By Deepak Chopra, MD
When they become parents, many people wonder how to impart spiritual values to their children. The traditional model of sending them to Sunday school is one alternative; another is to draw the entire family into the personal spirituality of the parents, as more people turn away from organized religion to carve their own path. Children grow up to reflect how they are raised, which makes this an important issue.
To begin with, a child’s spiritual life should be age appropriate. A very young child’s brain hasn’t matured enough to absorb adult beliefs, and the overall development of every child is unique. Before age ten or so, I feel that spiritual parenting will have the most lasting effect if it builds a foundation in the self rather than focusing on principles. As a practical matter, every young child should feel that Continue reading
By Deepak Chopra, MD, and Menas Kafatos, PhD
For a very long time, if you wanted to know if something is real or not, the go-to people have been scientists. The rise of rationality over superstition is considered the single greatest achievement of the past three or four centuries. So it’s startling news–as we discussed in the last post–that physics has arrived at a reality crisis. Three great unsolved mysteries remain, and they are the same riddles asked by ancient Greek philosophers: What is the universe made of? Where did the universe come from? How do we know what’s real?
It’s fascinating to observe how working scientists approach these questions. The vast majority pay no attention to them, because a scientist’s everyday work, including the work of physicists, is about collecting data, running experiments, and making calculations from known theories, and once in a while formulating new theories. The Big Questions which are left to theorists, are usually bypassed in the everyday lives of scientists. But as we discussed last time, science has to test every theory to see if it matches empirical reality. Galileo could calculate on paper that two objects, when dropped from a height, would hit the ground at the same time, despite the age-old assumption that a cannonball, being much heavier than a lead fishing weight, would hit the ground first, as Aristotle believed. To prove that his calculations were correct, Galileo offered empirical proof, and physics took a huge counter-intuitive step forward.
Most physicists are still deeply wedded to empirical proof, and because massive particle accelerators and deep-space telescopes continue to bring back better and better data, delving deeper into the fabric of Nature, there’s a camp we can label “we’re almost there.” If you belong to this camp, you view the future as an unstoppable march to progress; the same march science has been on for centuries. There is no reason to believe that the Big Questions won’t be answered as long as we’re patient enough. But this confident attitude has run into three major obstacles: Continue reading
By Deepak Chopra, MD and Rudolph E. Tanzi, PhD
Human beings are unique in the scenario of life on Earth–that much is obvious. We are guided by awareness, and to implement our wishes, dreams, and inventions, the higher brain (chiefly the cerebral cortex) has evolved to extraordinary proportions. Although classical Darwinism is mindless, and staunchly defended as such by strict materialists, Homo sapiens is no longer caught in the clutches of natural selection. As we saw in the first post of this series, human society is very different from the state of nature. Chimpanzees don’t get their food at the grocery store, and we don’t get ours by fighting with rivals in the treetops.
So the real dilemma isn’t whether human evolution is guided by mind, because clearly it is. What remains puzzling is how much connection there is between our mind and our genes. There is no doubt that the roughly 23,000 genes you inherited from your parents remain the same throughout your lifetime. If the genetic blueprint was as fixed as an architect’s plans, there would be no mind-gene connection. You would be the puppet of DNA, mechanically carrying out whatever actions are programmed into the 3 billion base pairs that constitute the human genome.
To defenders of strict Darwinism, the difference between instinct, which controls animal behavior, and mind, which gives freedom of choice, is lost. But no one who isn’t harping on an agenda could claim that a Mozart symphony or the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was created by instinct. The range of the human mind is vast and creative. But as we create the complex human world, are our genes listening? If so, are they cooperating in our creative enterprises? Continue reading
At the level of consciousness or spirit, we are all inextricably connected to everyone and everything.While our body may appear to be a solid physical structure, in reality it’s an ever-flowing river of energy and information, in constant dynamic exchange with the environment around us.
Our language reflects our innate understanding of our essential energetic nature. We say things like, “His words really resonated with me,” or “I got a bad vibe from that person,” or “My friend has such aradiant heart.” These aren’t just metaphors—we really do feel each other’s energy and are affected by it at a profound level. Think of all the qualities in another person you intuitively pick up at an energetic level. Besides telling if someone is happy or sad, you can sense whether they feel peaceful or perturbed. Looking into their eyes reveals alertness or dullness, tenderness, or indifference. It’s hard to think of any human quality that doesn’t have a kind of energy “signature.”
