HJ: If you are at all interested in understanding how reality operates and specifically how the human body, mind and spirit fit into this framework, then read on. Deepak Chopra demonstrates here why he has achieved the high level of recognition he currently holds. Chopra has an excellent grasp of the fundamental concepts of how reality operates on both a metaphysical, spiritual and practical level and is not only able to eloquently explain how they are all inter related, but also offer sage advice on how to live in greater alignment with our true nature, which most accurately reflects this reality. We are proud to publish this piece and hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
What is the True Nature of Reality? The Basics of Quantum Healing
By Dr. Deepak Chopra, M.D. | Chopra Center
What I hope to do this morning is to give you a brief glimpse into the quantum mechanical body-mind, to at least attempt to understand the exact nature of what the human body is like and also the exact nature of what the Cosmic Body is like.
We use terms like mind and body and universe, but what really is the exact nature of these things? What is the mind, what is the body, what’s the exact nature of physical reality? As children, we always had questions like, “Where was I before I was born? What am I doing here? What happens after death? Am I confined to my physical body? Am I just a skin encapsulated ego in a bag of flesh and bones? What really happens to me? Do I have a local address? Where do I live in this universe?”
And it’s interesting that science today is beginning to ask the same questions. After all science is the quest for the truth and if you’re a real scientist, these are the questions that are most critical to us.
One of the interesting things that science has found, this should have been obvious all along, is that what we call perception, what we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell, is really the least reliable test of what reality really is. We cannot trust our senses at all!
After all, the senses tell us that the earth is flat and we don’t believe that anymore. The senses tell us that the ground that we stand on is stationary and we know it’s spinning at dizzying speeds and hurtling through outer space at thousands of miles an hour. The senses tell us things have a certain taste, smell, size, texture. Maybe that’s not the way they really are.
There was an experiment done at Harvard Medical School about 20 years ago. A group of scientists took some kittens and brought them up in a room that had only horizontal stripes. All the visual stimuli in the room were horizontal. Another group of kittens was brought up in a room that had only vertical stripes. And when these kittens grew up to be wise old cats, it turns out that one group of cats could see only a horizontal world. The other group of cats could see only a vertical world. And this had nothing to do with the belief system of these cats.
It’s a phenomenon that psychologists call Premature Cognitive Commitment. Premature, because we make it at a very early stage of our development. Cognitive, because that’s how they cognize or see the world. And commitment, because it fixes us to a particular reality, it imprisons us in a fixed mode of perception.
There are many variations of these experiments. In India, when they train elephants, they take the baby elephant and tie it with an iron chain to a huge tree. Then they start cutting the size of the chain and the tree. Ultimately you can tie the elephant which a big animal now, with a flimsy rope to a green plant but the elephant is unable to escape. It’s made a commitment in its body-mind that it’s in a prison!
Or you can do another simple experiment. Take some flies and put them in a jar. After a while remove the lid from the jar and you’ll find that most of the flies, except for a couple of pioneers, will not be able to escape. They make a commitment in their body-mind that they’re in a prison.
People will tell you who work in aquariums that you can separate fish from each other. They’re in big glass tanks and the separations are transparent glass partitions. You can remove the glass partition after a while. The fish will swim to the edge of where the partition was and return . They made a commitment that that’s as far as they can go.
All these experiments, and there are many variations of these, are pointing to a very crucial fact as far as the mechanics of perception is concerned. And that is that our initial sensory experiences and how we interpret them or how they are interpreted for us actually structure the very anatomy and physiology of our nervous system in such a way that ultimately the nervous system serves only one function: to keep reinforcing the initial interpretation. Anything that doesn’t reinforce the initial interpretation doesn’t even get into the nervous system. So if you don’t have a concept or a notion or an idea that something exists, then your nervous system won’t even take it in.
That’s a very peculiar fact because it tells us that with bits of sensory experience, we’ll never be able to comprehend the whole. We never will be! After all the human eye can see only between 380 and 500 billionths of a meter. There’s nothing sacred between 360 and 370. It doesn’t exist for us.
And so too for the other senses. This is true not only of the human species but of all species. A honeybee, for example, doesn’t have the apparatus to see the usual wavelengths that you and I perceive. It senses ultra-violet. When a honeybee looks at a flower at a distance it doesn’t see a flower. It sees honey from a distance but it misses the flower altogether. A snake would experience the same thing as infrared radiation which means nothing to you and me. A bat would experience that as the echo of ultra-sound which also means nothing to you and me. And a chameleon’s eyeballs swivel on two different axis. You can’t even remotely imagine what this would look like to a chameleon.
