News & Information

The End of DACA Imperils America’s Economic Future

By Deepak Chopra, Kabir Sehgal, Jeff Oster

When President Trump signaled that he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), he sent a mixed message to the world. America is getting tougher on immigrants, but it’s also turning its back on the very people who keep our nation competitive in the global marketplace. After Trump reversed himself in negotiations held at a White House dinner with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, only to do two more about-faces on Twitter and later in a public comment, the DACA program has become absurdist political theater. While Trump plays footsie, 800,000 “dreamers” are left in a state of anxiety about their future.

America needs workers. America has enjoyed a “demographic dividend” over the last several decades whereby the total work force represented a considerable amount of the total population. But with baby boomers leaving the workforce because of retirement, our country needs immigrants to pick up the slack and fill out the workforce. According to the Pew Research Center, without immigrants, by 2035 our working-age population will decline. In other words, immigrants and their children are key drivers of American economic growth. Without immigrants, our demographics are concerning.

Trump has a long history of hostility to immigrants, even though his casinos, golf resorts, and construction projects use—and sometimes misuse—their labor. By acting the tough guy, he is making America weaker in the long run. Immigrants the world over are rethinking whether they want to come here, and whether the American Dream can still be attained. Without a steady and ample supply of immigrants, this country’s economic growth will be at risk. America is in the midst of a decades-long slowdown of startups. Some 450,000 companies were founded in 2014, which is a drop-off from the 500,000 to 600,000 range of startups per year over the last thirty years. Moreover, millennials aren’t starting companies at the same rate as Baby Boomers. Our country has long been the global leader for entrepreneurs looking to disrupt incumbent industries, but these sagging numbers indicate that our reputation may be flickering, especially as other countries are investing in the industries that will be significant economic drivers in the future.

“Dreamers,” the young people who have received deportation relief and work permits due to DACA, are already helping to fill the gaps. There are more than 750,000 dreamers, and 223,000 or 30 percent reside in California alone. Some 95 percent of dreamers are either working or in school, which means they are either currently in or about-to-be joining the workforce. Many economists contend that dreamers boost the United States’ economic prospects.

By deporting nearly 800,000 or sending them into the shadows, the undocumented population in the United States will get ever larger. According to the CATO Institute, such a move will cost the US about $280 billion in future growth over the next ten years: “The evidence suggests that the mere presence of undocumented workers, especially non-criminals like those covered under DACA, is not nearly as detrimental to the economy as most people suppose, and may actually be a net benefit.” Of course, by welcoming dreamers as full citizens, the cost of enforcement will drop considerably, saving tax payers billions of dollars. Indeed, there are no major negative effects of dreamers on our economy. And there’s no surefire proof that shows dreamers taking away jobs from others. Dreamers pay taxes, serve in the military, work assiduously. They continue to abide by a social contract – helping their native country even in the face of great certainty. And yet their country has repaid them with a raw deal: Thanks for the hard work, see you later.

Lest we forget that all of us except Native Americans are the descendants of immigrants, we should demonstrate compassion and empathy for the dreamers. And if that’s not enough, we should invoke our good common sense to understand that these young people enrich our country with a vital source of energy and hard work. Many have already assimilated because America is the only country that they know. To turn a cold shoulder to our fellow brothers and sisters risks our economic and moral leadership in the world.

Deepak Chopra and Kabir Sehgal are authors of National Bestseller Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome, a book of poems and album of music inspired by immigrants.

Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing and Jiyo.com, 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, member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and Clinical Professor at UCSD School of Medicine. Chopra is the author of more than 85 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers along with You Are the Universe (February 2017, Harmony) co-written with leading physicist, Menas Kafatos. Other recent books include Super Genes co-authored with Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D. and Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine. www.deepakchopra.com

Kabir Sehgal is a New York Times bestselling author, multi-Grammy Award winner, and US Navy veteran.

