Tag Archives: critical mass

Deepak Chopra: Can We Create Peace in Egypt?

If you’ve been following the news in the past few weeks then you’re undoubtedly aware of the troubling political violence erupting in Egypt. In one week, alone, more than 900 people died, prompting EU-affiliated countries to suspend arms sales to the country.

In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak is joined by two young Arab women leaders to discuss the current situation in Egypt and the steps to creating peace and resolving conflict.

Does taking sides, as Deepak says, perpetuate conflict? Or is there ever a line at which we should take one side to help overcome another? Do you believe we can change the world by shifting our own consciousness? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Thumbnail credit: Mosa’ab Elshamy / Flickr: mosaaberising

The Chopra Well Launches Today!

Deepak Chopra, daughter Mallika, and son Gotham launch their new YouTube channel, The Chopra Well, today! This premium content show features daily programming on topics ranging from meditation to humor to personal growth and much more. It’s a family affair, as Deepak joins forces professionally with his daughter and son for the first time. And take it from us, it packs quite a punch!

The channel’s mission is to spread a positive, accessible, and at times irreverent message about the importance of personal growth for global transformation. After months of preparation, the Chopras are thrilled to launch their channel and to have so much support from their friends and community in developing this vision.

“My father is not only an inspiration to the world, but also to those of us who know him well. It’s been interesting, thrilling and also very fulfilling to work with my brother and father, as well as the incredible team involved in launching The Chopra Well,” said Mallika, also an author and founder of media company Intent.com.

Gotham’s sentiments echo Mallika’s:

“My sister and I have had the incredible good fortune to grow up around great minds who are always pushing the boundaries of innovation and imagination,” said Gotham. “Now – because of the technological tools we have at our disposal, YouTube most notably – we are able to help evolve this community of thinkers to a whole new stratosphere. We no longer need to evangelize change, we can do it, and be it, and share it with one another. And frankly speaking, I think there is an urgency to all of this – we need to rethink the world in which we want to live starting now.”

Dr. Chopra has had this very thing on his mind for a long time. In his words:

“I believe that if 100 million people underwent personal transformation in the direction of peace, harmony, laughter, love, kindness, joy and equanimity the world would be fundamentally transformed,” said Deepak, author of 65 books and co-founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing.  “By subscribing to this channel and participating in our community by watching, responding to and interacting with the content, by sharing and uploading your own videos and making comments, we can find the critical mass that will transform this planet.”

Viewers who tune in to The Chopra Well will find it to be a central source for all things relevant to personal transformation, from the inspirational and innovative to the insightful and even irreverent. The Chopra Well content is deep and comprehensive, including an ever-expanding library of video interviews, cutting-edge discussions, thought provoking shows and how-to tips along with exciting conversations with Rainn Wilson, Perez Hilton and other celebrities about their personal journeys.

Playful, profound, and inspiring – The Chopra Well is here at last! Subscribe to our channel, and be present for the future.

Choose your epidemic: Tea Parties or “Yes We Can”

 It’s time for people to realize the power of "social contagion." That’s a term invented by researchers to describe how influence spreads from one person to another. At the level of common sense, we all know that gossip and rumors have a life of their own, as do urban legends. Yesterday’s conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination give way to shadowy paranoia about President Obama’s birth certificate. But social contagion reaches deeper than common sense ever realized.

Moods, attitudes, and habits are involved. If you are around a depressed family member, for example, you are more likely than average to become depressed yourself. But that’s also true if you know someone who has a depressed friend, even though the person you know isn’t depressed. This is a very strange finding, but the sociological data supports it. You run a higher risk of being overweight or taking up smoking if a friend of a friend is overweight or smokes cigarettes. No one can account for third-hand and even fourth-hand influences. Social contagion is real but invisible.

It also cuts both ways. Positive influences have their own infectiousness, so if a friend of a friend has good lifestyle habits or an optimistic outlook, you are more likely to develop them, too. Which means that if you want to be part of an invisible social network, it’s good to choose the one with the most positive and far-reaching effects. You are having an influence even when you don’t sign up as an official participant.

All kinds of catch phrases have cropped up to describe the power of influence. "Tipping point" and "critical mass" are among the most popular. They both refer to a kind of chain reaction. At a certain point so many people believe something that its spread cannot be stopped. In the 2008 campaign, "Yes We Can" reached critical mass and elected a new president. At this moment the rebellious Tea Party seems poised to reach critical mass — or not. No one can tell.