So what’s the real nature of the world? What’s it really like? We can’t trust the senses. They give us a very distorted view. They break up that wholeness into a small fragment and we call it reality. We happen to agree about it. We even call it “objective reality” and we have a whole methodology that we call “science” to explore that . If you really understand what science is, then science at least until now has not been a method for exploring the truth. Science has been a method for exploring our current map of what we think the truth is. And the map is not the territory. The territory that we explore is really an extension of the map we have. If we don’t have the complete map then we will not explore the territory that is not within the framework of that map.
Sir John Eckles who won the Nobel prize in physiology and medicine several years ago made the statement, “I want you to understand that there are no colors in the real world. That there are no textures in the real world. There are no fragrances in the real world. There is no beauty, there is no ugliness. Nothing of the sort. Out there is a chaos of energy soup and energy fields. Literally. We take that and somewhere inside ourselves we create a world. Somewhere inside ourselves it all happens.”
It’s not out there at all! Go to a physicist and ask him what’s this made up of? And he’ll tell you there are just four basic forces: gravity, strong interaction, weak interaction and electromagnetism that make up everything that exists. Gravity is that which holds us to the ground, makes the planets move and holds them together. The strong interaction holds the nucleus of an atom together. If you disrupt it you get a nuclear explosion. The weak interaction is a force that is responsible for transmutation of elements and radioactive decay. And electromagnetism is that which we experience as light, heat and electricity.
Ask a scientist, “Is there anything else?” and they’ll say, “No, there isn’t anything else. Everything that exists out there is made up of these forces.” And ultimately even these forces come from one unified force which scientists today call the Unified Field. And everything that is there, all stars, all galaxies, all flowers, all human beings, everything that exists is just these forces of nature.
So what is the material world then? The material world is a cord that comes out of these forces and the cords of intelligence that structure particulate matter in fact exist inside us. We are the creators of this world. Literally.
There was an interesting conversation I once heard between a spiritual master and his student in India. At one point the student looked at this master and he said, “I don’t know about you. You must live in a different world.” And the master said, “No. We live in exactly the same world. The only difference is you see yourself in the world, and I see the whole world in myself. It’s a minor perceptual shift that you need to make.”
So let’s talk about this minor perceptual shift. Because our current understanding is that this world is made up of matter that exists in space and time. That even human bodies are nothing other than bits and pieces of matter. That the human body is a physical machine that has somehow learned to think. That it’s the dance of molecules that creates the epi-phenomenon of consciousness: thoughts, feelings, emotions, desires, concepts, ideas, philosophies, dogma, religion. All these. Poetry is the expression of the dance of molecules. Somehow these molecules move around and we get this epi-phenomenon called thought. We have physical machines that have learned how to think.
And of course this superstition is very pervasive in the world of contemporary medicine also. We are basically bogged down in the superstition of materialism which says that sensory experience is the crucial test of reality. Therefore, all our healing methodologies are also based on this superstition. We have magic bullets for the treatment of illness. And we have the expressions like, “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is.” Or if you can’t believe you ate the whole thing you can have a couple of Alka Seltzers. If you can’t sleep at night there’s a sleeping pill. It will cure insomnia. You’re feeling anxious? There’s a tranquilizer. It will give you tranquillity. You have an infection? Take an antibiotic. It will cure the problem of infection. You have cancer? There’s chemotherapy, radiation, surgery. If you have chest pain, you can pop some nitroglycerin. Better still, have a bypass operation.
These are the magic bullets that are supposed to get rid of disease and improve our health but in fact all these magic bullets are symptomatic approaches. They relieve symptoms or at best mask symptoms while the underlying process remains unchanged. Sometimes they interfere with mechanisms of disease. And mostly scientific research today is basically elucidating mechanisms at disease. So if we know how bacteria multiply, we can kill them and then we’ll get rid of infection. If we know how cancer cells multiply, we can kill them and then we’ll get rid of cancer. It doesn’t work because mechanisms of disease aren’t origins of disease. We can interfere with mechanisms of disease and disease finds an alternative way of expressing itself.