Jeff Oster is an investment advisor, musician, and producer. He and Will Ackerman produced the new age album “Home.” Oster lives in the Bay Area.

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Will the Gut-Brain Connection Revolutionize Wellness?

Deepak Chopra, MD and Naveen Jain

Three decades ago, the brain lost its sovereignty as the seat of thinking, feeling, and the operation of intelligence. In fact, those processes began to escape the confines of the nervous system itself. All of this occurred when it was discovered that various “messenger molecules” associated with the brain are in fact circulating throughout the body via the bloodstream. Every cell is eavesdropping on the brain’s activity, sending and receiving messages identical to those that the brain processes.

Over the next three decades, the realization that what we dub “intelligence” is a holistic feature of the body, the main difference being that outside the brain, this intelligence is nonverbal. The immune system’s incredible ability to identify and combat invading bacteria and viruses, in fact, has earned it the nickname of the floating brain. Everywhere researchers looked, new avenues were opening in a virtual information superhighway that reaches everywhere, and now it is possible to redefine wellness in terms of a “whole system” approach that has no need to recognize the artificial boundaries between brain and body, neurons and other cells, or even the distinction between human DNA and the countless other microbial genes that reside inside us.


Some of the most far-reaching research centers on the so-called brain-gut connection. Without realizing it, you are experiencing this connection during any of the following common experiences: Getting butterflies in your stomach when you feel nervous, overeating when you feel anxious, feeling dull and sluggish after taking an antibiotic, contracting stomach cramps before a competitive challenge, experiencing nausea or stomach upset from taking antidepressants. These are all evidence of the intimate connection between brain and gut that we ordinarily do not notice.

From before the time you exited the womb, your body was forming an intimate and unbreakable connection between your brain and your gut, including the liver, pancreas, stomach, intestines—in fact, every organ inside the body cavity. Collectively, your gut and all the organs it contains are referred to as the “enteric nervous system,” which actually contains 200-600 million neurons! The enteric nervous system is in essence a second brain because of its ability to operate on its own while communicating with the central nervous system. The main connection is through the vagus nerve, which leaves the brain, descends to the heart, and then weaves throughout the body.

But that’s not all. The gut-brain connection also includes trillions of living microorganisms called “microbiota” whose DNA forms a parallel genome—in fact, thousands of genomes—that are not invaders but an innate part of the body. Nearly four and a half pounds of bacteria and other microbes exist in your gut at any given time. Together, these microbiota, your enteric nervous system, and the vagus nerve are responsible for 80% of the signals sent from body to brain, and there is strong evidence that this second brain can drastically impact your mood, behavior, hunger level, and much more.

In new medical research that has developed over recent years, scientists made the striking discovery that people who suffer from such conditions as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder show higher levels of inflammatory substances in their blood indicating that their bodies are in a state of chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation occurs when immune cells throughout the body release pro-inflammatory substances, including toxic molecules that can flood the brain. Chronic inflammation has a master controller, the second brain we’ve been discussing, including the microorganisms living in your digestive tract.

These vast colonies (dubbed the microbiome), which are unique to each person and exquisitely sensitive to diet and other lifestyle factors, communicate constantly with your immune system. This means that by caring for the gut microbiome, it is possible to stop chronic inflammation and potentially halt disturbing brain activity. Alternatively, brain problems can potentially be caused by not taking care of or paying close attention to the health of your microbiome. For example, specific gut microbes are involved in the production of many neurotransmitters–the chemicals your brain and nervous system use to communicate with the rest of your body, but also to regulate mood and behavior.

If you eat a poor diet of fast food and junk and processed food, avoid probiotics, consume minimal fiber, take too many antibiotics, don’t eat a wide variety of fermented foods (e.g., yogurt, kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut), and feel constantly stressed, beneficial gut microbes decrease in number or become overcrowded by bad bacteria. As a result, your risk significantly increases for developing anxiety, depression, and various mood disorders.

