AT THE FRONTIER
OF THE MIND-BODY CONNECTION WITH DR. DEEPAK CHOPRA
The threads of time weave strange
webs through the fabric of history, wending their way in and
out of the material in what might be called, at first glance,
"disorder." And, yet, as the threads interweave their
way through the centuries, a closer look would show that they
produce the most glorious of patterns in the tapestry of life.
So it was that an Indian medical officer, the son of an army
sergeant, stationed with a small, ragged army in the wilds of
Burma during the Second World War, would reach across time and
space, span East and West and touch countless inhabitants of
Krishan Chopra, who sat in
a lecture given by Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin,
the same Krishan Chopra who was given his first, real opportunity
to study medicine by Lord Mountbatten, last viceroy of India,
gave the world one of its noblest children in the person of his
son, Deepak Chopra, M.D. Deepak is the founding president of
the American Association of Ayurvedic Medicine.
These days, Deepak can be seen
at airports, in lecture halls, at international conferences and
at small and large gatherings as he crisscrosses the oceans and
continents of the world bringing hope, knowledge and wisdom to
hundreds of thousands. Not only does he speak to groups of his
peers, well educated in the fields of medicine and philosophy,
but he reaches out and touches the "common person"
with such love and understanding that he changes their very lives
for the better.
I was sitting in my office
one day, many years ago, when a friend visited and handed me
"This is a gift for you,
John," she said, "I think you'll really enjoy it. You'll
find it quite interesting."
"Oh, not again,"
I thought, "I have so many books to read and so little time
available." I thanked her politely, however, and put it
away for some future date when events would not be as hectic
as they were in my life at that time. Somehow or other, I did
get around to it and from the moment I started reading, I could
not put it down. Here was a master of the art of story-telling.
He held me spell-bound as I followed the beauty and simplicity
of his wisdom through the pages. At the end of the book, I had
the greatest desire to meet the author, Deepak Chopra. In time,
events would lead to just such a meeting.
It was in New York City that
I first met him. The meeting was pre-arranged and I was very
excited, but at the same time, a bit apprehensive. Just from
reading his books, I felt a deep kinship with him, yet, I was
concerned about the type of reception I would get. I am acquainted
with a good number of famous authors and many a time, I wished
that I had only read their books and never met them. Here I was
again, meeting another author. Perhaps he had a large ego. Success
sometimes does that to people, especially when they make money
-- lots of it. Or, worse yet, perhaps he would sit there and
speak in glowing generalities, saying volumes but meaning nothing.
However, there was no need to worry. Deepak was much more than
I knocked on the door of his
hotel room and waited. There was no answer. I knocked again and
a moment or two later, the door opened and a smiling face greeted
me with the words, "Come in, John, I'm sorry it took so
long to get the door. I was on the phone."
"I am looking forward
to our meeting," I said as I entered and he closed the door.
"Please sit," he
said as he pointed to a chair, "Can I get you any refreshments?"
"No, thank you,"
I replied as I sat.
We spoke for quite some time
about issues of health and healing. We touched on his private
life, on his philosophies and his dreams and visions for the
future. When I left, I knew that I had found a long lost brother
and friend and that we would always keep in touch.
Deepak initially came to the
attention of the public through his first book, "Creating
Health." Following this, was "The Return of the Rishi,"
a beautiful and well-written work which paved the way for the
successes that were to follow. The New York Times referred to
the "Return of the Rishi" as "A rich and compelling
book," adding, "We can't help wishing he lived close
enough to make house calls."
Deepak Chopra is an endocrinologist,
a former chief of staff of New England Memorial Hospital in Stoneham,
Massachusetts and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians.
"The Return of the Rishi" was followed by the ground-breaking
bestseller, "Quantum Healing : Exploring the Frontiers of
Mind-Body Medicine." "Quantum Healing" showed
how health and illness in the human body are controlled by awareness
at the level of quantum physics, where mind and body are one
and where matter and energy are interchangeable.
Deepak is eminently qualified
by virtue of his Western medical training combined with his esoteric
Eastern knowledge to bridge the gap between Eastern and Western
medicine. His other books are practical guides to harnessing
the healing power of the mind using the ancient principles of
Ayurveda, a 5000-year-old system of mind-body medicine. "Ageless
Body, Timeless Mind" has always been one of my favorites.
It is not that Mind-Body medicine
hasn't been around for a long time but that this is the first
time in recent history that its popularity is growing in leaps
and bounds. This is also the first time that it is being studied
by qualified scientists and doctors who are saying that there
is much validity to its techniques. Rather than being a fragmented,
little-known system as has been the case in the West in the past,
Mind-Body medicine is being organized and popularized into powerful
techniques and methods. Foremost among the pioneers in this field
is Dr. Deepak Chopra and much credit is due him for his tremendous
Chopra, himself, approaches
the subject with zeal and dedication. His very confidence and
sincerity has sometimes precipitated controversy. It appears
that it is not his nature to shy away from controversy. Instead,
he meets it head on with honesty, humility, love and an extreme
measure of wisdom. His method of answering questions has delighted
audiences on major television networks and have sent critics
scurrying for shelter.
Not long ago, I read in a certain
publication an editorial which seemed to imply that Deepak was
"pushing" the Maharishi's Ayurveda with far too much
enthusiasm. A few days later, while speaking with Deepak, I asked,
"Why is it, Deepak, that some people are saying that you
are too loyal to the Maharishi? They are saying that the Maharishi
did not 'invent' Ayurveda, yet, they are accusing him of promoting
it as if he did. What do you say to that?"
