I was lucky enough to visit the Chopra Center in Carlsbad, CA last week, where I talked with Deepak Chopra about his latest book, The Future of God: A Practical Approach to Spirituality for Our Times.
Besides being one of the kindest people I have met, Chopra has written a truly thought-provoking book about understanding God and our own place in the universe. I have read a lot of his work over the years – but this one really had an impact on me.
A few of the questions Chopra poses as he looks at the state of spirituality and religion today:
Can God be revived in a skeptical age?
What would it take to give people a spiritual life more powerful than anything in the past?
“Faith must be saved for everyone’s sake,” he writes, “From faith springs a passion for the eternal, which is even stronger than love. Many of us have lost that passion or have never known it. By itself, faith can’t deliver God, but it does something more timely: it makes God possible.”
eH: If the future of God depends upon each one of us really getting in touch with our own spiritual center, what are some of the best ways to go about doing that?
Deepak Chopra: There are four ways. The first is self-awareness, where there are some simple practices. Are you aware of your body? Are you aware of your breath, and what’s happening inside of your body, which is yoga and mindfulness. So getting comfortable with your body.
The second way is love. Any time we express love for anything or anyone, love is an activity of our soul. It’s not an activity of our mind. You don’t love for rational reasons. Falling in love is an act of the soul. The intoxication of love is actually getting in touch with the God or the Divine inside of you.
The third is intellectual, which is for a few people. When mathematicians and physicists look into nature, they find that everything is so precise, everything has such mathematical precision.
The fourth is service for other people, which has no selfish motivation. Love is the easiest!
eH: We had a big debate in the office about meditation and prayer. Which one will get you more in touch with yourself?
DC: Prayer has a lot of value, but prayer is a mental activity. Meditation is not a mental activity; meditation is quieting the mental activity. I think both are complimentary, but meditation goes deeper.
eH: I love the part in the book about Albert Einstein and his acknowledgment of a higher power. Why do you think people reject God?
DC: I think the ones who reject God are trying to reject some deity out there, “the dead white male in the sky”. I think that rejection is a stage of spiritual seeking. You are rejecting something, that for all practical reasons, is culture and mythology. The second stage is when you start getting in touch with the unseen awareness inside of you that makes everything possible, which is faith. Faith is the certainty of what you don’t see, but without which there would be no seeing. The third stage is knowledge – you start to get knowledge of the Divine through spiritual practice.
eH: Does consciousness ever end?
DC: No. And why doesn’t it end? Because it’s not in space and time. It’s eternal.
eH: How do you hope God will be perceived in the future?
DC: My hope is that God will be the recognition of the Divine in every being, which would lead to love, compassion, and joy.
eH: What is some of the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
DC: The best advice is don’t take yourself too seriously.
eH: Is that something you sometimes do?
DC: My kids and my grandkids make sure that I don’t!
The Future of God: A Practical Approach to Spirituality for Our Times is available now.