Spirituality Means More Than Ever Now

By Deepak Chopra™ MD

It’s natural in troubled times for people to reflect on God and religion as a source of solace and hop, which matters more in a crisis. But with church services being so limited, not to mention the decline in organized religion that has continued for fifty years, God isn’t the pillar of faith that past generations relied on.

I don’t find myself thinking about spirituality in those terms, however. Like a winter coat that’s put away in spring, for many people religion gets put away once the crisis has passed. Crises by their nature go up and down, but the deeper need for spirituality remains. This need is rooted deeper than solace and hope. It’s the need for wisdom. Wisdom is a word that’s open to skepticism and dismissal. Even people who think of themselves as spiritual are likely to think much more about issues like self-esteem and love.

Wisdom is much less personal but of crucial importance. It gives answers to why we exist and what our purpose is. Wisdom offers a vision of consciousness itself, bridging all ages and circumstances. It gets at the heart of reality. Ultimately the search for reality is what binds people who want to reach beyond organized religion and its perceived drawbacks.

Right now the search for wisdom is more important, I think, than the search for God. Ever since Aldous Huxley coined the phrase “the perennial philosophy,” seekers in the West have come to realize that sectarianism is too narrow and religions too orthodox to contain the great body of wisdom that has accumulated over time. The spiritual scene unfolding around us is today’s Americanized version of the perennial philosophy. In all times and places, the perennial philosophy is about transcendence. It’s the evidence based on direct experience that higher consciousness is real.

For many spiritual people there’s little doubt that organized religion, by turning to fundamentalism, is serving reactionary social forces and a dogmatic version of God. Yet it is far more deplorable to ignore the spiritual yearning that exists in us. The current spiritual scene may not fill the vacuum perfectly, but it has many virtues, which I consider real wisdom because it is dynamic and alive.

  • People feel free to express themselves outside the doctrines of organized faiths.
  • They feel open to experiences that earlier generations denied or condemned, and that arch materialists totally deny.
  • They are aware that spirituality is a broad river running back many centuries.
  • They feel included in a magnificent human quest.
  • They believe that evolution of consciousness is real and worth pursuing.
  • They believe they can find a noble vision and begin to live up to it.

These values represent wisdom as personal experience rather than words in a book, however sacred the text. The current spirituality embraces a huge number of people who have tasted transcendence through meditation and various peak experience, those moments when the veil of the personal self drops away and reality is seen without interference by the ego, memory, and old conditioning.

The seekers that one meets vary enormously: students and practitioners of yoga, meditators of every stripe, Jungians brought up in the Fifties, freethinkers and flower children from the Sixties, and even Theosophists, followers of teachers like J. Krishnamurti and gurus like Paramahansa Yogananda, not to mention readers of Huxley, Gerald Heard, and other expatriates who brought Vedanta to Southern California in the era before World War II. It’s a big tent and hardly a new one.

The net result of this diverse movement is hard to calculate. Certainly, there don’t seem to be many inroads into orthodox political or academic thought, but as a grassroots movement personal spirituality is powerful; it stands for the unquenchable idealism of millions of people who either flirt with the perennial philosophy or dive into it more deeply.

The path of wisdom, being timeless, is always open. I don’t see an alternative, frankly, to our spiritual yearnings unless organized religion finds a new flowering, which seems highly unlikely. So whatever the spiritual scene morphs into thirty years from now, at this moment personal seeking and the inward path are the most viable movement we have, and it deserves to be considered on its own terms, without labels but with a love for wisdom and the untapped resource of human possibilities.

 


DEEPAK CHOPRA™ MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a whole health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. He is the author of over 90 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His 90th book and national bestseller, Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential (Harmony Books), unlocks the secrets to moving beyond our present limitations to access a field of infinite possibilities. For the last thirty years, Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution and his latest book, Total Meditation (Harmony Books, September 22, 2020) will help to achieve new dimensions of stress-free living and joyful living. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.” www.deepakchopra.com

How to End the Blame Game

By Deepak Chopra™ MD

It’s time to talk seriously about the blame game. In a divided nation everyone finds reasons to blame, and the only choice is who deserves the blame. Targets are easy to find, because they are everywhere. Somebody, somewhere is behaving in ways you disapprove of. When the situation is us-versus-them, has it ever been hard to name “them”?

