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Consciousness and Healing Forum: Deepak Chopra (part 1 of 2)

Consciousness and Healing Forum: Deepak Chopra (part 1 of 2)

Visionary: Deepak Chopra, MD

Part 1  |  Part 2

This talks was recorded at IONS' Consciousness and Healing Forum on 3/23/2005 in San Francisco, where Deepak and Marilyn deepened the dialogue initiated in the newly-released book Consciousness and Healing.

Deepak begins the discussion by observing that the Western medical paradigm is based on a premise that is fundamentally wrong: that consciousness is an epiphenomenon, a byproduct of material elements and processes. Just as the gall bladder secretes bile and the stomach secretes acid, the brain somehow secretes thoughts. But how does an organ composed mostly of fat, water, and minerals, encased in a skull that deprives it of a direct experience of the world, do such a thing? Deepak argues that consciousness is the phenomenon, and all else is the epiphenomenon. Just as our DNA differentiates skin, bone, and organs, our consciousness differentiates perceptions, cognition, moods, behavior, biology, social interaction, personal relations, the environment, and forces of nature. They are all different expressions of a single reality.

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My father was a cardiologist; I am an endocrinologist. No problem. They're all one, yeah, exactly. You know, when I was in medical school, the way we remembered the functions of the reptilian and limbic brains were the Four F's: feeding, fighting, fleeing, and procreation. And the paradigm, the paradigm that Mark and Marilyn are overthrowing right now is based on that - you know, it's a fight-flight response, trying to eat our efforts or kill it, basically, when you don't know what to do. And it's based on a very fundamentally-wrong premise in medicine, and that fundamentally-wrong premise in medicine, in all of biology, is - and in fact, in science - is that consciousness is an epiphenomenon, that - just like your gall bladder secretes bile and your pancreas secretes pancreatic juice and your stomach makes hydrochloric acid - your brain secretes consciousness. That's… that's the way we were brought up to think.

Now, it's really magnificent - the work that Marilyn is doing and others are doing at the Institute of Noetic Sciences - because what they're trying to accomplish is a very formidable task trying to so radically change the world view that consciousness is not an epiphenomenon, that consciousness is the phenomenon, and everything else is the epiphenomenon. Consciousness differentiates into perception, which is what we perceive out there - which, incidentally, is a very fascinating subject in itself - because presumably my brain, which gives me the experience that you're out there and I'm here, and that I can see you as separate from me, is actually a perceptual artifact.

The more you study perception, the more confusing it gets. The brain, which is responsible for perception - first of all, most of our brain, about, you know, ninety percent of it, is mostly fat and water. A little bit, about six, seven percent is a few minerals you could buy in a hardware store for less than five bucks. Moreover, the brain is in this… encased in this skull, and therefore it has no direct experience with the world. The brain, with which you presumably see the world and hear the world, has no direct experience of the world. Your brain responds to things like pH; to things like chemicals, hormones; to body temperature - all of which ultimately translates into a binary code of photons across cell membranes. How that creates the experience of an external world -- actually, the more people study it, the more confusing it gets. Sir Arthur Eddington, one of the greatest scientist of the last century, said "Something unknown is doing we don't know what." That's the best we can say about perception.

How does this thing inside my head give me the experience of an external world, of you sitting out there, because, you know, the tradition I come from, Vedanta, which is very ancient wisdom tradition, says that this is just a perceptual artifact, actually. You're not there. You're in me, and I'm in you, and the place where you're in me and I'm in you is the same place, and it's not a place, because it has no location in space-time. So where I manufacture you, you manufacture me, and we all, together, manufacture the whole universe - and that place is consciousness. That consciousness differentiates, just like DNA differentiates, you know, DNA differentiates into my eyes and my nose and my hair follicles and my skin and my gonads and my liver and my spleen - double-stranded piece of information - differentiates into this marvelous diversity into my body. So too consciousness, the ground of being, differentiates into perception, which is what I see or hear; into cognition, what I know; into moods and emotions, what I feel; into behavior, how I act in the world; into biology, how my organ systems function; into social interactions, how I relate with you and other people; into personal relationships; into environment; and into the forces of nature.

All these things seem to be different things, but they're not. They're differentiated expressions of a single reality, and that single reality is consciousness. And differentiation is not separation - differentiation is not separation. One of the greatest things we are learning thanks to, once again, Marilyn's work and many other people's work, but Marilyn's recent research into evolved potentials and non-local communion - I don't even like to call it communication, because "communication" implies, you know, exchange of energy or information signals; whereas non-local communion is communion without the exchange of energy or information signals.

