Tag Archives: Enlightenment

Is Your Ego Your Servant or Your Master?

I think I’m the most important person in the world, but nobody else thinks it’s about me, time doesn’t think it’s about me, space doesn’t think it’s about me, the planet doesn’t think it’s about me,” says Prof. Robert Thurman in our book, Be The Change. “It doesn’t take much to get the message that it’s actually not about me! But if somebody comes and steps on my toe or wants to take away my strawberries, then suddenly it’s all about me again!”

egoEveryone talks about the ego: ego trips, healthy ego, negative ego, big ego, get rid of your ego, even kill your ego. But what is the ego? Is there such a thing? Or is the ego just a version of our hyper-inflated need for security in a world of apparent threats?

Brian Jones, a Stanford trained neuroscientist and mindfulness trainer, and our partner in RevolutionaryMindfulness.com, says, “The ego is not ‘a thing’ like your ribs, your feet, or your prefrontal cortex. Rather, the ego is reflective of an underlying bio-chemical state of stress and insecurity in our perceived-as-threatening dog-eat-dog world. Biologically, the ego and our personality, thoughts and emotions are really run by the energy of our autonomic nervous system, which is either in a stressed, ego-centered, fearful state called the Sympathetic Response, or a secure, relaxed state called the Parasympathetic Response.”

The ego is the “me” bit that gives us a false sense of ourselves. This is not necessarily good or bad, except when selfishness dominates our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. A positive sense of self gives us confidence and purpose, but a more negative and self-centered ego makes us unconcerned with other people’s feelings; it thrives on the idea of me-first and impels us to cry out, “What about me? What about my feelings?”

 The more power we have – as seen in politicians, the media, CEOs, movie stars, control freaks, or in those who always think of themselves first — the more the ego rules, making ‘me and my opinions’ the most important. There is no limit to the damage a powerful ego can cause, from the arrogant conviction that our own opinions are the only right ones and everyone should be made to agree, to wielding and abusing responsibility and authority at the expense of other people’s lives and freedoms.

But the ego can be equally as powerful in a negative form, seen in those who are always bringing attention to their woes, to poor me, or who think they are powerless and worthless, for this is just as self-centered. The purpose of the ego is to be in control, so it makes us believe we are the cleverest, best informed and most important as easily as it makes us feel unworthy, unlovable, and certainly not good enough to be happy. The ‘poor me’ ego is just as big as the ‘I’m so powerful’ ego.

“I think the main issue is the negative ego,” says Mingyur Rinpoche in Be The Change.  “If we do not understand other people’s feelings, their suffering or behavior, then what we perceive, what we are concerned with is only our own ego and image. If the ego becomes too strong then it causes a lot of other emotions, such as anxiety, loneliness, depression, anger, jealousy; if we feel insecure, then our ego becomes even bigger in order to protect us.”

Fostering the delusion that only ‘I’ is important, that me and mine must come before us and ours, we believe we are something, that this “I” is a solid, different, special and unique, separate from everything and everyone else. Such a misguided sense of self is the root cause of much distress, both in our own lives and in the world: wars are fought, families split, and friends forgotten in its name.

Can you believe that we spend our whole lives protecting, defending and believing this deluded sense of self, while we lose a life of meaning, joy, and caring about others? When we become aware of our essential unity and oneness with all beings then the ego, this imposter who thinks it is the boss, actually loses its job. It will, therefore, do whatever it has to in order to perpetuate its employment.

Hypothetically, all we need do is let go of the focus on “me,” of our sense of separateness, our need for distinction, the grasping and clinging to our story. But this is far easier said than done! In India, the ego is represented by a coconut, as this is the hardest nut to crack. Traditionally, the coconut is offered to the guru as a sign of the student’s willingness to surrender or let go of self-obsession. Such a symbolic gesture shows that the ego is considered to be a great obstacle on the spiritual path and an even greater impediment to developing true kindness and compassion, for it is a perfect servant but a terrible master.

Creating the illusion that we are the dust on the mirror, the ego ensures that we believe we could never be so beautiful as the radiant reflection beneath the surface. Yet how extraordinary to believe that we cannot be free when freedom is our true nature! We easily forget the difference between being powerful in the sense of being egotistic and controlling, and being powerful meaning full of loving kindness. True power is not corruptive or abusive; it transcends greed and serves for the benefit of all.

