Self-care and wellness are big buzz words these days, but they are nothing new for Deepak Chopra. Regarded as a pioneer in integrative medicine, meditation and self-improvement, Deepak Chopra has earned the title of guru more than maybe anyone else on the planet. His new book out this week, Meta Human- Unleashing Your Infinite Potential (he’s written over 86 of them!), seeks to elaborate and tie together ideas he’s touted from the beginning about happiness and personal enlightenment, namely that it can be achieved not by a singular fix, but by a combination of ideas culled from science, religion and philosophy. Those who seek it need only find the drive and focus to do so, and the book offers a clear and concise expansion of thought that can lead us on this path towards positivity and personal growth. Advancing his appearance in El Segundo on October 14, Chopra (who has homes in New York and San Diego) spoke with L.A. Weekly by phone about these ideas.
LA WEEKLY: You are very prolific and have done so much to teach and share ideas about enlightenment and finding happiness. What’s different in your new book and why did you decide to write it?
DEEPAK CHOPRA: Well the book is called Meta Human — meta means beyond and human means the human mind, which is a conditioning of consciousness into systems of thought like philosophy, science, theology, religion and all of that. So this book goes to what is the source of thought, what is the source of perception, what is the source of imagination, what is the source of creativity and insight, and intuition and vision, and how do we convert the invisible into the skills we can use.
It’s an elaboration of my work in the past. My work started with being an internist, and then a neuroscientist… studying the nature of mind, body medicine and integrated medicine. Now I’m going beyond all of that into what is the source of all experience, what is the source of interpretation of experience. As I journey through this book with my readers, we look at the source of themselves; not the mind and not the body, but the constant in which they experience the mind and the body, and the world… the freedom to create one’s own reality.
So you’re elaborating on ideas that you’ve talked about before?
Yes it’s an evolution of how most systems of thought whether they be science or philosophy or religion, actually give you knowledge about how you create reality, how you go to the source of thinking and feeling, which is your own inner self, which in spiritual traditions we call the soul.
So, would you say that in terms of science, philosophy and religion, that all three of those components are equally explored?
Yes, what is explored in the book is what is beyond that. What is philosophy, science, and religion, what is the experience that people transcend, what is the experience that people feel love, compassion, joy, equanimity, evolution.
Do you think putting it in context of contemporary times, with the bleakness to our world in terms of the government and the environment and depression and the opioid crisis… do you think that these ideas are necessary now more than ever?
Yes, humans have always experienced violence, and humans have always experienced greed, and we have always been at war, and now we have merchandised systems of debt, nuclear weapons and biological warfare… we also have created the extinction of our species and we have poisoned the food chain, and so we are now risking our own extinction. But we can change it
How can we change it? Suggestions in the book?
Yes, we have to be the change we want to see in the world. You can fight against negative forces but if enough people engaged in spiritual practice and self reflection, in service to each other, in love and creating communities both off and online — which is one of the things we should endeavor to do — then we can create a critical mass that could probably create a more peaceful, less cynical, healthier and joyful world.
But do you genuinely think that’s possible?
I don’t know, but I think that at the crossroads, one leads to extinction and the other leads to a healthier experience of the world.
Sometimes it’s hard to have hope. Do you think books like yours provide hope? Do you have hope that they can?
Yes, these days with the technology we have and social media, and the internet and all these ways to connect with each other, a good idea that inspires a lot of people can make a change.
That’s true. Have you personally utilized social media and the internet in creating change?
I do. I use social media to share insight and knowledge and not for gossip.
There’s so much negativity on social media platforms these days. It has contributed to a lot of society’s problems.
Yes. I don’t participate in that negativity. I do not participate in the collective insanity.
A lot of people are most familiar with you via Oprah and her part in your “20 day Meditation Experience ” and on Super Soul Sundays on the OWN network.
Yes, I have collaborated with Oprah, and I teach meditation online. We have now taught 6 million people worldwide, so it’s become a big movement.
There are so many self help books out there. Do you think that’s a good thing? What’s your perspective on the industry and other books that aim to teach us these things?
Well like anything else there’s a lot of diversity because there is a lot of stuff about death that I feel is very flaky and I do not participate in it. But there’s a lot of stuff out there that’s very authentic too.
Tell us about the event that you’re doing coming up.
It’s a one-and-a-half hour presentation on the basic principles in Meta Human and also meditation for people with no previous experience.
Do you think that meditation is a necessary component for enlightenment?
Meditation means many things to many people so it can be contemplative reflection, it can be sitting in stillness, it can be mindful awareness of the mind or the body or what’s happening inside the body, or mental state, or in the web of relationships. Or you can actually experience directly your consciousness by transcending all thought… these are the basic needs required by all humans to go beyond our reality.
What do you tell people who have challenges getting there? Focus and stillness and turning off thoughts can be challenging in our world these days.
You can go on YouTube and check out my guided meditation videos and you can also go on the internet and see others. There are lots, thousands… I’ve literally done thousands of different types of meditation. Eventually you’ll find one that clicks for you.
So we should continue to seek until we find something that works?
Right and if nothing else just sit quietly for a few minutes and ask yourself who am I? And what do I want?
What are some general tips or advice you’d give to help people to achieve Meta Human enlightenment or happiness?
Good sleep — every night 6 hours, meditation, exercise, yoga, breathing exercises, healthy emotions, healthy food, connection with nature.
That all sounds great. What else do you have planned coming up other than appearances for this new book?
I have a conference called Sages and Scientists on November 14-17 in Arkansas where I’m bringing three other thought leaders from science and technology and philosophy together. The first day is called “The Future of Well Being” and the second day is “The Future of Humanity” and the third day, “The Future of the Universe.” I also have a campaign right now called “Never Alone” which is for suicide prevention and creating a global network for mental health.
See Chopra at El Segundo Performing Arts Center, 640 Main St, El Segundo; Mon., Oct. 14, 7 p.m. More tickets and info here.