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Perspectives in Philanthropy: Meaningful Meditation

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 4.21.36 PMDeepak Chopra delivered the keynote at Morgan Stanley’s Social Impact Exchange this past June.  Please enjoy reading the latest edition of “Perspectives in Philanthropy” which includes the article, Meaningful Meditation (Pages 6-7) highlighting meditation and not for profits, The Chopra Foundation and Just Capital.
 
Read more at: Meaningful Meditation
 
“Entrepreneurs are the creative minds behind some of the world’s most innovative and transformational ideas. Social entrepreneurs are a growing cohort amongst them and the impact these individuals have on society can be profound. For example, Deepak Chopra has worked to prevent youth violence by teaching the concepts of mindfulness and wellbeing to adolescents so they can help mitigate the risk of dangerous situations escalating to violence.”
“The Chopra Foundation is dedicated to the future of wellbeing for the entire global community through our commitment to helping to create a more peaceful, just, sustainable, happier and healthy world,” said Deepak Chopra, Founder and Chairman of the Chopra Foundation. “We are devoted to the development of youth through leadership programs that teach conscious lifestyle choices to dynamically reduce crime and violence. Additionally, we have partnered with Food for Education which sends 1.3 million children to school while providing a daily meal as an incentive for receiving an education.”
 

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Recovering a Lost World, Just in Time

By Deepak Chopra, MD
A common trait in every civilization known to us is now fast disappearing. This trait is the thirst for knowing the self. Most people have read that the ancient Greeks pursued the goal of “Know thyself,” but they do not realize that self-inquiry also stood at the very center of the great spiritual traditions in India, China, and the Judeo-Christian world. Today, a need to know thyself–in other words, to answer the question, “Who am I?”–by no means stands at the heart of civilization either East or West.

We have learned to accept, passively or with eager enthusiasm, some guiding principles that erode the entire value of self-inquiry. Among these principles are the following:

The only true knowledge is factual and data driven.

Science trumps all previous forms of knowledge.

The greatest knowers of reality are scientists.

So-called spiritual knowledge doesn’t exist–such claims were part of a world riddled with superstitions and myths.

To look inward is a waste of time, since real knowledge of the mind will be revealed completely by studying the brain.

In one way or another these principles are the foundation of modern secular society. In many quarters a broad brush is applied to all spirituality as merely pre-scientific mumbo-jumbo, and the past is looked upon as one thing only: the benighted precursor to the advent of science. So be it. In the face of secularism, no one can claim that the institutions which exist as repositories of spirit, mainly organized religion, are tending upward. Their decline is inevitable and speeding up–so most educated observers believe.

But a funny thing happened on the way to absolute secularism. Science ran into two questions that to date have proved seriously unsolvable. The first is “What is the universe made of?” The second is “What is the biological basis of consciousness?” Both are objective questions about external facts, so it would be surprising–even revolutionary–if they eventually led us back to the inner world and the all but lost thirst for self-inquiry.

Most people do not realize that these two questions are the greatest mysteries in science, because it is assumed that a) the universe is made of atoms and subatomic particles, and b) the brain produces the mind, or consciousness. Yet if we look without rose-tinted glasses at these assumptions, they have no scientific foundation. Of course atoms and subatomic particles exist, but they are not the ultimate things that make up the universe. Solid, substantial matter vanished with the quantum revolution over a century ago, and contemporary physics stands baffled at the threshold of a world that precedes and underlies the quantum world. From this unknown domain emerged the big bang, and at this very instant every subatomic particle winks in and out of the same region.

The precreated state is inconceivable, because it produces the four things needed to uphold existence–time, space, matter, and energy–while itself transcending all of them. The quantum vacuum state, as it is generally known, is a field of infinite possibilities that itself has no known qualities we are familiar with–no color, shape, dimension, time, matter, or energy. If our universe, along with every cell in our bodies, derives from an inconceivable source, this seriously undercuts science’s claim to be the best knower of reality in the history of mankind. In fact, science is one thing only: a method of collecting facts through objective measurement and data. That is hardly the be-all and end-all of knowing reality.

The second open question is how to connect biology and mind. This is the so-called hard problem osnappa_1468633950f consciousness. For a very long time science had no interest in consciousness. It was simply a given, like the air we breathe. But it has always been clear, to anyone who looked, that the brain is a weak origin for the mind. Inside the brain there is no light, sound, color, taste, smell–nothing like that. The brain’s interior is a dark, moist place where chemical reactions and electrical signals are concentrated; in less concentrated form, the same activity is taking place in heart, liver, and kidney cells. Yet somehow the brain is credited with producing the three-dimensional picture we call reality, complete with all five senses. No one has the slightest idea how gaggles of neurons perform this trick.

