Episode 10: Deepak Chopra - The Secret of the Book of Secrets
Deepak Chopra – The Secret of the Book of Secrets
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DEEPAK CHOPRA: I am Deepak Chopra. It’s my great privilege always to be interviewed by Duncan Campbell. Duncan’s program, “Living Dialogues”, is a real trendsetter for the kind of media programming we need in the future. It is uniquely transformative, and deep. Duncan’s conversations are more than interviews; they always bring out the best in both him and the person he’s interviewing.
DUNCAN CAMPBELL: From time immemorial, beginning with indigenous councils and ancient wisdom traditions, through the work of Western visionaries such as Plato, Galileo, and quantum physicist David Boehm, mutually participatory dialog has been seen as the key to evolving and transforming consciousness, evoking a flow of meaning, a “dia” – ‘flow’ – “logos” – ‘meaning’, beyond what any one individual can bring through alone. So join us now, as together with you, the active deep listener, we evoke, and engage in, ‘living dialogues’.
DUNCAN CAMPBELL: Welcome to “Living Dialogues”. I’m your host, Duncan Campbell, and with me for this particular dialog I’m delighted to have as my guest, Deepak Chopra, M.D. Acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest leaders in the field of mind-body medicine, he continues to transform our understanding of he meaning of ‘health’. Through his creation of the Chopra Center for Well-Being in California in 1995, Deepak established a formal vehicle for the expansion of his healing approach, using the integration of the best of Western medicine with natural healing traditions. He is the author of more than 35 books, and more than 20 million copies of his books have been sold worldwide. His best sellers, known to many of you, over the last number of years include “How to Know GoDuncan Campbell: The Soul’s Journey Into the Mystery of Mysteries”, “Perfect Health”, “Ageless Body, Timeless Mind”, “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success”, “The Return of Merlin”, and “The Path to Love”. Always on the cutting edge, Deepak has embarked on new projects that will change the way spirituality and technology converge, recently partnering with the “Wild Divine” project, creators of transformational multimedia product, to develop a trilogy of computer games focused on enhancing mind and body wellness. His “The Book of Secrets” discusses how to unlock the hidden dimensions of your life.
So, Deepak, having done dialogues before, it’s a real treat to have you back.
DEEPAK CHOPRA: Thank you. It’s always good to be back on your show.
DUNCAN CAMPBELL: Let’s tell the audience right off the bat, since many of them are already familiar with your prior work, what would you say is the distinguishing feature of “The Book of Secrets”, which many have said, although “comparisons are odious”, as Shakespeare says, really summarizes in a really innovative new way, much of what you’ve done before?
DEEPAK CHOPRA: Well let me give you a little history. About three and a half years ago my father passed away, and I’d gone to India to do his commission. As I was lighting the fire of commission, I saw a few kids about a hundred yards away. They were flying their kite using the draft of my commission fire. And two hundred yards in another direction there was a wedding band. India is an interesting country, where you can have the intimate experience of grief, joy, sorrow, celebration, and playfulness, all at the same time.
DUNCAN CAMPBELL: Beautiful image, Deepak.
DEEPAK CHOPRA: The next day I went to throw the ashes in the Ganges, and the family priest showed up. And he brought a register with him, and in that register was an entry of my father, when he had brought the ashes of his father to the same place. Another entry by my grandfather, when he had brought the ashes of his parents to this place. And so on. And I asked the priest, “How far can you back?” And he said, “To before Christ, to the year 323 B.C. when Alexander the Great came to this country with his armies from Macedonia. We started this tradition of keeping a track of lineages, and we have yours here, going back 2000 years.” And he said, “Sit down. The fragrance of your ancestors’ souls is here, even though every generation comes by like a passing breeze. Write a note to your children, when they bring your ashes here, and your grandchildren when they bring the ashes of your children.” And so you know I walked out of there with a completely different perspective, and things that I had been exploring all my life, like ‘where is the soul?’, ‘what happens after death?’, ‘why is there suffering?’, ‘what is the nature of evil?’, these things began to kind of want to express themselves, and this book, I must have prepared for it over a lifetime, but when it started to download itself it happened very effortlessly and spontaneously.
DUNCAN CAMPBELL: That’s such a compelling and beautiful story. As someone who has been to India myself, for sixteen months out of the last five years, I just can see that image, Varanasi is emblazoned in my mind with the beautiful image of the updraft from your father’s ashes, of taking the kites of the new generation and letting them soar into the sky. And you know, Deepak, it gives a whole beautiful subtext and background to your dedication to this book, which, with your permission, I’ll quote, and you say, “To my father, Krishan lol Chopra, your graceful life and your graceful death inspired and finally unlocked the hidden dimensions of my life.” And it’s as if there was a conscious blessing, a final one, bestowed on you by your father at the very moment of the cremation, when all of that wondrous orchestration happened at once with his cremation, the kites of the youth flying, the wedding celebration happening. And then I’ve also, like you, had that same experience when I went to Gangotri, way up in the mountains, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, where the Ganga comes out of the mountain, and where they have recorded, the priests there, for generations and generations and generations the history of a given family I happened to, an Indian family that I happened to have gone there with. So you have a sense of your whole being extending backwards through, literally millennia, so the notion that we’ve all been, as you point out, in ourselves at one time a cloud, a mountain breeze.