For example, one of the leading causes of death is not the AIDS virus or HIV disease but from antibiotic resistant organisms that are acquired in hospitals. Several years ago, the California Medical Association did a study which revealed that over 100,000 people die in the United States from antibiotic resistant organisms acquired only in hospitals. The number one cause of drug addiction in the world is not the street drugs of Colombia, but legal medical prescriptions. And despite the fact that more people have done research on cancer in this country than have cancer, despite the fact the incidence of cancer in fact has increased in the last 3 decades, anywhere from 30-300%, depending on the type of cancer you’re talking about. 36% of all patients in a university hospital, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, were suffering from iatrogenic disease which means disease as a result of biotechnical medical intervention: disease a patient had because they happen to see a doctor.
So something is wrong. Something is wrong. I don’t mean to really give the impression that biotechnical medical intervention is not useful. It’s extremely useful in acute illness. But it does not alter the overall expression of disease in a population. It merely changes its expression. We no longer have epidemics of polio, tuberculosis, measles, diphtheria and smallpox. But in their place we have higher incidence of cancer, heart disease, degenerative disorders and obesity. The overall picture hasn’t changed because the model that we’ve structured of the human body is not the correct model. The human body is not a frozen sculpture fixed in space and time. The human body is a dynamic bundle of energy, information and intelligence that constantly is renewing itself and is in exchange with the larger field of energy, information and intelligence that we call the universe. That in fact if we could really see the human body as it is, not through the artifact of sensory experience, you would see it to be much more exciting.
The Greek philosopher Heraculutus compared the human body to a river. He said a river is a very mysterious thing. When you look at a river it looks the same to you in every second of its existence but in fact it’s not the same river. He said you cannot step into the same river twice because newwater flows in all the time.
And it’s true also of the human body. If you could understand your body as it really is, you would see that the real you cannot step into the same flesh and bones twice because in every second of your existence you’re renewing your body, changing it more rapidly, more effortlessly, more spontaneously and more easily than you can change your clothes. We can take a number of processes: eating, breathing, digestion, metabolism, elimination, but most fundamentally the movement of consciousness which expresses itself as these processes, and you would see how effortlessly, how easily you can change your body and in fact are doing so all the time.
The physical bodies that you’re using to sit on these chairs, for example, aren’t the ones that you walked in with a little while ago. Even with one breath you take in 10 to the power of 22 atoms. An astronomical amount of raw material that ends up as your heart, brain and kidney cells, your neurons, your DNA. With each breath you breathe out 10 to the power of 22 atoms. It’s an astronomical amount of raw materials that is coming from every bit of your body. You are literally breathing out bits and pieces of your brain tissue and heart and kidney. Actually, technically speaking, we are intimately sharing our organs with each other all the time.
The American poet Walt Whitman said, “Every atom belonging to you as well belongs to me.” And this isn’t a metaphorical statement at all. “Every atom belonging to you as well belongs to me.” I can’t even call my personal body my own. And I try calling everything else my own. I can’t even claim a copyright on my own physical body. Right this moment in your body you have a million atoms that were once in the body of Christ. Based on radioactive isotope studies and mathematical computations it can easily be shown that in this moment of your existence you have a million atoms that were once in the body of Christ, in the body of Gautama Buddha or Leonardo Da Vinci or Michelangelo or Mr. Saddam Hussein. You can’t separate yourself from anything physically or anybody that has ever existed.
In just the last 3 weeks, a quadrillion atoms, 10 to the power of 15 atoms have gone through your body that have gone through the body of every other species on this planet. And if you do radioactive isotope studies which have been done very elegantly, you can prove beyond a shadow of doubt that you replace 98% of all the atoms in your body in less than one year. You make a new liver every 6 weeks, a new skin once a month, a new stomach lining every 5 days, a new skeleton – it seems so hard and solid, but the skeleton you have now you didn’t have three months ago. Even the brain cells that you think with as carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, as those basic elements, they weren’t there one year ago. And the DNA that holds memories of millions of years of evolutionary time, in fact hundreds of millions of years; the actual raw material of it comes and goes every six weeks. Those atoms drift in and out like migratory birds every six weeks.
And if you want to be a real stickler about it and account for the last atom and every little sinew and collagen and cartilage, then in less than two and a half years you replace every atom in your body down to the last single atom. So if you think you are your material body then you certainly have a dilemma. Which one are you talking about? The 1991 model is not the same as the 1990 model or even the one from a few months ago.
