How to Solve Life’s Problems—A Fresh Idea

By Deepak Chopra, MD

Einstein wasn’t the first person to state one of the basic facts of life when he said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” But most people attempt, time and again, to think at the level of the problem rather than finding the level of the solution. They continue to do what wasn’t working in the first place. They repeat the same actions expecting that this will lead to different results, when it almost never does.

In a new book, Metahuman, I confront this dilemma head on, starting with the notion that repeating the same futile action is endemic to our way of life. The vast majority of people are trapped inside routine, habits, old conditioning, secondhand beliefs, and the like. They repeat the past without being able to free themselves of the most painful memories. They are afraid of new, unknown things even though every creative idea or solution to a problem comes out of the new and unknown.

The whole complex of old thinking and habits burdens each of us in different ways, from stale relationships and boring jobs to ingrained prejudice and xenophobic nationalism. The rhythm of “same old, same old” beats incessantly, and yet somehow solutions are found, creativity flourishes, new ideas emerge, and “Aha!” moments occur unexpectedly.

Big money in Silicon Valley has been spent by corporations like Google, whose life blood is creativity and innovation, to unlock the secret of creative people and how they think. In their 2017 book Stealing Fire authors Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal describe various attempts to turn creativity into a skill set, all of which essentially failed. It turned out that creativity is a state of consciousness, not a skill.

So the real question is how to arrive at this state of consciousness. It turns out that the level of the solution isn’t different for every problem. Certainly a physicist searching for a new subatomic particle thinks very differently from a mother trying to get her three-year-old to go to bed on time. Problems are specific, and yet oddly enough, solutions spring from the same source in consciousness. If we let this realization sink in, the repetition of “same old, same old” would cease, along with the mystery of how to live in the present moment.

In Metahuman I focus on two breakthrough ideas. The first is that consciousness is the fundamental “stuff” of creation, the second is that existence can take care of itself. These ideas can’t be unpacked here in a short space, but essentially they open the door to finding the level of the solution. If consciousness is the source of everything, it holds all solutions, and if existence can take care of itself, these solutions are always available. All you need to do is get out of the way and allow the natural process of creativity to bubble up from its source.

The restless, active mind is the level of the problem almost all the time—we aren’t speaking of natural disasters or the incursion of other people. The level of the solution lies deeper. “Deeper” implies levels of mind, which isn’t really accurate, but to simplify matters, it is helpful to use a word that implies getting away from superficial mental activity, the busy drone of thinking and reacting. “Closer to the source” makes the point more clearly, perhaps.

We experience new ideas all the time, yet the process is a mystery. We have no idea where we go to get our next thought, and most of the time it comes of its own accord. But when Shakespeare, Newton, or Mozart went inside, they accessed a level of creative thinking that was extraordinary. This level is silent, rich with possibilities, dynamically involved with life’s challenges, intuitive, and insightful. By contrast, most of us go inward and find much less of these qualities—never none, because the mysterious agency that produces thoughts, feelings, and sensations is at work in everyone.

The level of the solution isn’t hard to reach. Everything depends on what you find when you get there. Words meet their match when discussing this issue. Even to say that we go “inward” is a misnomer, because consciousness pervades the bodymind. It isn’t inside your head or inside a cell. Mind has no dimensions the way a dining room or an auditorium does. Because words fall short, only the experience of becoming more creative, insightful, and intuitive really counts.

Can we trigger the experience voluntarily? To some extent yes. Removing stress gives creative thinking a chance to emerge clearly. Being relaxed and open is necessary. Training in a particular field provides a grounding of knowledge and skill. But you can attend to all of these preparations and not make much progress when it comes to problem-solving, because you haven’t changed your state of consciousness. That is accomplished not by thinking about it but by actually going beyond your current state of consciousness.

