I went with nondual guys James Traverse and Dustin LindenSmith and a couple other friends to see Deepak Chopra speak in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on April 22, 2009. There were about 1300 people attending.
The following are notes taken by James and me. There is some commentary, which is noted in italics.
Chopra’s main message is to find out the nature of consciousness as “I am.” He uses a variety of fascinating and popular teachings as vehicles to communicate that. As well, he is a polished speaker and very funny and engaging. The two hour talk, without breaks, flew by.
Learn more about Deepak Chopra’s work.
Learn about James Traverse and his work in nonduality .
Notes and Commentary from Deepak Chopra’s talk in Halifax, Nova Scotia, April 22, 2009
by Jerry Katz and James Traverse
Finding out the nature of consciousness (or soul) solves our problems in the world. There is only one problem – not knowing one’s true nature.
“Stay grounded in our being right now,” Chopra said. This is the solution.
Chopra Center Halifax
He mentioned that Steven Joyce and Karen Whynot were local contacts for Chopra’s work.
He said immune cells and thoughts were conscious beings, that the immune system is a circulating nervous system. The mind, then, is the body. Body is in mind, and mind is in soul (or spirit, or consciousness. We’re going to mostly use the term consciousness and also awareness).
Comment: Just as breathing is the intercourse of your respiration and your circulation; your nervous system and your immune system are complementary partners of the same system
Our identity IS consciousness. Body/mind is a projection of consciousness. If I am consciousness, it follows that the mind is in me.
Awareness (Consciousness) is the only thing that has an inside. The body/mind is an expression of awareness – it is aware; awareness is it in this form.
Structures and Processes
All objects, all things in existence are projections of consciousness. As such, they are processes. The body is like a river. “The real you cannot step into the same blood and bones twice.” 98% of our atoms are replaced every year.
Comment: It is extremely important to embrace this truth because then one can be clear that all there is – is function within Awareness.
And like everything else even this clarity is within Awareness and it is awareness in this form as it functions… this shift from the understanding of things as structures to the functioning of processes, and the shift in understanding from me being in the universe to all things being in me as Awareness, is the way of being that ‘works’… which means that it is a way of functioning that is in harmony with the process – the flow.
“Who the heck are you?” Chopra asks
He quotes Shakespeare, that we are made of the stuff of dreams.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
(The Tempest Act 4, scene 1, 148–158)
What is our identity?
He refers to Information Technology as a demonstration that nature of the world is not material. IT is based on the electron, the atom, which is mostly space. Only our nervous system gives us a sense of solidity and continuity, when the world is turning on and off at the speed of light and is therefore discontinuous. He used the example of the frames of a movie, each frame turning on and turning off before the next frame turns on.
What happens to electrical signals in the brain?
Electrical signals become known to us as sounds, sights, etc., however the sounds and sights cannot be found in the brain except as electrical signals. The experiences of the senses are found in consciousness. The whole world is found in consciousness.
What is consciousness? There is no evidence that consciousness is in the brain.
Consciousness/Awareness is what you are – it is its own knowing.
The real you is an interpreter and a choicemaker (controller)
He cited the work of Dr. Penfield of Montreal.
He gave the example of a man who was awake while his brain was being stimulated. Even though a certain stimulus to the brain caused the man’s arm to move, he was able to resist and even reverse the movement dictated by the stimulus. Hence, we are a choicemaker.
He next gave the example of a woman who, as the result of a stimulus to her brain, experienced herself enjoying ice cream with her family, even though, at the very same time, she knew she was in a hospital bed experiencing brain surgery. Hence, we are an interpreter.
The choicemaker and interpreter cannot be found in the brain or body.
He gave examples that Penfield was puzzled by the fact that the actions of the controller-choicemaker and interpreter were clearly evident yet he could not find the interpreter or choicemaker and neither has anybody else in all of the history of humanity… later he talked about the principle in science that the simplest explanation is usually the best explanation (the principle is called Occam’s razor)… in this light the best explanation for why the interpreter and choicemaker could not be found in the brain, etc., is that they are not there!