Consciousness is a field of awareness, where there are non-local, what are called acausal, quantum-mechanical correlations. So, if you don't like the word "God," you can say "acausal, non-local, quantum-mechanical interrelatedness." "Acausal" because it's without cause; "non-local" because it transcends space-time; "quantum-mechanical" because it's a very fundamental level of our existence; "interrelatedness," where everything is correlated with everything else, and not only is everything correlated with everything else, that correlation does not require the exchange of energy or information signals, because it operates with simultaneity. The biological model that I studied in medical school was a local model. You know, you have the pituitary gland, and you have all these hormones coming out, and they stimulate hormones from other glands, then there are feedback loops and so on. There are energy, information and chemical signals from one location of the body to another. And that's true - the body does operate locally as well. But there's another level at which your body acts, and that is the level of simultaneity.
If you're trying to figure out morphogenesis and differentiation, which is, you know, how a single double strand of DNA becomes the hundred trillion cells in your body, then you can't explain it locally. There is not even a theoretical postulate that tries to explain it locally. When you were first conceived, you were just a double strand of DNA in a fertilized ovum. It divided fifty times only - only fifty times - you know, one became two, two became four, four became sixteen, sixteen became sixty-four, and then the mathematics gets complex. But in fifty replications, you had a hundred trillion cells, which is more than all the stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. And each cell, it's estimated, does about six trillion things a second, and every cell instantly knows what the other cell does. How does that happen? How does this differentiation take place? There's no postulate - even theoretical - that explains simultaneity.

How does a human body think thoughts, play a piano, kill germs, remove toxins, and make a baby - all at the same time? And while it's doing that, it tracks the movement of stars and planets, because your biology rhythms are actually the symphony of the cosmos. You have a Circadian Rhythm that has to do with the rotation of the earth; a seasonal rhythm that has to do with the planet going around the sun; a tidal rhythm that has to do with the complex gravitational effects of the sun and moon and other heavenly bodies on our planet and its waters; you even have lunar rhythms. There are at least a hundred rhythms that chronobiologists talk about, and all these rhythms are woven into each other with such exquisite correlation that any explanation that depends on a reductionist model falls apart. Reductionism is dead - it's dead - and we are in the midst of its funeral at this moment, thanks to… thanks to the elegant work at this Institute.

So, the ancient tradition of Vedanta says that there's an inner intelligence in your body, and that inner intelligence is consciousness, it's the ultimate… it's the ultimate in supreme genius, which mirrors the wisdom of the universe. And when you find this inner intelligence, then it's your ticket to freedom. It's the ticket to the end of all suffering. When I was training in medical school, we were first beginning to hear about prevention - that through a number of behavioral and other kinds of changes, you could prevent a number of the illnesses. When I was writing Quantum Healing, it became clear to a lot of scientists, particularly the scientists that you heard from today, that not only is prevention possible for a number of diseases, but that actually there is such a thing as healing - which is the topic of this conference - that healing is real, and if it's real, it's biologically-orchestrated, and it was becoming clear to many scientists that psychological information, emotional information, information through the five senses - sound, touch, sight, taste, and smell - translates into biological information, …that, actually, all these different kinds of information are actually differentiated expressions, again, of that single reality that we call consciousness; that in many ways, healing can be understood as biological creativity, because consciousness is the source of all creativity.

We assign to God the attribute "Creator," because we say She created the world, the universe; that if we connect with that source, then one of the signs of that should be our own creativity; that the universe is not… wasn't created once upon a time, but it's constantly being created and recreated. The universe constantly recreates itself - constantly. If you could see this universe through the eyes of a quantum physicist, you'd see what Amit Goswami and others refer to as "discontinuity." Discontinuity is that the universe actually appears and disappears at quantum speeds, at the scale of Planck time, which is the time it takes for a photon to move the smallest distance imaginable. So if you could see the world as it really is, and not through the perceptual artifact of the senses - which, you know, the great Sir William Blake said, "We are led to believe a lie when we see with, and not through, the eye, that was born in a night to perish in a night, while the world slept in beams of light." So if you could see the world as it really is, through the eyes of your soul, in the Bhagavad Gita and Lord Krishna, when he tries to explain the nature of reality to Arjuna, he says, "I'm going to give you Divine Eyes, and when I give you Divine Eyes, you will see the world as it really is."
From the point of view of the physicist, you would see a huge electromagnetic blinking storm, that goes on, off, on, off, on, off, at that speed. So, for every "on," there's an "off"; for every "off," there's an "on," and there's something that happens between every "on." The universe recreates itself in the discontinuity. Continuity is an artifact - if I go see the movie… I go to the movies and I see continuity on the screen, but if I go to the projection room, then what I see is a series of still frames with little spaces in between. Or, if I see a flashing neon sign or a Christmas light going around a tree, a Christmas tree - there's no light going around the Christmas tree, only light bulbs that are going on and off sequentially, and if they happen to do that very fast, then the experience of continuity is created as an artifact in my consciousness. The reality of the world is it's on/off. The magic of the brain is that it actually… the on/off is necessary to create any perceptual experience.