That, in the simplest outline, is the blame game. Calls for unity have no chance for success as long as the blame game keeps going. It ruins the very basis of negotiation, which rests on mutual respect. The outcome of the blame game is always escalation: you find more reasons to attack “Them.” If you are lucky enough to gain more power than “they” have, you can turn your blame into domination—until the tables turn and your adversary is in power.

Yet the blame game isn’t innate in human nature. We are a species capable of imagination and choice. At any moment we can alter any mental construct, and the first step is to realize that the blame game is in fact just a mental construct. When you recognize this fact, you are beginning to see a way out. You can’t force or cajole someone else to stop playing the blame game, but you certainly can stop playing it yourself.

The most effective way to end your participation lies in the following realizations:

  • There is no “them,” meaning a class of people you can assign wholesale blame. Among “them” are reasonable people like “us.”
  • As long as you keep on blaming, you are stuck in the same behavior as the people you are blaming.
  • Since you are part of the game, it is your responsibility to end your participation. It is pure fantasy to believe that one day “they” will see the light of day and realize how right and virtuous you are and how wrong and bad they are.
  • The first thing to take responsibility for is your anger. Blame is anger directed at someone else. But it is you who are harboring the anger, and therefore you must own it.
  • Owning your anger is harder than attacking someone else, but who says that this means you shouldn’t try?
  • Blame feeds on self-righteousness. You hold yourself above those you choose to blame. But when you sit in judgment, you are blinded to an important truth, which is this: Everyone is doing the best they can at their level of awareness.
  • Blame is never part of the solution. It exists at the level of the problem, mixed in with anger, judgment, self-righteousness, and other psychological issues such as jealousy, resentment, and holding grudges. Stop and ask yourself how much happiness exists at this level.
  • At the level of the solution, answers can be found without blame. The level of the solution is a deeper awareness based on a quiet sense of personal peace, balance, optimism, and the absence of the every-demanding, judgmental ego. Learn to recognize this state of mind and cultivate it.

None of these points are arcane; they are basic psychology in many ways. What is required is something people are reluctant to do, to look in the mirror and honestly assess if they are part of the problem. At the present moment in these stressful times, the blame game seems to be everyone’s favorite. Turn on the cable network that spouts the ideas, beliefs, and opinions that are the opposite of your own. You will notice within a few minutes that instead of “us,” you are “them.”

Your first reaction will be to snort in disgust. How can these commentators be blaming you? You are absolutely in the right, and they are bad people for not recognizing this. Of course there are issues where it is totally justified to choose the side that is moral, just, equal, and solution-minded. People who put up stubborn, irrational, pointless resistance are not making the right choice.

But if you keep watching the cable channel that holds the opposite of your opinion, no matter what the issue is, you might be amazed to discover that your side is being labeled as stubborn, irrational, and the real cause of the problem.

If I’ve described the blame game accurately, there is a lot to think about. You cannot cry out for unity and the end of divisiveness while at the same time playing the blame game. In frustrating times, blame is tempting. It keeps the emotional pot on the simmer, which many people like to experience. Unfortunately, anger begets more anger, and eventually the pot boils over.

You can’t end the blame game all by yourself, but you can end the part you are playing. By backing out of the game, you will improve your own emotional life, and with clear eyes you might even become part of the solution. At the very least you will have discarded a mode of behavior that hasn’t worked up to now and never will.

 


DEEPAK CHOPRA™ MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a whole health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. He is the author of over 90 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His 90th book and national bestseller, Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential (Harmony Books), unlocks the secrets to moving beyond our present limitations to access a field of infinite possibilities. For the last thirty years, Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution and his latest book, Total Meditation (Harmony Books, September 22, 2020) will help to achieve new dimensions of stress-free living and joyful living. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.” www.deepakchopra.com

Why We Need the Divine Feminine

By Deepak Chopra™ MD

With the decline of organized religion and a decades-old drop in church attendance, people have largely made their spiritual life into something private and personal. The rise of meditation and yoga attests to this. But it is hard to fix your sight on a spiritual goal if you don’t believe in heaven from the Western perspective or enlightenment from the Eastern.

