Tag Archives: Materialism

Synchronicity, Evolution, and Your Genes (Part 3)

brain-shutterstock_945733391

By Deepak Chopra, MD, and Jordan Flesher, MA Psychology

Two views of the universe have been contending with each other to explain why human beings exist. The first view holds that human beings are not special in any way. We evolved through random events that have accumulated over time, taking 13.7 billion years since the big Bang to arrive at the most complex structure in creation, the human brain. This view, long established in physics and biology, constructs evolution in the absence of mind. Matter came first, and mind emerged very late in the game.

The contending view, held by every wisdom tradition, holds that mind came first. The universe is a field of consciousness, which made it inevitable that conscious creatures would evolve over time. Using our self-awareness, humans recognize order, harmony, beauty, truth, love, balance, equanimity, creativity, and the other qualities essential to consciousness. Over the course of our evolution as a species, we have come to embody these qualities. Therefore, the link between humanity and the universe is intimate, to the extent that the only creation we experience is the human cosmos.  Continue reading

STP MKNG SNS.

clock

Ahem.

Sorry, to interrupt. But. Can you hear it?

Sure you can. Don’t fight it. Don’t deny it. Own it. It’s been poking and stoking you for a little while now. Can you feel the relentless tapping and rapping? The kneeing and the freeing of you?

Teasing and breezing right by you, like a butterfly tornado, faster and faster, trillions of flapping wings, an infinite number of times over, until it finally gets your attention. And it never gives up, because we both know that it already gets you. It knows, that you know, that I know, that you know, the deal.

Yes, now you are letting it, and getting it. Continue reading

The Rise and Fall of Militant Skepticism (Part 2)

The birth of consciousnessBy Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP and Jordan Flesher, BA Psychology

As an attitude, skepticism is a natural part of the scientific method. It calls for solid proof and verification. As an agenda, however, the story of skepticism is quite different. The way that strident atheism has clothed itself in science seems convincing to people who are skeptical about God in the first place. But there’s no scientific basis for atheism, since God isn’t subject to experimentation. As the dust has settled, the agenda of militant skepticism has come to light – it’s basically another symptom of the blogosphere’s culture of personal attack, unfounded allegation, and a reckless disregard for the truth.

None of this is news. The fate of militant skepticism, whatever it may be, will drift apart from the serious business of doing science. After all, no scientific discovery was ever made by negative thinking. There has to be an open-minded curiosity and a willingness to break new ground, while the militant skeptics represent the exact opposite: they are dedicated to the suppression of curiosity and protecting rigid boundaries of “real” science.

But by a strange and unexpected chain of events, real science finds itself at a turning point where skepticism itself is proving to be a dubious attitude. The standby of the scientific method – gathering objective data to prove objective facts – has been undermined. The reason for this cannot be stated in a single sentence, because too many shadowy findings, suppositions, and theoretical conundrums are woven together. The leading issues can be stated briefly as follows:

Objectivity has been undermined by the measurement problem in quantum physics, which must account for how the observer actually changes or influences the thing he observes.

  • Also from quantum physics, the Uncertainty Principle undercut the notion of solid, tangible atoms and molecules existing in fixed locations. No one is sure about the implications for the human brain, since it is composed of atoms and molecules whose status is tied into the mystery of consciousness. 
  • The emergence of time and space, either through the Big Bang or at this very moment, remains mysterious. The pre-created state of the universe is a deep mystery.
  • The whole issue of consciousness, long ignored because of science’s aversion to subjectivity, has become a major concern, principally for two reasons. The assumption that the brain is the producer of the mind has never been proved; therefore, it presents the possibility of being wrong. Second, if consciousness is more like a field effect than a unique human trait, the universe itself could be conscious, or at least possess the qualities of proto-consciousness, just as DNA possesses the possibility for Homo sapiens even at the stage when life forms were only single-celled organisms.