Meditation is essential to this understanding. “We can manage the ego response with mindfulness, meditation, and self-awareness that entrain the ‘rest response,’ the opposite of the ‘stress response’ of the ego’s push for its own agenda,” says Brian Jones. “The ego response is a primitive, reptilian brain caveman response to the world; largely the opposite of the heart-centered mindful response of compassion, empathy and insight. As Osho, the famous India teacher, says, ‘The size of the ego is in direct proportion to the distance your consciousness is away from your heart.’”

photo by: celine nadeau

Do You Know Who You Really Are?

36519-2560x1600Are you a fairy, a ghost, batman, a pirate, witch, goddess, a favorite movie star, or a monster? It’s that time of year when we don our masks and become whoever we want, or maybe someone we think we really are.

What aspect of yourself will you be expressing? One year we were two geisha girls in tight kimonos and white make up. For Ed it was a chance to experience the feminine; for Deb it was a moment of stepping into someone else’s shoes and realizing how restricted such a lifestyle can be, which made her confront places she was restricting in herself. Another year Deb went as a lotus pond wrapped in a blue sheet with pink paper lotus flowers pinned all over, while Ed was am Indian holy man in orange robes and a turban, so as not to take the spiritual journey too seriously.

Does dressing up in a costume enable you to act out your secret fantasies? One year we were invited to Dublin to be on Kenny Live, a popular Saturday Night TV show, and we arrived at the hotel where we were staying to find ourselves in the midst of an over-50’s costume party. We got stuck in an elevator surrounded by every type of she-devil you could imagine, and the fantasies were pretty outrageous! It was hilarious.

Does expressing different parts of yourself highlight parts of your personality that normally never see the light of day? Do you feel you’re releasing some pent up hidden part of you that you need to express?

Or does it show how you normally hide behind false images and labels, such as race, religion, or profession? We tend to identity with the content of our lives, yet beneath all the labels is our essence, that which we truly are. Can you find who is there without the masks or the façade, without all the many images of yourself? We so identify with the masks we may lose sight of what lies behind them. But the labels are only a part of us, not the whole of us, and we need to honor our whole being.

Try the questions below to get reconnected with who you really are:

Naming the Masks

Find a comfortable place to sit quietly. Have a pen and some paper with you. When you are settled, begin by making a list of all your big labels, the ones that are most obvious, such as race, age, mother, father, child, brother, sister, religion, job, profession, and so on. Build a list that would tell the outside world who you are.

Then make a list of all your personal labels, the ways in which you see yourself, such as your physical health, size and looks; then your emotional and mental labels, how you see your personality, strengths and weaknesses. This is a list that says how you see yourself and how you are seen.

Then make a list of all the parts of yourself behind the labels; the inner you that few people ever see. This may start negative, such as insecure, frightened, angry, sad, depressed, and so on. But then focus on the positive, such as caring, loving, generous, kind, aware.

Now read your lists through a few times. Can you find the real you, in amongst the labels? Can you find a you that hides behind the masks? Are there ways that this inner you can find expression in your life? Write down any ideas on how you could bring this more hidden part of you into your life, so that you can begin to let go of the labels and the masks and live more authentically.

***

Ed and Deb are the co-founders, with Brian Jones, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change. See more at Revolutionary Mindfulness.com and EdandDebShapiro.com

Deepak Chopra: Thinking Outside the (Skull) Box (Part 11)

Daybreak at Gale Crater

Click here to read Part 10!

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., Menas C. Kafatos, Ph.D., P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Neil Theise, MD

In our last post we explored how your body and brain are not just your body and brain – from a 21st-century scientific perspective, you are also a teeming community composed of single-cell organisms. A tiny portion of the body are human cells (yours) while perhaps a hundred times more are mostly bacteria and archaea, known all together as the microbiome. Let’s go several steps further into this scientific re-examination of this thing you call your body.

Intellectually you know that your body today isn’t the same as the body you had in the past. But if you tune in, you generally feel the present you in continuity with yesterday’s you and all the others going back to childhood. You can imagine even going back to a fetus in the womb and the fertilized ovum from which the fetus grew. That first egg and sperm are derived without interruption from your parents’ living bodies. There is no gap where the life of your mother and father stopped and yours began. The flow of life is seamless back to your mother’s womb, and further back as far as human ancestry can go.