"It's interesting, John,
that it has been perceived in that way by some," he answered.
"It is true that Ayurveda existed long before the Maharishi.
However, it was a fragmented method. Maharishi brought it into
a form wherein the scientific community could look at it, study
and research it. He is doing for Ayurveda what he did for meditation.
I was introduced to Ayurveda by Maharishi so I give him credit."
"It does appear,"
I said, "That the Maharishi has been successful in bringing
awareness of Ayurveda to many. But why the name 'Maharishi Ayurveda'
instead of just Ayurveda?"
"It is for identification
purposes, John," he replied, "Somewhat similar to the
way the name 'Ford' Motor Company distinguishes itself from 'General'
Motors. A brand name, if you will. And, yes, many of us are extremely
pleased to see so many people beginning to understand the mind-body
"And if I understand correctly,
Deepak, it's not only in the United States that we are seeing
this interest, but in many parts of the world, also. Do you feel
that this will continue?"
With a smile that could disarm
the toughest critic, he looked me straight in the eye and said,
"There is a movement toward greater understanding, John,
and it is not limited by geography. There is a tremendous interest
in Asia, Europe, the Caribbean -- all over. As you know, Dr.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, you, I and others have spoken in many
places about this. Yes, there is great interest all over. Leaping
across the void of time and space, the ancient vedic wisdom speaks
to us all with profound simplicity."
Dr. Chopra's books confound
his detractors by putting Ayurveda in the hands of its readers.
His writings and lectures, if you will, are the layperson's guide
to better health, wealth and happiness.
One gets the feeling at times
that Deepak's life is an all-consuming, endless round of activity,
which, in any culture, could wear the physical and mental body
down. Yet, in his case, one only has to spend a few minutes with
him to see that this is not so. Perhaps, it's his regular practice
of meditation; perhaps, it is because he practices what he preaches
or a combination of both, but he always appears to be calm and
relaxed, exuding a certain peace and joy uncommon in the world
as we know it.
To be a member of his audience
is a rare treat. Even though you may have heard him speak before,
it is always gloriously refreshing to hear him again. He walks
up to the podium, picks up the microphone and begins his talk.
A few minutes pass and you find the audience leaning forward
on the edge of their seats. Looking around the room, you see
every eye cemented on him. Except for his voice, you could hear
a pin drop. He continues speaking, switching sometimes from medicine
to physics to philosophy and back and forth again in such a charming
but logical manner that you are not sure where one leaves off
and the other begins.
The audience laughs, becomes
serious then laughs again as Deepak exhibits a profound sense
of humor. He is in total control as he shares his wisdom. Completely
at home with the most complex matters in his field of medicine,
he presents facts based on modern day research and findings.
He quotes the great English astronomer, Sir Arthur Eddington
and follows with an explanation of some points made by Albert
Einstein. The next moment, he is reciting a verse of a poem by
Sir Rabindranath Tagore, late poet laureate of India. It is wonderful.
There are those in the audience who are moved to tears. You glance
at the clock on the wall and notice that an hour or two have
passed. Too soon, the lecture ends. There is a standing ovation.
Deepak thanks everyone and leaves the platform. He is surrounded
by the crowd and you know that he must go, yet, he stops and
speaks to those around him. He moves toward the door and you
wave goodbye. There is great joy and deep sadness as you watch
him go. Joy, because he has touched your very heart strings and
sorrow, because he is now gone. Such is the measure of the man.
Rita, his wife, is a rare combination
of beauty, charm, wit and intelligence. She completely supports
his work as she brings a balance into his life. And then there
are his two children, Mallika and Gautama, who are his pride
and joy. Deepak's dedication to his work is only surpassed by
his strong dedication to his family. But he is fast expanding
that family to include all of humankind.
"Deepak," I once
said, "'Quantum Healing' and your other books have resulted
in a meteoric rise in your fame and fortune. Those are such excellent
books. How do you improve on that which is perfect? Will you
be writing other books?"
Again that charming smile combined
with a boyish twinkle in his eyes as he replied, "You are
very kind, John, but my books are not perfect. They are but vehicles
meant to convey ideas. And yes, I will write more. I love writing."
"Yes," I said, "You
indeed seem to love not only writing, but all you do."
"The beginning of a productive
life is to be happy in all you do. The yogis speak of a state
of bliss. It is not a faraway, unattainable, vague concept but
something that is our birthright, here and now. It is within
reach of all -- from the peasant to the prince, from the doctor
to his patient."
And so goes our conversations,
touching on various aspects of the human equation. It is always
so with Deepak. His busy schedule keeps him moving around the
country and around the world. We meet, whenever and wherever
possible -- in New York City, in Atlanta, in Los Angeles and
of course, in such exotic places such as Bali or Hawaii. Every
meeting is like the first time -- fresh, fascinating and full
These days, I do not see my
old friend as often as I used to. In some ways, I miss the old
days when he and I had conversations that were sometimes more
interesting than what either of us has written in our books.
You can find Deepak on such major TV shows as "Larry King,"
"Good Morning America," and others. Or you can find
his heart and soul in his books and tapes and lectures. Perhaps
we'll meet again soon and exchange thoughts about the wonderful,
mysterious ways of the Universe and life itself.
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