While there are a variety of blood, saliva, urine, and stool tests that can evaluate your gut and the various indicators we’ve been describing, most fail to give you a full picture of everything that’s going on inside your digestive tract. Fortunately, a technology originally designed for the national security at Los Alamos National Lab and recently licensed by Viome has allowed for a way to test your complete microbiome, allowing you to determine what type of foods to eat in order to support your microbiome. You can discover which bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungus or mold are present in too great quantities, which need to be replenished, and which markers of chronic inflammation are present in your gut. (Full disclosure, one of the authors, Naveen Jain, is founder of Viome.com, a company that provides complete insight and recommendations directly to you without any doctor’s prescription.)

As it becomes feasible to analyze the complex operation in the gut and its connection to the brain, a revolution is taking shape. With unprecedented data processing and the use of artificial intelligence, along with future price reductions, the science is reaching a tipping point. Knowing how your gut microbiome is doing will one day become as standard as taking your blood pressure. For the moment, addressing inflammation and returning to a healthy state of the gut-brain connection can be addressed with a sharper focus on stress reduction and consuming a natural whole-foods diet. Those factors will remain the same, even as medical research fine- tunes the best approach for personalizing how to care for our second brain.

Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing and Jiyo.com, 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, member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and Clinical Professor at UCSD School of Medicine. Chopra is the author of more than 85 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers along with You Are the Universe (February 2017, Harmony) co-written with leading physicist, Menas Kafatos. Other recent books include Super Genes co-authored with Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D. and Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine. www.deepakchopra.com

Naveen Jain is an entrepreneur driven to solve the world’s biggest challenges through innovation. He is the founder of several successful companies including Moon Express, Viome, Bluedot, TalentWise, Intelius and InfoSpace. Moon Express is the only company to have permission from the US government to leave earth orbit and land on the moon. Viome is focused on disrupting healthcare with the goal of “making illness elective” by identifying biomarkers that are predictive of chronic diseases and preventing them through personalized diet & nutrition. Naveen is a director of the board at the X PRIZE Foundation and Singularity University. He has been awarded many honors including “Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year”, “Albert Einstein Technology Medal” for pioneers in technology, “Humanitarian Innovation Award” at the United Nations, “Distinguished Global Thinker Award” by IILM, and “Top 20 Entrepreneurs” by Red Herring.

 

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Where Does Wellbeing Come From? A Better Answer

Deepak Chopra, MD, Rudolph E. Tanzi, PhD and Paul J. Mills, PhD

 

It is much easier to understand what makes people unhappy than to understand what makes them happy. Happiness is undermined or destroyed by violence, poverty, illness, and other external factors, leading to the inner states of depression, anxiety, and misery. Here, the link between inner and outer poses no mystery. It seems common-sensical that by reversing the causes of unhappiness, happiness will result.

But this is only partially true. Happiness, the sense of general wellbeing, isn’t the same as removing a rock from your shoe. You have to lay a foundation upon which wellbeing can be built. In modern terms, this foundation is known as a positive lifestyle, and by now the elements of such a lifestyle have been well documented. The primary ingredients are:

· Good sleep

· Stress management

· Movement and exercise

· Emotional balance

· Proper nutrition

It would make things simple if these alone were enough to make each person gain a sense of wellbeing, but they aren’t. There must also be a sense of satisfaction with one’s life. The Gallup Organization, which devotes itself to measuring wellbeing worldwide, uses five measures that broadly define wellbeing.

· Career

· Social

· Financial

· Physical

· Community

This makes the picture more complete, but suddenly happiness begins to look like a social science project rather than a living, day-to-day process. Dissecting wellbeing into various

components provides a map, not the actual territory. Philosophers both East and West have pondered the elusiveness of human happiness, including the perverse ways we defeat ourselves by doing the very things, like wage war, that we know will cause deep misery and pain.

