Being Deepak

by Randy Peyser

Imagine being Deepak Chopra. Every morning you awaken at 4AM for two hours of meditation, followed by one-and-a-half hours of exercise. After exercising, you write for two hours, then spend the rest of your day conducting business. Every three months you take a week off, spent in absolute silence in the wilderness. About three times a year, you take your family and go scuba-diving, mountain-climbing or even skydiving.

Doesn't it sound like fun to be Deepak? But then you hear what else you're responsible for. Your program to help women in menopause has just come out. You are working on a documentary on the role of mythology in our lives. You are also in the process of writing a novel about the world of the unseen called, "The Angels are Dying." This sounds like enough to keep a person busy enough for a year, but remember, you are Deepak. There's more...

Since you are Deepak, you are also doing a feature film in England about an American assassin who experiences a spiritual transformation upon a visit to India. At the end of this year, you're going to be involved in a millennium special on television featuring music and entertainment, as well as messages from children and world leaders. Okay, now you've had enough. Right? Nope. You're Deepak which means that you've got four more books in the works for this year.

Although this may seem like an awfully large agenda for one human being, according to Deepak, "it's not an agenda at all-it's a spontaneous unfoldment. I don't plan all this," says the man who has sold more than ten million copies of his nineteen bestsellers worldwide. "It seems to happen this way. And I'm grateful for as long as it lasts."

Ask Deepak how success has changed him and he will tell you that it hasn't. "If you ask my kids or my wife, they will tell you that nothing has changed. As far as what I do with my life, how I travel, and how I live, nothing has changed. If anything, it's simpler."

How can anyone who has received so much notoriety worldwide and who simultaneously manages so many projects say that his life now feels simpler? According to Deepak, the reason is easy. "My body's busy, I'm not."

Say what?

Deepak explains. "My body and my mind get busy, but I am not. I have an inner attitude of detachment and engagement at the same time. Just as I don't have to make any special effort for the hair on my skin to grow, I don't have to make any special effort to do all the things that I do."

He explains that he simply does the things he does because he enjoys doing them. For example, from his love for Rumi, the thirteenth century Sufi mystic, came the creation of a CD called, "A Gift of Love: Music Inspired by the Love Poems of Rumi." On this CD, Deepak enlisted a score of friends including Martin Sheen, Demi Moore, Goldie Hawn and Madonna to join him in a very passionate and sensual rendition of poems which both exquisitely and intimately honor the act of love and the Beloved.

"At this moment, my body and my mind are very busy, but I am definitely not," says Deepak. "In a couple of years, I probably won't be running around like I am right now. This is apparently what should be happening in this moment. I can also say quite honestly," he continues, "that if things happened that I intended to happen, that's wonderful. And if they don't happen, then I let go of my idea that they should happen and trust that I don't know the big picture."

Trust appears to be an important aspect of Deepak's life. At the moment, while his wife is sitting at the bedside of his mother who is about to undergo surgery in India, he prays and meditates. How does he deal with a crisis? "I witness it and I go through it." In regards to his mother, he shares, "there is a part of me that is quite settled and there's a part of me that is a little concerned. I am observing those two parts of me, and in the end, everything is as it should be."

He confides that, fortunately, he has not had to endure many major crises in his personal life. Although not a crisis, in his career however, he's had to come to terms with one major challenge which has required much inner work on his part. "I had to learn to not respond to criticism and to not be offended by it," says Deepak. That was a big challenge because I used to get angry whenever people made fun of my work or laughed or criticized or attacked it. I had to learn to treat criticism with an open mind and also with respect. Now I can truly say I feel pretty independent of the good or bad opinion of people."

As for his popularity in the mainstream, Deepak is a little hesitant to claim it. "Fame is for those who take themselves too seriously. I don't want to take myself too seriously. I believe that would be a big burden," says the author whose work has been translated into twenty-five languages.

From the beginning, Deepak says that he never had any idea his words and thoughts would affect so many people. Similar to Neale Donald Walsch who wrote his best-selling "Conversations with God" books out of a personal desire to have a private conversation with the Divine, Deepak also admits that he wasn't trying to reach anyone when he began writing either. Quite the contrary. "I was just trying to explore my own consciousness," says Deepak. "I felt compelled to write about it, because when you write about anything, it makes things clearer. That's the only reason I started to write and to speak."