DEEPAK CHOPRA: Yeah, you actually literally feel like a part of this whole web of creation. It was Gangotri where we went also.
DUNCAN CAMPBELL: Well tell us a little bit about your experience at Gangotri, because it’s such an exquisite place.
DEEPAK CHOPRA: It’s at the birth of the Ganges, where you know the Ganges takes birth on Planet Earth, and Ganges is a goddess, and symbolically represents purity. And from of course there it washes itself into the plains of India. But there’s a lot of history there, and there’s a lot of spirituality there, and you know Gangotri is in the north, but you go through Rishikesh and Haridwar, and the word ‘Haridwar’ literally means ‘the doorway to God’. So it’s very special and it brings back some kind of remembrance of intimacy with a very ancient part of yourself, that’s been in a sense living through eons of time, through many, many different physical expressions. So you know I finally thought, this is the time to express everything that I feel and know and have experienced about the hidden dimensions of our existence, our personal self, our collective self, and ultimately that universal domain of consciousness that expresses itself as all these observers and all these objects of observation.
DUNCAN CAMPBELL: One of the most remarkable things, I think, about your book is that you say right up front that your intent is not to really add more concepts to the many eons of concepts and thinking and expression that have gone on, but to open a doorway in the readership, so that they themselves can experience directly what it is that you have experienced yourself, and what we all have as our birthright.
DEEPAK CHOPRA: Ultimately that’s the only thing that can bring about transformation, Duncan. No amount of intellectual analysis can do it. Books can only be tools to open that doorway, and then when you step into that doorway you see that there’s a whole domain of infinite possibilities over there, you know with everything contained as immeasurable potential, the past, the future, and the present.
DUNCAN CAMPBELL: And I have that same feeling, Deepak, about these dialogs that you and I have done over the years.
DEEPAK CHOPRA: Yes, those have been great fun.
DUNCAN CAMPBELL: Yeah, and they are like a ‘Haridwar’.
DEEPAK CHOPRA: Thank you. Same to you too.
DUNCAN CAMPBELL: They’re like a gateway. And so before we leave that moment of Gangotri, I just want to say the other person who accompanied us, as I mentioned to you in a prior conversation, was a yogi, a mountain yogi who had spent literally decades in the region of Nainital, in the forest of Tete as a forest yogi, living literally with tigers and the animals, said to be at least 150 years old, and this was verified by a colonel in the Indian army, who started out as a great skeptic, after his wife had picked up Prokashanand, Swami Prokashanand, on the road to Nainital when he was stationed there, and I just underscore that because when in India, it is one of those places in the world, perhaps the place where miracles abound and you have these experiences that are so extraordinary it brings everything that you’re sharing so articulately and eloquently in your books, Deepak, right into your cellular experience. And I’m reminded, the last time we talked about your previous book, “Ageless Body, Timeless Mind”, that you were saying that “Every morning when we wake up,” you were quoting the course in miracles, “we have a choice to either open to a potential miracle and celebrate it, or to choose complaint and control.”
DEEPAK CHOPRA: The prayer in the course in miracles, every decision I make is a choice between a grievance and a miracle.
DUNCAN CAMPBELL: And the other beautiful thing you said just now is that when all of this experience welled up in you with the deep emotion that was present at the passing of your father and his cremation, and that sense of linkage to a far greater universe, so that in a sense as you put it, it was a universe which has never been born and has never died; it’s a timeless realm that you entered as this book welled up in you and this desire to share your experience, it came out effortlessly, and that’s one of the main themes in this book, that if we align ourselves with the flow, the ‘dia-logos’, the flow of the wisdom of the universe, things do start to come effortlessly. Now when people first hear that, they may think, “Well, wait a minute. There seems to be a little bit of a paradox here,” because you also in other parts of the book say that at a certain point you have to make a certain kind of effort and remain with the flow, and not allow yourself to be distracted. So perhaps you could speak to that paradox.
DEEPAK CHOPRA: It’s just a shift in awareness more than anything else. You know if you’re working too hard at something and there’s a lot of resistance, then that’s not spiritual. But certainly sometimes hard work, exacting plans, driving ambitions, setting goals can be something that will allow you to accomplish goals in the material domain, at a huge price cost, because there’s a lot of stress involved. Spiritual flow is effortless, spontaneous; it is full of flexibility and creativity. It’s a realm where you learn to let go, and it’s a realm where you detach from the outcome, and it’s a realm where you have life-centered present moment awareness. And it’s so joyful that it can’t even be described. It seems like you and the universe are dancing together. There’s a song in your heart and you don’t really care who’s listening or what they think. You just want to sing that song and you want to move in tandem with the impulse of evolution which we call dharma. So, true spirituality is that, but having said that, unless you pay attention to this domain of your awareness it might elude you. So you do have to put attention, and you have to know how to set your priorities.