So here I stand before you with my l991 model and yet I don’t feel that I wasn’t here last year. Yet I don’t feel that I wasn’t here 2 years ago. Maybe there’s a deeper reality to the physical body. Maybe the physical body is what the Rishis of India call maya, illusion, that which gives us the appearance of something but in fact there is something else behind the mask of mortality. Behind that facade of mortality there’s something else which outlasts the physical expression of the physical body.
I stand here with a physical body but I have memories and hopes and aspirations and ideas and dreams that were there last year, that were there 2 years ago. They also change but not so rapidly as my physical body. The shelf life of my emotions is a little longer than the shelf life of my molecules.
So maybe the body is merely the place my memories are calling home for the time being. Maybe the DNA is also just that place that my evolutionary memory is calling home for the time being. Maybe I’m not physical molecules that have created the machine or created the epi-phenomenon of consciousness. Maybe I’m consciousness itself that has learned how to create the physical machine. Maybe I am a force of intelligence coming out of that same unified field that makes stars and galaxies and rain forests. Maybe I come from that same place too. And maybe that place was never born and never died and in fact was always there. I’ve just forgotten for the moment.
And this is exactly what scientists are beginning to see. Scientists are beginning to see that it is not thoughts which are a product of molecules, but in fact molecules are structured out of fluctuations of information in a field of infinite information. That it is consciousness which is the phenomenon and matter which is the epi-phenomenon. It is consciousness which conceives, governs, constructs and actually becomes physical matter.
In the last few years we’ve seen some extraordinary research in this field coming out of prestigious universities and medical schools and places like the National Institute of Health. About 20 years ago it was discovered, for example, that our thoughts and our feelings have physical substrate to them. When you think a thought you make a molecule. To think is to practice brain chemistry. And in fact these thoughts are translated into very precise molecules known as neuropeptides. ‘”Neuro”‘ because they were first found in the brain. And ‘peptides’ because they’re protein-like molecules. And thoughts, feelings, emotions and desires translate into the flux of neuropeptides in the brain.
You can think of these neuro-peptides like little keys that fit into very precise locks called receptors on the cell walls or other neurons. So the way this part of the brain speaks to another part of the brain is not necessarily in English with an Indian accent, but in the precise language of these neuropeptides.
What was found subsequently, which was absolutely fascinating was that there were receptors to neuropeptides not only in brain cells but other parts of the body. So when scientists started looking for receptors to neuropeptides in cells of the immune system, for example: T cells, B cells, monocytes and macrophages – when they started looking at them, they found that on the cell walls of all these there were receptors for the same neuropeptides which are the molecular substrate of thought.
So your immune cells are in fact constantly eavesdropping on your internal dialogue. Nothing that you say to yourself, which you’re doing all the time, even in sleep, escapes the attention of the immune cells. Not only that, the immune cells, it was subsequently discovered, can make the same peptides that the brain makes when it thinks. Now here we come to a startling finding, because if the immune cell is making the same chemicals that the brain is making when it thinks, then the immune cell is a thinking cell. It’s a conscious little being.
In fact, the more you look at it, the more you find that it behaves just like a neuron. It makes the same chemical cords that the brain uses for emotion, thought, feeling and desire. An immune cell has emotions. It has desires. It has an intellect. It knows how to discriminate and remember. It has to decide when it sees a carcinogen, “Is this a carcinogen? Should I go after it? Should I leave it alone? Is this a friendly bacteria? Should I go after it or leave it alone?” It has to remember the last time it encountered something. In fact it remembers the last time somebody else encountered the same thing.
Your immune cells can immediately recognize anything that has ever been encountered by any living species. If you are exposed to pneumococus for the first time in your life, your immune cells still remember the last time somebody somewhere in prehistoric time encountered a pneumococus and knows how to make the precise antibody to it. It’s not only a thinking cell but it remembers way back into the evolutionary history of not only the human species but other species as well. So you ask a good neurologist the difference between an immune cell and a neuron and they’ll say there isn’t any. The immune cell is a circulating nervous system.
