By Ajay Ahuja May 2000 Bestselling author, leading exponent of Indian spirituality in the West and a pioneer of mind-body health, Dr Deepak Chopra is the most easily recognised New Age ideologue 10 Ways to reverse the ageing processAfter his Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, people expect Deepak Chopra to dole out lists and ways and tips. He had one ready at the Delhi talk.1. Change your perception of your physical body. Your body is a field of information and energy. This field is constantly influenced by breathing, eating, digestion, metabolism, elimination, and how we experience the world through our five senses. Also, how we metabolise that through our inner world of thought, feeling, emotion and desire.2. Change your perception of time. If you can do that, you can accomplish much more—because you are creative, not stressed. You can do a lot more if you can sit back, become non-reactive, and see the world as if for the first time. Lord Shiva, the first yogi, said: ‘If you want to create a new body, step out of the river of memory and conditioning, and see the world as if for the first time.’ He said: ‘I use memory, but I do not allow memory to use me.’ Now change your perception of time, you have all the time in the world. Time is the movement of consciousness—put your attention on that, it’s timeless. And what is timeless? Not the human body, not the human mind, but the soul.3. Change your perception of ageing itself. To grow old is to be wiser. To grow old is to have more responsibility. To grow old is to change your inner dialogue from ‘me, mine’ to ‘What can I do? How can I help?’ And as you change your perception of ageing, your biology will change. Those are the three most important things.4. Keep active, exercise.5. Improve mind-body coordination through yoga, breathing techniques, martial arts.6. Get rid of the toxicity in your life—toxic emotions, relationships, habits.7. Pay attention to literature—on nutritional supplements, ayurveda and all these great rasayanas, which are some of the great anti-oxidants known that directly affect the ageing process.8. Learn to be flexible. Vedanta says: ‘Infinite flexibility is the secret of immortality.’ Studies show that the primary thing that distinguishes healthy older people from those less healthy, is the ability to be flexible.9. Make love the most important thing in life. To understand our ‘inter-beingness in the inter-isness’, to understand love not as a mere emotion or sentiment, but as the ultimate truth at the heart of creation.10. Be aware of your mortality, because in the awareness of mortality is the glimpse of immortality. Be aware that death is stalking you in every moment of your existence. And once one becomes aware of that, one’s life becomes magical. Because now one’s priorities are not the same. There’s a traffic jam outside Delhi’s Talkatora Stadium, the venue for a talk by Deepak Chopra, one evening in early summer. After an inordinately long wait—the discomfort compounded by the enervating heat—the traffic clears up, and it’s possible to proceed and find parking space. Outside the venue, a throng of believers, socialites and admirers of the New Age guru is being guided by uniformed security personnel towards the entrance. At a makeshift stall are displayed copies of Chopra’s books, including his latest, How to Know God. The line-up of parked cars extends half-a-kilometre on Shankar Road, running over the ridge. Inside, the air is pungent with the odour of perfumes and colognes, as obviously well-heeled ladies and gents, often accompanied by their hip-hop teenage wards, move through the aisles looking for dwindling seating space in the already crowded auditorium. Are they here for the teaching? Or because it’s a social event? Suddenly, Deepak Chopra, dressed in an immaculate grey suit, enters from the front of the hall. He steps into the VIP gallery facing the podium, and is immediately surrounded by fans. Soon, a television crew corners him for an impromptu interview. Somewhat imposingly built, with suspiciously black hair and bushy eyebrows, Chopra looks the genial ‘neighbour-next-door’. Yet, by the time he takes the cordless microphone, the auditorium is packed to capacity, and even the aisles are crowded with invitees unable to find seating-space. ‘What I’m going to share with you is part of our cultural and spiritual heritage. It’s nothing new. So what you’ve really done is brought me here to remind yourselves of something that you already know.’ With this unexpected, but perspicacious, comment, he begins. His voice, rising and falling like the ebb and flow of the tide, resonates through the spacious hall as he recounts the contribution of India to world civilisation through the ages, in different fields of knowledge and activity. ‘India is the only country that, in 10,000 years, hasn’t invaded another country. Of course, it has invaded culturally. For centuries, it ruled South-East Asia, China, Japan through its mind, culture, science, cosmology and philosophy. Until the 17th century, India was the richest country in the world. There was no confusion about spirituality and materialism going together, because our Vedic tradition says that the four goals of life are artha (money), kama (desire), dharma (duty) and moksha (enlightenment).’ Facts and figures flow fast and furious at this stage. Some 6,000 years ago (he continues), when the rest of the world was living as nomadic tribes in dense forests, we had the Indus Valley civilization—with architecture, music, navigation, irrigation, and the art of government. The West talks of Machiavelli; what about Kautilya or Chanakya? Aryabhata was the first to suggest in the 5th century AD that the earth moves around the sun, not the other way round. ‘The world calls it the Copernican revolution; it should be called the Aryabhatan revolution,’ declares Chopra. And though the world calls Marconi the discoverer of wireless communication, it’s now recognised by scientists that actually Jagdish Chandra Bose was the pioneer of wireless. ‘India gave to the world the mother of all languages: Sanskrit. Recently, Forbesmagazine wrote that as we move from information technology to the technology of artificial intelligence, Sanskrit will be the language of the computer industry.’ Having struck an immediate rapport with his listeners, giving them a dose of collective self-esteem, by the time Chopra concludes this part of his address, the audience is sold on him. A gift for oratory and flair for words, coupled with a thorough grounding in the Indian tradition has helped him reach where he has. Chopra, the elder of two sons, was born into an ‘extremely Westernised’ family in New Delhi in 1947. ‘We didn’t notice anything exceptional about him,’ his father, Dr (Col) Krishan Chopra, a leading cardiologist, admits, ‘but Deepak was a gifted child.’ Wisdom in hindsight, perhaps? Once, while going out, his father, who had two cars parked outside, asked three-year-old Deepak: ‘Which car would you like us to use this evening?’ Deepak replied: ‘These are your cars. Take the one you like. When I grow up, earn a lot of money, I’ll buy a big car.’ Precocious confidence? In Pune, Chopra Sr decided to take his two sons, along with their friends, to the circus. However, Deepak, then four, refused: ‘I’m watching the birds and trees.’ His father told him that it would soon become dark. Deepak replied: ‘Then I’ll look at the stars.’ Intimations of immortality? As a senior student in Delhi’s St Columbus School, Deepak was a good writer and an eloquent speaker. He wanted to be a journalist. However, later he changed his mind, qualified and got admission to AIIMS. His is a family of doctors, after all (uncle H.K. Chopra and brother Sanjiv are also doctors). But Deepak, says his father, was never one to follow the beaten track, not for long. While still at AIIMS, he saw the flaws in mainstream medicine. Once, he said: ‘I thought that they would talk about health, but they talk only about disease.’ It was probably the beginning of his disenchantment with the traditional mould of modern medicine. And a rediscovery of India. ‘Today, India is poised to contribute to the world in a way that, even with all its contribution in the past, it has not done so far. With its emerging domination of information technology, it will be an economic power in a world where economic, not military power will prevail.’ The biggest resources of wealth and power (says Chopra) are not outside, but in the human mind. As we have evolved, the sources of power and wealth have shifted. When we were hunter-gatherers, the only response humans had was to run or fight—we survived, but became experts at the fight-flight response. Seeking to protect ourselves against predators, we have become the predator. Homo sapiens is the only animal that kills its own kind, and most often in the name of God; that is ethnocentric, racist, bigoted and prejudiced; that goes to war; and that is destroying the ecological balance, the nurturing that we receive from Mother Earth. Yet, the human animal is the only one that asks himself questions like: ‘Where did I come from? What am I doing here? Is there any meaning or purpose to my existence? What happens to me after I die? Do I have a soul? Does God exist? And if God exists, does He care about me?’ We are indeed a paradoxical species. And now we are faced with a choice: either we go the way of the predator, and risk our extinction like all predators, or
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