Even as we cross species boundaries in our backward journey, to Homo erectus and Homo habilis, our distant forebears, there are no gaps in life, not between you and hominids roaming the African savannah millions of years ago, not between you and the earliest single-cell organisms that were the first emerging life forms on our planet. So you can think of yourself as one living being. You may feel separate in space, occupying a warm and cozy apartment that is unlike a primordial pond covered in blue-green algae. But think about how your skin sheds cells, not just dead epidermal cells but living bacteria that coat your skin in a fine layer. They have separated from you, and yet they are still you. This apparent separation is only in space. In time, there is no separation, there is continuity extending over eons, and time is where we live.

By expanding “you” beyond a package of skin and bones that was born on a certain day and will die one day in the future, you merge with the flow of life as a whole. In other words, you have adopted the perspective of life itself. How old are you, then? At the everyday level of scale you count how many candles there are on your last birthday cake. But take in the 400 trillion microorganisms that are the largest biological part of “you.” Single cells can only reproduce by division. One amoeba divides in two. These aren’t the amoeba’s children. They are simply it, split in half. In a very real sense, all the amoebas alive today are the first amoeba, and the same goes for all the trillions of micro-organisms that occupy your body (and are necessary for it to survive, as we saw in previous posts. They aren’t free riders).

As “you” expand, boundaries melt away. Since the entire mass of animal and plant life on Earth traces back to single-cell creatures, “you” are one enormous 3.5-billion-year-old being. Separation in space makes each of us think we are individuals. And we are. But the continuum of time at the cellular scale reveals an equal reality: we are united as a single biological being. In fact, the continuity of life becomes stronger as we move to even smaller and smaller scales, where seamless properties essential to life are already present. Which means that the properties of “you” – intelligence, self-organization, evolution, and a seamless flow of life – exist at all scales.

Consider the molecular and atomic levels of scale. There is no atom in your body that did not derive from something eaten, drunk, or breathed from the substance of the planet. Whether we talk about the “you” that is sitting in a chair reading this sentence or the “you” that is a single enormous 3.5-billion-year-old being, neither lives on the planet – in a sense they are the planet. Your living body is the self-organization of the substance of the Earth itself – minerals, water, and air – into zillions of life forms. Earth plays Scrabble, forming different words as the letters are recombined (in this case, genetic letters), and although some words, like “human,” run away to live on their own, they forget who owns the game.

If “you” are a recreational pastime for the planet, what does it have in mind for its next move? Games involve a lot of repetition, but there has to be novelty as well, with records to break and highest scores to shatter. Earth decided that “you” needed a new playing field. At one level, the Mars probe named Curiosity can be viewed as a separate human achievement, and a very complex one. It involved skilled, clever engineers and scientists who figured out how to make a robot, propel it to another world, have it land, and then send information back to us.

But there’s another way of looking at it. Just as reasonably, logically, and scientifically, our living planet Earth has been working toward reaching out to touch its neighbor, Mars, for 3.5 billion years (at least). It has taken this long for Earth to create living things out of its own substance that could eventually figure out how to take more of the same substance, fashion it into a rocket and a robot, and take “you” off planet. (In the case of the moon, “you” actually landed on it, yourself.)

While “you,” focused on the separate self, were busy discovering fire, inventing agriculture, writing sacred texts, making war, having sex, and other survival stratagems, Earth was busy organizing, through these activities, landing on the moon and tapping Mars on the shoulder. If this image strikes you as being too fanciful, look at the activity of your brain. You are conscious of having a purpose in mind when you walk, talk, work, and love. But it is undeniable that many brain activities are unconscious (e.g., controlling body temperature, growth, blood pressure), while the activity of the brain as a whole is totally unknown, either by you or any single region of your brain. Whatever makes Earth a totality makes your brain a totality. Therefore, it isn’t fanciful to think of Earth as moving in a coherent, unified direction, just as your brain has from the moment you were born.

Or to put it in a word, if you (as a person) have a purpose, then you (as life on Earth) have a purpose. The two are seamless, even if it suits our pride, and our unfathomable ego, to stand above and separate from our surroundings. Where does that leave mind? Mind is something that condenses in some spaces, expands in others, functioning at everyday levels of scale, planetary levels of scale, and microscopic levels of scale. The smallest aspects of mind can be contained within larger aspects, just as molecules are contained within cells that are contained within bodies, and so on.