The easy answer to both mysteries is exactly the same. Consciousness gives rise to the mind, not the brain. The experience of physical reality is a mode of consciousness; in fact, there is nothing real that isn’t made real by consciousness. This can be called the easy answer to the hard problem. Needless to say, it creates consternation in scientific circles, although at the

cutting edge, many open-minded theorists are beginning to see why this answer is valid. But for centuries, self-inquiry led to the conclusion that consciousness is the source of reality.

If we eventually arrive at a point in history where consciousness is central, it will be like recovering a lost world. At that point, the old language from bygone civilizations won’t be hauled in and repurposed. This is a good thing, because the purity of self-inquiry devolved into religious dogma, with its insistence on God or the gods. None of that religious apparatus was part of the original project. The original project was an attempt to expand self-awareness until it recognized and knew its own source. The principles that guided this project are almost the opposite of the assumptions listed at the beginning of this article. They include the following:

Consciousness is not a byproduct of matter. Consciousness exists independently of the physical world and always has.

Reality is entirely experience-based. What we cannot experience doesn’t exist, not insofar as human awareness is concerned.

Each person creates reality, serving as a conscious agent who experiences, perceives, and interprets the contents of mind.

Everything in existence is a mode of consciousness interacting with itself.

The individual self or “I” participates in the cosmic mind.

You’ll notice that these principles sound abstract and metaphysical, while the first set of principles listed at the beginning are simple, obvious, and roll easily off the tongue. That’s because we are so used to them, whereas self-inquiry into consciousness has become such a lost art that even venturing into it feels like exploring terra incognita. Ironically, the last dark place on the map is our own inner world. Doubly ironic is that insistence, by the gatekeepers of official knowledge, that nothing valuable can be found by looking inward. It will take time to shift the perception that science, as currently practiced, holds all the answers. And yet we have only a limited amount of time before some crushing challenges–climate change, pollution, overpopulation, refugeeism, religious fanaticism, and epidemic disease–tighten their grip beyond repair.

These problems can only be solved by a fresh infusion of humanity, not by technology. In our humanity is our salvation, a truth nearly lost in the welter of secular culture. Our need isn’t for God or the gods. It isn’t for a new set of religious rules and rituals. What we desperately need is

to know ourselves enough to value life and the planet, along with every other human being. The easy answer to the hard problem may feel like a strange place to begin this journey, but in fact it is the right and only place.

Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. The World Post and The Huffington Post global internet survey ranked Chopra #17 influential thinker in the world and #1 in Medicine. Chopra is the author of more than 80 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His latest books are Super Genes co-authored with Rudolph Tanzi, PhD and Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine. www.deepakchopra.com

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Reality Gets an Unlikely Savior: Infinity

By Deepak Chopra, MD and Menas Kafatos, PhD

 

Infinity has been getting a bad reputation recently. It has become the sticking point in the story we tell ourselves about reality. The trouble begins with a split between what is real and what is unreal. If you send someone to the store to buy three apples, and they return with only one, it matches reality to say, “you only brought me a third of what I wanted.”  This statement matches the way numbers are meant to behave. Numbers are pure in the sense that they are abstractions, ever-existing and perfect as the ancient Greek philosophers thought. They cannot be disturbed by real-world events. Yet they are reliable because they allow us to engineer the real world, from building bridges and cathedrals to manufacturing microchips. They are rational because they strictly obey mathematical order and perfect logic.

 

These three virtues are wobbly when it comes to infinity, however. Getting one apple instead of three represents a one-third return, and when written in decimals, one-third is .33333 out to infinity. In other words, it is an endless number, and “endless” isn’t something we can actually conceive. There is a mismatch between the real world and mathematics, and when it comes to advanced mathematics, the kind applied by physicists and cosmologists, the misbehavior of infinity becomes serious. (Actually, this is one kind of well-behaved infinity, because rational numbers like 1/3 can be known to any order and predicted in advance—the repetition of three continues ad infinitum. An irrational number like pi (π) is a different kind of infinity, since its digits are unpredictable and do not repeat.)

