Debate with Deepak

I’ve just been to the great Tucson Consciousness Conference where I was invited to debate with Deepak Chopra. This led me to read and watch a lot more of his work than I’d done before and I bcame increasingly upset by how he starts out with sound spiritual ideas and then ends up by urging his followers to buy his books, video game, and numerous products because ‘this is how to make money’, ‘this is the way to stay young forever’, or ‘this is how to get everything you’ve ever wanted’ and so on.

If you are interested, you can watch the video of the very last part of our debate, or read my blog in the Guardian.


Comments welcome! But please note I am guest-master for a week-long Zen retreat starting tomorrow so I won’t be able to respond until I get back.

16 Responses to “Debate with Deepak”

  1. jacques79 Says:

    If you think that classical science gives us an accurate and complete description of the world I would first recommend you to reexamine this belief carefully. Becouse if we really want to examine the problem seriously we should first distinguish
    known facts from mere belives. And – as it appears – there are some hidden assumptions and dogmas at the very core of contemporary science. Dogmas which we rarely even try to properly examine and challenge.

    So, what’s the present situation? First: there’s more and more evidence that science itself doesn’t give us knowledge about facts that are independent from consciousness or observer whatsoever. This is a crucial fact but often ignored and concealed. In fact we have more and more evidence – from various disciples, from physics to psychology and psychosomatic medicine – supporting non-materalist causation.
    Namely: evidence and data that cannot be fuly understood in purely mechanistic or materialistic terms. Some of the hardest evidences – and that some of you may find surprising – come from the modern physics that simply DENIES existence of consciousness – independent reality.

    According to prof. Russel so called “hard problem” is indeed a problem for those who belive in the old paradigm of science, that there’s an objective, consciousness – independed reality and that science describes that reality accurately. But looks like this old paradigm is now breaking down. Instead of asking “how consciousness arises in the world of ‘things'” we should rather ask: “how the world of ‘things’ arises in consciousness”! To some of you it may sounds more like methaphysics but in fact it isn’t. There is more and more evidence supporting this new paradigm. Science doesn’t explain “objective reality” any longer – it describes structures within Consciousness itself! And that’s a huge diffrence! If this claim is really true – and looks like it is – no one can overestimate its various implications.

    In this brilliant and mind-blowing(and very funny by the way!:) lecture profesor Russel describes these ideas in details:

    And there’s another video with speech of dr. H. Stapp who explains why modern physics simply doesn’t work without implement of consciousness and describes the way it enters into phisical configuration or system:

    What is particularly interesting is that we are finding now quite similar pararels in other disciplines like modern cognitive psychology. Is it accidental or is there something that eye doesn’t meet in the first place? Evidently there’s an EMPIRICAL GAP that can be coherently and reasonably covered only with the ingriendient of consciousness. Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz discusses that problem widely using the example of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) which he successfully cures with help of mindfulness techniques. He also strongly advocates for change in materialistic paradigm and introduce non materialistic causation (consciousness) as a part of natural reality and our understanding of it.

    Indeed, there are also some inconvenient truths behind the scenes about some part of scientific estabilishment strongly advocating for purely materialistic vision of human:

    And the last one. In this video Deepak Chopra reveals his opinion on the problem of mind – body duality. His conclusion sounds pretty similar to the teachings of the mystics and modern physics discoveries:

    So what are my conclusions? My conclusion is that we are witnessing now a major shift in scientific paradigm, a shift that may turn our understanding of science and reality upside down. Science has to change but it’s going to be possitive change I think: we’ll no longer be “strangers” to this world, we’ll no longer perceive oursleves as some sort of passive “pieces of meat” in the unconscious Universe “doing its stuff” (as Sue often puts it). Instead, we will start perceiving ourselves as a part of natural reality. And even more then that: we will start perceiving ourselves and our inherent consciousness as active co-creators of that reality. If this is all true it’s really hard to overestimate various implications of the new paradigm to many different disciplines, from psychology to cosmology and even theology (yes, I’m not afraid to use this word!). That I think would be also a marker of major shift in human consciousness: maybe we are growing up to the next level of consciousness!? 🙂

    I think we are, but first we’ll be spectators of “wars” and “battles” with the old guard looking after the old materialistic paradigm. Old paradigm that see us more like creatures then like the active co- creators of the Universe.