Right now you're listening to my voice, which is really my vocal cords going on and off, on and off, on and off, and the atmosphere is going on/off, and that causes an on/off in your eardrums, which sends an on/off signal to your brain. Ultimately, your binary code of photons in your brain that gives you the experience of what I'm saying. Again, nobody really knows how that happens, but it does happen. When you're looking at me, then photons are bumping into your retina, on/off. So the magic of your brain is that it needs the on/off for experience. It can't perceive the "off," and yet without the "off" there wouldn't be the "on," and there would be no perception. And it's true of all of our senses, by the way - sound, touch, sight, taste, and smell. So, if I put my hand on your thigh and I don't move it for awhile, you won't know it's there, and then if I start to move it, you'd say, "What the heck are you trying to do?"

You need the on/off, and the question that today scientists are saying, "Hey, we know what's in the 'on' of the universe; what's in the 'off' of the universe? What's in the 'off' of the universe?" And it's becoming clear what's in the "off" of the universe. The "off" of the universe is not a place where there is space-time, energy, information, or matter. The "off" of the universe is a place where there is pure potential for space-time, energy, information, and matter. It's the immeasurable potential of all that was, all that is, all that will ever be. In the "off" of the universe is non-local correlation, where everything is inseparably one with everything else - not even connected. See, we talk about this mind-body connection - actually, they're the same thing. A field of information experienced objectively is the mind; the same field of information experienced objectively is the body. And what we call the universe is the body, there's no such thing out there, because everything that you experience as out there is a translation of physiological states in your body, into these signals in the brain that you interpret as the world out there.

So, the second attribute of the "off" is it's a place of infinite correlation. Everything is correlated with everything else. The third characteristic of the "off" is creativity, because if you study evolution, you'll see that evolution is punctuated by these little jumps of creative impulses. Darwinian evolution as explained in a standard manner doesn't make any sense - there's no fossil record that shows the transition from amphibians to birds; there's no fossil record that shows the transition from primates to humans. 99.9% of your DNA is the same as a chimpanzee, but chimpanzees don't ask, "Where did I come from? What's the meaning and purpose of my existence? What happens to me after I die? Do I have a soul? Does God exist, and if she does, does she care about me?" That's a quantum jump - it's a jump, and the jump is a creative jump - and that jump of creativity is orchestrated through intention in consciousness and the consciousness of Nature. Nature says to herself, "I'm going to fly," and birds come.

You know, Rumi has a beautiful poem where he says, "When I die, I will soar with angels. When I die to the angels, what I shall become, you cannot imagine," because to go to that next evolutionary leap, you first have to take the quantum jump to be an angel. That whatever exists in imaginable realms in Nature - Nature imagines, because Nature is imbued… you know, Marilyn said earlier, this feeling of "I," you know, this subjective feeling of I, every living being has that subjective feeling of "I." And today, many scientists are saying that since photons are carriers of information - you know, if I ask you to close your eyes and imagine something. Let's say I ask you to close your eyes and imagine a sunset on the ocean, and even as I'm saying it, I am sure you can see a sunset in the ocean in your imagination. If I went inside your brain, I wouldn't see a sunset on the ocean. I'd just see this on/off of photons, okay?

So the carriers of information - subjective and objective - when I send you a text message or SMS or call you on your cell phone, that's also electromagnetic energy: it's photons. Photons are the carriers of both subjective and objective information, and since the universe is permeated with photons, many scientists are saying that, in itself, is proof that the universe is imbued with subjectivity. That just as you have a sense of "I," the universe has a sense of "I," and if the universe has a sense of "I," then I should be able to communicate with it, and that's what prayer is, and all this remote healing is, and all this non-local correlation is. And that… those creative jumps are orchestrated through intention, that intention has infinite organizing power and causes the creative impulse out of the discontinuity.