Science in the 21st century builds upon its long-held ambition to comprehend the very smallest and largest scales of Nature, and it was always hoped – even taken for granted – that a set of fixed principles would suffice for the whole journey of discovery. That hope broke down when Newton’s set of laws didn’t fit the quantum world. Now the set of rules in the quantum world don’t fit the latest problems, such as what came before the Big Bang, the origin of life, and the appearance of mind in the universe. In this post we’ve been arguing that “you” exist no matter how large or small the scale under consideration. You are beyond any horizons of scale, any boundaries that your mind believes exist. The Vedas speak of Brahman (reality) being bigger than the biggest and smaller than the smallest In modern terminology, this means “you.” We’ll finish in the next post with the mind-blowing conclusions that such reasoning leads to.

(To be cont.)

* * *

Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 75 books translated into over 35 languages with over twenty New York Times bestsellers.  Chopra serves as Founder of The Chopra Foundation.

Menas Kafatos, Ph.D., Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor in Computational Physics, Director of the Center of Excellence at Chapman University, co-author with Deepak Chopra of the forthcoming book, Who Made God and Other Cosmic Riddles. (Harmony)

P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, FRCP, Professor of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina and a leading physician scientist in the area of mental health, cognitive neuroscience and mind-body medicine.

Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University, and Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), co-author with Deepak Chopra of Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-being. (Harmony)

Neil Theise, MD, Professor, Pathology and Medicine, (Division of Digestive Diseases) and Director of the Liver and Stem Cell Research Laboratory, Beth Israel Medical Center — Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York.  www.neiltheise.com  neiltheise.wordpress.com

Do you want to become a Buddhist – or the Buddha?

path

 Do not become the Buddhist – become the Buddha.

There. It is right there. I searched for it, chased it, tried to catch it and pin-point it since last night. Since the conversation about following a path.

I couldn’t see why. I couldn’t see why I would need to follow a path to myself. I am here after all, already here. Everything that I am — me, God, Buddha, everything. What path? What path is needed to take me to what I am?

But then, I thought, to realize it, to feel oneself, to find oneself among the noise, among the constant, overwhelming, imposing and dizzying hubbub of the mind — maybe there is a path there. Maybe there is something that has to be done, worked on, achieved, to see clearly. So what would I do? What did I do? What was the first step on my path? It was looking for someone who could help. It was to look outside. To look to others.

That was my first step on the path, on the journey to becoming a Buddhist, a student, a spiritual seeker.

Ceasing to look to others for help was the first step on the path to becoming myself.

Because it was myself I wanted to find. Not the Buddha. Not the enlightenment experienced, envisioned and described by others — but myself. I did not want to become a Buddhist. I did not want to become the follower of Buddha, or Christ or anyone else at all. I wanted to become myself and, to become myself, I had to follow myself.

And it was in that moment, in that very first moment of making the choice to follow myself, my own path, my own way, that my journey was finished for I reached my destination.

It did not require esoteric practices, twenty years of meditation, chanting, praying. All it took was the choice to be me. All it took for me to be me, was for me to listen to myself, to look into myself, to follow myself. Because I was already there.

All I needed to do

was to trust myself.

3 Steps to Find Your Perfect Partner

day 55Have you ever stopped to think about how rarely we think about the traits we want in a partner in more than a passing way? Do you find that you seek a physical type and then hope that they have the character traits that you desire? Or, do you find yourself imagining that you can wish the traits into their character once you get the relationship started?

In fact there is a way to ensure that you bring just the right person into your life. Now this isn’t just magical or wishful thinking. Rather, it’s about focusing your thoughts about yourself and your ideal mate in a way that makes you open to the  person you want to meet.

There is a progression of activities to help you get to this point. It does take a bit of thinking and being honest with yourself, but it will be effective in attracting the right type of people into your life. The following tips will help you get started in organizing and focusing in on your relationship thoughts.

Step 1: What do I deserve in a partner?

This is a critical first step. If you don’t see yourself as deserving of that perfect partner, then you cannot expect him or her to walk into your life. You have to believe that you are worthy and deserving of a partner to fulfill your dreams and desires. Good self-esteem is one major factor in meeting the right person, since you have to feel good about yourself to attract someone that will feel good about you too.

Step 2: What do you really want?

Start by making a list of the traits or characteristics that you really desire. Is it a sense of humor, an intellect or a person that is understanding and empathetic? Think on these behaviors and see yourself with the person. What does the relationships look like and feel like? What are your feelings about the relationship? By imaging the relationship as it is, you will be more clear with potential partners about your vision of a relationship.