 

The noted physicist Max Tegmark wrote an article for Discover magazine in Feb. 2015 titled, “Infinity Is a Beautiful Concept – And It’s Ruining Physics.” The ruination exists on two disturbing fronts. The first front is theoretical. Physicists need valid, provable theories to explain the biggest and smallest things in nature. As it turns out, the smallest things, subatomic particles, wink out of sight and vanish into the quantum vacuum. The biggest things, including galactic and intergalactic matter and the universes itself, emerge from the same vacuum, and our universe was set on a course of seemingly almost infinite inflation a tiny fraction of a second after the Big Bang. The rub is that when calculating the behavior of cosmic inflation, infinity keeps intruding and destroying any reasonable prediction. To quote Tegmark, “. . .inflation always gives the same useless answer: infinity divided by infinity.”

 

The reasons for arriving at this useless calculation are technical, but the upshot isn’t: reality comes down to an inconceivable concept. Infinity also intrudes in the fashionable theory of the multiverse, which derives our universe by supposing that it is only one in an infinite, or nearly infinite, number of alternative universes. But for this to be true, there have to be reasonable calculations of the odds for producing our particular universe with all its vast number of stars and galaxies, and these don’t exist. There are infinite reasons for why the Big Bang produced the universe that led to life on Earth and infinite reasons why it might not have happened. This is surely a very unsatisfying situation.

 

Which brings us to the second level of infinity’s misbehavior, the practical one. The entire modern world depends on the normal behavior of numbers. They support the story we tell ourselves about nature being knowable, predictable, and open to modeling, engineering and manufacturing. If on the other hand nature is actually inconceivable, reality is not what our story tells us it is. The quantum revolution began the process of undermining everyday reality by dismantling the whole notion of solid objects reliably sitting in fixed positions in time and space. In fact, quantum field theory itself, the best successor we have to quantum mechanics, leads to infinities that have to be subtracted from infinities to give finite answers for the properties of quanta, as science demands. Most people don’t give two hoots about quantum theory, assuming in the back of their minds that physics has learned how to accommodate its strangeness.

 

That is far from true. The way that subatomic particles, universes, and the laws of nature emerge from a vacuum means that something came out of nothing, and physics hasn’t reached any consensus about how this occurs. Besides infinity, there is another contentious number, zero, which represents the vanishing point. What zero and infinity have in common is that they are concepts invented by the human mind, and they complement each other. Their appearance in the history of mathematics occurred as two separate events. Nature doesn’t exhibit either zero or infinity the same way that it exhibits three apples or billions of galaxies. Zero and infinity are where sensible numbers of everyday experience, used in counting objects, disappear, and mathematical conceptions begin.

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You can easily grasp this without being a mathematician. Imagine that you take an apple and try to cut it into the smallest thing in existence. The Greeks thought that such an object exists, which they named the atom, from roots words that mean “uncuttable.” But no such object exists by any name, because once you probe deep enough, subatomic particles transform into waves that extend infinitely in the quantum field, or viewed another way, their solidity turns into an illusion. The same holds true for the inflationary universe. When you blow up a balloon, you see it expand into the space around it. But in the case of the universe, there is no space around it; space itself is part of the inflation. Space-time in the modern jargon of relativity is embedded in the universe. So, what is around space? Or for that matter, what was “before” time began? There is no answer that matches anything we can conceive, because “around” already implies space and “before” already implies time. It is easier to see the conundrum in the case of time, because by definition the universe began at the Big Bang, not ‘before.” Therefore, asking what came before the Big Bang logically contradicts itself.

 

But we believe that the irksome way in which infinity intrudes into the equations of physics, along with that other bad boy, zero, is a kind of salvation. Theory is massaged by theorists. Reality impacts all of us; without venturing into the technicalities, the fact that infinity is a human concept supports an ancient view of reality going back to ancient India, which holds that the entire universe itself is a concept. It has no existence outside our story of reality, and once we hit upon a story, any story, nature conforms to it. Thus the illusion of reality is self-sustaining.

 

The reason that infinity brings a kind of salvation to the situation is that concepts have to have a source, just as universes do and reality itself. What if the same source is involved? Concepts, universes, and reality itself begin with the inconceivable, a fact not easy to live with. We humans need to make reality understandable by the rational mind. In physics, however, the inconceivable is far from outlandish. According to Werner Heisenberg, “The atoms or elementary particles themselves are not real; they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts.” This is not a statement by an ancient Greek or Indian philosopher; it is by one of the greatest quantum physicists of all time. Another esteemed physicist on the current scene, Sir Roger Penrose, comments, “Consciousness is the phenomenon whereby the universe’s very existence is known.”  Taking a broad view of the dilemmas facing physics, Freeman Dyson, also speaking from the top level of science, says, “It would not be surprising that the origin and destiny of the energy in the universe cannot be completely understood in isolation from the phenomena of life and consciousness. It is conceivable that life may have a larger role to play than we have imagined. . . Life may have succeeded against all odds in molding a universe to its purposes.”

