Poosh had the opportunity to interview world-renowned pioneer of New Age movement and meditation mogul, Deepak Chopra, with the help of his longtime friend Rachel Roy. We’ll let Rachel take it from here.
*Editor’s note: This is the original Q&A. You can watch the full video interview here and at the bottom of the story.
Deepak and I met about eight years ago. I followed him on Twitter and had read many of his books. His messages were so helpful to me in such difficult times that I felt compelled to introduce him to my customers who may not have been familiar with him. So I reached out to him on Twitter and asked him if I could design a project either with him or for him, giving all proceeds to a charity of his choice.
Being the warm, giving, confident leader he is, he agreed right away and thus began our friendship—through creativity and design. Through a shared respect for wanting to bring the message of inner joy and peace to the world at large, Deepak and I have remained friends, now traveling the world together.
I have been to his “Sages and Scientists” and “Seduction of Spirit” conferences many times, each time learning more valuable insights and tools that allow me to live my life with grace and uncovering insights to empower my every day. Deepak is the most sincere, talented, genius mind I have had the honor of knowing. I once asked him how he is able to think of all he does and communicate it in the way that he does. He said, “Rachel, it comes through me. I simply open my mouth and speak, but it comes from the universe, not me.” May we all learn to be a vessel for God in this way. Read our interview for Poosh below.
Rachel: In a world where we are plugged in all the time, our lives seem to be lived on screen. Some would say this makes communication easier and allows us to be more connected. But dehumanization becomes more prevalent as people become anonymous names on a screen. How can we overcome this mentality and bring the ideas of community, oneness, and respect back to a generation who keeps moving farther away from them?
Deepak: Technology is neutral. What we do with it is dependent on our state of consciousness and what we want for ourselves and for other people. You can use technology, even this technology [the iPhone], for diabolical purposes. You can hack people. You can interfere with an election if you want. You can interfere with electricity, poison the food chain. I don’t want to give you ideas, but this is very powerful technology. This thing has more computing power than the original computer at MIT, which was housed in the building that is twice the size of the one we are in—that sent people to the moon. This has more computing power. You can also create. You can also use this technology to help people. You can use this technology to send an emoticon to somebody in South Africa and give them a dopamine hit. And send them love. You can use technology to make people happier, to make them healthier, to make them more joyful. It depends on you. We can’t avoid technology, it’s a part of our evolution now. So it depends on us. Are we going to be victimized by technology, or are we going to remind ourselves that we are the creators of the technology? And if we are the creators of technology, how do we create a happier world? How do we create online and offline communities where the emphasis is on service, love, compassion, joy, equanimity, and mindful awareness and where we can actually help each other emotionally, spiritually, and physically? I always think of these practices, which come from Indian spiritual tradition: Seva, which means service, Satsang, which means community (online and offline), and then spiritual practice. Remembering who we really are, not skin-encapsulated egos in a bag of flesh and bones. But the magnificence of the universe enclosed in this moment in space and time. We are infinite beings—stardust beings with awareness, having a human experience. If we remember that, technology is our ally, not our enemy.
Rachel: Do you think that suffering is a choice?
Deepak: Mostly no, because suffering can happen. You’re born in a poor family, you’re living in a violent community, you have inherited a disease, etc. By the way, only five percent of disease-related gene rotations are fully penetrant; 95 percent of chronic illnesses are influenced by our lifestyle. So you can diminish suffering and you can get in touch with your innermost being, your soul, which for 30 years I’ve said is a field of infinite potential. My next book is calledMetahuman. How do you go beyond this everyday behavior of people who behave like biological robots, being triggered by circumstances into predictable outcomes? Is this the way to live as a human being? Or can you live with insight, intuition, imagination, creativity, higher vision, love, compassion, joy, equanimity, and peace? If you see this aspect of yourself, you can diminish suffering. But there is always old age, infirmity, and death. And for that there is no psychological solution. Only spiritual solutions into finding out that you are a timeless being having a time-bound experience. You’re an infinite being having a finite experience.
Rachel: The way to separate from suffering and not be destroyed by suffering is to…
Deepak: Get in touch with the most creative aspect of yourself—your soul, which is infinite. And there lies the solution to suffering, including loss from the fear of death. When people have spiritual experiences, they lose fear of death, they experience transcendence, and they have this spontaneous emergence of platonic qualities like love, compassion, joy, equanimity, creativity, and higher vision. So the only solution to existential suffering that humans have is spiritual.
Rachel: And the quickest way for us to do that is meditation?
Deepak: Meditation, self-inquiry, contemplation, awareness of the everyday experience, awareness of the ecosystem of relationships, awareness of our relationship with the universe, and actually understanding this whole universe that you are a part of. It took the whole universe to create you and me. You’re a unique stardust being, and there is no one like you. Not the same fingerprints, not the same eyes, not the same consciousness. Even though it’s one consciousness, it’s conditioned in a different modality of experience and behavior. So there’s no one like you in the entire universe. That’s an amazing thing if you recognize that.
