Tag Archives: cosmos

Deepak Chopra and Ayurvedic Healing

I woke up to woo in my email this morning. Well intentioned woo, but woo nonetheless.

I am coming to appreciate the view others take, when it comes to woo, even though I don’t agree with it. When it comes to Deepak Chopra, there isn’t much I do agree with. He has embraced a radical view that claims quantum mechanics is behind everything. I guess that’s where we part ways. I accept that quantum mechanics describes the interactions of particles in the atomic realm very very accurately. However, it is a huge presumption and leap of misunderstanding to attempt to go from atoms obeying the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, to saying that the cells in our body think.

Chopra proposes Ayurvedic as the cure-all for disease. While there are facts that support the value of a positive outlook, happiness, interactions with people who support you and even meditation, the facts point to chemicals and neurological responses, and there is no evidence that supports this beautiful fairy tale of quantum mechanical consciousness.

The Ayurvedic Perspective on Healing

In ayurveda, a level of total, deep relaxation is the most important precondition for curing any disorder. The underlying concept is that the body knows how to maintain balance unless thrown off by disease; therefore, if one wants to restore the body’s own healing ability, everything should be done to bring it back into balance. It is a very simple notion that has profound consequences. Ayurveda is commonly classified as a system of medicine, but you could also call it a system for curing delusions, for stripping away the convincing quality of disease and letting a healthier reality take its place.

So, it appears you can strip away delusion, with more delusion. I’m taking notes.

The first and most important step in healing is trying not to be so convinced by disease. As long as you are convinced by your symptoms, you are caught up in a reality where “being sick” is the dominant input. The reason why meditation is so important is that it leads the mind to a “free zone” that is not touched by disease. Meditation takes the mind out of its boundaries and exposes it to an unbounded state of consciousness. Until you know that such a place exists, your disease will seem to be taking over completely. This is the principal delusion that needs to be shattered.

I see, if we pretend hard enough that there is no disease, it will magically go away. I disagree with the presumption that if meditation is beneficial, it can be attributed to quantum mechanics. Sure, reducing stress has profound effects on the body and its own ability to repair itself. But, there are limits. I also take umbrage with the claim that anyone has unbounded consciousness. I would love to control things with my mind, but show me some evidence in a controlled test. More delusion.

When you “pay attention” to something, you shift from passive to active awareness.

I agree with this. What do you know!

In ayurveda, each and every symptom of disease, from a minor neck pain to a full-blown cancer, is under the control of attention. At first the symptoms may be as subtle as a slight uneasiness or discomfort, but if we ignore them, the body may try to get our attention by speaking more loudly. For example, if we have been feeling tired but push through our fatigue, perhaps with the help of caffeine or other stimulants, we block our body’s innate healing abilities.

Basically, I agree with this, if you took away the flowery new-age verbiage. Treating the symptom doesn’t fix anything. We should pay more attention to early warnings and signs and take better care of ourselves, mentally and physically.

Ayurveda teaches us to become aware of the subtle signs of imbalance: a digestive problem that comes and goes, a slight muscle ache that persists, a lack of restful sleep. The goal is to listen carefully to what our bodies are trying to tell us and take appropriate action to restore balance and reestablish the healthy flow of energy and information throughout the body. We have only to point ourselves back to our being, and nature will heal us. This paradigm, which is gaining increasing acceptance in the world of modern Western medicine, is based on the following ten assumptions:

  1. The physical world, including our body, is a reflection of our perceptions, thoughts, and feelings. There is no objective reality “out there” that is independent of the observer. Instead, we create our bodies as we create our experience of the world.
  2. Although the physical body seems to be solid matter, it actually is composed of energy and information. Quantum physics tells us that every atom is 99.9999 percent empty space, and the subatomic particles speeding at lightning speed through this space are bundles of vibrating energy. These vibrations aren’t random or chaotic, but are carrying information along specific patterns.
  3. The mind and body are inseparable. There is one single creative intelligence that can express itself as our thoughts – as well as the molecules of our cells, tissues, and organs.
  4. Our consciousness creates the biochemistry of the body. Our beliefs, thoughts, and emotions direct the chemical reactions that take place in every single cell.
  5. Perception is a learned phenomenon. The way we experience the world and our body is learned behavior. By changing our perceptions, we can change our experience of the body and world.
  6. In every moment, impulses of intelligence are creating our body. By changing the patterns of these impulses, we can change ourselves.
  7. Although to the ego-mind, we seem separate and independent, we are all part of a universal intelligence that governs the cosmos.
  8. Time is not absolute. What we call linear time is simply a reflection of how we perceive change. In fact, time is eternal and changeless. If we can begin to perceive the changeless, time as we know it will cease to exist and we will experience immortality.
  9. Our essential nature is pure being. Although we are used to seeing ourselves as personality, ego, and body, our true Self is eternal and unbounded.
  10. Since our essence is immortal and changeless, we do not have to become victims of aging, sickness, and death. These are caused by gaps in our self-knowledge and the centuries-old delusion that our bodies are material. As ayurveda teaches, any disorder can be prevented if we can maintain balance in the body, mind, and spirit.

