Deepak Chopra author of God: A Story of Revelation, is joining the conversation today to discuss his new book and a new documentary called Decoding Deepak, which is about spiritual guru Deepak Chopra. The documentary will be in theaters October 5th. By using lives of historical prophets and martyrs to reveal what they have in common, which is being touched by a divine power, Deepak’s book explores the age old mystery surrounding the “higher power”. In his book he shows that one god need not be the same god for everyone, and that our spiritual traditions are manifested by the people who are living them.
Be sure to tune in at 3:30 for the full conversation and check out an excerpt from his book below.
Like a car with two steering wheels, the world has been guided by two forces, spiritual and secular, that fight for control. The secular has seized the advantage today, but for many centuries the power lay with spirituality. Visionaries could shape the future as much as kings, often more. A king was anointed by God, but visionaries were visited by God. They heard his message personally before appearing in public to announce what God wanted people to do.
I became fascinated by the perplexing situation that visionaries find themselves thrust into. Very few asked for this power to affect other people. God wrenched them from the comfort of everyday life and guided their steps. The voice they heard in their heads wasn’t their own but divinely inspired. What was that like? On one hand it must have been terrifying. In a world that made a spectacle of feeding martyrs to lions, crucifying saints as enemies of the state, and jealously guarding old religions, the voice of God could be pronouncing a death sentence. On the other hand, to experience the divine was ecstatic, as witness the mystical poets in every culture who had a love affair with the divine.
God is an empty term except through the revelations of all the saints, prophets, and mystics of history. They exist to plant the seeds of spirituality as a direct experience rather than a matter of hope and faith. Yet no one can say that God was revealed in one consistent shape delivering one consistent message – quite the opposite. Somehow revelations can be divine and contradictory at the same time.
Why doesn’t God just say what’s on his (or her) mind and let it spread to every people? The contradiction in holy messages arose because of our own limitations. Let’s assume that God is infinite. Our minds are not equipped to perceive the infinite. We perceive what we are prepared to see and know. Infinity reveals itself in bits and pieces tailored to each society, epoch, and habit of mind. We label as God mere glimpses of higher reality, like seeing one figure in Da Vinci’s Last Supper. A glimpse fills us with wonder, but the whole thing has been missed.
God evolves. That’s why he keeps speaking and never grows silent. The very basic fact that God has shifted between “he,” “she,” “it,” and none of the above shows how changeable the divine presence is. But to say that God evolves implies that he began in an immature state and then grew into fullness, when every faith holds that God is infinite to begin with. What actually evolved was human understanding. For thousands of years, perhaps as far back as cave man, the human mind held a capacity for higher reality. Sacred paintings and statues are as ancient as civilization, preceding written language and probably even agriculture.
Nearness to God is a constant, not just in human history but in human nature. If we are connected to our souls, the connection is permanent, even if our attention falters. We think that God changes because our own perception waxes and wanes. The messages keep coming, though, and God keeps showing a different face. Sometimes the whole notion of the divine gets hidden, when secular forces snatch the steering wheel and attempt to drive alone. But the force of spirituality never fully surrenders. God stands for our need to know ourselves, and as awareness evolves, so has God. This journey never ends. At this moment somewhere in the world a person wakes up in the middle of the night hearing a message that feels uncanny, as if arriving from another reality. Actually, there must be many such visitations every night, and the people who step forth to announce what they’ve heard from a motley crew of madmen, artists, avatars, rebels, and saints.
Don’t we all, at some level, want to join the outsiders? The lessons they learned took the human race down unknown roads. Their stories tear at your heart and uplift your soul.