Rachel: That goes into Kourt’s next question. How can we change negative thought patterns?
Deepak: You don’t try positive thinking. Some people who practice positive thinking, I find them totally exasperating. They are so artificial. They’re pretending to be positive, and they’re trying so hard that they’re stressed out and they make other people stressed. When you observe your thoughts, negative or positive, you have a very interesting insight. I am not my thoughts. I am the observer of my thoughts.
And by the way, most of your thoughts are everybody else’s recycled thoughts. They are recycling through social media. Nobody has original thoughts anymore. Ask yourself, how can I have a contribution to improve? How can I trigger my creativity, my insight, my imagination, my caring, my love, my higher vision? How can I use that to create peace, joy, sustainability, love, and a healthy, joyful world? If you focus on that, then you don’t worry about negative thoughts. If they surface, they’re somebody else’s thoughts, so say, “Next!”
Rachel: How do you take the steps to become more self-aware?
Deepak: Start with simple things. You can sit quietly and ask yourself, who am I? What do I want? And that will start a journey, by the way, because nobody asks themselves that. Ask yourself, what is my purpose? How can I serve? How can I be grateful? That’s called self-inquiry, self-contemplation. Then you go a little further, you become mindfully aware of experience—of perceptions, sounds, tastes, colors, forms.
Extend that to the awareness of body. You can learn yoga and practice interoception. You can become aware of everything that is happening in your body and you can regulate your body. I can regulate my body, I can lower my blood pressure, I can change my heart rate, I can put myself to sleep. It’s all learned behavior, and you can do that.I actually can do that, honestly.
You can also become aware of your mental space, your feelings, emotions. I’m not saying to try and change them. Become aware of them. When you’re aware of an emotion, you realize that you’re actually free of that emotion. Whether it’s positive or negative, it doesn’t matter. The awareness of anything is independent of that thing. The awareness of an experience is independent, and consciousness is most alive when it is watching nonjudgmentally, instead of labeling things right, wrong, good, bad, sinner, saint, divine, diabolical. We spend our life judging ourselves and other people.
Stop judgement, become an observer of experience, and you start to become aware of mental space, and then the mental space responds, and then awareness of the web of relationships. The awareness of relationships with people you care for—your family, your friends, your colleagues—awareness of the ecosystem, awareness of this thing that we call the environment. It’s not the environment, that is a stupid word. That environment is our extended body, that ocean is recycling right now as your circulation. That earth is recycling right now as your body. This air is your breath, those trees are your lungs, and the stars and galaxies have the atoms that created your bodies also, including your DNA. So we have a personal body and we have an extended universal body—they are both equally us. You put an animal like a rabbit in a vacuum, it dies. You put a plant in a vacuum, it also dies. You put them all together, they both live.
The web of relationships is the most important thing. The relationship with yourself, your colleagues, your family, your friends, the world, the cosmos. Because we are, as I said, stardust beings recycling and having this human experience. It is a privilege.
Rachel: It is a privilege. It’s a privilege to sit here with you as well. We are all connected…
Rachel: …and so we cannot live separately.
Deepak: Yes.The most common cause of depression, even suicide, is disconnection with life. Once you’re connected with the web of relationships, you experience joy. All spiritual traditions tell us that the fundamental cause of suffering is the isolated separate self, which is a socially induced hallucination.
Rachel: So we need that connection. Find someone that you trust to have a connection with?
Deepak: Always have friends, family, and relationships that you care for irrespective of who they are and how they behave. You know if you behave in a bad manner, I don’t like the behavior, but I still love you.
So to be aware, to be a nonjudgmental witness of experience is the fundamental key to expanding your consciousness from the three states of consciousness that we go through every day. It’s sleeping, waking, dreaming. There’s something called soul consciousness. In simple words, bring your awareness from your mind, from intellect to your heart, to see yourself as a soul. Your soul is loving awareness. That’s enough to start a journey.
Rachel: Yes! When I finally got that, that all I had to do was observe, it took such a weight off my shoulders.
Deepak: Yes, people waste their life judging people: sacred, profane, diabolical, sinner, saint. You know, in my tradition, they say everybody is a sinner and a saint at the same time. The saint has a past, and the sinner has a future.The sinner and saint are exchanging notes all within your own self, because your inner self is ambiguity, contradiction, paradox, light, and darkness at the same time. And to forgive yourself, forgive everybody. Forgiveness starts with just stopping judgement and being aware.
Rachel: That is key! That will set you free, the forgiveness of yourself.
Deepak: You don’t forgive others because they deserve forgiveness, you forgive the other because you deserve peace.
Rachel: I asked you, Deepak, at one point when I was so low, and that was the response you gave me, and it set me free. Readers, please write that down to remember it for yourselves!
Deepak: Don’t forgive the other because they deserve it. Most often they don’t deserve forgiveness if they have been mean to you. But you deserve peace, so forgive for yourself.