Now if that wasn’t enough of a startling discovery, the subsequent discoveries in science have been even more interesting, because when scientists started looking elsewhere in the body they found the same phenomenon. When they looked at stomach cells and intestinal cells they found the same peptides. The stomach cells make the same chemical cords that the brain makes when it thinks. Of course they’re not verbally as elite as the brain, in that they don’t think in English or Swahili, but nevertheless, they are thinking cells. When you say, “I have a gut feeling about such and such,” you’re not speaking metaphorically anymore. You’re speaking quite literally because you’re gut makes the same chemicals as the brain makes when it thinks. In fact your gut feelings may be a little more accurate because gut cells haven’t yet evolved to the stage of self doubt.
What science is discovering is that we have a thinking body. Every cell in our body thinks. Every cell in our body is actually a mind. Every cell has its own desires and it communicates with every other cell. The new word is not mind and body connection, we have a body-mind simultaneously everywhere.
So when you say, “I have a sad heart,” then you literally have a sad heart. If a scientist was looking inside the heart, he’d find it heavy with sadness. He’ll find it heavy with sad molecules. If you say, “I’m bursting with joy,” a scientist could look at your skin. He’ll find it loaded with emipramine which is an antidepressant which in fact, has been used in the treatment of depression by psychiatrists. If you say, “I feel exhilarated, unbounded and joyful,” and I was to examine your blood, I would find high levels of interluken and interferon which are powerful anticancer drugs.
About two years ago, interlukens and interferons were released for the treatment of kidney cancer and melanoma. The only problem is they’re extremely expensive. An initial course of interluken can cost you something like $40,000. But you could take a joyride on “Magic Mountain” and make a few million dollars of interluken too. Of course, if that was your idea of fun. In fact it isn’t the joyride at all, it’s your interpretation of it. Because if you panicked on that joyride you wouldn’t make interluken, you’d make cortisol adrenaline which is completely the opposite. It destroys the immune system.
When you have the experience of tranquility, you’re body makes Valium and it’s identical to the Valium that Hoffman LaRouch makes except it’s made in precise doses for the right target organs. It doesn’t make you feel like a zombie. It is an immuno-modulator. It modulates the activity of the immune system. Even little white cells know how to make Valium. If you are jittery then your body makes jittery molecules, adrenaline, more adrenaline, cortisol. And they’re not made just by the adrenal glands. They’re made everywhere in the body. Little platelets make adrenaline and they huddle together in their fright. That’s how the clotting cascade starts.
So I think the first major breakthrough in medicine, if that’s what we’re going to call it, is that the mind has escaped the confines of the brain. It’s not confined to the brain, it’s everywhere in our body. And if that wasn’t enough, it seems that now it’s breaking the confines of the body – out there. Our mind is not even imprisoned in our body. It’s completely non-local. It’s everywhere in space and time. In fact, our mind is part of a non-local field of information that we can only call the cosmic mind.
The German philosopher Nietzsche said, “We live on the presumption that we think when it’s equally possible that we are being thought.” And, there may be something to that. What we call our Cosmic Body of the universe may be in fact a projection of our collective consciousness. We’ve learned to create that too. Just like we’ve learned how to create the body, we’ve learned how to create the universe.
A few years ago, scientists got interested in a group of hormones called pheromones that were produced by plants. So if you infect a plant, for example, with gypsy moth, the plants will give off hormones into the atmosphere called pheromones that immediately inform the rest of the forest that there’s gypsy moth around – be careful. And the rest of the forest will immediately make the appropriate antibodies to protect itself. A plant is aware. It’s got a mind. it informs the others, “This is what’s happening. Watch out!”
Insects communicate through pheromones too. You’ve seen termites build perfect columns in the dark with arches that meet at the top, perfect architectural designs. How do they do it? They communicate through pheromones. Sexual and mating behavior is influenced through pheromones.
But recently it’s been found that these pheromones in fact may also be the molecular substrate of our emotions. An experiment was done at Stanford, a particularly cruel experiment, where mice were taken and were given electric shocks. After a while the mice were removed from the room. Other mice are brought into the room and as soon they enter the room they panic. They release stress hormones and cortisol because they have inhaled the pheromones of fear.
And now it’s known that in fact for every single emotion that we have there is a counterpart, a molecular event that happens not only inside our body but in fact we release those pheromones as information substrates into the environment. So now when you say, “l went into this room and I felt that the atmosphere was really tense.” That’s physiological. When you say, “I went to this holy shrine and I felt peace, love and compassion.” That’s completely understandable from a physiological point of view. You say, “I don’t know what it is about this chap, but he certainly gives me the creeps.” That’s also completely understandable.