I took the Greek word “meta,” which means “beyond,” to indicate what is necessary. Metahuman is a state of consciousness that goes beyond what we are normally used to. It doesn’t mean becoming freakish or some other comic-book connotation. The simplest description is waking up—you shift from an unconscious life to a fully conscious, alert, present life. Those are the characteristics of a shift in your state of consciousness. We have glimpses of feeling creative, insightful, intuitive, alert, and open to new experiences. The project of waking up involves taking these glimpses and making them a continuous experience. There is no better way to live. You get real about yourself, other people, and the world at the same time that solutions in all these areas emerge spontaneously, as nature intends them to.

Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and founder of Chopra Global and co-founder of Jiyo, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego. Chopra is the author of more than 85 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His latest book is Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential. Chopra hosts a new podcast Infinite Potential and Daily Breath available on iTunes or 

The Mystery of Reality Is the Mystery of You

By Deepak Chopra, MD

Solving the mystery of reality is left to experts, which is nothing new. The explanations of the cosmos is assigned to physicists today as it was assigned to theologians in an age of faith. In some ways modern people are even less interested in the topic. Your soul isn’t likely to be in jeopardy if you don’t accept the Big Bang.

In a new book titled Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential, I hope to change this indifferent attitude by showing that the mystery of reality is actually personal. You are the same mystery as the cosmos. My argument isn’t religious or scientific, however. It is based on consciousness, and it begins with a common experience: eating a meal.

See yourself sitting down to breakfast with a plate of eggs and toast in front of you (you can actually do this exercise with your next breakfast). See if you can look at the food simply as shapes and colors; this isn’t hard to do. As you take your first bite, let the taste and smell register without interpreting them as food. This is a bit harder, but imagine that you come from a society that has no eggs or toast, and someone has told you to put these foreign substances in your mouth. At the same time, focus on the sound of chewing and the texture of these substances on your tongue.

The point here is to realize something simple but quite basic. When you were an infant, you had no mental constructs called “food, eggs, toast, sight, taste, texture, and smell.” You experienced eggs and toast directly. The experience preceded the mental constructs. Quickly you learned these concepts, and of course they are very useful. Very young infants in a highchair will splash around their food, throw it on the floor, and treat it generally as a plaything. None of this is acceptable, or even makes sense in the everyday world (except for food fights at school, where food becomes weaponized, itself a mental construct).

Without the mental constructs surrounding breakfast, what is actually present are you and the reality of your experience. There is nothing more fundamental, and the two are inseparable. You cannot have knowledge of breakfast without experiencing it; therefore, breakfast depends on your direct experience.

This simple example has far-reaching consequences. Look out the window as the outside world. If it is daytime imagine seeing the stars at night. Nothing you see has any reality without you being meshed into the experience of it. A skeptic with strong convictions about physical reality will scoff at this claim. “Of course,” he will argue, the food, clouds, stars, and galaxies pre-exist our experience of them. No human was around for the Big Bang.

Strangely enough, some physicists would disagree. Without going into the details offered in my book, I will cut to the chase and say that physics has found it impossible to account for reality, either on the vast scale of outer space or the minuscule scale of atoms and subatomic particles, without an observer. This has given rise, however grudgingly, to the concession that consciousness is probably innate in creation. Without consciousness there can be nothing real. Or if something is real without consciousness, the human mind cannot conceive of it.

Who or what is the cosmic observer needed to make everything real? It doesn’t necessarily have to be a human observer. One possibility is God or the gods, stepping in as the creator and therefore the consciousness that shapes creation. In a secular world the more plausible observer is no one but just consciousness itself. This explanation has a major advantage you might not suspect immediately—it levels the playing field between mind and matter.

Modern science has caught up with centuries of philosophers attempting to solve the mystery of where the mind comes form. Science cannot locate the point in the chain of physical things, starting with subatomic particles, atoms, and molecules, where matter started to think and become conscious. Therefore, it is impossible to say how the ordinary atoms in our brains manage to produce thoughts. It isn’t as if adding more and more oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen suddenly causes them to think. As one wit put it, this would be like adding more cards to the deck and finding that they suddenly know how to play poker.