These four mysteries or problems, whatever you label them, undercut skepticism – and more or less demolish militant skepticism – because they make science question its belief in such things as materialism, reductionism, and objectivity. That’s too many “isms” for a non-scientist to really care about, and there’s no doubt that the everyday work of science proceeds as usual without regard for issues that many would dismiss as metaphysics. But such an attitude is the same as accepting a dead end. For without asking the deepest questions about what is real and how do we know the truth, the current state of physics and biology will be mired in speculation and doubt.

Let’s drop the bugaboo about metaphysics and look with open eyes at two critical aspects of philosophy that can come to the aid of science at this moment. One is ontology, which asks what is reality? or how can we discover the difference between reality and illusion? The other is epistemology, which asks what is knowledge? and how do we come to know about the world?  Neither looks like a burning issue in everyday life, but they are, because each has a positive and negative pole.

The positive pole is located at the horizon of particle physics and cosmology, where figuring out what is real has become urgent business, now that the solid, tangible world of the five senses has been thoroughly undermined. It has become an object of fascinated study to look beyond our perception of space and time, and since the human brain operates in space and time, this new horizon requires sophisticated thinking about thinking itself.

The negative pole is found with militant skeptics, who are wedded to an outmoded belief that the five senses are basically reliable, that only physical things are real, and that “pure” objectivity is possible, with the corollary that subjectivity will always be the enemy of real science. This last belief totally ignores the indisputable fact that every experience, including the experience of doing science, is subjective. Militant skepticism blocks the way to an expanded science that is trying to grapple with the issue of how the observer is woven into the object he observes.

In the next post we’ll consider how irrelevant and misguided the skeptical agenda is proving to be by offering specific examples from the work of two popular skeptics, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, whose intention to keep science pure and objective has led them into blind alleys and rigid thinking – the very things science should avoid at all cost.

 (To be cont.)

***

www.deepakchopra.com

Follow Deepak on Twitter

photo by: kevin dooley

Deepak Chopra: The search for self — How did chemicals learn to think?

the ghost of chris driedWe are all quite certain that we have a self. When you say “I like chocolate” or “I vote progressive,” no one asks what you mean by “I.” That task was left for centuries to philosophers and theologians. “Know thyself” is an axiom worth heeding, but what is there to know? If one camp of modern science has its way, the answer is “nothing.”  The self, we are told, is an illusion created by the complexity of brain functions. As thousands of inputs bombard each other every second, forming an almost infinite tangle of neural messages, a ghost was created whose name is “I.”

Thus in one stroke the problem that has intrigued humanity’s greatest minds — “Who am I?” — is reduced to a mirage or fairy tale. The search for the self has proved fruitless when brain scans are consulted.  There is no known location for “I” in the brain, and this lack leads one of two ways: either the self is pervasive or it doesn’t exist. Claiming that “I” is an illusion would seem like a cheap way to shrug off a very difficult problem.  Yet there is some backing for this position in the Buddhist concept of “emptiness,” which holds that all transitory events, including all of our personal experience, are fabricated by the ego-personality. If we give up our cherished clinging to “I, me, and mine,” freedom lies in the realization that there is no fixed self, no fixed mind, not even such a thing as consciousness.

Yet when they combine their efforts, Buddhism and neuroscience can’t convince the ordinary person that “I” is a ghost, and there’s another tradition that considers the self the richest part of who we are, the source of unlimited potential for creativity, intelligence, and evolution. In short, there’s a contest between the higher self and no self.  Until a small band of scientific skeptics and atheists stepped forward, waving the banner of absolute materialism, the no-self camp was decidedly in the minority. But materialists see an advantage in denying that “I” exists. For them it isn’t an exotic minority position with little bearing on daily life. No-self falls in with a larger notion that consciousness is just a byproduct of chemical reactions in the brain.

wooden neuronsHow did chemicals learn to think? Why is the sugar that feeds brain cells capable of writing Shakespeare while the sugar cubes in a coffee bar are not? Materialists have no answer. They assume, with religious conviction, that chemicals learned to think somewhere in the long evolution of the human brain. This is really a form of animism, like worshiping the spirit in a rock or tree.  It seems like a nice trick to go a step farther and call consciousness an illusion, since that strips all metaphysics and spirituality of any validity. But no one has remotely come close to explaining how chemicals create the illusion of thought, which is not very different from “real” thought.