Emerson, the philosopher, said, “Who you are shouts so loudly in my ears, I cannot hear what you’re saying.” And he was making a physiological statement, completely understandable from the dynamics of how neurobiology operates. What we will call the universe is in fact a Cosmic Body that we have created in exactly the same way that we have created our physical body.
And in fact, even though the artifact of sensory experience said, “There’s a world out there separate from me and there’s something here that’s my body that’s separate from that,” that’s not physiologically true. We are not skin-encapsulated egos confined to a bag of skin and bones. We may be the Universal Mind itself. There ‘s a Universal Body that we have, there’s a Cosmic Body that we have and we share our personal body and our Cosmic Body with each other all the time. And we have learned to create both in exactly the same way, and our Cosmic Bodies are as crucial to our survival as our personal bodies. They’re equally our own.
So, this is the teaching that comes to me, at least I can’t take any credit for this incidentally. I’m just a messenger of a very ancient form of teaching that is known as the Veda, and Ayurveda is the part of Veda that deals with health, the health of nature. And Veda says that if you just remember who you are, you’ll suddenly recognize that you, in fact, are the Creator.
At one time a fundamentalist preacher met a Vedantist, and the two were talking for a while. After a while the fundamentalist looked at the Vedantist and he said, “It seems to me that you’re an atheist.” And the Vedantist looked back at the fundamentalist and he said, “I used to be one until I realized I was God.” And of course this offended the fundamentalist who said, “Are you denying the divinity of Jesus Christ?” And the Vedantist said, “Heavens! I’ve never denied anybody their divinity. Why would I do it to Jesus Christ ?”
This is the essential teaching of the Vedic tradition, and it has very practical applications. The Veda says, “As is the atom, so is the universe; as is the microcosm so is the macrocosm; as is the human body, so is the Cosmic Body; as is the human mind, so is the Cosmic Mind.” And if you feel uncomfortable with the word “Cosmic Mind,” we can simply call it a “non-local field of information with self referral cybernetic feedback loops.” I give talks these days at medical schools and people are very comfortable with that definition.
Our bodies are literally the music of nature. We have here a symphony which is part of a symphony that has been there forever. The Veda says, “Behind the mask of mortality is that quantum mechanical body, that subtle Causal Body, it’s something you always had. You always had that. Fire cannot burn it. Water cannot wet it. Wind cannot dry it. Weapons cannot cleave it. It was never born and it never dies.”
Is there any basis for that? Today we are seeing that in fact there is basis. If you could see the body again as a physicist could see it, all you’d see is atoms. And if you could see the atoms as they really are, not through the artifact of sensory experience, you’d see these atoms of particles that are moving at lightning speeds around huge empty spaces. These particles aren’t material objects at all. They are fluctuations of energy and information in a huge void of energy and information. If I could see your body not through this sensory artifact, I’d see a huge empty void with a few scattered dots and a few random electrical discharges here and there 99.999999% of your body is empty space! And the .000001% of it that appears as matter is also empty space.
So, it’s all empty space. The question is what is this empty space? Is it an emptiness of nothing or a fullness of non-material intelligence? In fact it is a fullness of non-material intelligence…or information that influences its own expression. And with that definition, it’s very obvious that this empty space is not an emptiness of nothing but a womb of creation. And nature goes back exactly to that same place, to fashion a galaxy and a rain forest, as it goes to fashion a thought. It’s the same place. And it’s inside us, it’s our inner space which gives rise with amazing fertility to all these things that are so crucial to us: right, wrong, God, Heaven, sin, salvation, damnation, grace. All this comes from the same place. We are it! It’s right there.
Bringing that to quantum healing, bringing that whole perspective to quantum healing, we can see how practical it can become. Because we have to begin to understand the body is really, ultimately, just a field of ideas. And the universe is just a field of ideas, literally a field.
A scientist by the name of Herbert Specter did an experiment about 20 years ago. He was at the National Institute of Health, head of Molecular Biology. In this particular experiment he gave mice an injection of a chemical called Polyisee which stimulates the immune system. He had the mice smell camphor at the same time. After a while the mice would smell camphor and it would stimulate the immune system. He took some other mice and gave them psychlophosphamite which is a chemical that destroys the immune system and had them smell camphor at the same time. And they smell camphor and they destroy the immune system. Here’s 2 groups of mice now. One that smells camphor and stimulates the immune system. One that smells camphor and destroys the immune system.