Looking around at the tone of modern life, I think an important goal is worth seizing on: the divine feminine. Being scientific, rational, and technical, secular society seems to have less time for values that Carl Jung would have included in the feminine archetype, that religions cast as goddesses or a motherly figure like the Virgin Mary, and which most of us identify with our mothers growing up.
But at a deeper level, the divine feminine represents certain values that human beings have long cherished. Half of human nature is represented by the feminine in both sexes, as reflected in the qualities of the ancient Greek and Roman goddesses.

  • Ceres – procreation, abundance
  • Aphrodite – sensuality, love, beauty
  • Athena – wisdom, culture, art, science
  • Artemis – Nature, connection with animals and plants
  • Persephone – alchemy, magic, transformation, healing, unconscious mind
  • Hestia – homemaker

Even though these are innate qualities in the psyche, there are times when feminine values decline, and then the resulting imbalance brings problems. Global warming is the imbalance that resulted from too much devotion to science, technology, and progress and too little devotion to nurturing the environment. The extinction of species comes about when the human drive to treat Nature exactly as we want obscures the larger picture, which is that we belong in the total scheme of nature, or Mother Nature as tradition called it.

The age of world wars is past us for the moment, but the same thirst for power and authority drives nations, and war is visited on the innocent no matter how many widows and grieving mothers appear on the news. The dreadful Syrian devastation is the rank product of masculine tolerance for utter violent annihilation without check. It would be heartbreaking to continue such a list—simply the fact that the world has lived under nuclear threat for seventy years is evidence enough that life has gone seriously out of balance.

It is up to us individually to look inside and see where we can allow feminine qualities to correct a personal imbalance. The adjectives that apply to the personal feminine are love, affection, forgiveness, compassion, allowing, nurturing, and creative. They need to be present in everyone’s life, whether you are a man or woman, and every child needs to be exposed to them.

As things stand, children hardly have a choice to find the right balance of masculine and feminine in themselves. The two halves are not rivals; One doesn’t succeed by overwhelming the other. Yet this seems to be the ethos children absorb when they look around a see a world that exults in forceful power, domination, flagrant abuse of minority rights, corporate greed without regard for human consequences, violent videos games, and online pornography.

Morality cannot be legislated, and if you tell people they are supporting the wrong values, the most likely result is that they will entrench themselves in those values even more stubbornly. The shift has to begin inside with a sense that something is missing, and that this something is connected to the feminine energy that has been allowed to dwindle almost to the vanishing point.

One now commonly hears the opinion that the world would be better off if women were heads of state instead of men. It’s hard to disagree, but at the very least this country needs more than Nancy Pelosi and Kamala Harris as admired role models. We also need a shift in attitude, as evidenced by the cruelty, unfairness, anti-feminine prejudice, and spite directed at Hilary Clinton in the 2016 election. It would be bad enough if she became a sacrificial lamb in the eyes of history, the victim who showed people how much they needed to wake up and reflect on their appetite for injustice and inequality.

It would be even worse if the 2016 fiasco became the model for treating women candidates in the future. The prevailing notion is that this is a man’s world, and if a woman wants to succeed in it, she deserves all the knocks that would be given to a man. Only a society blind to the value of the divine feminine thinks that way. Everyone should do everything in good conscience to overturn such an ugly, harsh, unforgiving attitude.

