only way these phenomena can be understood is the actualization, simultaneously, in information and nervous systems, that are separated from each other in space-time, from a common non-local domain.
As we understand more about the physics of non-locality–which is really an elaboration of the Einstein-Padolski-Rosen equation and Bell’s Theorem–we will have a better way to explain these phenomena. So-called telepathy, precognition, remembrance of other lifetimes, prophecy, are all examples of simultaneous actualization of information in different nervous systems from a single underlying non-dual, non-local consciousness.
David: One of the themes of your spiritual books is that we create our own realities through the choices that we make in life. However, it seems that much of what happens in life is beyond our personal control. I’m wondering if you think that our personal choices explain everything that happens to us. If we are 100% responsible for the creation of our own realities, how do you explain the atrocities and abuse that small children sometimes face in this world?
Deepak: I think you’re asking a question that has been asked forever– and that is, is there free-will, or is it a deterministic universe? In the enlightened mind, it’s a completely free world and universe. In the conditioned mind, it’s a determined world. We can not squeeze the soul into the volume of a single body, or even the span of a lifetime. So the atrocities and abuse that happens are an interdependent co-rising of a turbulence in the collective ground of consciousness. And it can be very easily understood, if you put it in that context. If you think of a person as an individual, then, of course, there is a great difficulty in explaining these phenomena. From the Vedantic perspective, the person is an illusion. There is no such thing as a person. A person is in the interwoveness of interbeingness, and does not have a separate identity. So whatever happens is a result of an interdependent co-arising of space-time events from the virtual or non-local domain.
David: What is your perspective on God, and do you see any teleology in evolution?
Deepak: God is the source of all the information, energy, space-time, and matter that structure the