All mysteries of the most basic kind lead back to consciousness. Where does life come from? How did DNA learn to divide? Is Homo sapiens unique in the cosmos? What lies outside spacetime? Naturally there is concerted resistance to the answer that consciousness is the creator, but more than that, consciousness becomes matter, energy, space, and time. In Metahuman I detail why consciousness is the best answer to every mystery.

As for the mystery of you, all of us identify with mental concepts. We have learned to manipulate them, and in the process we have become the victim of our own labels, beliefs, memories, conditioning, prejudices, and judgments. These are particularly harmful when directed at the question “Who am I?” It is freeing to discover that you are none of these things. You are pure consciousness in action. As you eat your breakfast, no matter what is on your plate, you the experiencer remain as consciousness, while sights, sounds, textures, tastes, and smells move through you.

This sense of self, sometimes called “I am,” stands at the junction point between you and reality. At this junction point there are infinite possibilities. This should be the starting point of human existence. Instead, we learn something different for early childhood, that possibilities are limited, the universe is random, and humans are mere specks in a black void. Only by reversing this misconception can we resume our role as creators of our own reality. It takes a whole book to unfold how liberating it is to change your worldview this radically, but I hope this taste will motivate you to consider how profound the mystery of you actually is.

Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and founder of Chopra Global and co-founder of Jiyo, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego. Chopra is the author of more than 85 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His latest book is Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential. Chopra hosts a new podcast Infinite Potential and Daily Breath available on iTunes or 

What You Don’t Know Can Change Your Life

By Deepak Chopra, MD

We’ve all met people who shrug off their lack of knowledge by saying, “Ignorance is bliss,” but who takes that seriously? The modern world is built upon levels of understanding and knowledge. Our life isn’t blissful, but without a doubt the sciences and technology we base our lives upon represent mountains of knowledge and mountain ranges of data, experimentation, and research studies.

It is baffling, then, to consider a famous remark attributed by Plato to his mentor Socrates: “All I know is that I know nothing.” Why did the greatest Greek philosopher claim that his teacher said this? It makes Socrates seem to be anti-knowledge. In fact, he was, because the kind of knowledge Socrates opposed was specious knowledge. His philosophical antagonists, the Sophists, taught the better class of young men in Athens, and what they transmitted, if we translate it into modern terms, was the validity of objective facts. What Socrates taught was intuitive inner knowing. That’s why it is possible to say in the same breath, “Know thyself” and “All I know is that I know nothing.”

To unravel his meaning even more deeply, Socrates wasn’t claiming that intuitive inner knowing was superior to objective facts. As we all experience—and as scientists constantly remind us—the subjective world “in here” is capricious, changeable, unpredictable, and filled with imagination and therefore unreal things.

Setting aside subjectivity is the bedrock of science and its pursuit of objective truth—the Sophist position seems to have won out in the end. But unfortunately for that position, all-knowing occurs subjectively. You can know something that originates inside, like feeling sad or having a sore elbow, or you can know something that occurs apparently outside yourself, like the score of the World Series or the atomic weight of potassium. Either way, the knowing takes place subjectively, through the mind.

We can take it for granted that “Know thyself” points in the direction of this process of knowing things. Knowing things and making things go together. What we know—music, art, engineering, chemistry, etc.—turns into all the things humans make or do. What is so peculiar about the link between knowing and making is that no one has the slightest idea where knowing comes from, only that it is entirely necessary. The universe is engaged in a creative process at every level that produces something out of nothing, because at bottom, all physical objects are invisible ripples in the quantum field, which itself springs from a vacuum or void. (You might want to look at the last post “The Magic behind Creation,” where the inexplicable nature of creation was covered.)

Even more peculiar is the fact that our thoughts spring from nothing, in the sense that your next thought, whatever it is, isn’t built from previous ingredients the way a cake is made from basic ingredients combined according to a recipe. However a thought spring to mind, it is simply there, by itself. Humans can think logically, which strings thoughts together. We use language, which requires basic ingredients taught in school. But all the grammar and syntax in the world cannot explain why a thought actually means something.