I think the higher self position is the valid one, but it’s not monolithic. There are unambiguous claims among devout Christians that everyone has a soul that will be redeemed by God; this is the higher self as a person’s true core, the part made by God. But in the Indian tradition, there is room for ambiguity. The Buddhist position that the ego-personality is the cause of suffering is echoed in Vedanta by the doctrine of Maya, which holds that “I” is trapped in an illusion of its own making, the illusion that the material world is the ultimate reality and that we are defined by all kinds of external things: money, status, possessions, job, family ties.

These props keep the everyday “I” going, but they are actually like waves in the ocean. A wave looks separate and individual when in reality it is nothing but an event in the ocean; its true nature is nothing but ocean.

This search to find our true nature raises the mystery of “I” above arcane arguments among philosophers and neuroscientists.  Matters of suffering are at stake, not to mention psychological disorders, relationships, crime, and anything else where the self either goes wrong or behaves in inexplicable ways.

If we are machines that harbor the delusion of personal dignity, why not sweep away “I” and treat criminals, the depressed, and anyone else with a problem by injecting different, better chemicals into their brains?  That goal has become standard practice in medicine, yet more and more we are witnessing the dire effects of re-engineering the brain chemically. The alternate is to find out who this “I” really is, because that knowledge, which seems pretty important to begin with, leads to a redefinition of what crime, suffering, mental disorders, and relationship problems actually mean. It’s the most fascinating mystery anyone can face, standing at the very start of the spiritual quest.

www.deepakchopra.com_

Follow Deepak on Twitter

Creative Commons License photo credit: LeonArts.at

Deepak Chopra: Possibly A New World (Part 2)

It’s a well-worn truth that the modern world is built upon science and technology. But this truth doesn’t dominate everyday life as much as one might think. Science is materialistic, and it explains the world through objective data. People lead their lives, at least partly, apart from materialism. The spiritual side of life exists and always has, which defies objective data. So does art, which isn’t mystical, not to mention emotions, intuition, morality and much else that makes life worth living.

Most of the time we are satisfied with this kind of catch-as-catch-can dualism. One of the easiest precepts from Jesus to follow is “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and render unto God what is God.” If you substitute “science” or “materialism” for Caesar, everyone does exactly that, compartmentalizing personal and spiritual experience in a separate box from iPads, microwaves, and space shuttles.

The problem is that a compartmentalized life feels inadequate, which is why a public debate has been ongoing for two hundred years about whether God or science is the ultimate master of reality. The answer matters. If you plump for God, then miracles, mysticism, the soul, and invisible forces have a chance to be real. If you plump for science instead, then physical existence can be completely trusted and the rational mind will in time solve all apparent mysteries. In either case, dualism no longer pinches; some kind of non-dualism wins the day.

In my posts, articles, and books I’ve argued that science can expand to include miracles and mysticism. There is no need to deny the miraculous if everything is a miracle. There is no mystery surrounding mysticism if we look into the subtle essence of the human mind. More importantly, a non-dual world based on consciousness would be a better world. The fact is that science won’t reach answers to every riddle, so plumping for materialism is an empty gesture – even a hoax – when it comes to explaining a broad range of issues:

What is a thought? Who is thinking?
What connects body and mind?
Where does meaning come from?
Why and how does the body heal itself?

These questions seem so abstract, not to mention so huge, that everyday life seems content to pass the by, and materialists are content to call them metaphysics, putting them high on a shelf to gather philosophical dust. But I’d argue that no questions are more relevant to my life and yours, once we reduce them to the personal scale.

Why do I have the thoughts I have? Where are they taking me?
Can my mind change my body in positive ways when it comes to disease and aging?
What does my life really mean?
Can I make a difference in how my body heals?

One could add many other important issues to the list, but all would have one thing in common: until you understand the mind, you haven’t truly understood reality. Life comes to us as experience. This is true of driving a car, raising a child, catching a cold, or building a super collider in order to detect subatomic particles. Experience is how we participate in the universe. the super collider isn’t set aside in some objective space, even though data tries to be objective. Every moment in every scientist’s life is a subjective experience. It consists of sensations, thoughts, feelings, and images.