As energetic beings, our potential to affect others with our energy or state of being is both a great gift and a great responsibility. When we walk into a room, our energy emanates from us. Without saying a word, we communicate through our energetic signature, creating a ripple that can affect everyone we meet. If our state of being is centered in love and compassion, we communicate that energy to each other. In the same way, if we’re mired in judgment, hostility, or resentment, we communicate that too.
Through our energy or consciousness, we have an unlimited capacity to send out ripples that will help the planet and its inhabitants move in the most evolutionary direction—from fear, hostility, and unrest to love, compassion, peace, and joy. Continue reading
By Frank A. Wilczek, PhD and Deepak Chopra, MD
Science tells us what the world is, not what it means. As expert as they are at collecting and analyzing data, most modern scientists tend to shy away from the question, “What does it all mean?” To them, the question seems so vague as to be, well, meaningless.
But it was not always so. The boundaries separating science from other ways of understanding reality–mysticism, theology, and philosophy–used to be more fluid. In ancient Greece Pythagoras was both a rigorous mathematician and a charismatic shaman. Sir Isaac Newton was both a hard-nosed empirical physicist and an obsessive Christian theologian. Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr elucidated physics and at the same time wrestled with issues concerning the basic nature and meaning of reality. Although not a conventional believer, Einstein was comfortable with fluid boundaries, as one sees in a famous quote of his: “I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details.” Continue reading
Science is meant to be the opposite of a belief system. No one underlined this point more securely than Charles Darwin, who devised a theory of evolution that defied the strongest belief of his time, the all but universal belief in the bible version of the origins of man. The fossil record supported a notion contrary to the Bible, that creation was a process, not a single event dictated by a divine Creator. Despite a century and a half of proof that Darwin was right, taking God out of evolution still sticks in the throat of many people.
Pollsters find, to the dismay of trained scientists, that God remains in play for many when it comes to our origins. For example, a 2013 Pew Research poll found that one-third of respondents believe that human beings have always existed in their present form. When broken down by religion, this anti-Darwin, pro-Bible view is held by 64% of white evangelical Protestants and 50% of black Protestants broken down by political party, only 43% of Republicans believe that human beings evolved over time versus 67% of Democrats and 65% of independents. Continue reading
Do you love yourself just as you are? The way that people answer this question reveals a great deal about their upbringing. Well-loved children absorb from their parents a sense of self-worth that lasts a lifetime. But receiving mixed messages as a child is more common. These messages include the following:
I love you as long as you love me.
I love you as long as you are being good.
I love you as much as you deserve.
I love you, but don’t ask for too much or you’ll be spoiled.
You may remember such mixed messages from your childhood or not, but they all place conditions on how much parents love their children. Conditioned love is the norm, quite likely, even though unconditional love is the ideal. Can you change your inner image of how much you are loved and lovable? I believe so. Continue reading
Compassion is changing before our eyes. A religious concept associated with Jesus and Buddha (known as “the Compassionate One”) is being researched today through brain scans and positive psychology. In positive psychology your aim is to reach a state of well-being. The actions of a compassionate person, being kind and sympathetic, turn out to bring personal benefits as well. This is one way that a spiritual value acquires practical, everyday value.
As part of a compassionate lifestyle, a person: Continue reading
The fear of death always comes at or near the top of people’s worst fears. Some psychologists believe that this is such a potent fear, we push it down into the subconscious in order to avoid it. Yet from its hiding place the fear remains active, re-emerging in times like the death of a loved one, making grief even more painful and anxious. Avoiding the fear of death clearly isn’t the best tactic. One reason that Elisabeth Kubler-Ross‘s famous five stages of dying became so popular is that she gave us a rational framework for handling a once-taboo subject.
Rationality is one of the two ways a person can overcome their own personal fear of death. The starting point for most rationalists, particularly scientists, is to assume in the absence of data from the afterlife that our consciousness is extinguished at the moment of death. In a short video on the subject of “What happens after we die?” physicist Brian Greene takes the position, when you’re gone, you’re gone. Continue reading
A mounting fear that science fiction may turn into reality came to light recently. Three brilliant physicists (Stephen Hawking, Max Tegmark, and Frank Wilczek) joined with a noted computer scientist (Stuart Russell) to worry in public about what they termed “superintelligent machines.” In an April 14 Huffington Post article, they take a familiar sci-fi theme, machines that turn on their masters to destroy humankind, and tell us that computers are coming dangerously close to acquiring such a capacity.
I found myself smiling through most of the article–the gap between fiction and reality seems pretty wide right now–but that’s just the kind of complacency the authors are worried about. What if weapons of war are completely automated and turned loose to name their own targets? What if the current trend toward high-speed computer trading on Wall St. is perfected to the point that machines can manipulate the world’s economy? Continue reading