Using these examples from brain stimulation experiments, he says that the real you is an interpreter and a choicemaker who imagines and perceives and cannot be found in the body. We are not in the body.
“Where are you?” he asks. We are non-local, that is, no location in space or in time. The window to that knowledge is discontinuity, the “off,” the moment when thoughts and images are absent or off.
Comment: Awareness is prior to thinking (it is actually timeless and spaceless yet we use timebound language to describe its function).. thinking itself is not a problem yet the ‘wrong turning of the mind’ as acting from the id-entity generated out of the mental activity of thought, memory and experience is the Mistaken Identity that is the source of all conflict.
One way the off switch or discontinuity happens is when the mind is silent – then it is self-evident that the only thing that can be said to have continuity is Awareness (you do not lose your mind when it is silent… it simply rests in the filed of all possibilities/awareness/consciousness until it is called on again by some electrical signal… and when the mind is silent you have not lost consciousness.)
The state of discontinuity is known by no qualities: no energy, no information, no space/time, no objects.
There are 5 characteristics of the discontinuity:
1. It is a field of infinite potential and possibility.
2. The field is correlated and connected with everything else in a relationship that is so intimate and immediate that even the speed is light is not a limiting factor. This may be called interconnected spontaneous Synchronicity
3. It proliferates with uncertainty – thus anything’s possible; the greater the uncertainty the greater the opportunity for creativity… the converse is also true as certainty negates creativity…
4. Since degree of creativity is related to degree of uncertainty, it is a storehouse of infinite creativity.
5. Observer effect: observing the universe from the place of discontinuity makes the universe exist. Therefore you are a co-creator…. you are of the image and likeness of your source – comment: you are a holographic representation of it which means that you have the same abilities to create that your source has… the differences are in degree – you are the same in kind… the full establishment in and as your true nature is to be source itself…
Comment: Another aspect of the function is that it is fractal like… Chopra mentioned that consciousness ‘turns back on itself’… this functioning process is described mathematically as fractals… examples are those kaleidoscopic movies you see that endlessly unfold out of itself – a simpler example is trees – another is your family tree … the process is simple as each iteration that manifests is re-introduced into the system that is now different by one as the process has unfolded and the interaction with this change generates a new outcome that is reinserted –endlessly.
Another term for discontinuity is consciousness or God, and you are part of it.
In a guided meditation, he asks us to put attention on the heart and ask, “What do I want?” He says to follow that by silently repeating, “I am.”
Comment: This locating attention in the heart first is a highly significant part of the process as it is a means of getting the functioning order correct – which is heart using the head rather than the head attempting to control the heart, etc… and another appropriate name for our true nature is Love – the homeground of Love is the heart.
Karma, memory, and desire are the software of the soul, of consciousness. When you ask what you want you are using desire, memory, and becoming involved in karma. “I am,” he says, has no karma.
“I am” or some other mantra, when it meets thoughts, cancel each other out and you find yourself in the “off,” the discontinuity, the non-local, or consciousness. You experience the feeling of infinity and the sense of creativity. You surrender to the mystery of existence and intuition and creativity improve. You feel your presence, and that too is soul, consciousness, the discontinuity, or the non-local.
Comment: This is akin to Ramana Maharshi’s – Atma Vichara as the question ‘Who am I’… the answer is ‘experiential’ I am or amness – anything more is mind stuff.
He says, “You are not a space/time event, but that in which space/time happens.”
Is existence an accident?
No – it’s order as the order you see in your tremendously complex body/mind vehicle that makes it self-evident that it is intelligent – the action/process of this intelligence is what is called existence.
He had an insight in 2001, when he went to cremate his father and saw the records showing the cremation records of his ancestors going back hundreds, even thousands of years ago. The insight was that nothing is an accident, but that we create this existence through one field of consciousness interacting with itself “for ever and ever” (or beyond space/time, to be consistent with his previous teaching). In his cremation experience he even saw himself being cremated, thus he experienced a great sense of oneness and timelessness in which all these cremations were one.
