New Delhi: NDTV: Good evening and welcome to Your Call. It's the one show on Indian television where you the viewer can ask your question directly to our special guest of the week. I am joined tonight by a man whose life is truly an extraordinary one - someone, who has been described as a prophet of alternative medicine by Time magazine; a new age superstar by others. Joining me tonight is Dr Deepak Chopra. Let's just have a look at the highlights of his life and career. You heard all the different titles I gave you in a sense in that introduction. Where do you define yourself or how do you define yourself.
Dr Chopra: You know when people ask me that question I say that I am still deciding what I will do when I grow up but as a general principle when you label yourself then you confine yourself to that label. There is a beautiful poem of Rumi that says 'if you label me and define me you will starve yourself of yourself, nail me down in a box with cold words and that box will be your coffin because I don't know who I am. I am your own voice echoing off the walls of God.' In other words stay away from labels.
NDTV: I will stay away from these labels but that's especially interesting because of course when you look back at your life and career when you began your earlier years in Delhi, you did what a good Indian boy would do. You did your St Columbus, you went to All India Institute of Medical Sciences, you ticked all the right boxes. In fact, we have some young students from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences who want to ask you questions, let's just hear what they have got to say.
Student 1 - Dr Shilpi: How are alternative therapies different from allopathy? What makes you switch from allopathy to alternative medicine?
NDTV: That lawn and that building bring back any memories?
Dr Chopra: Oh yes! Lot of nostalgia too. I would answer that question by saying let's not use the word alternative medicine because it implies that regular scientific mechanistic medicine is not good. All I have to say is that if you use the word integrative medicine then it's all inclusive. The medicine that is taught in medical schools these days is mostly what we call mechanistic medicine, it interferes with the mechanisms of illness, it doesn't look at origins of illness which have to do with our lifestyles - eating, breathing, digesting, metabolism, the way we perceive the world, personal interactions, social interactions, environment - there's a lot that goes into being a human, having a human experience. So the answer to her question is that you use regular medicines for acute illness, if you have got pneumonia, you need an antibiotic, if you break your leg, you better see an orthopedic surgeon but if you have got a chronic disease, say severe cancer, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Bronchilasthma, there are many ways in which to reverse these illnesses, actually reverse them and get rid of them.
NDTV: And, in fact, that is interesting because when you first said this over two decades ago you did have people dismissing it in some cases and now you have seen so many studies which have recently actually proven what you have said that it really does matter what your mind, what your soul are going through, it has a physical impact on illness. Tell us some of those co-relations.
Dr Chopra: Your body is made out of stardust, you are a stardust, luminous being that has come together as a confluence of space, time, light and consciousness, when you realise the intricacy of this amazing thing that you have, which is the connectivity of universe, then you start to see that everything affects this, nuances of your motions, of thoughts, of feelings, of images, of insights, of imaginations you know. If I ask you to imagine a red rose right now, do it, do you see a picture somewhere? There is an immediate brain response and there are neuro-chemicals that are released, there's a biological response, you can't have a thought without a brain representation, you can't have a brain representation without a biological representation and that biological representation, that influence is your experience of the world. So our personal relationships, our personal interactions, our environment, our thoughts, our emotions, our physical body are a single process. What medicine has done is divided this process artificially that's what we call reductionism and then you look at the little pieces of the body and try to fix it but when you fix something here there is nothing here that doesn't interact with everything else.
NDTV: And I am already smiling thinking of that red rose but the irony is I don't know if you see this everytime you come back to India that in India, at least, we seem to have forgotten a lot what you are talking about is of course based on ancient Indian wisdom, the medical practices from here, but in India, at least in urban areas, we seem to be forgetting those principles and increasingly you have seen diseases, lifestyle diseases, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure which are now common in our cities. Do you see that as ironical, that while the West may be opening up much more to holistic lifestyle, in India we are going through what they did 20 years ago?
Dr Chopra: Yes, you know just before I left President Clinton, former President Clinton initiated an eight-year-programme for the well-being of the total country because now we got data, I am a senior scientist at GALAB, we have got data that your well-being, the country's well-being in terms of health affects everything in terms of conflict, hospital admissions, economics, GDP, the status of your leader. We were monitoring literally the well-being of Libya, Tunisia, Egypt before they fell and we knew they were going to fall. We monitored at GALAB everyday the well-being of 150 countries then we can predict demographic data based on the well-being of individuals.