Where to start?

  1. This is a strong, anthropic interpretation of quantum mechanics. That on a macroscopic level we have some control over things that happen 15 orders of magnitude beneath us. A bit of a stretch. Pure philosophy.
  2. Quantum mechanics most certainly does not tell us that particles are vibrating bundles of energy. String theory does, and it is also more math than science. String theory remains an option, but is as of yet unproven. I’d personally like this to be true, or as Smolin discusses in his book on quantum gravity, we may live in a discrete universe where there are limits on how small space can be divided. He posits that at the nodes where discrete Planck volumes touch, information or history of events occurs, but there are no fundamental things in this realm. Perhaps the emperor truly has no clothes, but this is a philosophy discussion until we can collect evidence or support such a far out proposition.
  3. I can separate your mind from your body. LOL. I do get the holistic view to treating the body as an organism, not as discrete parts. I think Chopra should include the bacteria we symbiotically live with, that outnumbers us 10 to 1.
  4. I disagree with the term ‘creates’. Our actions to affect our body’s biochemistry. Okay, what next?
  5. Fine. This assumption doesn’t add much. I think we are getting to the good stuff.
  6. Woo-speak that doesn’t go beyond the previous assumption.
  7. Ah ha! Now we get to a big unfounded claim, that there is a universal intelligence governing the universe. Just who are our overlords? Why, silly, it’s us! We create reality. Geesh! This is most certainly a philosophy that you either accept or don’t because this can’t be proven. Some degree of self-organization can be attributed to the universe, given our natural laws and initial conditions. If we take the human being as an example, we are systems of our parts, leading to a whole. This includes us, our bacteria, our environment, our mental state… sure. We are parts of families and cities and countries and a planet. The universe evolves and we are parts within. So all these groups are complex systems, and by that account cities have an intelligence and so does the cosmos, although I question our ability to influence it significantly.
  8. Time is eternal and changeless. What is that based on? Oh, I see, you are selling ticket to immortality. Awesome! The bullshit meter has pegged.
  9. Again, we are eternal and unbounded. Fine, but our specific intelligence is not eternal and unbounded. We really have no evidence we control much aside from a few things in our immediate vicinity. Show me the spirit, Chopra, show me the spirit!
  10. Great, we can have an affect on the cosmos, since our atoms will eventually be recycled. But every proton is identical to every other proton, we can’t change that.

These may seem like vast assumptions, but they are rooted in the findings of modern quantum physics. I want to encourage you to see that you are much more than your limited body, ego and personality. At the deepest level, your body is ageless and your mind is timeless. Once you identify with this reality, you have unlimited freedom to create greater health, joy, and whatever else you wish to bring into the world.

Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. His philosophy is very well thought out, and quite convoluted, but comparing this new-age pablum to L. Ron Hubbard or Joseph Smith, it is a milder hallucination. In the old west, people were conned by snake oil salesmen. They also sold immortality and cure-alls for profit. Today, the new age language takes a smattering of technical lingo to see their elixirs. Listen to Coast to Coast AM and you will hear less polished insanity about quantum consciousness, our souls and how our pure beings are made of energy and transcend time and space. Same old woo, different ribbon. The difference is how much Chopra gets paid to convince people to buy his philosophy. When he has results from double-blind clinical trials, or he can definitively show someone getting better from an incurable disease, I’ll give this a second look.

Please let me point you to someone with a much better philosophy. Have a great day!