Step 3: Bring love into your life

Love is the greatest of human emotion, and it is a powerful tool for attracting the type of relationship that you are looking for. Surround yourself with people you love, including your pets, and also share your feelings of love with others. The more love you put out, the more that will be returned.

 

Originally published September 2012

It’s You.

limit1

 Isn’t that a lovely stick? Inspiring and uplifting and what not? Truly a stick worth posting. Yet it begun like this:

limit

Yup. This is how I felt the last few days, the last few weeks, the last few months, the last few … well, all my life, likely. Though there were times of clarity and times of denial, times of unconsciousness and times of presence. Lately I experience times of my trauma being up in my face so strongly, so clearly, so harshly that nothing but facing it is a possibility. So I am facing.

I am facing and I see pain that dates to my birth. I saw some pain from before that, hidden all the way back in the shadowy endings of the previous life but that’s irrelevant here. What is relevant is that what happened when I was one day old comes to light and demands to be seen.

There is pain there. Pain caused by neglect and fear and loneliness and … well, pain. The pain I was born into. The pain of my parents that made it impossible for them to surround me with nothing but love. There was no love. There was no love at the very beginning of my life and I look at it (again) and see how quickly it became my fault, how quickly I became unlovable and how that burden of blame and guilt crushed me, and then I realize that…

… that it was not my fault. It was not my fault that there was no love waiting to receive me when I was born. But it was my responsibility. It was my responsibility.

And this is when the strings, the cords and strands of trauma loosen up a bit and I see that it was all me, from the very beginning. It was all me. And it still is.

And then I see that the trauma that binds me and traps me is there because I keep it there, because I believe it, because I mistake it for reality. I mistake it for life. I mistake it for the world. And then I see that this trauma’s purpose is to create life that it wants me to have. The pain wants me to create more pain. The fear wants me to create more fear and the lack of love, the loneliness, wants me to be alone.

And when I see that — the bounds fall off. They do not disappear, no, but they lose their power over my choices. They lose their power over my perceptions. I can see them for what they are now and they can no longer blind me and mystify me. They can no longer pretend to be real.

And then they leave. They are not needed anymore and I am left in the world where there is love because I am love. I am left in the world of my own creation, designed by me in the process of loving, of accepting, myself.

Are You Shopping for Enlightenment?

The most common answer, sadly, is ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’. But it is almost never a ‘no’ for any of us.

Our human mind is always chasing something. It constantly prompts you to shed any responsibility and instead place it onto others. Be it social, professional, or spiritual responsibilities. Your mind will not let you take full responsibility for your own divinity. Thus, you will constantly chase after Gods that you have never seen. You will wait for some special spiritual experience to open your third eye or some mystic who holds the power to enlighten you with the touch of his hand.

Even in our romantic relationships, we impatiently wait for that ‘someone special’ to fulfill the vacuum within ourselves, only to find that no such person even exists. All you have been missing was you. Once you find yourself, everyone is a mate of your soul. We wait and search for that perfect person instead of using our energy on becoming that perfect person. It all comes down to you and what you’re looking for can never be found on the outside.

In the same way, you can read books, attend seminars, light incense, and get certificates of meditation and yoga, but spiritual light doesn’t need validation of anything; it comes from within. None of the masters chase after books. Enlightenment simply happened to them out of their sheer innocent attitude and openness to receive it. Homecoming is enlightenment; when you realize that it exists nowhere else but within your own self, it is like coming home. But with most of us, our egos are shamelessly sensitive and anything, just anything can shake our ego…leading us further away from our true eternal self and more into the illusion.

The result is that we start to shop for enlightenment. We try out every solution offering happiness. We try out every self proclaimed Guru promising divinity. In some cases, seekers have some experiences which are mistaken as signs of enlightenment. The profound transformation is still missing.

Is there a solution?

The solutions are very simple. Nothing fancy. Nothing mystic is needed. In fact, the ‘simplicity’ of enlightenment goes against it more than often.

Try out some of these suggestions to warm up:

  • Forgive yourself. Forgive others.
  • Love yourself. Love others.
  • Take responsibility for your spiritual journey.
  • Know that one master can change the entire world. But we need the entire world to be a set of surrendered seekers who are ready to shed the ego.
  • Stop shopping for enlightenment. There is nothing to buy anyway. You just need to take off the social mask.
  • Being uncomfortable with yourself in meditation is perfect alright. That is the whole goal! When you peel off layers imposed on you by societal norms, you will feel uneasy… But go ahead with it! The more your seek, the more you will find.