NDTV: What is the well-being of India?
Dr Chopra: It's not very good. On a scale of 1-100, we in India score about 13 or 14 which falls in the category of struggling to suffering but that's, of course, because it has 300 million children who go to bed malnourished, there also are a lot of adults who are malnourished so there is obesity. The paradox is that there are either people who are obese or who are starving, there are actually very few people who are balanced.
NDTV: Right, and just let's go across to another doctor that has been trying to battle some of those issues and has world class hospital for poor children as well - Dr Devi Shetty of Bangalore who has this to ask you.
Dr Devi Shetty: I have heard of personal accounts from people who mention that by the sheer power of concentration, human beings can move objects and there are accounts from people who have watched people levitating themselves above the ground just by chanting mantras or even walking on water. How is it possible?
NDTV: A traditional doctor asking you.
Dr Chopra: First of all, let me just because he is a cardiologist I think the more relevant thing to say is that we now know that ordinary artery bypass grafts most of them which we do, 200 billion dollars worth of that in the US, they do not prolong life by more than one per cent and that's a big industry, right. When we are talking about stable angina in unstable angina then yes they save lives but most people who get ordinary artery bypass grafts one per cent okay and holistic techniques which means meditation, good diet, exercise, balanced emotions, good sleep you can reverse the activity of 500 genes that influence many diseases not only coronary artery disease but many types of cancer, inflamation, so now we are in an era what we call neuro-plasticity and genetic indeterminism that is influenced by the things that I mentioned and that's much more relevant for his profession but having said that he asked about levitation...
NDTV: That's obviously his fascination.
Dr Chopra: And telekinesis, these are techniques that are mentioned in the Yogasutras of Patanjali, they are called Siddhis and they are based on three-fold process called Dhyaan, Dharna and Samadhi. So Dhyan is the progressive silencing of the mind, Dharna is in that state of choiceless awareness, introducing a subtle intention be it through a mantra or a sutra, Samadhi is a transcendence or going beyond the subject-object split and, yes, people can lift off the ground by doing this and there are three stages according to Patanjali - there's first that's called hopping, then there's floating and then there's flying. Now I have taught and learnt these techniques and you know it's very easy to get to the first stage. The second and third stage is theoretical because nobody has ever observed it but Patanjali says that if you have a critical mass of collective consciousness that's practicing these techniques then it will happen. We don't know. As far as walking on water, the only reference I have is the New Testament and we don't know if that's mythology or real history.
NDTV: In fact, I have online now another spiritual guru. I have Sadguru Jaggi ji who joins me on the line who has this question for you.
Sadguru Jaggi ji: Why didn't Deepak think of arranging a golf game for me when I was in US?
Dr Chopra: Let me know the next time and we will go out and play golf and I promise not to beat a great guru like you.
Guruji: You will have to sponsor education for the girl child.
Dr Chopra: I will be happy to do that Sadguru.
Sadguru Jaggi ji: It's really nice talking to you.
Dr Chopra: Thank you.
NDTV: Actually, I would like to ask a question Sadguruji to both you and Deepak Chopra. It is interesting how the images, the so called perceptions of what a guru or a spiritual teacher should be like have changed over the years, there's a lot of cynicism sometimes about new age gurus. How do both of you deal in different ways with that cynicism. Sadguruji perhaps you could answer that first.
Sadguru Jaggi ji: People are always talking about new age but what people need to understand is right through the history of humanity, the gurus were always contemporary, they were relevant to the people who were around them that's why people gathered around them. People will say you are a jet set guru, you drive yourself, you do this, you do that, in the ancient times yogis walked so I keep reminding them in ancient times it's not just yogis who walked, all the people also walked. Everybody was walking so they were also walking but you have heard that yogis used to fly even when people were walking. So these perceptions are like watching Ramanand Sagar movies. They have arrived at this peak, they have not had a peep into our traditions and cultures because always the gurus were relevant to the times in which they existed.
NDTV: Thanks so much for joining us. Deepak because you have heard some of that cynicism as well. I mean in India it is of course baba Bamdev and the whole question of whether they want to join politics? In India we talk about that Eastern wisdom being lost here. In India there is a healthy dose of cynicism when we talk about new age and spirituality and gurus as well.