DUNCAN CAMPBELL: Well you know one of the things that’s also remarkable about your own experience is that for many years you were involved in one of the most exacting disciplined professions in the world, as a medical doctor and the head of a whole section of a hospital in Massachusetts, and it was really only in your forties that you began to write these books that have been so extraordinary, so to think that within the span of really several short years you’ve published 35 books, including books of poetry as well as prose. I think you’re your own best advertisement for how it’s possible for…
DEEPAK CHOPRA: A lot of it was incubating, you know, watching people get well when they were not supposed to, watching people die when they were not supposed to. Missing out on consciousness is one of the crucial elements of what was happening in the person’s body-mind system, and so I used to wonder about that a lot in those days.
DUNCAN CAMPBELL: Well maybe you could describe for us what hidden secret started to detonate in you these several years ago, Deepak, that began to blossom.
DEEPAK CHOPRA: I think the most important thing was that there’s a domain of awareness which cannot be explained mechanistically, and that is where the real action is, you know. So in one of his poems Rumi says, “This is not the real reality. The real reality is behind the curtain. In truth, we are not here; this is our shadow.” So I always wanted to peek behind the curtain to see where the action was. And so this book is really rending the veil that separates us from that place which is timeless, which has no beginning and no ending, the domain where water cannot wet you, wind cannot dry you, fire cannot burn you, and weapons cannot shatter you. Ancient and unborn, it has no beginning in time and no ending in time. So finally I said, “What’s the way? Why can we not all experience it? I was experiencing it, and so I started in my own life to be kind of aligned with the yoga of love and the yoga of compassion and understanding, the yoga of stillness and meditation, and the yoga of science and understanding, and the yoga of action, which we call ‘karma yoga’, and then these are gifts that came from those…
DUNCAN CAMPBELL: And it’s very interesting too, that as a doctor, as you point out, you were on the border, constantly, between life and death, and so the great mystery of death and life itself were presented to you in these very intense ways, for which you felt, really as all doctors do, super-responsible, if we may add, and yet at a certain point you were able to let go and open up into this other realm, while losing none of the attentiveness, in fact even increasing your ability to be present with your co-creative awareness, and so a this point I’d like to turn to Secret Number 6, in your book, which I think is really quite innovative, and wonderfully put. It’s called ‘Freedom Tames the Mind’, and you start by saying, “This is very counter-intuitive, this particular secret, because for instance, in India, the mind itself, where fear,” as you put it, “sometimes roams without impediment, and where insecurity and doubt and all sorts of inner obstacles can arise in our mind, is sometimes regarded as a wild elephant that needs to be tamed, and the imagery, as you put it, is of putting a stake in the ground to tame the elephant, and the beautiful image of course of the monkey, celebrated in Buddhist philosophy, of the ‘monkey mind’, and then again in the great Rama Yana, where the monkey mind which is jumpy and fickle and impulsive becomes completely tamed and massively empowered for the good, and turns into Hanuman, the great monkey god, because of his one point of devotion to spirit, in the form of Rom and Sita, and the great masculine/feminine mystery of Shiva Shakti, and so on. And yet you say, and this is what I’d really like you to expound upon a bit here and put together, is that the counter-intuitive way to actually find that secret still point is to free your mind and stop making choices, to actually, in a sense, turn it over to the mystery.
DEEPAK CHOPRA: Yeah, you know what I’m talking about there is ‘choiceless awareness’. When you become aware of the observer in the midst of the observation, then you go into choiceless awareness, and your reference point shifts from your ego to that choiceless awareness, then you have what is called self-referred consciousness, which has certain characteristics. You’re independent of the good or bad, independent of others; you feel neither superior nor inferior; you are detached from outcome; you are defenseless; you are in touch with your feelings and you feel what you feel; you’re not obsessed with power, money, or control; and you’re not easily offended. In that state of consciousness there is automatically freedom, because all the things that imprison us are the very things that you’re not. You know you’re not attached to outcome; you’re not obsessed with power or control; you’re not denying your feelings; you’re not feeling superior or inferior. In that choiceless awareness there’s infinite freedom and a freedom to create. That’s how the universe re-creates itself, you know. Every death then becomes an act of quantum creativity.
DUNCAN CAMPBELL: In fact what I thought was really powerful also, about that particular chapter, was your saying that you must free yourself from decisions, and you quote the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard, saying that… He wrote that, “The person who has found God has freed himself from choices.”
DEEPAK CHOPRA: Because then you make spontaneous evolutionary choices. It’s the same as being in the flow of dharma. You’re not anticipating a response. You’re not victimized by memory. You’re literally in the flow of the evolutionary impulse of the universe.
For full transcript, please contact Duncan Campbell