By way of explanation using quantum theory, he said intent collapses possibility waves around an uncertain event. You have created “this.” You is me. That is, you and Deepak are not separate.
His books since 2001 are inspired by his experience of nonlocality brought on by the cremation event.
He asked a lady what she had to eat earlier; she responded ‘pod thai’… then he asked her ‘where was the memory of the pod thai before he asked her what she had eaten…
– it was in the field of all possibilities; if you dissect the woman’s brain or examine it with modern medical instruments you will not find the memory of pod thai…
Deepak’s asking the lady the question was the electrical signal that collapsed the wave from all possibilities to the certainty of the one thing that she had eaten which she reported as ‘pod thai’…
– in this way memory is in the filed of all possibilities… and since this is what we all are then each ‘individual’s’ memories are available to everyone else – this explains telepathy, esp, and even precognition etc. as in this field there is no time – only possibilities.
Secrets of Enlightenment
There are hidden dimensions to our existence.
The world exists in you. The window to that understanding is discontinuity.
There are four paths to unity: (1) Meditative – positive mind control; Raja Yoga; (2) Bhakti, or expressing and surrendering to love or God or the discontinuity; (3) Action or karma yoga; (4) Intellect or jnana yoga
All fulfillment comes from within. Happiness is the most important thing in life. The happiness formula involves re-setting the brain so that you see opportunity instead of seeing a problem, not being swayed by the conditions of life, and serving others. One question he asked was, ‘Have you ever heard of an unhappy person having a great relationship?’
The greatest gift that you can give to others is to be happy… this is also true of health, freedom and peace of mind – in other words you get these priceless gifts when you live them for others – this is another powerful illustration of the fact that there is no you – there is only awareness/consciousness and its functioning…
Suffering is the result of not knowing the true reality (which is consciousness, soul, spirit, non-locality, the discontinuity, or who you really are).
Freedom comes from choiceless awareness. In other words, living from the place of consciousness or soul…be established in and as that because it’s Truth.
The world is a mirror of the self – it reflects consciousness; all that is seen are appearances in consciousness.
Evil is not our enemy. Evil is the personal and collective shadow. “If you’re standing in light, there’s a shadow.” No shadow if you’re standing in darkness.
You live in multi-dimensions: Deep sleep, Dreaming, Waking, Soul consciousness (the strong awareness that your true nature is consciousness), Cosmic consciousness (the actual experience of oneness, which he experienced at the cremation), God consciousness (you see God as everything), and Unity consciousness (“you are that.” You no longer see God as everything because “you are that.”) Unity Consciousness is the goal of life.
Death makes life possible. Death is the “off,” discontinuous with birth. Death and birth are opposites. Life is the flow of birth and death.
The universe thinks through you.
The only time is now, so do not worry about tomorrow.
You are truly free when you are not a person.
Consciousness becomes reality through karma, synchronicity, memory, desire, thought, intention.
The goal of life is unity consciousness.
Comment: this can be numbered in a variety of ways – see samkhya
Points from his upcoming book
Awareness is the key to transforming and reinventing the body. Awareness is the Agent and the Actor.
Your body is a process (not an unchanging structure). There is only functioning.
You can turn your genes off and on. Energy follows attention.
You can change your relationship with time. There is no you and no time – there is only Awareness as infinite possibilities; what manifests is what awareness focuses on.
Grace, love, spontaneity, and creativity are associated with resurrecting the soul.
Comment: Resonance is another word for grace – it simply means connecting with intelligence beyond human comprehension – and since it is intelligent it acts in the manner that is of the greatest good… this is what is really behind Chopra’s request to take a vow of non-violence – it is really a vow to not violate natural order (there is no such thing as non-violence; there is only violence and that which is when violence is absolutely absent – although we understand what is generally meant by non-violence, violence does not have an opposite).
Learn more about Deepak Chopra’s work here: deepakchopra.com/
Learn about James Traverse and his work in nonduality.