Two broad paths to wellbeing were outlined, and they hold good today as much as they did in ancient India or Greece. One path is to maximize pleasurable experience and minimize painful ones. The Greeks called this the hedonic path, which is more than vague hedonism. The hedonic path is utilitarian at bottom; it is based on the calculation that a person will be happy if he has more pleasure in his life than pain. One might also call this the “input-output” model of wellbeing. Provide enough positive input, decrease the negative input, and the output will be happiness.

But once again human nature doesn’t comply so simply. The missing ingredient is our perception and interpretation of experience. The existence of sad rich people isn’t mythical—even in the midst of plenty, with the resources to keep painful experiences at bay, it’s possible to feel unhappy. Adding more pleasure won’t lead to a cure when pain is an inner perception.

The answer might lie, then, with the second path, which the Greeks called eudaimonic. The term has no English equivalent, but “inner fulfillment” will do. In the West this path is identified with Aristotle, who concluded that a virtuous life was the key to wellbeing. “Virtue” isn’t a potent word anymore, and probably not a happy one—it brings up images of cold piety and rectitude. Beyond this, modern life encourages hedonism in the form of mass consumerism and equating a good time with a good life. Only gradually has the second path, going inward to find happiness, found any kind of strong advocacy.

The turning point came in the past few decades with the beginnings of a workable mind-body approach to everyday life and the possibility of making happiness holistic. From a holistic viewpoint, there aren’t two paths but one, and this one is all-embracing. In ancient India the holistic path depended upon a term some Westerners now recognize: Sat Chit Ananda. The simplest translation is “eternal bliss consciousness,” which describes the essence of two domains of human existence, inner and outer. When we go inward and return to our source in pure consciousness, we encounter a state of bliss that is unshakable, eternal, and immune to change.

From the same source we derive all our perceptions and interpretations of the outer world; therefore, eternal bliss consciousness is the foundation of both halves of reality, unifying them into one whole.

It’s no surprise that translating such a heady concept into Western terms and then making it accessible in everyday life took a very long time. Sat Chit Ananda sounds like abstract, esoteric metaphysics. To make it concrete, it had to pass the mind-body test. That is, there had to be proof that going inward—through meditation, contemplation, self-inquiry, and self-reflection—actually made people happier and healthier. Starting in the Seventies, the edge of the wedge were basic studies showing that meditation “works,” that is procures beneficial brain changes and improves physical impairments like high blood pressure.

Jump ahead forty years and you find that hundreds of studies have built upon those basic findings. The validity of the inward path, as translated into Western terms, has gained a foothold. But to be holistic, the inward path must pass a much higher hurdle, proving itself absolutely vital and important—otherwise, meditation will remain just another item to choose from the positive lifestyle menu. Millions of people, especially if they have the necessaries of a comfortable physical existence, feel healthy and happy without ever going inward. The general lot in life of someone in ancient India was rife with disease, war, poverty, and the buffeting of natural forces. Happiness was a pressing issue because it was so hard to attain and hold on to.

That’s no longer true, for the most part, in the developed world, but with rampant levels of depression and anxiety still present, leading to billions of dollars spent annually on drugs to counter (but not heal) these disorders, suffering poses as great a problem as how to increase the wellbeing that people already feel. The next stage in proving the worth of the inward path involves a multi-dimensional approach, which is now being seen in some quarters where the goal is total wellbeing. The term may sound grandiose, but in fact holistic approaches are required to deliver total wellbeing; the alternative, partial wellbeing, is already with us. As a pilot program in this direction, the Chopra Foundation recently completed a research study, the Self-Directed Biological Transformation Initiative (SBTI), that examined the health and wellbeing effects of traditional Ayurvedic practices, which included:

· Group meditation and yoga

· Massage

· Diet

· Adaptogenic herbs

· Lectures

· Self-inquiry

Ancient forms of medicine, such as Ayurveda, were developed with the understanding that cultivating a deeper awareness of Self and the embodied Self’s connection with its environment are key to fostering health and wellbeing. Findings from the SBTI study indicate that the Ayurvedic practices led to increases in wellbeing as assessed by measures of:

· Spirituality

· Gratitude

· Self-compassion

· Sense of non-dual awareness

The SBTI study also found that these practices help decrease:

· Blood levels of metabolites associated with inflammation

· Cardiovascular disease risk

· Cholesterol regulation

Much remains to be studied, and we will continue to publish findings from the SBTI study, all future findings will be made available on The Chopra Foundation. But people want practical guidance too. Last year the Chopra Center for Wellbeing and the wellbeing platform Jiyo, in a collaboration with the University of California (UC), launched a free media channel, the UCTV Wellbeing Channel. It has a significant amount of content relevant to supporting your personal wellbeing.

Prevention has been with us for decades; positive lifestyle programs are now widely publicized and appreciated for their capacity to improve health by a variety of mechanisms including decreasing inflammation. The cutting edge is total wellbeing. That’s where the promise of aholistic approach will be fulfilled. Progress depends on a host of doctors, scientists, public health outlets, and media coverage. Ultimately, however, everything depends upon individuals who grasp the concept and begin to live it, a prime example of becoming the change you want to see in the world.

Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing and Jiyo.com, 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, member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and Clinical Professor at UCSD School of Medicine. Chopra is the author of more than 85 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers along with You Are the Universe (February 2017, Harmony) co-written with leading physicist, Menas Kafatos. Other recent books include Super Genes co-authored with Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D. and Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine. www.deepakchopra.com

Paul J. Mills, PhD, Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health and Director of the Center of Excellence for Research and Training in Integrative Health at the University of California, San Diego. He is Principal Investigator of the Self-Directed Biological Transformation Initiative, a randomized trial that is examining the psychosocial and biological effects of whole-systems medicine approaches to wellbeing.

Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D. is the Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University and Vice Chair of Neurology at Mass. General Hospital. Dr. Tanzi is the co-author with Deepak Chopra of the New York Times bestseller, Super Brain, and an internationally acclaimed expert on Alzheimer disease. He was included in TIME Magazine’s “TIME 100 Most Influential People in the World”.

 

 

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A Worldview that Can Liberate Everyone

By Deepak Chopra, MD and Anoop Kumar, MD

When the world looks as turbulent and troubled as it does now, people feel trapped. Instead of feeling secure in prosperous safety zones, even developed countries now feel the pressure of uncontrollable forces, including stateless terrorism, a historical peak in refugees, the threat of epidemic diseases, and fast-encroaching climate change. How many people truly believe that these problems will be solved—or are even solvable? An erosion of hope is underway, and this more than anything must be reversed.

The first step is to realize that we live on a human planet, where each person is trained to view Nature, including human nature, through highly conditioned beliefs and perceptions. The conflicts that develop from us-versus-them thinking are only a thin layer of this collective conditioning. At a deeper level, leaving aside politics, ethnicity, tribalism, and religion, we are participating in a collective hallucination about reality. As illusions go, this one is centuries old, but it isn’t permanent or incurable. We’re talking about a skewed worldview, and worldviews can be changed by their own creators.

The prevailing worldview that has led to the present crisis arose in the context of a post-religious, secular, scientific age. Since most educated people celebrate the advances visited by this worldview, including every wonder of technology, cures for disease, economic prosperity, and so on, it’s easy to mistake it for reality. But all worldviews are based on a set of accepted beliefs and perceptions.

The fundamental assumptions of the secular scientific worldview include the following:


· The physical world “out there” is the most real thing in existence.

· By comparison, the subjective world “in here” is fickle, unreliable, filled with confusion, and potentially dangerous.

· Natural forces are independent from human life and must be tamed, contained, and brought under human control or else our species won’t survive.

· Being separate from Nature in its cosmic, impersonal, random state, humans are an anomaly. We somehow evolved into conscious beings despite this random, meaningless context. But that fact doesn’t give the universe itself any meaning or purpose.