The fourth attribute of the discontinuity is that it shows quantum leaps, which are the basis of its creativity. And the fifth attribute is what people call "observer effect," which basically says that in the absence of a conscious being, the universe doesn't exist. It remains radically ambiguous and ceaselessly flowing quantum soup. You have to be there for God to manifest, that God would remain unmanifested if you weren't there. Just like an electrical current needs a positive and a negative terminal to be bored secured for the current to flow; so to for creation to occur, you need the Creator and you need a conscious observer to observe that creation, to actually manifest that creation, to cause the collapse of the wave function.

And if you understand these five properties of consciousness, or the discontinuity, they are really the qualities of your soul, because your soul is the source of all consciousness. So, as I'm speaking to you, right now, if you would just try this with me. As you're listening to me, just turn your attention to who's listening. So as you're listening to me, you turn your attention to who's listening. There's a presence there. It's not your mind, which might be saying, "I wonder what I'm going to have for lunch" or "I wish I'd gone to the bathroom before he started" or some little conversation. Feel that presence. That presence was there when you were a baby; it was there when you were a teenager; it's there now, and the great wisdom traditions and our own experience, if we take time to feel that presence, tells us that that presence transcends the experience of birth and death; that birth and death are parentheses in the eternal presence of your own soul; and that there is a collective soul and then there's a universal domain that we all belong to. And that… the soul has those five attributes.

Your soul is not a thing, it's the potential for all things. Your soul, knowing correlations, as it does, is omniscient. It means it's not omniscient in that it has information like the Encyclopedia Britannica, but it's intuitive. It's the source of intuition, the source of intention, the source of insight, the source of imagination, the source of creativity, the source of meaning, purpose, decision-making - omniscient. Your soul has infinite creativity, and your soul co-creates with God, and there's no more valuable quest for human beings as a species then to find their soul. 'Cause right now, what we're seeing is there's chaos in the world; there's a rift in our collective soul. We've lost our soul, and the purpose of Noetic Sciences is to bring back the memory, because healing is nothing but the restoration of the memory of wholeness.

The tradition of Vedanta says that our waking stage of consciousness, which we think to be the real state of consciousness, is actually like a sleep. In Vedanta we identify seven states of consciousness. So, the first stage of consciousness is deep sleep. Even in deep sleep you have some awareness - if I come and scream at you and say your house is burning, you'll get up and run. The second stage of consciousness is dreams, and in the dream state we experience a world. Last night I dreamt I was in Pebble Beach. I was playing with Clint Eastwood. I had a [inaudible] in score, beat the heck out of everyone, walked off with the trophy. Then this morning I woke up, and I realized that Clint Eastwood, the trophy, Pebble Beach, me, and all the spectators in the gallery - were all me. I manufactured the whole thing in my dream, and Vedanta says one day you realize that in the waking stage of consciousness, it's exactly the same thing. You are the observer, you are all that you observe, and you are all the people that you interact with.

But right now you don't realize it because you're in the dream that we call waking state. You're in the dream that we call waking state, that when you discover your soul then you'll suddenly wake up from this dream. There's a story of Buddha when he's dying, and his favorite disciple Ananda comes and he says to the Buddha, "So, tell me, who are you?" and the Buddha kept quiet. And then he said, "Are you God?" Buddha said, "No." He said, "Are you a prophet?" and Buddha says, "No." He said, "Are you a Messiah?" and Buddha says, "No." And Ananda was getting progressively frustrated. He said, "Please tell me - who are you?" And Buddha said, "I'm awake." That's all. That's all we're being asked by the Source - to wake up.

Walt Whitman, when he first experienced his soul, said, "I must not be awake, for everything looks to me as it never did before; or else, I'm awake for the first time, and all that was before was a mean sleep." And so we are in the midst of that "mean sleep" that we are being asked to wake up. That fourth stage of consciousness leads to the fifth stage of consciousness in Vedanta, which is called cosmic consciousness. Cosmic consciousness is the state of awareness where you're local and non-local at the same time. It's being like a lamp at the door. When Christ says, "I'm in this world and not of it." And it's a real state - this is a physiological state with physiological qualities. Your experience is your body is fast asleep, but you're observing your body in deep sleep. Or, your body is in the dream state and you can observe your body in the dream state.

You're the alert witness of the roles you play - baby, teenager, mother, daughter, sister, etc; scientist - those are just different masks that we saw in that beautiful dance earlier. In this date, there is an opening-up of coincidences of the correlations, because coincidences are nothing but those non-local correlations. There's an opening-up of more intuition and creativity, and a sense of connection to the creative impulses in the source of the universe. And cosmic consciousness leads to what is called "God consciousness," where the alert witness wakes up not only in the subject of experience but also in the object of experience. So, when you look at a rose, not only do you see the rose in all its beauty - local beauty - but you also see rainbows and sunshine and earth and water and wind and air, and the whole universe manifesting transiently as that rose, and you pierce the mask of that, and you feel the presence of God. The alert witness is not only awake in the subject of experience but in the objects of experience.