In one group of mice if you give them pneumococcide they get pneumonia and die of it very quickly. If you give them carcinogens, they get cancer and die of it very quickly. In the other group nothing happens. And what’s the crucial difference between survival and death in these mice? It’s the interpretation of the memory of the smell of camphor.
Is this relevant to us? You bet it is. Because like those mice, we too have conditioned ourselves to respond to memories in a certain way. We link stimuli to certain memories and every time we’re exposed to those stimuli we reinterpret the universe and ourselves according to the memories. We become the victim of the stale repetition of outworn memories.
It’s estimated that the average human has 60,000 thoughts a day. This is not surprising. What is disconcerting is that 90% of the thoughts you have today are the ones you had yesterday.
So through the same mechanics we keep creating and become bundles of conditioned reflexes and responses constantly being triggered by people and circumstance into the same predictable biochemical responses and ultimately into the same behavioral responses and ultimately into the same patterns of disease, aging and death. We take our sensory experiences to be real. The sage, the seer Audishankra, who lived a long, long time ago in the Vedic tradition of India said, “The reason we grow old and age and die is we see other people growing old, aging and dying. And what we see we become.” What we see, we become – because we hold that to be true. We cannot see the world again with fresh eyes.
In the Shiva Sutras, which are again thousands of years old, the yogi of all yogis, Shiva himself, says, “If you want to recreate the world, then look at it with fresh eyes.” The way it really is. Look at it without the camouflage of your own memories. A true yogi says, “I use memories but I don’t let memories use me.”
In the Shiva Sutras, again, Lord Shiva says, “Look at a beauteous person or an ordinary object as if for the first time.” How many people can do that? Because they’ve forgotten to get in touch with the one who is seeing. We are just a bundle of conditioned reflexes. The outcome of our thoughts and feelings. But who is having these thoughts and feelings? The one who’s having these thoughts and feelings is not the thought. The one who is having these feelings is the silence between the thoughts. The one who is having these feelings is consciousness itself. But consciousness itself is not thought, it’s the source of thought.
Recently I had a patient with a very dramatic outcome. I just want to go over a couple of case histories to show how relevant this is. In fact, how relevant this is to not only our survival as a species, but the survival of our own planet.
This young patient that I had, (he was in fact from this area) – he was one day repairing an antenna on the roof and he picked up a wire, but it happened to be live and had 12,000 volts in it. He was immediately electrocuted. The mechanism of death for this is ventricular fibrillation which is an electrical event in the heart.
He fell from the roof 15 feet to the ground and as luck would have it he fell with the right impact at the right place with the right location of his chest with the right amount of angularity to restart another current and defibrillate. So it’s as if God called him and then changed His mind.
And you ask him, “Bob, what happened?” He says, “I went into the gap.” I say, “What was there in the gap?” He says, “It was sheer unbounded joy. It was absolute, total bliss.” You ask him, “Were there any thoughts there?” “No. I didn’t have a mind.” “Did you have a body?” “No. I didn’t have a body.” “So what was there?” He said, “l was just aware. ” You ask him, “What were you aware of?” “I was aware that I was aware. But it was pure wakefulness. I was grounded totally and completely in the experience of my own immortality.”
So much so, that he now doesn’t know what the meaning of fear is. In fact, not only was he lucky to have this experience, but like a true scientist, he started experimenting in this field of pure awareness. He would go into the gap. Now he knew how to slip into it, and from there he would put his attention on his leg which had completely burned. There was no muscle – nothing. His femur was exposed to the atmosphere. Over the course of 2 years, by diving into the gap, projecting his awareness from there, be has actually regrown a new lower extremity. Because he found that place from where everything was created. It’s his own Self. It’s his own Self.
And where is the Self? Is it in the brain? Is it in the body? Where is it? Because this is really the only important experience as far as the Vedic teaching of India is concerned. It’s the only important experience. The Rishi says, “All your problems exist because you never paid attention to yourself, only to your experiences.” And you’re not your experiences. You’re the one who’s having those experiences. Enlightenment is not another experience. It’s the discovery of the timeless factor in every experience. And who’s that timeless factor? It’s you!