· Having accepted that we are strange, privileged creatures solely gifted with consciousness, human beings are ultimately victims, struggling in a losing battle against forces of nature that have zero regard for us.

This entire list is part of the constructed hallucination/indoctrination that modern people believe in. In the grip of this hallucination we’ve forgotten how to break the spell we cast on ourselves. It’s a classic example of the prisoner trapped in jail who doesn’t notice that he holds the key in his hand.

In our last post we offered the possibility of liberation by one means: consciousness. (We urge you to read Part I, since it explains the basic principles we elaborate on here.) A consciousness-based worldview would turn each aspect of the current worldview on its head, as follows:

· The physical world “out there” is the projection of human awareness. It is nothing more than the play of consciousness.

· “In here” and “out there” are artificial divisions. Both domains are part of the same reality based in consciousness.

· Our collective hallucination has become extremely complex, giving rise to a scientific model of immense intricacy. But a dream doesn’t become more real just by being more complicated. Science is also an experience in consciousness, and by ignoring this fact we mistake facts and data for reality. In fact, being everything in existence, reality cannot be modeled no matter how sophisticated science becomes.

· Nature isn’t a set of phenomena and forms, ranging from quarks to galaxies. Reality is the field of pure consciousness, and we project on to it whatever we believe in, from exalted spiritual glory to absolute meaninglessness. In response, Nature shows us what we are looking for.

· Having projected this human universe, we feel separate from it. This is the very heart of the hallucination. Whatever consciousness can do, we can do, and consciousness does everything.

These principles sketch out a “one reality’ or non-dual worldview. To someone who accepts the current worldview, such ideas are untenable, even ludicrous. Who could reasonably challenge that there is a world “out there” that is totally real? Science has amassed tons of evidence to support this common-sense view. But it is in the nature of a new worldview to overturn the old one, and the most radical upset concerns the nature of the human mind.

The world’s wisdom traditions don’t equate mind with consciousness, although in the current worldview the two are the same, and both are supposedly produced by neural activity in the brain. But there’s a contrary perspective that can be shown by analogy. Put yourself in a movie theater. Mind consists of all the movies we play out in our lives; consciousness is the movie screen, which every movie needs, yet itself is not part of the movie. Anyone can sit in a movie theater and shift between two styles of perception, either sinking into the movie as if it’s real or breaking the spell and seeing light playing across a screen to give the illusion of reality.

Likewise, it is possible to snap out of the spell of the real-life movies we surrender to every day. This shift in perception leads a person on the path to liberation. Having seen, as the world’s wisdom traditions teach, that birth and death, fear and separation, us versus them, and the division between “in here” and “out there” are human constructs, a new world dawns, simply because every world exists in consciousness, first and foremost. But dropping your belief in the movie is only the first step, and probably the easiest.

At its most radical, non-duality says that reality is inconceivable, which isn’t a comforting thought. Religion says that God too is inconceivable, being omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, but this gets watered down by seeing God in human form. Science suggests that reality is inconceivable, because the entire universe was created out of nothing, a quantum vacuum where every particle and every event in the cosmos exists only in virtual form. But this too got watered down by imagining atoms and molecules as little spinning things that stick together to form bigger spinning things “out there” in the vastness of Nature.

Non-duality cannot be watered down. When it says that reality is inconceivable, this means that your essential nature is inconceivable as well. You are not a collection of tags, labels, qualities, moods, family influences, and a life history—those are plot devices in a movie you call “me.” You are actually the screen of consciousness on which the movie is being projected. When you realize this fact and absorb it fully—not as a concept but as your very nature—there is freedom from the ills of the collective hallucination. The anxiety of separation, war, confusion, strife, the fear of death, tribalism, and the insecurity that comes from staring into the abyss of an apparently meaningless universe begins to dissolve.