In some way, the mind knows. It also knows that it knows. A doctor knows what he learned in medical school, for example, and he knows that he knows it. But it is nearly impossible to define what knowing is, pure and simple. This is the mystery Socrates was referring to when he said, “All I know is that I know nothing.” Like him, we are all immersed in knowing all kinds of things both subjective and objective, yet lacking a grasp of what it means to know.

This hole in the middle of human understanding turns out to have great value. If you investigate knowing, you are taken deeper and deeper into how the mind works. This is a unique journey, radically unlike any other. If you are a physicist and delve deep into the physical world, at some point “something” vanishes back into “nothing”—you have reached the void or vacuum state from which the physical universe magically appears. If on the other hand you delve into the subjective world, thoughts also vanish into nothing (i.e., silence), which is a kind of void also, from which the mind mysteriously appears.

But if you delve into knowing, no matter how deeply you explore, it never vanishes. To be conscious, it isn’t necessary to think, but it is necessary to know. Knowing is inseparable from consciousness. You aren’t conscious because you know X, Y, or Z but simply by being here, existing as a conscious being. At every moment in life we exercise our knowingness by applying it to X, Y, and Z. This mental activity is the job of knowing, you might say, but it’s one job you cannot be fired from.

Let’s accept that knowingness exists by itself, prior to any mental activity. The journey doesn’t stop there. Look deeper, and two things emerge: you can’t find out where knowing begins, where it came from, and you can’t locate it in the human brain. The brain knows how to organize itself, each brain cell knows how to organize itself, and the same knowing pertains to molecules, atoms, subatomic particles, and the quantum field. Knowing is indissoluble, and irreducible—it is everywhere in Nature.

Moreover, it is the same knowing wherever you look. A quark that knows how to organize itself isn’t inferior to an atom, molecule, cell, or brain. Every link in the chain must know not only how to organize itself, but how to seamlessly produce the next link in the chain. Without the quark, no brain. When “nothing” created “something,” it already knew what it was doing, not just in the visible universe but in the vacuum state before the visible universe was created.

Therefore, every level of Nature has in common the trait of knowing, which is applied to the major task shared by all things: self-creation. After all, if knowing is essential at every level of Nature, it is uncreated at any level. Knowing has to know itself before it can create anything. There is no reason to believe that self-knowledge and self-creation will ever stop, which is the same as saying that evolution is something else Nature knows how to organize.

If you look at yourself in this light, a great change occurs in your self-image. You are no longer an isolated speck in the cosmos that won a random lottery by getting a human brain. You stand at the center of the cosmic process of self-knowing, self-organizing, self-creating consciousness, which is constantly evolving. You are the knowingness that permeates everything.

My co-author, physicist Menas Kafatos, and I encapsulated this into a single concept, “You are the universe,” which then became a book with that title. Yet the important thing isn’t a concept at all. “You are the universe” is the dynamic state of knowing that occurs at every second, and this process constitutes who you really are, what you are doing, and why you are here.



Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. Chopra is the author of more than 85 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His latest books are The Healing Self co-authored with Rudy Tanzi, Ph.D. and Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine. Chopra hosts a new podcast Infinite Potential and Daily Breath available on iTunes or Spotify 

Does the Mind Create the Brain or Does the Brain Create Mind?

By Deepak Chopra, MD


Neuroscience has risen over the past few decades to a crowning place in medical science, due to two innovations, advanced brain scans like fMRIs and the completion of the Human genome Project in 2003. Brain scans allow us to peer into the activity of a living brain without surgery or having to use tissue from cadavers. A complete map of human DNA opens up the possibility of detecting and correcting genetic anomalies connected to a huge range of disorders, including those of the brain.


