What is spirituality?

Deepak Chopra:    Spirituality is to experience a domain of awareness which is universal.  And when we experience that domain of awareness, which is beyond our personal skin encapsulated ego identities, then we have the spontaneous understanding of love, compassion.  It becomes our nature, not as a moral dictate, but as something which is a natural expression of ourselves.  It also gives us insight into the mechanics of how intention orchestrates its own fulfillment. 

Spirituality is also a sense of connection with the creative power of the universe, the mystery that we call God.  And by having a sense of connection to that creative power, we gain self-esteem and have the ability to create because we align ourselves with the elements and forces of the creative universe.  We begin to realize that the universe is creative, that it is conscious, that is evolving; and our personal evolution is somehow linked to the evolution that we call God.

 

Question: Can spirituality be taught?

Deepak Chopra:    Spirituality is experiential.  And classically in India, it is taught through yoga.  But most people have a misunderstanding of yoga.  They equate it with the physical postures that they do in the yoga studio, which are one component of yoga.  But yoga classically is divided into four types.  And they have to do with four basic instincts that human beings have: being, feeling, thinking and doing. 

So the yoga of being is meditation, self-reflection, the ability to shut off the world of the senses and go to the source of our own thought.  It’s called raja yoga. 

The second yoga is the yoga of love through relationship, and understanding that love is the ultimate truth at the heart of creation; and that through relationship we can move progressively from attraction, to infatuation, to communion, to intimacy, to passion, to detachment, to ecstasy – which is our ground state and the exaltation of our spirit. 

So love and relationship is the second means of experiencing spirituality.  If somebody doesn’t understand spirituality, ask them if they’ve ever been in love.  That’s an experience of spirituality. 

The third way of understanding yoga or having the experience of spirit is through service.  When you perform service without any selfish motivation, it’s called karma yoga.  Then you also get in touch with the same domain of awareness that we call spirit. 

And the fourth way of understanding spirituality is through the intellect, through the mind, through signs, through understanding how the laws of nature work, because the laws of nature are, in fact, the mind of the universe.

 

Recorded on: Aug 17, 2007

Spirituality is the experience of awareness outside the boundaries of your skin.

Why the ocean you know and love won’t exist in 50 years

Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?

Videos
  • Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
  • The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
  • If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
Keep reading Show less

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Health care: Information tech must catch up to medical marvels

Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's CEO, believes we're entering the age of smart medicine.

Photo: Tom Werner / Getty Images
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • The United States health care system has much room for improvement, and big tech may be laying the foundation for those improvements.
  • Technological progress in medicine is coming from two fronts: medical technology and information technology.
  • As information technology develops, patients will become active participants in their health care, and value-based care may become a reality.
Keep reading Show less