Although it can sound daunting to hear that your essential nature is inconceivable, don’t be fooled. To conceive of something is to turn it into a thought. Consciousness, which expresses as all that was, is, and will be, cannot be stuffed into a thought, just as an ocean can’t be contained in a wave. You are that ocean. This means that to know your true nature, you don’t have to figure your way out of the current predicament. When a wave relaxes, it merges unto its true nature as the ocean. Simply begin to relax into your essential nature.

This is the path that unifies humanity by virtue of unifying who we really are instead of accepting only a composite of cultures, which are larger, socially-validated themes. The non-

dual worldview doesn’t eradicate science or culture by any means, but it does put all mental models of reality within a greater context. Technology can continue to advance; science can pursue the intricacies of the brain and their connection to mind. But one thing will be different once and for all. Human beings will know who we really are, having woken up from a very convincing but unreal hallucination.

Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing and Jiyo.com, 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, member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and Clinical Professor at UCSD School of Medicine. Chopra is the author of more than 85 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers along with You Are the Universe (February 2017, Harmony) co-written with leading physicist, Menas Kafatos. Other recent books include Super Genes co-authored with Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D. and Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine. www.deepakchopra.com

Anoop Kumar, MD, MM is Board Certified in Emergency Medicine and holds a Master’s degree in Management with a focus in Health Leadership from McGill University. He practices in the Washington, DC metro area, where he also leads meditation gatherings for clinicians. He is the author of the book Michelangelo’s Medicine: How redefining the human body will transform health and healthcare. Anoop enjoys exploring and communicating about the intersection of self-awareness, science, and wellbeing. Visit him at anoopkumar.com and follow @DrAnoopKumar.

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If Reality isn’t Naïve, We Shouldn’t Be, Either

Deepak Chopra, MD and Anoop Kumar, MD

On many fronts, describing reality has turned into a kind of Mission: Impossible. This would surprise most people, because in everyday life two versions of reality seem perfectly acceptable. The first version takes reality at face value, trusting the senses—and common sense—to tell us what is real and what isn’t. The second version, known as scientific realism, also relies on the senses but in a more sophisticated fashion—when the eyes tell us that the sun rises in the East, science steps in with the actual facts of astronomy.

Naïve realism and scientific realism join hands in asserting that there is a physical world “out there” that can be relied upon and verified—yet this is the most naïve idea of all. For science’s version of reality to be valid, we would have to accept that it describes or approximates all of reality. But breaking down a piece of wood, a grain of salt, or a chunk of uranium down into finer and finer particles, until you reach the mysterious domain of quantum mechanics isn’t remotely the same as describing reality “in here,” which is governed by the mind. There has never been the slightest proof that the basic chemical components of the brain can think, feel, or have experience. In fact, it’s extremely naïve to assume such a thing—and yet neuroscience insists upon it.

Countering scientific realism isn’t hard once you overcome a bias in its favor; that is the hard thing, in fact. By clinging to the notion that the mind is a byproduct of atoms and molecules jiggling around in the soupy darkness of the brain, science has outlined its own dead end. Mind is a fundamental part of reality, not a byproduct.

Yet what if neuroscience did concede, against all odds, that the mind is a non-physical attribute of reality. Where would that take us? The next step in the evolution of scientific thought points away from materialism to a newly fashionable concept, panpsychism. At its most basic, panpsychism holds that mind is everywhere; it is a natural attribute of the universe like gravity. But this is like leaping from “no mind” to “all mind.” Suddenly not just brain chemicals but every atom and molecule is capable of being conscious or proto-conscious. By making mind an attribute of things, science gets to defend its belief in “things” through the back door.

There isn’t the slightest proof that atoms and molecules are conscious. So how do we get past the whole bag of unproven assumptions and outright illusions that flow from scientific realism? What could substitute for reality “out there,” not just with scientists but with ordinary citizens?

The best candidate is consciousness itself, not as a property of anything (mind or matter) but as the root and source of everything. This position is known as non-dual realism, and it has existed for thousands of years in the world’s wisdom traditions. The basis of non-dualism is simplicity itself: there is only one reality. Naïve realism and scientific realism agree with this proposition, but they have plumped for the wrong candidate, forcing physical “things” to create mind when that is obviously impossible. Rational thought often works like the children’s game, king of the hill, only in this case it is the strongest idea rather than the strongest kid who gets to be king and stand on top.