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Deepak Chopra: Thinking Outside the (Skull) Box (Part 6)

In the DistanceClick here to read Part 5!

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., Menas C. Kafatos, Ph.D., P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Neil Theise, MD

In Eastern traditions the purpose of subjective states is to be useful, to aid inner work. What kind of work? The ancient texts give various answers. There is control of the involuntary nervous system, as demonstrated by the extraordinary feats of yogis and swamis who can consciously slow down their breathing and heart rate. There is balance, achieving conscious control over homeostatic mechanism and thus promoting health. There is the pursuit of enlightenment – a vast area beyond the scope of this post – and also the same curiosity to explore nature (in this case, inner nature) that drives mainstream science in the realm of materialism.

The fact is that Zen students and practitioners in other traditions routinely move their minds out of their heads. The experience has been replicated for centuries; it isn’t accidental, haphazard or hallucinatory. Having learned how to do it, you discover by playing around with the practice that you can move your mind into your little toe, your shoulder, your elbow, perhaps even across the room. The immediate reflex of most neuroscientists is that such a subjective sense of “moving mind” is the result of neuronal activity, and even if we cannot quantify such subtle and intricate activity today, we will one day be able to as our tools evolve.

The best rejoinder to this claim is that a whole host of subjective experiences in the domain of medicine are self-reported and cannot be measured without asking the patient what’s going on. Statements like “I feel a bad pain here,” “I’m depressed,” “I’m confused,” and “I’ve lost my balance” can sometimes be traced to distorted brain activity on an fMRI scan, but only the patient can relate what is actually happening. The brain scan can’t tell someone he’s in pain when he says he isn’t. To say “I see my fourth chakra” isn’t less valid; it just has far less brain research devoted to it. (When a bacterium avoids a toxin in a petri dish or is attracted to food, can we claim to know that it is not feeling some primitive form of repulsion or desire?)

The Zen practice of placing the mind in the hara is only a minor example, a step along the way to deeper, more profound experiences. There comes a time in nearly all contemplative traditions when one’s sense of mind and even the ordinary self changes fundamentally, for a moment or a lifetime. In Vedic and Buddhist traditions these experiences are called forms of Samadhi, where a connection is made with pure awareness at the deepest level. In Hebrew mystical practice this might be understood as D’vekut, in Christian practice, Cleaving to God. The thinking mind is left behind, and one arrives at consciousness without content.

Here we’ve reached the shadow zone where “my mind” dissolves into mind itself. In this zone reality shifts dramatically. Instead of sitting inside the space of a room, the person sits inside mental space (Chit Akash in Sanskrit). Events that take place are not strictly mental, however. The inner voyager witnesses time, space, matter, and energy being born here. If such an experience is valid, the implications for physics – and for everyday life – are immense. Consciousness is no longer the elephant in the room, the thing science prefers not to talk about. It becomes the only thing to talk about if you want to know where reality comes from. Starting with the undeniable fact that the brain shares mind with the rest of the body, we are on the verge of showing that mind must be shared with everything in existence – going outside the box extends to infinity, a possibility we will unfold as this series continues.

(To be cont.)

* * *

Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 75 books with over twenty New York Times bestsellers, including co-author with Sanjiv Chopra, MD of Brotherhood: Dharma, Destiny, and The American Dream, and co-author with Rudolph Tanzi of Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-being (Harmony). Chopra serves as Founder of The Chopra Foundation.

Menas Kafatos, Ph.D., Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor in Computational Physics, Director of the Center of Excellence at Chapman University, co-author with Deepak Chopra of the forthcoming book, Who Made God and Other Cosmic Riddles. (Harmony)

P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, FRCP, Professor of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina and a leading physician scientist in the area of mental health, cognitive neuroscience and mind-body medicine.

Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University, and Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), co-author with Deepak Chopra of Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-being. (Harmony)

Neil Theise, MD, Professor, Pathology and Medicine, (Division of Digestive Diseases) and Director of the Liver and Stem Cell Research Laboratory, Beth Israel Medical Center — Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York. www.neiltheise.com

Why Edward Snowden Represents the Triumph Over Ignorance

Mahabharat05ramauoft_1064A long long time ago, when demons stole the sacred texts of ancient India, Vishnu took the form of Hayagriva, and fought the great fight with the demons until he slayed them and won back the sacred knowledge – Truth –  and returned the Vedas to Brahma.