 


DEEPAK CHOPRA™ MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a whole health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. He is the author of over 90 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His 90th book and national bestseller, Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential (Harmony Books), unlocks the secrets to moving beyond our present limitations to access a field of infinite possibilities. For the last thirty years, Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution and his latest book, Total Meditation (Harmony Books, September 22, 2020) will help to achieve new dimensions of stress-free living and joyful living. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.” www.deepakchopra.com

How to Get the Other Side to Yes

By Deepak Chopra™ MD

Watching mainstream coverage of the Biden inauguration, you couldn’t miss the much-repeated call for uniting a divided nation. Commentary was quite approving; no one seemed to disagree with the theme or the need. But if you turned to right-wing media, the notion of uniting the country was derided as a ploy and scorned as bad faith. This indicates that gulf that lies between vision and outcome.

It is much better to have a vision than not, because a vision makes your intentions clear and keeps the goal in sight. A vision that is destined to fail, however, has no real use. Bringing the country together isn’t different from bringing a wounded relationship together. The needed skills are psychological. The right wing has taken advantage of this fact for decades, as many commentators have noted, by tapping into grievances. But stoking people’s complaints, grudges, fears, and fantasies of revenge is a negative vision. As recent events have shown, the people you manipulate this way eventually leads to bad faith and eruptions of a violent, chaotic kind.

So how do you get someone to yes when that person is dead set against you? The necessary tactics depend on understanding two things: 1. The basic principles of negotiation and 2. Putting yourself in the other side’s shoes. Both are always workable, no matter whether we are talking about a broken relationship or a broken political culture.

Principles of negotiation

  • Give up fantasies of controlling, demanding, or persuading the other side.
  • Sit down in a state of rational calmness.
  • Show respect for the other side’s position.
  • Do more listening than talking.
  • Be prepared for compromise.
  • Drop us-versus-them thinking.
  • Look for win/win options.
  • Don’t display anger and impatience.
  • Find a place of nonjudgment inside yourself.
  • Don’t quit until both sides are satisfied.

These principles are well known in diplomatic circles but they are flouted in everyday life all the time. The main reason is that people don’t try to learn how successful negotiating works. Instead, they fall back on tactics that hardly ever work, or when they seem to, leave residues of resentment from the other side. The tactics that don’t work are easily recognized in our current state of deep division.

How to stay at no

  • Keep up the rhetoric of blame and complaint.
  • Make the other side your enemy.
  • Talk about differences rather than points of agreement.
  • Try to win while making sure the other side loses.
  • Make a list of demands and don’t back down from them.
  • Enter the fray when you are angry and upset.
  • Attack the other side.
  • Walk away angry, with nothing settled.
  • Ignore the other side’s viewpoint.

It is worth the time to sit down and reflect on both lists. Getting what you want is a natural impulse, but using the wrong means leads to frustration and futility.

The second thing needed in order to change no to yes is to put yourself in the other side’s shoes. One might call this the path of empathy. Nobody really disagrees with the Golden Rule in their heart of hearts, but treating others the way you want to be treated remains hypothetical without an understanding of psychological wants and needs. The most basic wants and needs are common to everyone.

  • The need to feel safe and secure.
  • Wanting achievement and success.
  • Feeling that you are heard and understood.
  • Wanting to bond in like-minded groups.
  • Needing to have a purpose in life.
  • Wanting everyday existence to be meaningful.
  • Needing to feel good about yourself.
  • A basic feeling of contentment and fulfillment.

You can’t put yourself in someone else’s shoes by pretending that you agree with their beliefs, prejudices, and social conditioning when those things are foreign to you. Much less does it work to adopt false empathy with positions you abhor. Divisions don’t go away as a condition for getting to yes. Instead, they stop being obstacles.

You put yourself in someone else’s shoes by shifting to the needs and wants listed above. They constitute the unspoken agenda in everyone’s life. Once you see that you and the other side share the same needs and wants, you can start to talk about them. Speak about the unspoken, and you will get much further than keeping silent.

I’ve devoted a small space to issues that fill many books, but I think it is necessary to understand that there is a way to clear up the fog of war. War isn’t always conducted with armed weapons. Armed words do the job quite well. If there is to be an end to deep divisiveness, one side must be the first to step up and use the tactics that actually work. The situation can’t be made any simpler than this.