Non-dual realism has a second very simple idea to offer: everything we label as “real” is an experience. If anything is real outside human experience, we’ll never know it or be able to prove it. As you can see, replacing a physical world “out there” with conscious experience “in here” strikes scientists as wildly radical. But if non-dual realism isn’t accepted, the dead end that science has created for itself is inevitable.

Non-dualism isn’t simply an intellectual theory—it is meant to be lived, which only makes sense for a version of reality based on experience. But instead of the sensory experience that naïve realism is based upon, the non-dualist mind experiences its own

nature. Like a dreamer who suddenly realizes that he’s about to wake up, the “aha” moment for a non-dualist is to realize that depending on the five senses and on scientific facts has given him a false view of what is actually real. The big flash is that only consciousness is real.

A non-dualist still has to live in a dual world—there will still be cars, families, trees, and science—but with a new perspective. Imagine what it was like as a child to discover that the black specks of ink on a page were a code for language, and by learning to read this code, the entire world of knowledge expanded beyond measure. In the same way, a non-dualist reads the code of the universe, not as a set of facts, but as a symbol for expanded meaning, purpose, and intention. In essence, when you find yourself at the source of consciousness, your mind is standing at the switch that creates reality.

For the purposes of this discussion, mind and consciousness are two different things. Mind is an activity of consciousness, like waves on the ocean. Consciousness is the ocean itself. Here are five reasons why this distinction should mean something to every person.

1. The mind wrestles with fear of death. Consciousness isn’t born and never dies.

2. Mind feels trapped in a physical body. Consciousness unites the two as different modes of experience.

3. Mind feels isolated and apart from other people. Consciousness erases all separation, because separation/duality is an illusion.

4. Mind sees the human race as an insignificant speck in the immense void of outer space. Consciousness has no need for time or space. As in a dream, they are merely useful constructs in the dual world, having no ultimate reality.

5. Mind is baffled by eternity and yet yearns for it as a haven of peace where suffering ends. Consciousness is already timeless; therefore, the world here and now is a haven of peace where suffering ends with a shift in awareness.

These five things have been known and pointed out for centuries in the world’s wisdom traditions. Actually, we can leave science alone, given that its methods and aims are self-generating. The real value of non-dualism lies elsewhere. It lies with what it means to be human and how far humanness can evolve. To a non-dualist, human evolution extends to the very edge of all experience, physical and mental; by virtue of seeing the great chasm beyond what the senses tell us, or even our thoughts, we can recognize the falseness of all that the limited mind once “knew” to be real, including itself.

Consciousness holds the promise of complete liberation, which is far from true for the mind, which we all know can be a source of inner suffering. The notion that suffering can end has always been held out by the world’s wisdom traditions. In our next post we will discuss why non-dual realism, not religion, wishful thinking, technology, or science fiction, is the doorway to a future where the planet is rescued and everyday life rises to a new level.

(To be cont.) Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing and Jiyo.com, 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, member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and Clinical Professor at UCSD School of Medicine. Chopra is the author of more than 85 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers along with You Are the Universe (February 2017, Harmony) co-written with leading physicist, Menas Kafatos. Other recent books include Super Genes co-authored with Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D. and Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine. www.deepakchopra.com

Anoop Kumar, MD, MM is board certified in Emergency Medicine and holds a Master’s degree in Management with a focus in Health Leadership from McGill University. He practices in the Washington, DC metro area, where he also leads meditation gatherings for clinicians. He is the author of the book Michelangelo’s Medicine: How redefining the human body will transform health and healthcare. Anoop enjoys exploring and communicating about the intersection of self-awareness, science, and wellbeing. Visit him at anoopkumar.com and follow along @DrAnoopKumar.

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