Where is the Self? Scientists have been looking for it for a long time. Dr. Penfield the neurophysiologist and neurosurgeon in Canada, also a Nobel Laureate, when he operated on patients, he would cut open the skull and look inside. During operations, he’d take an electrode and stimulate different parts of the brain.
So he’d stimulate some part of the motor cortex and the patient’s arm would start going up. That’s the part that controls movement. He’d ask what’s happening to the patient. The patient would say, “My arm is moving up.” And then he’d say, “Are you moving your arm?” The patient would say, “No. It’s moving up.” Then he’d say, “OK. Now you move it.” And the patient would move the arm up.
No matter where you look you’ll never find the decision maker in the brain You’ll only find the execution of those decisions. The motor cortex, for example, in the brain, it’s that place that executes the commands. But where is the commander? You cannot find it. It’s not local. It’s everywhere or nowhere depending on your perspective. It’s everywhere and nowhere at the same time. And that’s who you are! That’s who you are. You’re everywhere and nowhere at the same time. You don’t have a local address.
And you’re not confined to your physical body either. The Rishi when he finally understands his from his own experience of immortality, he says, “When I’m in this state, I know for sure that my real state is this Bliss Consciousness. This bliss that follows me wherever I go. It’s closer to me than my body, and there is no past because what I’m seeking is so near, there is no room for a past. What I’m seeking is the one who’s doing the seeking. It’s closer to me than my body, closer to me than my mind. It follows me wherever I go And when I know this then I’m in bliss.”
This is not happiness. Happiness has reasons for it. You’re happy because of a reason. But when you’re happy for no reason whatsoever, then you’re in bliss When you’re grounded in this bliss then you recognize that you’re not in the body, the body is in you You’re not in the mind, the mind is in you. You’re not in this universe, the universe is in you. Body, mind, universe just happened to you because you find them interesting. That’s all.
This is ultimate Quantum Healing that gets rid once and for all of the maya of mortality, of the facade and superstition of materialism. When people get grounded in this experience then they lose all fear, including the fear of death.
The poet Tagor said, “This is just a remembering.” And it, again, comes not by going outside. It comes by going inside, by doing that inner work, by going inside, by remembering. It comes by remembering that Silent Witness that was with us. There’s a part of you that was with you when you were born. It was with you when you were a child. It was with you during adolescence. It’s there right now listening. It’s independent of all the experiences. It’s that Silent Witness inside.
Tagor, in one of his celebrated poems, he says, “I was not aware of the moment when I first crossed the threshold of this life. What was that power that brought me into this world in the middle of the night like a little bud that opens up in the forest at midnight. And yet in the morning when I looked upon the light, I felt that I was no stranger in this world. That the inscrutable without name and form had taken me in its own arms like my mother. Even so, in the moment of death I will step into the same unknown that has been ever known to me ”
What you need to be afraid of is not the unknown, because that’s where we live all the time. What we need to be afraid of, if anything, is the known! Because the known is the rigid patterns of past conditioning that imprison us in a prison of space, time, and causation – squeeze us into the volume of a body in the span of a lifetime. When that’s not the way it really is.
He says, “Because l love this life I know I can never fear death. The child cries out when it’s mother takes it from the left breast only to find in the very next moment consolation in the right one. Space, time, matter, energy are similarly engendered by frequencies of self interaction. Curving back within myself, I create again and again. Ultimately I’m not all of this, I’m the field itself.”
In the Gita, Lord Krishna, speaking to Arjuna says, “Know yourself as the field and the knower of the field.” The poet Rumi says, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
So I’d like to end with a little quote from Franz Kafka, whom everyone remembers as more or less a writer whose literary reputation rests on his portrayal of acute suffering. But he said something which is a brilliant affirmation of the path to enlightenment. He said, “You do not need to do anything, just remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, just wait. Do not even wait, just be quiet, still and solitary, and the universe will expose itself to you. It has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
In those words, one feels the breath of reality because they speak to us without disturbing their own stillness. And if we really want to know what they whisper to us, then we must learn to be equally still ourselves. Thank you very much.
A Talk Given by Dr. Deepak Chopra, M.D. at the Seattle Center on May 18, 1991.
Originally appeared in Vol. 1, No. 21 of The Sovereign Scribe, P.O. Box 350, McKenna, WA 98558