Social contagion isn’t about reason. A large majority of Americans tell pollsters that they believe in UFOs, despite decades of disproof from every government group that has investigated the matter. Indeed, the very fact of government denial strengthens the belief in flying saucers. The Tea Party equivalent is the bailout. Rationally, it was a rare moment of decisive intervention for the government to save the banking industry. A serious depression was averted. Credit has slowly begun to flow. The stock market rebounded dramatically, bringing billions of dollars of new capital to the economy.

But none of that counts if you are motivated by anger and resentment. At present the hardest hit by the recession are young people, the unemployed, minorities, and immigrants. Yet the typical Tea Party member is an employed middle-class white male, the one segment of the population that is doing relatively well. The Tea Party is a pure example of social contagion. It has no reasonable goals or agenda. Its vision amounts to little more than vague revenge against any incumbent.

Behind the so-called passion of the Tea Party lies the same destructive shadow energies that Sarah Palin has evoked from the start. Beyond a cantankerous "don’t tread on me" attitude, there are no policies to hold the movement together. In an atmosphere of unreason, it’s easy for a Rand Paul in Kentucky to hold libertarian views that would undo civil rights, or for Newt Gingrich to smear Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan as someone who threw the military off campus during a war. In the absence of good faith, bad faith thrives.

In the end, you have to choose which social contagion you want to be part of. Simply by holding resentful, angry, irrational beliefs, you are that third-hand or fourth-hand influence. Your unreason spreads the epidemic of unreason as it creeps from household to household. For myself, I’m grateful that the counter contagion of "Yes We Can" was victorious. Everyone has a right to join any movement they want, as long as they have a clear vision of what the consequences could be.

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Does a New Start Have a Chance?

Barack Obama’s eloquence in the defense of idealism hasn’t changed since Iowa, but reaction to it has. He is accused of favoring uplifting rhetoric over hard policy choices. Some commentators complain that for them, the thrilling speeches of the primary season now produce little or no reaction. Obama speaks of a renewed world, but most old-timers, cynical or not, expect the world — especially the one inside the Beltway — to roll on without much change. Inertia will prevail over hope. We are fortunate, however, that Obama himself doesn’t believe any of this.

“Rhetoric” is what George Bush offered when he promised compassionate conservatism and insisted that he was a uniter, not a divider. The words were a cover up and a pretense, empty of sincere meaning. All along, one supposes, Bush’s right-wing agenda was firmly in place. Canny advisers knew the agenda wouldn’t sell, so they mounted a distraction that quite handily fooled enough of the voting public to achieve the desired results.

Obama’s words ring of sincerity, but that’s not the key thing: they grow from a much wider basis than one politician’s desire to be elected. It may be true that he resorts to cliches when speaking of a new world and dignity for every person, but the impulse behind them is shared by millions, not just in this country but around the globe. Spontaneous upwelling like this occurs rarely, and it often signifies radical change. The mechanics of mass movements baffle historians. Many kinds of simmering emotions never coalesce into a movement. Eastern Europe changed under Communism for forty-five years to no great effect except mass grumbling and depression, and those uprisings that did occur in Hungary and Czechoslovakia were quelled in a matter of days by brute force.

We aren’t talking about might against might now but something subtler. Obama was right to mention the Berlin Wall multiple times in his visit to that city, because the Wall was not pushed over by force, unless you mean the force of consciousness. Right timing and mass will came together perfectly; resistance and opposition were rendered powerless. Can the same magic strike again? We have immovable walls in the U.S., and no one knows if Obama will be like Woodrow Wilson, whose ideals about peace and international unity were crushed, or like Kennedy, who caught a wave of change stronger than he ever expected (his 1960 campaign, viewed objectively, was full of standard Cold War rhetoric).

Clearly millions of people, the majority of the electorate, want a new start on many fronts. Taken piecemeal, Obama’s chances of reforming Washington, reversing the enormous national debt, updating the tax code, offering universal health care, and establishing a new image abroad seem slim. Idealism, we are told, will come a cropper when it hits its head against solid reality. But that so-called solid reality was built on intangible ideas, hopes, wishes, and needs. Obama grasps this. He understands that tough policy decisions, which of course must be made, aren’t the stuff of inspiration. His campaign is a litmus test for whether a critical mass has formed or wether we are witnessing winds of change that will soon die down. The fate of the world doesn’t hang in the balance, but the future of America’s self-image does. National awareness has been stuck for eight years, and breaking it free needs the inspiration Obama is trying to apply.

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