“There is no solution with a war on anything, including a war on ignorance, which is what is happening right now. It’s a display of insanity and ignorance. You can’t fight that. You see, what you have to do is come up with creative solutions and creative solutions are already existing in the world for everything else.” – Deepak Chopra
When pandemic shutdowns took effect in San Francisco last spring, the average drop in background noise in the city was 7 decibels. The change in sound level was immediately noticeable in the quality and the quantity of birdsong that quickly came to dominate the subdued urban landscape. Although residents and researchers alike noticed that bird songs were more audible in the suddenly silent city, it turns out that resident bird songs in fact, quieted as well, decreasing by the relatively minor amount of about 4 decibels.
As the city’s soundscapes came to match that of its rural counterparts, San Francisco’s birds also reclaimed their natural voices. Even at a lower volume, their songs carried more clearly and the tonal range increased to include lower decibels again, previously drowned out by the low rumble of traffic. Perhaps the experience of San Francisco’s birds should be a model for our own approach to the pandemic.
As we experience the slower pace of life during lockdown, we too have an opportunity to return to our more instinctive patterns of daily life. When all the facets of busy life we once assumed to be constant, like commuting, dropping kids off at school, or running from one task/ event/ meeting to another, disappear, we are confronted with a heightened awareness of what it means to be human and what our roles on this planet are meant to be.
This heightened consciousness surrounding the human experience is examined in our Solutions News conversation with endocrinologist and meditation teacher Deepak Chopra, interviewed by Rinaldo S. Brutoco, founding President and CEO of the World Business Academy, the Optimist Daily’s publishing partner.
Today we’re sharing some of the highlights from this conversation between these two great thought leaders.
Rinaldo: Without talking about your newest book coming out this month, Total Meditation, I want to go back to the bestseller that came out just last year, Metahuman. I’m profoundly impressed with it, almost as if it’s sort of a gift to us. How did you come about writing it?
Deepak: Well, meditation has a long tradition in many wisdom traditions, particularly in the East, but also in the West. Most people these days are talking about mindfulness, which of course, is actually a misnomer, because when we are speaking about mindfulness, we are not speaking about the mind, we are speaking about the awareness of the mind. But nevertheless, mindfulness of the body, mindfulness of a perceptual experience, mindfulness of mind, web of relationships, all of this comes under, as you know, various types of vipassana.
Vipassana is the Buddhist meditation, called insight meditation, where you have a non-judgment awareness of any experience, any sensation, any image, any feeling, any thought, and then it reveals its nature to you as a modified form of consciousness. But then if you look at the traditions of yoga, there are many other techniques, including interoception, for being aware of what’s happening inside your body. For example, concentration or reflection or inquiry, or even imagination. Our body is subject to homeostasis, which means if you leave the body all by itself, it regulates itself. The mind does the same thing. In fact, body and mind are the same thing.
And you know, all these years we spoke about the mind-body connection. Until one day I realized that this was also an oxymoron, you know, just like wave-particle are the same entity, mass-energy are the same entity, space-time are the same entity, body-mind are the same entity. [Body-mind are just] two different ways of experiencing consciousness.
My intention with this book was that, even if you’re not enlightened, you could actually, right at this moment, act as if you were. Right this moment, you can be the divine enlightened being in every choice you make. If you do, you’ll be free.
I mean, look at the religious experience. So it’s only three or four things: transcendence; the birth of platonic values, like truth, truth, goodness, beauty, harmony, love, compassion, joy, equanimity; and the loss of the fear of death, because that happens all the time to your provisional identity. You know, my provisional identity from 2019, or even early 2020 is dead. It’s gone, doesn’t exist. So once you know that, you can start to reinvent everything that you call reality, including your body, your mind, the world.
Rinaldo: Okay, but I just want to pick up on something you said in an interview about this book. You said that for thousands of years, people have gotten out of bed to pursue the same seven goals, and then you list them: Safety and security; success and achievement; love and belonging: personal meaning and value: creativity and discovery: higher purpose and spirituality; wholeness and unity.
