For centuries, great artists, scientists, writers, entrepreneurs and thinkers have seemingly tapped into somewhere else, beyond the realities faced by ‘the rest of us,’ to do the seemingly unimaginable – from creating great works of art, to solving complex problems or even building multi-billion-dollar businesses.
To understand more about this mindset and approach I spoke to Dr. Deepak Chopra, a world-renowned pioneer in the fields of integrative medicine and personal transformation, who is called upon by many of the world’s most influential leaders to guide them on their journeys. In his latest book, Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential, Deepak helps guide us on a journey to unlock our mental and physical limitations, to access, ‘field of infinite possibilities that can radically change everything in our lives…’
Alongside being a world-renowned medical doctor, he’s co-founder of The Chopra Foundation co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, and has authored more than 85 books, translated into over 43 languages, which have sold millions of copies worldwide. The World Post and The Huffington Post global internet survey ranked him #17 influential thinker in the world and #1 in Medicine Fitness. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century”. Chopra hosts a new podcast Infinite Potential and Daily Breath available on iTunes or Spotify www.deepakchopra.com.
Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP, is a world renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, the founder of the Chopra Foundation, and cofounder of Jiyo.com and the Chopra Center for Wellbeing. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “One of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.” Dr. Chopra is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism, a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, Clinical Professor in Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, Researcher, Neurology and Psychiatry, at Massachusetts General Hospital, Adjunct Professor at Kellogg School of Executive Management at Northwestern, Adjunct Professor at Columbia Business School, Columbia University and Professor of Consciousness Studies at Sofia University. The World Post and The Huffington Post global internet survey ranked “Chopra #17 influential thinker in the world and #1 in Medicine.” In conjunction with his medical achievements, he is recognized as a prolific author of more than 85 books translated into over forty-three languages, with twenty-five New York Times bestsellers.
Q: How did you become aware of the space outside our day to day experience?
[Deepak Chopra]: I trained as a physician – originally internal medicine, then endocrinology (the study of hormones) and eventually neuroendocrinology (the study of brain chemistry). When I started training, this whole field was new – it was the late 1970s – and we were discovering the molecules of emotion (serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine, neurotransmitters…).
Later it was discovered that these molecules are not just in the brain, but in all the cells of your body – your gut, your immune system and so on… so molecules of emotion… the molecules that mediate your emotions, my emotions, and so many biological phenomena as a result… are everywhere in you. This was the path that led me to question myself, and my clinical practice – as any physician will tell you, two patients can have the same illness, see the same physician, get the same treatment, and have two different outcomes… this is something practically every physician will corroborate, and was the phenomena that led me to understand that biology and emotions are linked… and led me into the area of mind-body medicine, which later become known as integrated medicine.
The field of integrated medicine considers not just body, but mind – and also activities like sleep, stress management, exercise, breathing, yoga, nutrition, connection with nature…. All of the things which seem to – or have been shown to – impact our bioregulation and homeostasis.
From this, my curiosity led me to wonder where the mind is… does the mind have a location in space and time? And can we understand reality beyond our everyday perception of it?
Q: Why does humanity not access so much of its’ potential?
[Deepak Chopra]: Most people live under the hypnosis of social conditioning, meaning they do not question their everyday reality, and rush to conform. Social conditioning is how we are educated – which in today’s world, is just an overload of information. Let’s not forget the word education comes from the root educare – which means to nurture, support and bring out that which is already present in the mind. It should be the case that education brings out the potential for insight, creativity, wonder, curiosity and higher states of consciousness – things that are present in every single child that is born – but social conditioning camouflages and suppresses this, and pushes people to confirm.
Q: How can we begin the journey of understanding higher states of consciousness?
[Deepak Chopra]: All of the wisdom traditions of the world refer to higher states of consciousness as being part of revelation – a word which exists in every spiritual tradition, and which refers to the revealed truth you find from questioning your habitual certainties, beliefs, constructs and stories.
