Growing up, you could have found him lounging around under a shady tree somewhere in his hometown of New Delhi, India, lost in the words of Shakespeare, Keats or Kipling.
Deepak Chopra was a voracious reader, one who allowed his imagination to run away with him at any given moment. Even in his youth, he was very curious about the world around him. But it wasn’t until his grandfather died that he began to question everything about existence.
“Death is so magical,” he says. “It makes you realize that the physical aspect of our existence is like the infinite existence of the universe. When I was six-years-old, my grandfather passed on and all that was left were ashes. I started to wonder why everyone disappears. And I am still pursuing the mysteries of life.”
Chopra is a physician, mystic and endocrinologist who has been at the forefront of the movement of holistic healing for years. In the early 1980s, he successfully joined his flawless credentials with his studies into mind/body medicine.
His first encounter with self-awareness happened in his medical practice, when he became conscious that the model physicians were working with was incomplete. The model they had been using to treat patients was simply based on a mechanistic understanding of the human body and was not conducive to healing.
Although his father, Krishnan Chopra, a renowned cardiologist whose greatest yearning was to see his eldest son study medicine, Chopra wasn’t initially interested in following in his father’s footsteps. He wanted to be a journalist or an actor. That is, until he discovered that writers like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was most noted for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, and William Somerset Maugham, one of the highest paid authors during the 1930s, were physicians themselves.
At 17, he surrendered.
But he soon learned that being a doctor had “little to do with making people happy and healing.” And this is where he began his voyage into the cutting edge of a new consciousness.
Chopra has written over 60 books, with 25 of them bestsellers that have been translated into some 40 languages. Time magazine has even heralded him as the “poet-prophet of alternative medicine.”
While taking a break from teaching a Journey into Healing course at The Chopra Foundation in Carlsbad, California, he took a moment to speak with us about his essential purpose in life, new book Super Brain, self-awareness and his 21-Day Meditation Challenge with Oprah.
“My purpose in life is to expand the experience of healing. And when I say healing, I mean it at all levels: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Healing that even extends to the environment, society and ultimately to the planet. I hope to reach everyone who is passionate about personal and social transformation so that we can create a critical mass of people for a more peaceful, just, sustainable, healthier and happier world,” Chopra explained.
According to Chopra’s findings, humanity appears to be evolving toward a new level of consciousness, but it is not enough, yet, for the human race as a whole to be affected. Although advances in technology, for example, with the Internet acting as a sort of collective consciousness, we could be entering into a new realm of graceful transcendence very soon.
His 21-Day Meditation Challenge with Oprah already has well beyond 600,000 members. This is probably the largest meditation experience in the history of the world–with over one million people who are meditating every day. That, in itself, is a historical event.
“In every audience around the world that I speak to, at least 20 percent of hands go up when I ask who practices meditation. I hope to bring a little bit more peace and harmony to the world,” he says.
By means of five techniques, Chopra explains how we can tap into our unlimited potential and return to the memory of wholeness.
“The words healing, holy and wholeness are all related,” he explains. “Our unlimited potential includes self-awareness, which is awareness of body, mental states, relationships and the five senses. While being responsive to revelation, we must also constantly ask the question:Who am I?”
It is understandable that it may be tricky for society in general to easily grasp these concepts, especially if they just see them as more distractions in their lives. But as he so kindly puts it, “It’s not a difficult quest in life. If it becomes your primary pursuit, then it is the most enjoyable journey you can ever take.”
Being capable of knowing the difference between fundamental reality (what’s common to our perception) and perceptual experience is a lifelong process. There are no shortcuts when it comes to becoming more aware of your inner core of being but “the more you understand the self, the more you will have the expansion of awareness of everything that we call the universe.”
In his book Super Brain, Chopra and Rudolph E. Tanzi detail how we can create our own reality. In addition to explaining how we can develop our greatest gift, the book disputes the popular misconception that I remember always hearing when I was a child, that humans only use about 10 percent of their brains.
“We always use 100 percent of our brains,” Chopra says. “It’s quite the misconception because we always use the entire brain, but how can we use it more efficiently? The brain has over 100 billion neurons, more than all the stars in the Milky Way galaxy and they are all active. They are taking care of your body right now, as they regulate your self-repair mechanisms. When we utilize our super brain, we are using the brain instead of letting it use us. Your autonomic brain is keeping you alive, your limbic brain is controlling your emotions and your cortical brain is trying to understand the outside world.”
Every single experience takes part in restructuring your mind.
“Right now, as we are talking, we are actually reshaping our brain,” he explains. “But we need to learn to do it more consciously, and that means our emotions need to connect us to the world and that we do not become reactive because of circumstances, situations, people and events. Also, we should learn to always find creative solutions for everyday challenges.”
Both our mind, which is invisible, and our brain, which is material, are dual aspects of our spirit. “This is another thing I’m very engaged in, which will be my next project,” he says. “Even after I did the book, I began studying neuroscience for spiritual enlightenment. Since the brain is the instrument in which we express ourselves, I want to dive a little deeper into what the brain’s true role is. We are not the brain but we do have to use it in order to express ourselves in every moment.”
Even though this all may sound rather complex, it’s really fairly simplistic. All humanity needs to realize is that peace, harmony, laughter and love are the most important experiences in life. It’s that simple.
“If I could give you one piece of advice while on this cosmic journey of life,” he says with a smile, “just take it easy.”