 

Isolated quotes do not constitute a theory, but there are many ways that the current story of reality is cracking up. These quotes are useful because they bring the issues at hand close to our everyday language. Anyone can Google dark matter and energy, the multiverse, superstrings, nonlocality, quantum gravity, and entanglement with the same net result: a massive state of confusion and disagreement about how reality behaves at the farthest reaches of scientific observation. The riddle of why subatomic particles seemingly make choices and change states poses a challenge to the time-honored but artificial division between mind and matter.

 

So the way that infinity gums up the works is just one clue to a larger possibility, which is actually quite exciting, that we live in a field of infinite possibilities that will never been calculated or limited. This is an infinity close to our lives even though it can’t be captured by the finite rational mind. If the field of infinite possibilities were only theoretical, everyone could continue to not give two hoots about quantum mechanics. But if we are at the center of this field, then like Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita, we should be saying “I am the field and the knower of the field.” This could well be what reality is trying to tell us right this minute.

 

Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. The World Post and The Huffington Post global internet survey ranked Chopra #17 influential thinker in the world and #1 in Medicine. Chopra is the author of more than 80 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His latest books are Super Genes co-authored with Rudolph Tanzi, PhD  and Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine.  www.deepakchopra.com

 

Menas C. Kafatos, Ph.D., is the Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor of Computational Physics, and Director of the Center of Excellence of Earth Systems Modeling and Observations at Chapman University; Visiting Professor, Division of Environmental Science & Ecological Engineering, and Advisor BK21 Plus Eco-Leader Education Center, Korea University, Seoul, Korea; and Affiliated Researcher, National Observatory of Athens, Greece. He is a quantum physicist, cosmologist, and climate change researcher and works extensively on consciousness. He holds seminars and workshops for individuals and organizations on the natural laws that apply everywhere and are the foundations of the universe, for well-being and success. His doctoral thesis advisor was the renowned M.I.T. professor Philip Morrison who studied under J. Robert Oppenheimer. He has authored 310+ articles, is author or editor of 15 books, including The Conscious Universe (Springer), Looking In, Seeing Out (Theosophical Publishing House), and is co-author with Deepak Chopra of the forthcoming book, You Are the Universe (Harmony). He maintains a Huffington Post blog. You can learn more at http://www.menaskafatos.com 

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Summer Solstice – Satsang with Deepak Chopra

Tuesday, June 21
Summer Solstice – Satsang with Deepak Chopra
6:30 pm Doors open, 7:00 pm Satsang
Location: Deepak Homebase, on the Mezzanine of ABC Home
Address: 888 Broadway at East 19th Street, NYC

Tickets: $20 – all proceeds will be donated to The Chopra Foundation

To Register visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/satsang-with-deepak-chopra-tickets-26055276032

 

Deepak June 21st Satsang_external (1)

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How To Be Smarter Than Your Brain

By Deepak Chopra MD

Among all the sciences, neuroscience is a special case. Because it studies the brain, which is our interface with the mind, neuroscience covers the widest possible range of mysteries, from biology to metaphysics. No one doubts that we live in a golden age for studying the brain’s biology, but this fact doesn’t get around a central problem that baffles everyone. The problem can be stated very simply: The human brain knows almost nothing about itself. And there are no neurons within the brain that provide sensory information about the brain. That’s why you can put a knife through the brain of a person without that person feeling any pain.

Left to its own devices, your brain knows zero about neurons, for example. It doesn’t even know that it is made of neurons or how they work, much less how a cell that has much the same biology as other cells in the body (having developed from the same DNA and grown in the womb from one fertilized ovum) learned how to think. Your brain has no idea where a thought comes from. It cannot reveal to itself–or to you–how mushy gray matter trapped inside the skull, a silent, dark place, produces a world of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.

IMG_0321Because the brain knows nothing about itself, neuroscience had to begin somewhere, so it began by assuming that a brain is a privileged object, the only object in the known universe that is conscious. This assumption is almost never questioned by any neuroscientist, because the everyday work in that field consists of tinkering with the brain’s biology. All higher questions about mind, psychology, religion, morals, aesthetics, and metaphysics are reduced to biology. All fixes, insofar as the brain is concerned, are performed at the biological level if the fixer is trained in either neuroscience or its medical branch, neurology.