Deepak dislikes self-righteous morality or the idea of proselytizing or converting people. "Every time I speak," he says, "I find myself getting more clarity in my own thinking process. That is the only motivation. I didn't ever want to be a missionary. And I hope that people don't think of me as one now."

So what do people think of him? He shares a few examples. Checking his bags in at the airport, he is recognized by a porter. "You're the dude, aren't you?" says the porter. "What do you mean?" asks Deepak. The man replies, "Deep stuff, man." "So you get it?" says Deepak. "No, I don't," says the porter, "but it sure sounds true." In another example, an older woman approaches him and sweetly says, "I don't understand a word you're saying, but I love you very much. You've changed my life."

"Somewhere, somehow, people intuitively respond to what is shared truth," says Deepak in trying to explain why his work touches others even when they say they don't quite understand it. Deepak insists that it is not really his work they are ultimately responding to. "What they're experiencing is something that they've found inside themselves." Deepak sees himself as just one of many tools that people can use to help themselves gain insight in order to articulate their own ideas.

Shared truth takes on an even bigger identity in light of a new insight he has just become aware of. "The day before yesterday, I was sitting with my eyes closed," says Deepak, "when I suddenly realized that we all share the same biological information. This means that the molecules in my body are the same as the molecules in your body. They're also the same molecules you'd find in a cow, or a salamander or a fish."

The teacher in Deepak takes over. "We make the same antibodies, therefore, biologically we're sharing information. And what is information? It is nothing other than remembered experience and how to deal with it. We know how to make a pneumococcal antibody because some ancestor a long time ago, perhaps even an amphibian, learned how to deal with it. And we have that inside us. So not only do we have shared biological information but we have shared experience in how to deal with it. We inherit the experience of our ancestors."

As he talks, he becomes more and more excited about his new awareness. This is clearly a man living his passion. "As I was thinking about this," he continues,"it suddenly occurred to me that this could only be true if we had shared consciousness. Without shared consciousness you can't have the same information across the board. So not only do we have shared consciousness and shared biological experience with our ancestors, we must also have inherited a spiritual experience of our ancestors as well."

If his insight is indeed true, then he believes that each of us has the ability to tap into the consciousness of Christ or Buddha or any of the great luminaries of all time. "How to Know God," one of the four books he is going to write this year will discuss his ideas for how we mere mortals can tap into these enlightened states of being.

For the time anyway, Deepak believes that we are mostly tapping into a less-evolved state of being-the predatory mode. "As a species, our biology is still in the fight-flight mode," says Deepak. "It's like we're in the jungle where there are tigers all over who are going to eat us. In response, we have no choice but to either run or to fight. That evolutionary memory is still in our genes, so we react to the tribal tendencies which are survival responses anytime we are threatened even a little bit."

Our conversation turns to the increased violence in our society and the war in Kosovo. Says Deepak, "We spent fifteen billion dollars in Kosovo throwing missiles and bombs. If you gave me that money, I would take every Albanian and settle him in Albania. I would buy him a house and give him a scholarship. That's a lot of money that could be used in a very constructive way which would satisfy everybody, but our immediate response is, 'Pull the trigger. Run. Fight. Kill'."

According to Deepak, while our biology as a species is still rather primitive, our understanding of technology, on the other hand, is very advanced. Therefore, we have the opportunity to either sink to our lowest possible common denominator, which is to stay in the predatory mode, or we can transcend beyond the fight-flight mode and choose "more intuitive, creative, visionary, and sacred responses" to situations which arise.

"As a species," says Deepak, "on the scale of evolution we're probably just in our puberty. We are excited. We know a lot of things and we see great possibilities. There's a sense of adventure, excitement and passion. But there's also confusion, turbulence and conflict. But any situation, no matter what it is, has a solution that goes beyond just mere violence."

"I guess one day," concludes Deepak, "we will go through our puberty, then our youth, and then maybe even one day we'll reach maturity. There's nothing really that we can do, other than be more aware ourselves. If we're more aware ourselves, then one day, maybe our awareness will reach a critical mass and things will change."

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