You can claim, as non-dual materialists do, that the subjective side taints the objective and should be considered an unreliable guide to truth. But to say this makes two mistakes, and they are whoppers. The first mistake is that the mind cannot be located in the material world. Primitive peoples, as we like to call them, believed that spirits inhabited physical objects, a perspective known as animism. Trees contained tree spirits, the sky was the home of rain gods, and little demons lurked all around. Yet when it says that mind exists in the brain, neuroscience is committing the same fallacy. The brain is made up of atoms and molecules. It is a thing, like a tree, and to say that the mind is only the brain means that you have attributed consciousness to atoms and molecules. No one has ever explained how mind suddenly arises in blood sugar when that sugar crosses the blood-brain barrier. It is simply assumed.

The second mistake, intimately connected to the first, is that observers can stand apart from what they observe. Instead of being a participatory universe, science asserts that outside reality is separate from us; we are like children with our noses pressed to a bake shop window, staring through the glass but never going inside. This view reduces experience to data and then goes further by saying that data is superior to experience. This cannot remotely be true. The data about your body, such as blood pressure, heart rate, hormone levels, etc., is essentially the same as the data from Buddha, Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, and Picasso. It seems obvious that when you throw out all the factors that make these individuals unique, you have thrown out something pretty essential – the very meaning and purpose of life.

I’ve argued that a new world is being born in which nothing needs to be thrown out, and such a world can only be based on experience. Experience covers billions of people leading different lives, but one element is always present: consciousness. Thoughts and actions occur in consciousness. This is so obvious that it feels a bit meaningless, like saying that all marine life occurs in the sea. But the world’s wisdom traditions exist to open our eyes, seeing beyond the obvious to something incredibly important: if you delve into consciousness, you will find the essence of existence, meaning it purpose, direction, and goal. You will know deeply and fully who you are, and when that unfolds, you will know what reality is.

Non-dual consciousness doesn’t celebrate subjectivity over objectivity. To do that is simply to take the mistakes of materialism and turn them on their head. Non-dual systems all make the same claim: “Everything is made of X.” Science says that everything is made of matter and energy. Non-dual consciousness says that everything is made of mind. An alien landing on Earth in a spaceship, lacking bias either way, could easily see why these two worldviews consider the other preposterous. To say that everything is matter and energy is preposterous when you are trying to get at the mind and subjective experience. Non-dual consciousness is preposterous when you are trying to figure out where stars and galaxies come from. In other words, the physical seems secure in making its claims on us; while the mental seems just as secure when telling the story of inner life.

The great challenge is to decide which preposterous claim is, believe it or not, actually true. For thousands of years human beings had no difficulty believing that Creation was happening in the mind of God; the spiritual origin of the universe was certain. Today, people have no trouble believing that tiny physical things called atoms and molecules will reveal why we fall in love, create art, and have thoughts in our heads. I’m not defending an ancient bias as opposed to a modern one. Rather, there has been an evolution, bringing us to the point where we can go beyond crude animism, whether of the spiritual or materialistic kind, at last seeing how consciousness works in the whole scheme of reality.

We can explain the galaxies and personal experience at the same time by finding the same origin for each. If nature goes to the same place – an invisible workshop beyond time and space – to create a supernova, a rose, human love, and our craving for God, then non-duality solves everything. My position is that non-duality must be based in consciousness, since it is inescapable that the only reality we know comes through experience. Without a doubt we live in a participatory universe, and the sooner we surrender the delusion that data is superior to experience, the closer we will come to transforming the world.

www.deepakchopra.com

Follow Deepak on Twitter

PHOTO (cc): Flickr /  lrargerich 

Can “Evil” Corporations Become Conscious Corporations?