Dr Chopra: First of all, there is a difference between cynicism and skepticism. Skepticism is good. Cynicism is unhealthy. People who are cynics die prematurely due to cardio-vascular illness. As a doctor, I can tell you.
NDTV: That's the best answer you can give.
Dr Chopra: If you're really a cynic, watch out. You're going to get hypertensional. My response to people has been a very cheesy American response. I tell them to spell the word. Spell it.
Dr Chopra: G U-R-U. The guru is the inner intelligence within you which is the ultimate and supreme genius which mirrors the wisdom of the cosmos and that's what he was talking about - human potential. So, you know, in the US there has been a human potential movement since the sixties. It started with the Vietnam War and led to the feminism movement, the ecology movement, the green movement, racial equality, civil rights movement. So, human potential is expanding your awareness so you get ahead of your limited identity whether it's racial or religious or even national.
NDTV: I think that is really interesting and, in fact, when you look at your life, your work, you have really gone beyond every kind of boundary possible. Many say it happened when you came onto the mainstream of American consciousness through television and of course your first appearance on the Oprah show when she recommended a book of yours. That in a way changed your life professionally as well.
Dr Chopra: Yeah. I remember telling Oprah, if she married me she would've been Oprah Chopra. Actually, before I went to the Oprah show, that was in 1993 by the way, I already had two national bestsellers. She kind of blew it out of the water. It was like, if you watch baseball it would be like grand slam. Went out of the ball park. So I am grateful to Oprah for that.
NDTV: What was it, you think, that drew so many celebrities like Demi Moore, Madonna, you were close to Michael Jackson. Why did you become a "celebrity guru" as some would call you?
Dr Chopra: My Indian accent.
NDTV: Yes, of course. Right nationality at the right time.
Dr Chopra: On a more serious note, extraordinarily talented people have, what I call, wisdom of insecurity. It drives them. Were it not for their insecurity they wouldn't have been where they are today. Many times I would see them because they were insecure and I would encourage them to be insecure. Even Lady Gaga, a couple of years ago, called me, with the fact that she was having nightmares and frightening dreams. I said describe them. And they were so surreal. I told her, put them on your sets, make them part of your music. And she did.
NDTV: Now she knows who to thank.
Dr Chopra: She did and she channeled that. My philosophy has always been, no matter what the situation is, no matter how chaotic, confusing, uncertain or insecure you feel, right there is a seed unfolding of some potential that you haven't looked at.
NDTV: Michael Jackson was also somebody who was close to you and spoke to you just a few days before his death. Tell us about one of the geniuses of our time and the tragic way he died because you felt very strongly about the drugs and medication that he was given.
Dr Chopra: Michael was one the most extraordinary, I would say, tortured genius soul of our time. Michael Angelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Elvis Presley, the Beatles, all of that put together, when he danced, he went into an ecstatic state and he transcended. And then tragedy happened. He had the accident and a big part of his skull was burnt. And then he fell prey to predatory doctors who not only perpetuated his addiction but also initiated his addiction. There is a cabal of doctors in Hollywood who do that. Unethical doctors, I've been calling out on them for years and years and that was basically what happened. His doctor was, in fact, indicted and found guilty of negligent homicide. But that happens all the time in Hollywood. Happens now in the whole celebrity community. It's not that they don't have to take a certain responsibility for it but it's a co-dependency. The doctor thrives on the association of a big Hollywood figure and of course makes the Hollywood figure dependent. It's a disease.
NDTV: But we talked about celebrity association and you made the point that it's actually working with talented people. I have one extremely talented man that you have had a collaboration with. And you all have won an award for that as well. Joining us now, for a brief interaction is Shekhar Kapur. Shekhar, thanks for joining us today with Deepak. It's great!
Dr Chopra: We were in New York three days ago shooting the Breeze on YouTube.
NDTV: Now in New Delhi. It's interesting to have both of you together because I know Deepak you were talking of how interested and how actively you have been working at the Occupy Wall Street movement and the commonalities you found with the Anna Hazare movement. Shekhar, you have been a very vocal supporter of that as well. Tell us about some of the common issues that come up with US capitalism and the Indian model.