 


DEEPAK CHOPRA™ MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a whole health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. He is the author of over 90 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His 90th book and national bestseller, Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential (Harmony Books), unlocks the secrets to moving beyond our present limitations to access a field of infinite possibilities. For the last thirty years, Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution and his latest book, Total Meditation (Harmony Books, September 22, 2020) will help to achieve new dimensions of stress-free living and joyful living. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.” www.deepakchopra.com

Five Fantasies That Keep Us Apart

By Deepak Chopra,™ MD

When a society is deeply divided, a paradox is in force. On the one hand, people cry out for unity, while on the other hand, they keep on doing the very things that incite division. We are seeing this paradox grow stronger year by year in politics, but at the bottom what we’re facing is a broken relationship. Society is a huge bundle of relationships, nothing more.

To stop being trapped in a paradox, you need a little practical psychology. The first step when a relationship falters if you consider the situation psychologically, is to stop doing more of what didn’t work in the first place. The same holds true in a divided society.

As long as both sides engage in futile behavior, ending the divide between them isn’t going to happen. At a certain point, a futile tactic turns into fantasy. Here I’d define fantasy as a belief that runs contrary to reality. If you confront the realities of a situation but continue to ignore them, you are indulging in a fantasy.

Here are five fantasies that surround us right now. I’ll couch them in terms of a broken relationship.

Fantasy No. 1: “You need to listen to me. Meanwhile, I refuse to listen to you.”

When two opposing sides stop listening to each other, the relationship has reached an impasse. Communication has shut down. In its place, rigid rituals are acted out. These rituals consist of repeating the same argument over and over, shouting to try and be heard, and freezing the other side out with rude contempt or silence.

Fantasy No. 2: “Everything will be okay if you change. I certainly don’t need to change.”

This is the classic disguise for blame. When you demand that the other person change, you are judging against them without really coming out and saying so. What fuels this fantasy is the delusion that others change if you blame them enough. The other part of the fantasy is a self-righteous confidence that you don’t need to change because the other person has no right to blame you.

Fantasy No. 3: “You are here to make me happy. Until you do that, I can’t relate to you.”

This fantasy is a holdover from childhood. Young children pout and cry when they are unhappy, and as long as they are unhappy, they don’t relate. They are too sunk in their own feelings. When carried over into adulthood, however, the same attitude becomes narcissistic. No one outside your marriage or intimate partnership is here to make you happy. To cut off ties because you are waiting to be made happy leads nowhere if your aim is to bring people together.

Fantasy No. 4: “I’m better than you. That’s why I have the right to tell you what to do.”

Much of social discord can be laid down to a mutual superiority complex. Tune in to commentators for the other side, and you will probably be shocked at their sense of superiority, especially if you think that only your side has the right to feel superior. In reality neither side has the right to feel superior. If this fact is ignored, there is no chance for reconciliation.

Fantasy No. 5: “I deserve to win, and once I do, you will be sunk once and for all.”

This is the emotional equivalent of a zero-sum game. The Super Bowl is a zero-sum game because only one side can win. But human affairs are tidal. One day you are down, the next day you are up. The belief that you can be up forever and never down again is pure fantasy.

If two people, two factions, or two nations find themselves stuck at an angry impasse, these five fantasies are almost always in play. Perhaps not all of them at once, and perhaps not everyone is honest about how they feel, yet this makes no difference. Each fantasy is based on two underlying tendencies. The first tendency is holding judgments; the second tendency is us-versus-them thinking. Each fantasy expresses these two tendencies in a slightly different way. But you can be sure that they are present.

Calls for unity, comity, and healing don’t lead to actual healing until both sides stop engaging in more of what never worked in the first place. By looking closely at how we indulge in fantasy, we can get much closer to turning good intentions into reality.

 


DEEPAK CHOPRA™ MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a whole health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. He is the author of over 90 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His 90th book and national bestseller, Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential (Harmony Books), unlocks the secrets to moving beyond our present limitations to access a field of infinite possibilities. For the last thirty years, Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution and his latest book, Total Meditation (Harmony Books, September 22, 2020) will help to achieve new dimensions of stress-free living and joyful living. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.” www.deepakchopra.com