It is my understanding that meditation is the way to hold how we hold those goals because it gives us that…
Deepak: Deeper insight. Yes. Because meditation takes you beyond the rational, linear thought process, which has been very useful in creating what we call human civilization. Everything that you see today including all our technology, all our constructs, latitude, longitude, nation-states, Wall Street, money are a result of rational logical thinking, but here’s the great thing. While rational thought gives us insight to a certain experience we are having at that moment, rational thought cannot look at fundamental reality, which is not linear. Fundamental reality is all possibilities all at the same time. Fundamental realities, creative fundamental reality self regulates itself.
Self organizes itself. It is the source of insight, intuition, inspiration, imagination, vision, higher consciousness, transcendence, and, ultimately, loss of the fear of death. Now, the rational thought cannot get you there. So the practice of meditation is actually breaking down human constructs until you get to the source of all constructs and then reconstruct from there in new reality.
So, you know, it’s actually the creative process, which is death and resurrection. Death of an old paradigm. An old story. Old context. An interpretation of old relationships or its story basically. And that old story dies. And the new story is born. Which is new context, new meaning, new relationships, and ultimately new constructs, which give us new perceptions of reality.
I look at a grain of corn. I see corn fields. I see farmers. I see trucks. I see vehicles. I see petroleum. I see trades, trade wars. I see national policy. I see sunshine. I see earth, I see water. I see rainbows. I see the infinite void and that grain of corn contains the whole universe. That’s a physicalist point of view, but actually the grain of corn is also a perceptual activity in consciousness and there’s a perceptual activity in consciousness.
Rinaldo: So here’s the question for most people. And I totally embrace this as you know, because I totally believe in quantum physics and consciousness is the application, it seems to me, of quantum thinking to our inner awareness. So we’re seeing ourselves as emerging from the quantum soup, the foam, and therefore we can be and are everything in potentiality, but how does somebody live every day, walking through life with that awareness Deepak?
I use meditation to get centered. I call it “me time” as a way to relieve some of the pressures on me just to go inside and take a deep breath and connect with what really matters, the universe. But how do people live with this awareness that you’re talking about? How do they go about their daily lives?
Deepak: For me, it has been a lifelong process. It’s like a fruit that is ripening. And then one day it falls to the ground and then it’s so obvious. So that’s the only way to live. But one has to be passionate about self-realization. I mean, otherwise it is not something that most people are even interested in.
I mean, you can’t even convince people of climate change, leave alone the insanity of war. You know, there’s so many things happening in the world, including climate change, and the insanity of war, nuclear weapons, biological warfare, internet, cyber warfare, extinction of species, poison in our food chain, an economy that is going to ruins, and people fighting all over the world. Ideological wars, national leaders who are gangsters. So self-realization is very far for most people’s minds. So, I’m not even sure if this book is for everyone.
Rinaldo: No, in fact, I’m sure it’s not for everyone Deepak, but you know, there’s that old saying the unexamined life is not worth living.
Deepak: That’s it…
Rinaldo: And in one sense, what you’re saying is, if you want to be fully alive, start to examine your preconceived notions.
Deepak: Absolutely! Everything that you’ve heard is the hypnosis of social conditioning and the fragmented mind, which goes back to the bronze age. So we are living internally in the bronze age with the external capacities of massive destruction. This combination spells extinction.
Rinaldo: And you know, a lot of what you teach, and you’ve been one of the great teachers in my life, and I’m very grateful for it. And in all that you teach, I believe you’re really teaching us about how to be in the world, but not of the world, to use that biblical reference. Because you’re really trying to help us get to the beyond place.
And frankly, when I look back from that place, it’s a lot easier to see how all these dilemmas can get resolved easily.
