Skip to content
Who's in the Video
Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, is a medical doctor, public speaker, and author of 90 books, including numerous New[…]

Chopra talks about spirituality and healing, quantum mechanics and aging.

Question: Beyond a simple title, how would you describe what you do for a living?


Deepak Chopra: I sing my song for a living, and I don’t really worry about who listens or what they think. But it seems to make a living.


Question: What is transcendental meditation?


Deepak Chopra: Transcendental meditation is one particular form of mantra meditation – and there are many – that allows your mind to experience progressively abstract fields of awareness. And ultimately you settle down in the space between your thoughts. The space between your thoughts is pure consciousness, and it’s a field of possibilities. It’s a field of creativity. It’s a field of correlation. It’s also a field of uncertainty. And it’s also a field where intention actualizes its own fulfillment. So that meditation allows you to contact this field, which is very primordial – the ground state of our existence.


Question: What is the relationship between quantum mechanics and the healing process?


Deepak Chopra: According to our current understanding of the universe, the physical universe is actually made up of energy and information. Wherever there are objects, there are fields of energy and also information. And if you go to the very fundamental levels of activity in nature, you’ll find that nature is a discontinuity. Which means even though our perceptual experience of the universe is continuous, in fact it’s going on and off at the speed of light. We know what’s in the “on” of the universe. It’s energy and information. We use it in our technology when we use cell phones, or surf the information highway on the Internet, or send each other e-mail.

But the deeper question is what’s in the “off”? What’s between the two “ons” in the discontinuity?

And many people in the world of quantum physics are realizing, or thinking, or hypothesizing that that discontinuity is consciousness itself; that consciousness is not a byproduct of evolution as has been suggested. Or for that matter, an expression of our brains, although it expresses itself through our brains. But consciousness is the common ground of existence that ultimately differentiates into space, time, energy, information and matter. And the same consciousness is responsible for our thoughts, for our emotions and feelings, for our behaviors, for our personal relationships, for our social interactions, for the environments that we find ourselves in, and for our biology. In other words, consciousness is the common ground that differentiates into everything that we call reality, including the observer and the objects of our observation. And this is a much deeper understanding of consciousness that is coming about as a result of some insights from the world of quantum physics.

Not everyone agrees on this theory. In fact, a number of scientists are still tied to the old paradigm, which is that matter is the essential reality, and that consciousness is the anti-phenomenon.

But it turns out that even to explain simple things; How do you perceive color? How do you imagine? How do you see pictures in consciousness and hear sounds in consciousness? You have to recognize that this cannot be explained by any reductionist model. When you experience a sound, or a color, or a taste, or a smell, the activity in your brain is just a quart of charges that goes on and off. How does that quart of charges going on and off become physical reality, and where does that happen?

If you understand this model of quantum physics, then it becomes apparent that we’re not in the physical world. The physical world is in us. We create the physical world when we perceive it, when we observe it. And also we create this experience in our imagination. And when I say “we,” I don’t mean the physical body or the brain, but a deeper domain of consciousness which conceives, governs, constructs and actually becomes everything that we call physical reality.

This is a model that is being explored by some academic scientists working in the field of neuroscience, and also in the field of quantum physics. But it is also a model that was explored by the great sages and seers, some of which were the authors of the Bhagavad Gita itself.


Question: How do you reconcile your medical training with spirituality?


Deepak Chopra: My medical training was in the field of internalityicine, and then in the field of endocrinology and neuron endocrinology.

Neuro endocrinology is the study of brain chemicals, and brain chemicals are the mechanics through which our thoughts express themselves. So when you have a thought, or a feeling, or an emotion, or an idea, you make a very specific chemical. It’s called a neuron peptide. And these neuron peptides are messenger molecules that then go to the rest of the body and influence the activity of the immune system and actually almost every biological activity in the body. So your body, which is very physical, is under the influence of your thoughts, your feelings, your emotions, your dreams, your fantasies, your desires, your instincts, your drives, your imagination. All these things orchestrate themselves – all these internal activities that are in the invisible domain that we call consciousness actually have very precise physical effects both in our biology, but they also influence our perception of the world.


Question: Why do you study aging?


Deepak Chopra: Well over the years, I’ve looked at the biological molecules of aging. And these include things like blood pressure, bone density, body temperature regulation, skin thickness, the number of wrinkles, immune function, sex hormone levels, hearing, vision. There are a number of ways you can measure what we call biological aging. Then there’s something called “chronological aging”, which is from the date you were born. And then there’s “psychological age,” which is how young you feel psychologically.

And there is more and more data that the biological molecules of aging are more under the influence of psychological factors than the chronological age that we usually associate with. Of course there are other things that influence our aging process, including how we perceive time. If you’re constantly running out of time, then your biological clock speeds up, and you do run out of time with a heart attack or something like that. The quality of our self-esteem determines how we age. Our perception of our bodies as fields of energy or fields of matter influence how our body ages.

And there are many other things – the quality of our rest, as in sleep; the quality of our ability to manage stress through meditation; physical exercise; mind-body coordination through techniques such as yoga, and breathing, and martial arts; the quality of our relationships – whether we have toxic relationships or healing relationships; the quality of our emotions – toxic emotions or emotions that foster connectivity. These all influence how we age.

Aging is subject to revision, so you’re going to have somebody who is chronologically 80, but could be biologically 65. On the other hand you could have someone who is chronologically 25, but they are physically and mentally burnt out. And biologically they could be much older.

The fastest growing segment of the population in the world right now is over the age of 90, and in some cases over the age of 100 in some countries. So people are living longer. And even though much of it is attributed to modern medicine, it’s not. It’s lifestyle. It’s nutrition. It’s the quality of exercise, the ability to manage stress, and some of the factors that I mentioned.


Question: Can people change how they age?


Deepak Chopra: I think everybody plays a role in their own aging. Some people accelerate it. Some people slow it down. Some people manage to reverse it. It all depends on how much you are invested in the hypnosis of our social condition. So if you believe that at a certain age you have to die and you become dysfunctional, then you will.


Question: What is the joy in what you do?


Deepak Chopra: The joy in what I do is mostly creativity. I think creativity is an ecstatic impulse that we all have. And there's nothing more joyful than having a moment of creative insight and actually creating, or rather manifesting or incarnating your creative insight into actual, physical reality.


Question: What is the struggle in what you do?


Deepak Chopra: The joy in what I do is mostly creativity. I think creativity is an ecstatic impulse that we all have. And there's nothing more joyful than having a moment of creative insight and actually creating, or rather manifesting or incarnating your creative insight into actual, physical reality.

The struggle is part of the creative process, and it's very enjoyable to have the struggle. Without the struggle, there would be no joy in creativity.

The one thing that is not enjoyable is if you get attached to the outcome. And if you're constantly looking for approval and you are not immune to criticism, then you are in trouble, and you will continue to be struggling and never find the creative impulse.


Question: What are the recurring themes in your work?


Deepak Chopra: The themes that run through all my work are that consciousness is the ultimate reality; and that by understanding consciousness, you understand everything about yourself, about perception, about creativity, about behavior, about relationships.

By understanding consciousness, you have the ability to create anything in your world. And you have the ability to influence also the collective consciousness to not only bring about personal healing, but social transformation, and ultimately healing our planet, which happens to be extremely wounded.

In the Upanishads, which includes the Bhagavad Gita, they say, “Know that one thing by learning which everything else is known.” And that one thing is consciousness.


Recorded on: August 17, 2007


Up Next