A while back there was an op-ed piece in the New York Times titled “Will Big Business Save the Earth?” A startling question given that corporations are firmly entrenched as evildoers in the public mind, with an environmental record as black as an oil spill and as toxic as the waste dumps in Bopal. Yet the author, noted professor and counter-thinker Jared Diamond, comes up with a more nuanced view: “…while some businesses are indeed as destructive as many suspect, others are among the world

Woo Woo Is a Step Ahead of (Bad) Science

It used to annoy me to be called the king of woo woo. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, "woo woo" is a derogatory reference to almost any form of unconventional thinking, aimed by professional skeptics who  are self-appointed vigilantes dedicated to the suppression of curiosity.  I get labeled much worse things as regularly as clockwork whenever I disagree with big fry like Richard Dawkins or smaller fry like Michael Shermer, the Scientific American columnist and editor of Skeptic magazine. The latest barrage of name-calling occurred after the two of us had a spirited exchange on Larry King Livelast week. Maybe you saw it. I was the one rolling my eyes as Shermer spoke. Sorry about that, a spontaneous reflex of the involuntary nervous system.

 

Afterwards, however, I had an unpredictable reaction. I realized that I would much rather expound woo woo than the kind of bad science Shermer stands behind.  He has made skepticism his personal brand, more or less, sitting by the side of the road to denigrate "those people who believe in spirituality, ghosts, and so on," as he says on a YouTube video. No matter that this broad brush would tar not just the Pope, Mahatma Gandhi, St. Teresa of Avila, Buddha, and countless scientists who happen to    recognize a reality that transcends space and time. All are deemed irrational by the skeptical crowd. You would think that skeptics as a class have made significant contributions to science or the quality of life in their own right. Uh oh. No, they haven’t. Their principal job is to reinforce the great ideas of yesterday while suppressing the great ideas of tomorrow.

 

Let me clear the slate with Shermer and forget the several times he has wiggled out of a public debate he was supposedly eager to have with me. I will ignore his recent blog in which his rebuttal of my position was relegated to a long letter from someone who obviously didn’t possess English as a first language (would Shermer like to write a defense of his position in Hindi? It would read just as ludicrously if Hindi isn’t his first language).

 

With the slate clear, I’d like to see if Shermer will accept the offer to debate me at length on such profound questions as the following:

 

·         Is there evidence for creativity and intelligence in the cosmos?

·         What is consciousness?

·         Do we have a core identity beyond our biology, mind, and ego?

·         Is there life after death? Does this identity outlive the molecules through which it expresses itself?

 

The rules will be simple. He can argue from any basis he chooses, and I will confine myself entirely to science. For we have reached the state where Shermer’s tired, out-of-date, utterly mediocre science is far in arrears of the best, most open scientific thinkers — actually, we reached that point sixty years ago when eminent physicists like Einstein, Wolfgang Pauli, Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrodinger applied quantum theory  to deep spiritual questions. The arrogance of skeptics is both high-handed and rusty. It is high-handed because they lump brilliant speculative thinkers into one black box known as woo woo. It is rusty because Shermer doesn’t even bother to keep up with the latest findings in neuroscience, medicine, genetics, physics, and evolutionary biology.   All of these fields have opened fascinating new ground for speculation and imagination.  But the king of pooh-pooh is too busy chasing down imaginary woo woo.

 

Skeptics feel that they have won the high ground in matters concerning consciousness, mind, the origins of life, evolutionary theory, and brain science. This is far from the case. What they cling to is nineteenth- century materialism, packaged with a screeching hysteria about God and religion that is so passé it has become quaint. To suggest that Darwinian theory is incomplete and full of unproven hypotheses, causes Shermer, who takes Darwin as purely as a fundamentalist takes scripture, to see God everywhere in the enemy camp.

 

How silly.  Shermer is a former Christian fundamentalist who is now a fundamentalist about materialism; fundamentalists must have an absolute to believe in. Thus he forces himself into a corner, declaring that all spirituality is bogus, that the sense of self is an illusion, that the soul is ipso facto a fraud, that mind has no existence except in the brain, that intelligence emerged only when evolution, guided by random mutations, developed the cerebral cortex, that nothing invisible can be real compared to solid objects, and that any thought which ventures beyond the five senses for evidence must be dismissed without question.

