Time magazine heralds Deepak Chopra as one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century, crediting him as ‘the poet-prophet of alternative medicine’. Acknowledged as a world-renowned authority in the field of mind-body medicine, Deepak Chopra has been at the forefront of holistic healing and is the author of more than fifty books on these very subjects. As a trained doctor, Deepak Chopra has successfully combined his work as a practising endocrinologist with his exploration of mind-and-body medicine to help people experience physical healing, emotional freedom, and higher states of consciousness. Rather than turn his back on his conventional training, he extended his practice to bring together the best of ancient wisdom and modern science. By doing so, he has positively influenced the lives of many people around the world and he will soon share his wisdom in a presentation at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre on April 27.
What drew you to study endocrinology?
In the 1970s when I was doing my training, they were discovering neuro chemicals called neuro peptides and they were thought to be the molecules of emotion. I was drawn to the field of endocrinology, in particularly neuro endocrinology, in order to see if there were a biological basis for saying that your emotions, your thoughts, your consciousness could actually change your biology – the immune system, the nervous system and all related. I was also drawn to Endocrinology because I was always puzzled by the fact that you could have two people with exactly the same illness but when treated in the same way, there were completely different outcomes. My grandfather was an army sergeant in the British Army. He had a heart ailment and was not getting well so he turned to Ayurveda, the ‘science of life’– a system of traditional medicine. As a child, I remember that Western medicine did not help him but Ayurveda did.
Were you parents an influence on your career?
My father was a great teacher and healer. He was a cardiologist who trained in the Western system in England. My mother was the greatest storyteller in the world and was an incredibly inspiring person. She told us stories from Indian mythology and literature.
What were your early career aspirations?
In the early years I wanted to be a writer or a journalist. My father, of course, wanted me to be a doctor, so on my 14th birthday he gave me all these great books about doctors so that made me change my mind.
Do you think media has an impact on our understanding of happiness?
The media right now drives the collective psychosis and the collective melodrama by focusing on everything that is wrong and, in fact, making it almost seductive.
In Australian author Clive Hamilton’s new book Requiem for a Species, he begins with the following paragraph: “Sometimes facing up to the truth is just too hard. There have been any number of urgent scientific reports in recent years emphasising just how dire the future looks and how little time we have left to act. But around the world only a few have truly faced up to the facts about global warming.” The environment is critical to your message of people achieving peace and a deeper spiritual consciousness. How do we achieve this if the science for global warming is correct?
Absolutely. I don’t even call it the environment. I call it our extended body. I think we must do what we can and participate. We must connect with other people who are similarly inclined. For example, I am doing a campaign with Jet Blue on the green consciousness. We are looking at how people can have an emotional relationship with this. I think it is an urgent priority and we need to change the conversation. It is very critical that this problem takes a grassroots level of leadership, where everyone takes the role of leader and becomes an activist for the environment.
You offer so much goodness to the world and many people revere you, but you also have your critics. How do you overcome the critics and the judgmental?
The thing to remember for everyone is that nobody achieved anything extraordinary by worrying about his or her critics. If you want to do extraordinary things, you have to be independent of both the good and the bad opinion of others.
How do you find balance in your life?
I am very disciplined about my spiritual practice, which includes meditation.
I make sure that, no matter what, I practise meditation everyday. I am also very diligent with my exercise program for every day and I make sure I get good sleep. The day then flows by very effortlessly.
Do the gruelling requirements of your work schedule cause you stress?
No. I do not get stressed. I remain centred no matter what I am doing or where I am going. I have cultivated the ability to be in my centre no matter what is happening around me. I always think of solutions and I never get drawn into the drama of the situation around me. I believe if you keep your sobriety and your centredness, and you ask, ‘how can I contribute to a situation helpfully and creatively?’, then nature supports that – be it called synchronicity or good luck.
You have revolutionised many people’s understanding of the meaning of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Simply, how can you transform your life with these practices?
You can’t change the body without changing the self, and you can’t change the self without bringing
in the soul.
Your new book, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul throws out every fixed belief about what the body can and cannot do. You summarise them in 10 breakthroughs. Can you explain these?
I offer five breakthrough ideas that can completely alter how you see your body and what you do with it.
– Your Physical Body is an Illusion.
– Your Real Body is Energy.
– Awareness Has Magic.
– You Can Improve Your Genes.
– Time Isn’t Your Enemy.
So as you reinvent your body, which means accepting it as part of your whole consciousness, the soul must also be brought back into partnership with it. Five soul breakthroughs are needed:
– There’s an Easier Way to Live.
– Love Awakens the Soul.
– Be as Boundless as Your Soul.
– The Fruit of Surrender is Grace.
– The Universe Evolves Through You.
When you absorb these ten ideas, and follow the practical exercises attached to each, you will turn the process of life in a new direction. Instead of being blocked by obstacles, areas of freedom open up where you never imagined them.
How do you experience happiness?
I experience happiness in many ways – through laughter, through play, in meditation, in imagination. It’s through creative expression and making other people happy. It’s also through finding creative opportunities where other people see problems.
What inspires you?
Right now my inspiration comes from my stillness. Everybody in the world has almost infinite potential and I also feel very inspired by helping people receive their potential.
Do you believe in a god and, if so, which one?
I think belief is a cover up for insecurity. You only have to resort to belief if you are not sure. Therefore I would say the question does not apply. I have complete conviction that God exists as an infinite intelligence that orchestrates the infinite workings of the universe. I also think that we have that intelligence and we have the ability to get in touch with the larger intelligence. Just like the drop in the ocean is the ocean. You are not only the drop in the ocean, you are also the ocean in the drop. I think by shifting our awareness to our inner being we have access to this intelligence and the mystery we call God. And we don’t need to be part of a religion to experience this mystery.
Interview by Carl Lindgren.