Why aren’t you succeeding?
Deepak Chopra says he knows. You’re trying too hard.
Because you’re trying at all.
Stop controlling and trying to think everything through. Just flow. The universe is already on your side.
“People need survival, creativity, achievement, and we’re hardwired for that kind of experience,” says Chopra, the best-selling author and speaker. “Spiritual traditions call it a state of grace, or that God is looking out for them. Others call it good luck.
“But it means to align yourself with what the universe is doing, to tap into the creative mind of the cosmos,” he says in a recent phone interview. “You go effortlessly with the flow of the universe.”
This counsel is part of his gospel of “spontaneous fulfillment,” which he will discuss at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Broward Convention Center. The talk is sponsored by Religious Science of Fort Lauderdale.
The ideas may seem counter-intuitive amid modern notions of planning and manipulating and pushing for success — except that Chopra has earned his wings as a popular speaker and author of some 40 books and more than 100 audio, video and CD-ROM titles. With titles like Grow Younger, Live Longer, How to Know God and Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, Chopra, a medical doctor who built a specialty in endocrinology in the 1980s, has staked out a place as a pioneer in mind-body medicine.
Former chief of staff at Boston Regional Medical Center, Chopra is the founder of several health centers, at hotels like the Doral in Miami and La Costa in Carlsbad, Calif., using techniques such as yoga and ayurvedic purification.
He maintains relations with conventional medicine, having given a recent keynote speech at a conference of doctors at Harvard. He is also a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.
More productive than ever, he is currently working on several books. Fire in the Heart, due out in May, will expound metaphysics for teens. He is also co-authoring Magical Beginnings, on pregnancy, along with his associate, Dr. David Simon. And Chopra is writing a Book of Secrets, cryptically saying he can’t divulge the theme.
He is also passionate about The Soul of Leadership, due out sometime this year. Using examples like Mother Teresa, Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King Jr., Chopra says he’ll highlight forgotten qualities. “Like a vision that transcends self. Right now, it’s about personal self.”
Between engagements, he lives in La Jolla, Calif., with Rita, his wife of 35 years. They spent the holidays with relatives in New Delhi, in his native India. And they dote on his granddaughter, Tara.
He makes light of his popularity, half-joking about the interest Americans have for things Eastern. “Must be my Indian accent,” he says.
But it’s also his background in science and his gift for vivid metaphor. He typically uses biological facts to explain metaphysical ideas, like that of events converging for good.
“The rational mind is based on linear thinking, cause and effect,” he says. “But in nature, everything happens at once.
“How does a human body think thoughts, remove toxins, make a baby and track the movements of stars all at once? There are more cells in a human body than stars in the galaxy. They’re orchestrated through simultaneous correlation of many events. When you look at nature, you see that creativity.”
He suggests that people, too, think of themselves as part of the world — and the world as part of them. “Think of trees as your lungs. Emotions are recycled energy. Thoughts are information.
“And your soul is a reflection of all other souls. If you live totally selfishly, things won’t work for you. If you work for the greater good, it will.”
Another passion: The Alliance for a New Humanity, a metaphysical social action group founded in December. Meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the organization intends to address issues like poverty, ecological destruction and violence.
Besides Chopra, the new alliance has the endorsement of Nobel laureates Betty Williams and Oscar Arias Sanchez, singer Ricky Martin, metaphysical author Marianne Williamson and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who gave the keynote address in San Juan.
Although others have tried to form such an organization, Chopra thinks enough people now believe in metaphysics to make a “critical mass of conscience.” It claims 600 leaders from 30 nations, as varied as Italy, Chile, Ireland, Israel, Spain and Costa Rica.
“Social action is not enough; you also need personal transformation,” Chopra says. “We want people to become the embodiment of peace. You must be the change you wish to see.”
For all his spiritual speculations, Chopra doesn’t call himself religious. Raised in a Hindu culture, educated in a Catholic mission school, he regards all religions as “tribal” and backward.
“To believe everything in religion is to deny science; that’s a little idiotic,” Chopra says. “We’re evolving as a species. Why think it’s stopped with us?
“People inherently yearn for truth. We all want to know, what happens when we die? Does God care? Up to now, the answers have been given us by people from thousands of years ago, but that can only take you so far. All concepts of God are limiting.”
He does praise religion for nurturing families and communities, and says he’s read the New Testament thousands of times. “I am fascinated with Christ. It’s an amazing piece of literature. It has a deep, intuitive level of compassion and love and understanding and forgiveness. But when you say everyone else is wrong, you get into trouble. Self-righteousness is hypocrisy with a halo.”
But what of Chopra’s books and lectures and TV appearances? Just recommendations, he says.
“I speak and write about what I’m passionate about, and I share it. I don’t say this is what you must do. Then I’d be no different than people who proselytize.”
But at 57, he says success doesn’t seduce him as it did when he was starting out. “I’m in the autumn of my life. I have fresh eyes and feel aware that death is stalking me. My priorities have become very clear. I feel less and less need for approval.”
The best things in life? Surprisingly prosaic. “Peace of mind, harmony, love, laughter, humor, compassion.
“I feel like Rumi,” he says, referring to the famed medieval Persian poet. “He said, `I want to sing like birds sing, not worrying who listens or what they think.’”