 

I won’t go into detail about the absurdity of such rigid thinking. However, the impulse behind dogmatic materialism seems intended to flatten one’s opponents so thoroughly that through scorn and arrogance they must admit defeat, conceding that science is the complete refutation of all preceding religion, spirituality, psychology, myth, and philosophy — in other words, any mode of gaining knowledge that arch materialism doesn’t countenance.

 

I’ve baited this post with a few barbs to see if Shermer can be goaded into an actual public debate. I have avoided his and his  follower’s underhanded methods, whereby an opponent is attacked ad hominem as an idiot, moron, and other choice epithets that in his world are the mainstays of rational argument.  And the point of such a debate? To further public knowledge about the actual frontiers of science, which has always depended on wonder, awe, imagination, and speculation.  Petty science of the Shermer brand scorns such things, but the greatest discoveries have been anchored on them. 

 

 If you are tempted to think that I have taken the weaker side and that materialism long ago won this debate, let me end with a piece of utterly nonsensical woo woo:

 

"Nobody understands how decisions are made or how imagination is set free. What consciousness consists of, or how it should be defined, is equally puzzling.  Despite the marvelous success of neuroscience in the past century, we seem as far from understanding cognitive processes as we were a century ago."

 

That isn’t a quote from "one of those people who believe in spirituality, ghosts, and so on." It’s from Sir John Maddox, former editor-in-chief of the renowned scientific journal Nature, writing in 1999.  I can’t wait for Shermer to call him an idiot and a moron.  Don’t worry, he won’t. He’ll find an  artful way of slithering to higher ground where all the other skeptics are huddled.

For more information go to deepakchopra.com

Follow Deepak on Twitter

 

tis the season of buying – aka ‘the time that sanity forgot’

Well, here it is. Boxing Day. The day after the day I was dreading for at least 3 weeks leading up to the event. But it isn’t okay to admit that Christmas is crap is it?
Loads of people hate Christmas, the gaudiness, the trees everywhere, the loud Christmas songs decking the halls with boughs of holly in every shop. 
Don’t even get me started on the shopping. The plundering of resources that are not technically yours to plunder on the grounds that it is Christmas. Everyone NEEDS a present, gifts HAVE to be wrapped, cards MUST be brought. 
I have renamed Christmas, the season of insanity. Perhaps it should be called the season of “instantly crazy” or the “time that sane forgot”.
The people I know fall into one of a few categories, let me see. There are the people who are full blown Christmas Addicts, like my hairdresser who (I swear) had giant Christmas baubles attached by some sort of invisible string hanging from his ceiling ALL YEAR ROUND. Christmas for him starts in late November when the Dolly Parton c.d. takes precedence over anything remotely listenable to noise that would normally be playing on his music machine.
I digress. So, category 1, the full blown, spend money they haven’t got, quite happily in debt for the rest of the year to cover the cost and genuinely smiling about the obscene amounts of money they have just spent.
Category 2, the reluctant spenders. The shoppers who are only doing it in response to those in category 1. These types of Christmas gift givers do so out of duty, with an eye on the price and certainly only in a reactionary manner. This group do not go out of their way to introduce any random strangers, like, neighbours for instance, onto their list of people they must buy for. This group only buys for essential family members and those who buy for them first.
Category 3, the ‘I didn’t know what you wanted’… really manage to avoid giving gifts at all costs and yet quite happily receive all offerings of chocolate, socks, jewellery or board games that fall their way. These people lull the gift giver into a false sense of security by buying one decent present on the first exchange followed by 5 years of lame excuses as the recipient attempts to make up for their own initially inadequate expression of appreciation at that said exchange.
Category 4, do not send cards but do donate their money to charity. They also make sure you are aware of this after you have given them a card.
Category 5, have stopped doing Christmas. There is no exchange of gifts. There will be no shopping. A perfunctory cash exchange amongst long-standing family members and close friends who have agreed between themselves what they will be spending, where they will be buying and exactly what the item is, long before September.
Category 6 are the non-existent, invisible present givers. Not only do they refuse to partake of the annual festivities, they positively vanish from social awareness from around December 23rd through to New Years Eve when they emerge triumphant and having managed to avoid the madness for yet another year and a few hundred quid better off than everyone else.
Here is to the spirit of Christmas and knowing that love cannot be put in a box, kindness cannot be brought from a shop and compassion and understanding can be given freely without a need for a receipt.
Lots of love and here is hoping for a spiritual and loving 2010. xx