Rachel: In our “Seduction of Spirit” session, we learned about stress and how it’s the cause of almost every disease and inflammation. Our next question is: we live in such an anxiety-driven, stressful society. What can we do to find peace and handle stress?
Deepak: We’ll start with self-inquiry, meditation, contemplation, being aware. But there are so many ways to manage stress. Get a good massage, exercise, go watch a funny movie. I used to watch Candid Camera whenever it felt stressful. It was very funny, and it immediately relieved stress. Laughter is the best medicine, as they say. And it improves the immune system. So does sex … so does sleep. So do breathing exercises, so does yoga, because yoga is very unique. The yoga postures that we do stimulate the vagus nerve, which is the healing nerve in the body. It generates all of the organs, so yoga has a completely different effect on the body than regular exercising. But if you walk 10,000 steps, if you do some exercise, if you do yoga or pranayama, get to know your body as a modified form of consciousness, because that is what it is. Your body is conceived, governed, constructed, and comes into existence in your consciousness, and it is self-regulated in your consciousness. By getting in touch with your innermost vein, you restore homeostasis or self-regulation.
Stress is an epidemic of modern times—you know animals don’t stress about the future, or who did what to them. They get stressed if they are being chased by a predator. As soon as that is over, they are back to normal. We have imaginations, so we stress. The worst use of imagination is stress. The best use of imagination is creativity.
Rachel: How do you change the perception of aging?
Deepak: By undeciding that aging, human aging at least, is fixed. It’s flexible, the more you adapt. I have a mantra that I use: infinite flexibility is the secret of immortality. Yoga gives you flexibility of your body, but you need flexibility of consciousness, which means insight, intuition, imagination, creativity, higher vision, emotional bonding, and ultimately self-awareness to the point of enlightenment, where you recognize that your mind, your body, your relationships, and your work are all expressions of your innermost being. And when you get there, it’s all spontaneous.
Rachel: So the youngest people are the people who mentally don’t hold tightly onto things. They’re flexible with the outcome?
Deepak: Look at children. They adapt in five minutes and then they’re bored, they’re playful. That’s the next thing about stress—play. This is a playground for us. I’m thinking of keeping on going until I disappear into an orgasm.
Biological age, psychological age, emotional age, they are all correlated with each other. But there’s also such a thing as a spiritual age. At the level of spirit, you’re a timeless being—there’s no aging.
Rachel: You’ve said that the happiness of your enemies is actually good for your health and that stress reduction is the prelude to joy and bliss. Can you talk about the connection?
Deepak: The best way to get rid of an enemy is to increase their capacity for health, well-being, and joy. They won’t be your enemies anymore. The best way for you to be happy is to make somebody else happy. The fastest! In five minutes, you can be instantly happy. Choose one person today. Make them happy by giving them an authentic compliment, or saying “I love you,” or sending them an emoticon to give them a dopamine hit. The fastest way to be happy is to make someone else happy. Instantly! Next time you’re stressed, make somebody else happy.
Rachel: I absolutely understand what you mean by that, but what if you send them that message, and then they keep responding to you in a negative way?
Deepak: Then don’t have them in your life. You hang out with the people who are happy. With unhappy people, you try to make them happy. If they don’t respond, ignore them. They can’t stand it.
Rachel: Last question from Kourt. Can you explain the “Seven Spiritual Laws” for parents and how parents can guide children to be successful and fulfilled?
Deepak: I’ve always said that in the first five years of life, you don’t need to teach really anything to your children. They respond to you. There’s a mechanism in kids called mirror neurons. That’s how we learn language. Nobody taught you grammar, right? And yet you speak perfectly. If you have a child and teach them seven languages, they’ll learn seven languages. How? Through mirror neurons. So if you give a child attention—which means deep listening, affection, deep caring, appreciation, notice their good qualities, acceptance, don’t try to change them, because they’re unique—they will grow up to be emotionally and physically healthy. Then you can incorporate the seven spiritual laws, because they’re ready for them. If they haven’t been nurtured emotionally into feeling self-esteem, self-love, and joy, then no amount of seven spiritual laws or anything is going to help them.
Rachel: One question of my own, what is your dream for the world?
Deepak: To reach a billion people with your help, and Kourtney’s help, and other people’s help, for a more peaceful, just, sustainable, healthier, and joyful world. We need critical mass of personal and social transformation, and the world will transform. Because the world is a collective projection.
Right now: unsustainability, climate change, eco-destruction, extinction of species, nuclear weapons, biological warfare, poison in our food chain. The world is the projection of a collective insane mind. If you don’t agree, then you’re declaring your own insanity.
How can this world, which is risking our extinction, be saved? We need to transform right now, and create that world through our personal and collective transformation. Because there can’t be collective transformation in the absence of personal transformation. The collective is made of you and me, and the world is a projection of that collective consciousness. As Mahatma Gandhi said, can you be the change you wish to see in the world?