Vedanta says when you find God consciousness, then God is not difficult to find - God is impossible to avoid, because there's no way you can go where God is not. And finally, the seventh stage of consciousness, which is unity consciousness, where the alert, ever-present witnessing awareness in the subject of experience, and the alert, ever-present witnessing awareness in the object of experience - they fuse and become one, and there's a sudden recognition there's only one witness, and the whole universe is a manifestation of that one witness, and that you are that one witness.

I remember, many years ago in India, watching a conversation between Krishnamurti and a Hindu fundamentalist, and after awhile, the Hindu fundamentalist - they're like anybody else, just vegetarians, but as violent as anybody else - he looked at Krishnamurti, and he said, "You know, the more I listen to you, the more I'm convinced that you're an atheist." And Krishnamurti kind of scratched his head, and he said, "I used to be one, till I realized I was God." Which, of course, annoyed the fundamentalist. He said, "So, you're denying the divinity of Krishna?" You know, over here, you would say you're denying the divinity of Christ. And Krishnamurti said, "Heavens, I haven't denied anybody their divinity." So, it's our goal to walk these domains of consciousness. That's why we're here - to explore these domains of consciousness. And now, with the elegance of science and the scientific studies that you saw earlier, it seems like we'll be able to convince our so-called scientists, because they're not scientists. They are married to a paradigm that is so obsolete it's frozen in a world view that should have been obsolete three hundred years ago.

A's science that does not consider the observer, you know, which is, after all, part of reality. Reality is observer, process of observation, and that which is observed. Our science is devoted itself only to that which is observed, and then, when psychology came along, to the process of observation. But our science has never devoted itself to who's observing, and a science that does not take into account the observer, who is so fundamental to the observation, because without the observer there would be no observation - is an incomplete science. We cannot call it a science; unless we include consciousness, we cannot call it a science.

So anyway, the ultimate goal is to get to that stage of unity consciousness, not intellectually, but experientially, because only consciousness can heal in its entirety. You could be cured of your disease today, but if you have the fear of death, then you're not healed. You know, the Vedanta says that there are five reasons for human suffering. The first is not knowing the essential nature of reality. The second is grasping and clinging to that which is ephemeral, transient, and unreal. The third is being afraid of that which is ephemeral, transient, and unreal. The fourth is identifying with a socially-induced hallucination called the ego, and the fifth is the fear of death, because as human beings we know we are going to die. I look behind me, and the Prince of Death is stalking me, and since I last looked he's a little closer. It seems like I'm on death row, and the only uncertainty is the method of execution and the length of reprieve. So, I walk around in fear, and the fear of death is the most fundamental fear, which is the cause of all other fears: the fear of the unknown. But what if the unknown became known to you? What if you transcended this experience of separation and you knew that there's nothing to fear? That, actually, mortality is the artifact - it's the "off" between two "ons," and since everything has an "on" and an "off," you can't have the "on" without the "off," 'cause you need the "off" to recreate yourself.

It's also the experiential knowledge of what was referred to earlier as love - but love not as a mere sentiment, love not as a mere emotion - love as the ultimate truth at the heart of creation. What Rumi calls "the intoxication of love." We now know from the point of view of healing that, actually, when you have the intoxication of love, and you have the internally-induced state of euphoria that happens with that intoxication, then your body shows the healing response, and it's based on non-local correlations and creativity. When you have an internally-induced experience of euphoria, your body simultaneously orchestrates the release of serotonin, which is supposed to be the power hormone, to say that [inaudible] had the highest level of serotonin, but everything else was screwed up. Your body makes serotonin, the power hormone; dopamine, the happy hormone; opiates, the intoxicating hormone; and oxytocin, the pleasure hormone. You know, oxytocin was thought to be a hormone that was responsible for only milk secretion or expulsion of the fetus in women, but now we know that oxytocin actually goes up and people experience pleasure - sexual pleasure and orgasm, which is a unity state - there is the secretion of oxytocin. So, oxytocin, serotonin, dopamine, opiates - all simultaneously released as a symphony. There's no drug that can ever replicate that. A serotonin uptake inhibitor will do this to serotonin - nothing to the others. Only consciousness can do that.

So, I just want to close with one sentence - "Come out of the circle of time," as Rumi said, "into the circle of love." And that is healing. Thank you.

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