Deepak: Very easily. Today we have the technology to reverse climate change. We have the technology to even resurrect an extinct species. We have the technology to create abundance in the world.
We have all the technology to create a more peaceful, just, sustainable, healthier, and joyful world. What we need is emergence. As somebody who’s studied this yourself Rinaldo, social scientists are now talking about something called emergence: when they say you have maximum diversity. You have shared vision. You compliment each other’s strengths.
The systems are transparent and open to feedback. You incubate together that shared vision and emergence happens. The old story dies and the new story is born. Perhaps we’re seeing that right now.
Rinaldo: How I see what you teach is to better understand how to go into who we are and what we are capable of. So we can drop all this other crap. We don’t need to kill each other. In fact, we weren’t made to do that.
Deepak: Rinaldo, one of the problems is our language. So we use language in a way that is violent, you know, war on drugs, on lack of education, war on poverty, war on war, war on racism, a war on social injustice, war on just about everything.
These are violent, oxymoron, metaphors. There is no solution with a war on anything, including a war on ignorance, which is what is happening right now. It’s a display of insanity and ignorance. You can’t fight that. You see, what you have to do is come up with creative solutions and creative solutions are already existing in the world for everything else.
Now we see that with Covid 19. A pandemic has actually shown us what’s possible when the price of petroleum went to less than zero. It’s obvious that you can have an economy which doesn’t depend on petroleum. It’s also obvious that the climate change is possibly reversible, because now, the birds are back, the bees are back, and you know, fish are returning to dead lakes. Even the canals of Venice have seen fish for the first time. The Himalayas can be seen from 400 miles away.
People in Bangalore, which is one of the most polluted cities in the world, are breathing for the first time. So nature is the ecosystem, the biosphere, which is both external and internal. Our body is the same biosphere. As the biosphere outside the earth is recycling into your body, the air is recycling as your breath, the rivers and waters recycling as your circulation, the stars are recycling as the carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen in your body. You are made. You are a star-dust being, having a human experience, even from a scientific point of view. But now that biosphere is fixing itself because these mutations that we call dangerous. Mutations like COVID-19 et cetera.
So when you talk to geneticists and say, What causes these mutations, cancer mutations, for example, or other disease mutations?, most geneticists even today will say, Oh, you know, the mutations are genetic in origin or they’re random.
That’s the prevailing wisdom. It’s not true!
Rinaldo: That’s not true.
Deepak: No. The most mutations are a result of toxicity in the ecosystem of our existence. So people say because of environmental pollution, but again, that’s a wrong word. The environment is your extended body. You and the environment are the same unified process.
Rinaldo: You’re giving people a way to connect with what’s real. Yes, so that they can start to see the illusion for the illusion that it is.
Are there other quick, easy little tidbits, besides meditate every day, which is a good one. Something else we can do to help us evolve so that we can drop some of these barriers that keep us apart and cause all this destruction?
Deepak: I think basic things are very simple: a lot of laughter and a lot of joy. You know, people say, what do you do with children?
You play with children, you watch funny movies, you tell nursery rhymes, you sing, you dance, you share poetry. We can do that as adults too. It’s the most joyful way to be in touch with yourself, is to be playful at the moment you get serious, you’ve lost it because, you know, you’re no longer close to the source.
So play, do poetry, music, dance, and any of the arts. Any of the arts are a way to get in touch with the source of your heart’s existence. But then there are other things you can imagine. The ideal stage of body, mind, and spirit. You can do simple things like get a massage, or do some exercise, or do breathing techniques, or do some form of yoga.
You can make sure you get sleep and your diet is not full of poison. That your relationships are healthy, with attention, affection, appreciation, and acceptance. These are common things that we do as human beings.
Deepak Chopra has built a career through sharing his visionary insights on the many tangible ways that we, like the birds of San Francisco, can return to the source of our existence. This is just a portion of the insightful interview between Deepak and Rinaldo. We encourage you to listen to the full interview here.