Dr Chopra: It's not capitalism. It's not socialism. It's not communism. They were all idealistic visions. Its cronyism, corruption, influence peddling, and war-mongering. It's a very low consciousness that leads to that kind of corruption. The Occupy Wall Street has led into, for me, into whole a movement called "Just Capitalism" and cause driven marketing and we are doing exactly what Shekhar has done with Kyoki. At the Columbia Business School, we have created something called the Cradle of Innovation, where we ask the business school kids. They are in their eighteen, nineteen, twenty-year-old range. If you had to come up with a business plan and you had capital to support it, would you come up with something which is firstly, very visibly and transparent, has integrity, makes choices that has aligned interests, and present it to venture capitalists and they've come up with the most amazing ideas. There is so much creativity that we can actually and really put our mind to it, go to a peaceful, sustainable society. But we are not doing it because of the special interest groups. It's an aligned interest. The voters' interest is not the politicians' interest, the doctor's interest is not the patient's interest. The insurance company's interest is not the doctor's interest. It's all a misaligned interest. In fact if you bring some coherence to the interests, you will have a new society.
NDTV: Shekhar, in between shooting the Breeze, I don't know how many questions you asked Deepak Chopra but here is your chance, go ahead.
Shekhar Kapur: So Deepak, where does creativity lie? Ultimately, I feel there is an axis point beyond myself and you have been looking at this condition... where is it? Where do creative people find creativity? But my question Deepak is, that act of creation that I go into and we have often talked about this and people say and I feel that it lies beyond my brain.
Dr Chopra: Of course it's not the brain... Per second. So your brain, my brain, his brain we are downloading information to what our ancient traditions would call the akarshik field which these days some people called the zero pint energy field or what is called plank scale, scale time geometry, where everything exists as possibility, space, time, energy but also platonic values, truth, goodness, beauty, harmony, evolution, creativity. It's part of non-local process. In Upanishads, that domain is called brahmin.
NDTV: Why is India forgetting all this?
Dr Chopra: Because India is bamboozled with the superstition of physical attraction, superstition of ideas that say material things are all that is going to make you happy. India is bamboozled with the West. It's probably our puberty right now after having the wisdom of the ages, we kind of died to it and then we have to regrow and struggle with our added lessons.
NDTV: Well we have some questions from many people. Let's just go across to somebody who you call a social guru in Delhi and that's not a great thing but let's go to Suhel Seth to ask you this question.
Suhel Seth: Dr Chopra, I've read a lot of your work. I have seen you often. Dr Chopra, considering now that the guru-dump is now flowing in from the West to the East, would you call yourself a pioneer or someone who was very clever at his branding and marketing. This oriental mysticism.
Dr Chopra: I do teach courses in marketing and I do teach courses in branding as well.
NDTV: He is into marketing himself.
Dr Chopra: In my courses, I talk about brands and stories as mythical stories that appeal to the collective mindset, that appeal to the collective contradictions, paradoxes but also the collective yearning. So, his question though cynically framed, is very relevant.
NDTV: You can ask him to spell G-U-R-U sometime late.
Dr Chopra: We need to rebrand India and its wisdom. In fact, the best thing India could do, is to export its wisdom and since he asked was I was a pioneer and some people say I was, but it's time for the people to take over the battle.
NDTV: Shekhar, thanks so much for joining us and it was great to have you drop in at our show.
NDTV: It has been very fascinating talking to you Deepak Chopra as we end tonight, there will be so many Indian viewers watching this show and watching what you're saying today. What's the advice and what would you like to give to the people who are watching you in a country with so many paradoxes from malnutrition, to obesity whether they would compete with the diarrhoea killing people in villages to cancerous cities. What is the kind of advice that you would like to give to the people in India?
Dr Chopra: I think those who have some awareness should be listening to the great words of Mahatma Gandhi who said you have to be the change you want to see in the world. I would ask those who are intelligent and aware and the kind of the people who are watching this show, to ask what kind of a country I want to live in what am I going to do about it because ultimately it's only you. You have been the one who have been waiting for. We all have great potential and not be afraid of being criticized. I would've never done anything in my life if I was fearful of being criticized. Be immune to criticism and be beneath no one. What you have inside you offers the four things that I was talking about, hope, trust, ability and compassion. These are the keys for transformation.
NDTV: Deepak Chopra, thank you so much for joining us on our show.