Humans are storytellers… this started with gossip (which plays an important role in social cohesion) and went onto mythology and religion, and then to philosophy and theology – the fields where we question the deeper nature of knowing.
Philosophy is based on two principles, ontology and epistemology. The former (ontology) is the study of the nature of existence, and the latter (epistemology) is the study of knowing and asks questions around whether there are limits to knowing, whether human knowing is the only form of knowing, and whether there are species-specific modalities of knowing and existence.
You have to start questioning, and be mindfully aware of your thoughts. When you do that, you realise that you are an observer of your thoughts, not the originator. You can then extend that observer experience to emotions, sensations, perceptual experience and every aspect of mental space, every relationship you have and ultimately the very nature of awareness itself and your relationship with the universe.
Q: What have you learned about life and death from accessing higher states of consciousness?
[Deepak Chopra]: Irrespective of culture or religious background, there is a common thread that encompasses higher consciousness experiences. Transcendence (going beyond thought and the subject-object split). The normal experience of being human is that you are the subject and everything else is the object of your experience. Every human being believes they are the subject of the experience and the rest of us are the object – but that’s clearly not true! Transcendence allows us to go beyond these conceptual and scientific stories and experience platonic values; truth, goodness, beauty, harmony, love, compassion, joy and equanimity
In higher states of consciousness, we also lose our fear of death. The transcendent you is not in time. Only thought exists in time… only perception exists in time… Once you realise that, you also realise that what we call our body is simply a human construct for a changing and intermittent perceptual activity in our consciousness. There is no such thing as a body in the deeper reality, nor is there such thing as a universe – these are simply constructs for species-specific modalities of experience.
I do not talk about life and death – I talk about birth and death, they are opposites, and life is simply a continuum of both, and you cannot have one without the other. Your life, your birth, your death, are perceived from the human construct and not based on the real nature of being.
Q: How can we practically access higher states of consciousness?
[Deepak Chopra]: We can all access higher states of consciousness, the ability is innate. You start by sitting quietly, perhaps closing your eyes, and asking yourself certain questions: who am I? what is it that wants to know who I am? What do I want for myself and the world? What is my purpose? What gives me meaning and purpose in life? What am I grateful for? – that’s it.
You start with these fundamental questions which people never ask of themselves. Instead, most people run around like biological robots, as if we are an algorithm not a being. We become the predictable outcomes of the conditioned reflexes of our nerves, constantly triggered by people in reaction to circumstances…. The moment you start to raise your habitual uncertainties and reflect, it opens a door.
Heisenberg, the greatest physicist of our suggested that nature never really reveals herself to us as she is, but only as our method of questioning suggests… if you live the questions, then life will move you towards the answers.
Q: How can these tools of metahumanity help us with our day to day challenges?
[Deepak Chopra]: Higher states of being help us to harness our creativity, intention and imagination. Accessing these states also leads to greater synchronicity, meaningful coincidence, and a comfort with yourself where you will feel beneath no-one, and superior to no-one. In this state, you do not have the desire to be validated all the time- so you become immune to the evils of criticism and flattery and enjoy a fundamental self-esteem and not a desire for self-image. This (self-image) is dependent on others and can be taken away any time you are not validated. By accessing higher states of consciousness, you become much more self-revered and are able to participate in the reality of everyday consciously and not like a biological robot.
We experience life in every sense directly as our true self beyond our ego identity and every day reality is something that we consciously create.
Q: How would our world be different if everyone accessed higher states of consciousness?
[Deepak Chopra]: Our world is the projection of our collective insanity, and run by world-leaders who are professional thugs, gangsters and mobsters.
A world that has climate change risking our extinction, social and economic injustice, species vanishing from our actions, war, terrorism, poison in our food and water… this is not a sane world, and if we accept it as sane, we are declaring our own insanity.
If there was a critical mass of people who are awakened to their true self, we would move in the direction of a more peaceful, sustainable, healthier and joyful world.