The Perils of Skepticism

 The Perils of Skepticism

If you’ve ever used Google Alert, you know the jolts it can deliver. Whenever anyone in the blogosphere decides to blow a poison dart your way, Google is happy to deliver the news, along with the more positive mentions, of course. Most of my stinging darts come from skeptics. Over the years I’ve found that ill-tempered guardians of scientific truth can’t abide speculative thinking. And as the renowned Richard Dawkins has proved, they are also very annoyed by a nuisance named God.

Statistically, cynical mistrust is correlated with premature sudden death from cardio vascular disease. Since the skeptics who write venomous blogs trust in nothing, I imagine that God will outlive them. In the interests of better health, these people should read scripture, or at least a poem, twice a day. Doctor’s orders.

I’ve debated skeptics, including Richard Dawkins (I spoke with Dawkins for over 90 minutes on camera in Oxford. He extracted 30 seconds from the dialogue and dubbed me the enemy of science.) and  I am amazed that they mistake self-righteousness for happiness. A sort of bitter satisfaction is what they reap. No skeptic, to my knowledge, ever made a major scientific discovery or advanced the welfare of others. Typically they sit by the side of the road with a sign that reads "You’re Wrong" so that every passerby, whether an Einstein, Gandhi, Newton, or Darwin, can gain the benefit of their illuminated skepticism. For make no mistake, the skeptics of the past were as eager to shoot down new theories as they are to worship the old ones once science has validated them.

It never occurs to skeptics that a sense of wonder is paramount, even for scientists. Especially for scientists. Einstein insisted, in fact, that no great discovery can be made without a sense of awe before the mysteries of the universe. Skeptics know in advance — or think they know — what right thought is. Right thought is materialistic, statistical, data-driven, and always, always, conformist. Wrong thought is imaginative, provisional, often fantastic, and no respecter of fixed beliefs.

So whenever I find myself labeled the emperor of woo-woo, I pull out the poison dart and offer thanks that wrong thinking has gotten us so far. Thirty years ago no right-thinking physician accepted the mind-body connection as a valid, powerful mode of treatment. Today, no right-thinking physician (or very few) would trace physical illness to sickness of the soul, or accept that the body is a creation of consciousness, or tell a patient to change the expression of his genes. But soon these forms of wrong thinking will lose their stigma, despite the best efforts of those professional stigmatizers, the skeptics.

 

Published in the San Francisco Chronicle

 

For more information go to deepakchopra.com

 Follow Deepak on Twitter


 

Giving Up on Materialism

Question:

Of late I have been reading a lot of books on quantum physics, spirituality and leadership. I have read your books as well and in fact keep reading them repetitively. The more I think and ponder, the more I am convinced that the path to true joy and happiness is through living with less and giving up on materialistic attitude. I teach leadership and systems thinking approaches to Corporations and teenagers. My question is "How do I tell my CEO’s and Teens to pursue their goals of growth and prosperity on a material plane and yet teach them to live a simple, selfless life? The more I wish to grow the more I wish to give away my material wealth. I am caught in this duality and ambiguity. Am I being a hypocrite?

Answer:

I think you need to become clear  that your path to happiness through giving up your material wealth may be right for you at this time in your life, but it is not necessarily right for everyone else at their stage of life. 

Even though you may no longer feel driven by desires to accumulate things, you are still pursuing an external ideal of simplicity as a means to become happy. That is not that different from others who are pursuing an external ideal of abundance as a means to happiness. In truth happiness is a state of consciousness that is independent of external circumstances. If you attain happiness first, through self-awareness, then it doesn’t matter how you express that happiness in your external life—whether it is modest or elaborate.

Love,

Deepak

 deepakchopra.com

Follow Deepak on Twitter

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...