Yet in assuming that the brain is a privileged object, neuroscience contradicts itself. Objects are things; things have working parts; the working parts, when fully understood, define the thing you are studying and want to understand. But there is nothing privileged about the brain’s working parts. Its basic chemicals are the same as in the rest of the body. The glucose on which neurons feed isn’t smarter than the glucose coursing through the bloodstream everywhere else. Nor is there a point, biologically speaking, where you can say, “Here is where all of this physical stuff learned to think.” As potassium ions pass through the outer membrane of a neuron, as electrical charges build up and get discharged, as neurotransmitters leap across synapses, none of this activity tells us anything about our experience.

It’s obvious in the first place–no one disagrees with this–that we are like computer operators who can get tons of useful information out of the machine without knowing how its inner workings actually work. All of us, like our ancestors, use our brains without bothering to know about neuroscience unless we are especially curious about it. But what makes for total confusion is that we don’t understand the brain even after we open it up and discover how the workings work. That’s not true of computers. It is only true, in

fact, of the brain, because of the root problem no one can get around: The brain knows nothing about itself.

So if you expect the brain to understand the brain, you are heading for a dead end. The brain’s inability to understand the brain is a profound dilemma that isn’t solved through biology. This assertion provokes many neuroscientists to the point of disdain and outrage, because they insist that biology holds the key to everything about the mind. In fact, most of them firmly believe that Brain = Mind. Even so, you can’t get around the problem that the brain knows nothing about itself; therefore, how can it be trusted to know about the mind? The promise that brain biology is sufficient to explain mind, morality, religion, metaphysics, thinking, feeling, creativity, and so on is empty.

So how can we become smarter than our brains? If biology is a dead end, what path to understanding will get past biology? The first step is to acknowledge that the brain isn’t a privileged object. It isn’t the source of the mind any more than a radio is the source of Mozart and Beethoven. The brain, like a radio, is a receiver. The reason the brain doesn’t know that it is a receiver–aside from the fact that it doesn’t know anything about itself–is that it is too involved in the reception. When thoughts, feelings, sensations, and images fill our minds, we are creatures of experience that are enveloped by those experiences.

the second step is to clearly define the question you want to ask. In this case, the question is “How do we know what we know?” Or to put it in simplest form, if you can explain how just one thought or sensation appears, you will understand the whole dilemma of how the brain relates to the mind. For example, photons are invisible, yet light, which is nothing but photons, is experienced by humans as bright. Where does this transformation occur? If you automatically answer that light is perceived in the brain, you run into the difficulty that there is no light in the brain. Nor is there any touch, taste, sound, or smell. Saying that light is inside the brain is like saying that Mozart is inside a radio.

The only viable way to begin to find the correct answers is to concede something very basic: All knowledge comes from experience, and all experience is in consciousness. Neuroscience resists such an answer because it goes beyond biology, yet the subject of the brain always did go beyond biology, into philosophy, psychology, and metaphysics. Trying to fence the mind inside the confined region of the brain’s apparatus was never valid to begin with. The problem of the mind is a human problem, not a neuroscience problem.

Let’s say we agree to expand our investigations and allow for the obvious fact that all knowledge comes from experience and all experience is in consciousness. Now it is no longer difficult to find out why light is bright or where thoughts come from, or how we fetch memories from the past and why we experience a universe in spacetime. They are all conscious phenomena. Assuming that you can get people to follow the argument this far, there is only one step left–but it’s the hardest one. To truly understand the mind,

you must abandon the brain entirely form its privileged position, demoting it to the lump of atoms and molecules that it actually is.

Having done this, you have freed the mind from any dependence whatever on the brain. Mozart lived before the radio and didn’t depend upon it to create music. the mind existed before the brain and isn’t dependent upon it to create thoughts. This extremely logical conclusion, which causes neuroscientists to go ballistic, takes some getting used to. In the Middle Ages God was so necessary that explaining reality from an atheist position was unthinkable–and yet it happened over time. Likewise, explaining the mind without the brain is unthinkable in the present context of scientists–but it will happen. How it will happen is the subject of a new post.

(To be cont.)

Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. Chopra is the author of more than 80 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His latest books are Super Genes co-authored with Rudolph Tanzi, PhD and Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine. www.deepakchopra.com

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