No one can argue against the value of these advances, but they have had their downside. In particular, the assumption that the brain is the same as the mind has become dominant, not just in neuroscience but in articles aimed at the general public. In the first place, it’s only natural that a burgeoning field of science will claim more success than it has achieved, so the bias of neuroscience in favor of making the brain the answer to everything probably is unavoidable. But advances in technology and medical treatments are not the same as solving the mind-body problem.


The mind-body problem centers on the relationship between two levels of experience. The level of mind brings feelings, thoughts, images, and sensations in a steady stream. These non-physical occurrences belong in the domain of consciousness. The body, including the brain but not restricted to it, exhibits parallel activity that is the correlate of mental activity. However, no one has proved in any generally accepted way that the mind creates the brain or vice versa. They arise simultaneously and display their own peculiar qualities.


It would surprise most people, but given a choice, we can do without the brain in everyday life, something that’s not true about the mind. By “doing without the brain,” I’m referring to a simple fact. Living as conscious beings, humans do not have insight or access to brain activity. Until the brain is exposed to examination, we do not know about neurons, synapses, axons, and ganglia, or about stem cells, the reptilian brain, the amygdala, hypothalamus, or cerebral cortex, just to mention some main areas of inquiry by neuroscience. Instead, we all exist at varying levels of awareness. There is an interplay between the conscious and unconscious mind. Enormous strides are made through creativity, genius, insight, contemplation, and self-awareness in all its phases.


This picture doesn’t depend on any knowledge of the brain as an organ, and yet in the current climate of opinion, we are told that everything will eventually come down to the brain, which is like saying that all the news in a newspaper can be explained by paper and ink. The brain is the physical instrument of mind, not the mind itself. Even to call the brain a privileged organ is misleading, because there is equally intelligent, coordinated activity going on in many places throughout the body, including the central and peripheral nervous system, the immune system, and the gut. Messaging going back and forth from the brain to every cell in the body depends just as much on how the receiver responds as on what the message says.


How the receiver responds is overwhelmingly a matter of life experiences, including your beliefs, expectations, conditioning, predispositions, imprints from past traumas, and family input from childhood. There is zero evidence that the brain has any of these experiences. It’s not your brain that loves music, wants a fulfilling relationship, has a short fuse, worries about the kids, or anything else. Experience happens to you, a self. The self is the only source of experience as well as the interpreter of it. Therefore, only by investigating the self will the mind-body problem eventually be solved. One thing, however, is certain. The brain isn’t going to tell us the answers we seek–it holds no secrets about truth, beauty creativity, intelligence, insight, or personal evolution.


Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, Clinical Professor UCSD Medical School, researcher, Neurology and Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. The World Post and The Huffington Post global internet survey ranked Chopra #17 influential thinker in the world and #1 in Medicine. Chopra is the author of more than 85 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His latest books are You Are the Universe co-authored with Menas Kafatos, PhD, and Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine.



The Ultimate Self-Help: Upgrading the Illusion

By Deepak Chopra, MD


The phrase “personal reality” has a range of meanings, and most people would begin with their situation, the place where they find themselves. There’s a natural impulse to improve the situation, whatever it happens to be. If your situation lacks enough money, satisfying work, a loving relationship, and so on, it will improve your personal reality to work on those things. That’s about as far as society tells us we can go. On a larger scale, one person can make a minuscule difference by casting a vote for President or deciding to recycle, but big or small, personal reality has a big outer component, consisting of the external world, other people, natural forces, and so on.


It seems so obvious that there is a “big” reality compared to which anyone’s “small” reality is fairly insignificant. But this small reality is personal, so we all spend a huge amount of time and effort trying to upgrade it–all of our life, in fact. So it’s mystifying to run into the world’s wisdom traditions, which perversely turn this whole idea upside down, claiming that the “big” reality is actually a snare, a trap, an illusion. That’s the gist of the Sermon on the Mount and the teachings of Buddhism, different as they are when taken as religions. In my new book, You Are the Universe , written with physicist Menas Kafatos, we look very closely at how to upgrade personal reality from the ground up, a process that begins with solving the whole mystery of reality.