The battle was enormous because everything was at stake. Without Truth there could only be darkness, ignorance, fear and manipulation. The future of mortals and of gods rested on the Truth being found and restored and shared – for the benefit of all sentient beings in all dimensions.

I like to believe in Hayagriva: an incarnation of Vishnu, seated on a white lotus with the body of a man and the head of a horse – representing the triumph of illuminating intelligence and pure knowledge over ignorance and darkness. I like to believe in a world like that with a being like that.

Because fast forward to planet earth 2013: Amnesty International UK reported this week that the British government oversaw the destruction of the Guardian’s and the Observer’s hard drives on British soil because they refused to stop reporting on Edward Snowden’s disclosure about NSA surveillance.

In the world we live in, reporters can no longer email each other and are flying to different parts of the world to deliver stories and exchange information in person. Their electronic correspondence is being intercepted – as is all of ours. But those who are paid to tell the story may no longer speak freely. Sharing the truth with the wider world is no longer a freedom given in the free world.

Clearly there is a struggle going on. There are forces that would bind us to ignorance, and keep us in darkness if only we would just comply. After news like today’s, when events take a turn as they have, I had gotten to wondering –  how will this end?

Who, I wondered, is going to bring Truth and pure, unfiltered intelligence back to us now?

If human rights agencies are reporting abuses happening in the free world on the order of the leaders of the most democratized, developed and advanced nations on this planet, who amongst us mortals will be strong or resilient enough to fight forces as dark and as invincible as those before us – and win?

A few hours later, I found out that today of all days, is Hayagriva’s birthday.

At the end of each age, when the demon Ajnana steals the Vedic knowledge, Lord Hayagriva appears and preserves it. Then He delivers it to Lord Brahma. At the end of the millennium, ignorance personified assumed the form of a demon, stole all the Vedas and took them down to the planet of Rasatala. The Supreme Lord, however, in His form of Hayagriva retrieved the Vedas and returned them to Lord Brahma.

Srimad-Bhagavatam 5:18 Summary

Hayagriva’s victory isn’t on any battlefield, political, ideological or electronic – out there. It’s on the battlefield of our individual soul. What he did when he wrestled the Vedas out of the hands of the asuras was to save the deepest truths about the real nature of things from being lost in the darkest depths of the ocean of ignorance and unconsciousness within us.

If we call on him, we should not expect a revolution out there, but instead a revolution in our hearts. True freedom is born from seeing the reality of a thing. And you can’t slay anything, especially not a demon, if you don’t have clear awareness of true, underlying nature of the thing.

So the calling of Hayagriva is a call to Self awareness. The greater the number of people who are aware of the Truth, the more illumined the world, and the more diminished the influence of darkness upon it.

The only way out is in.

The more enlightened we are, the more enlightened our choice of leaders will be. If it’s really time for a new paradigm, the shift has to begin within. And according to the Vedas, the most powerful way to begin that shift is to invoke the archetypes of the destroyers of ignorance throughout time and space.

No better time than the birthday of the archetypal being that wrestled the Truth out of the hands of demons to get it to us.

In Hindu mythology Hayagriva’s role as the defender of pure intelligence and pure knowledge earns him the title of ‘Defender of the Faith’.

So this evening, on a blue moon in August, in the middle of a world that is clearly entrenched in great battles, battles in which the Truth is at stake. On this evening, which happens to be Hayagriva’s birthday, I will follow the Vedic path and call on Hayagriva to illumine my heart and bring intelligence and pure knowledge to my being.

And invite you to too.

Keep the Faith.

 

Originally published on my website, The Modern Girl’s Guide to Spirituality.

Deepak Chopra: How Do We Relieve Existential Suffering?

We’ve all experienced the fear and pain that can come from considering our own demise. What is the meaning of life, and how do we rise above the uncertainty of it all? In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak Chopra discusses suffering related to our sense of identity in relation to the world – also known as existential suffering.

Does existential suffering arise from awareness of our mortality? What are the causes and how can we remedy this type of suffering? Looking at Vedantic traditions, Deepak’s list of five reasons that lead to existential suffering can be overcome by understanding that our fear is largely a projection of consciousness. True consciousness is an infinite field of creativity, much grander than the confines of our projected reality.

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