    But time will come, sooner or later when we put reductionist science in its proper pace and see things from a new perspective. Like in this famous Thomas Eliot’s poem:

    “We shall not cease from exploration
    And the end of all our exploring
    Will be to arrive where we started
    And know the place for the first time.”

  2. jacques79 Says:

    “Scientists tend to make matter primary and cannot explain how a physical brain creates subjective experiences.” – well, look again carefully Susan becouse it now looks that this paradigm is sinking and it’s sinking thanks to the science itself. There’s no matter “outside” of consciousness indeed. Regards!

  3. jacques79 Says:

    “Brain Wars: The Scientific Battle Over the Existence of the Mind and the Proof That Will Change the Way We Live Our Lives” (Mario Beauregard). This book is truly an eye opening lecture. It shows also what this “war” is really about. Reccomend to you all.

  4. jacques79 Says:

    And for those “brain – confessors” who are SURE that consciousness ESSENTIALLY cannot influence so-called matterial reality, I’d first recommend H. Stapp’s (leading scientist on the field of quantum mechanics) book “Mindful Universe”.

    I also deeply agree with the last sentence of this book:

    “The falseness of that deviation of science (the classical ideal of a mechanical universe) must be made known, and heralded, because human beings are not likely to endure in a society ruled by a conception of themselves that denies the very essence of their being.”

  5. jacques79 Says:

    I tell you people don’t worry about all these neuro – theologists who try to make you belive that all that exist and matters is that piece of meat in your skull and chemical compounds it is made of. They have no idea what they are talikng about.

    If you really want to hear something valuable and illuminating about consciousness I’ll recommend you teachers like Colin Sisson or Eckhart Tolle. There’s big and interesting world outside, outside materialistic science and its stuffy, narrow minded dogmas.

  6. tenzenbookblog Says:

    Oh dear. I don’t think you have any idea what I am talking about. You seem to have a very odd idea of science and how it operates, and a fixed notion of what scientists must believe.
    “Stuffy and narrow-minded dogmas”? This is the reverse of the scientific appraoch which is to be open-minded and sceptical and to try to find out the truth.

  7. Ian Glendinning (@psybertron) Says:

    Hi Sue, I am neutral as to whether Deepak is a “snake oil salesman” or genuine – but agree that his “urging” towards material wealth is a strange focus for enlightenment. I do agree however that achieving wealth and power is not something to be ashamed of, and what really matters is the balance of collateral damage and your intent for putting it to use. (I’m never sure whether disingenuity really is the problem or simply the fact that “we” – as the debate says – are suspended in subject-object language.)

    On the substantive content, your “neutral monism” is where I find myself. But to generalise, I do believe “science” does miss the significance of this, in terms of it’s own non-scientific foundation – metaphysics. Carlo Rovelli puts it well over at The Edge.

    Sure, the actual “laws of nature” do apply to everything – physical things that arise from the monism as well as the mental things, however much these have illusory or ephemeral aspects. The problem is those laws (as known contingently, sceptically, open-mindedly, at any time) are part of our mental conception of the world (memeplexes in fact). Science is guilty of building its models (even the ones it verifies empirically) on top of the physical, and forgetting the neutral monad underlying it. It’s Dennett’s “greedy reductionism” in reverse – assuming the mental can be explained in terms of the physical, just because your theory can model it that way. The physical arises, just the same as the mental arises – they’re “made of” the same stuff.

    Ironically – I accused science of being “narrow minded” in overlooking this when I commented on Carlo Rovelli.

  8. Psybertron Asks Says:

    […] for his mystical agenda – inflamed by his wealth-making activities. One particular commenter on Ten Zen, amidst a string of incoherent rants against Sue – against accepted scientific views – […]

  9. peeked Says:

    Hi Sue-
    Just read you blog on your battle with Deepockets Chopra. Well done. I tried to watch the video on youtube, but it did not work. I used to scan Deepocket’s work, before he became popular, but he started whoring himself out in the 90’s and made himself irrelevant to me.

    You say “Chopra’s version of spirituality makes consciousness primary but cannot explain how consciousness creates matter.”

    I hold consciousness as primary, and I see it this way: Consciousness imagines matter. Everything in this universe that has consciousness shares the same dream of matter, space, time, death… the whole ball o’ wax.
    Then most of us dream we have separate identities, and hilarity ensues.

    Abide in coolness,

  10. peeked Says:

    I fixed my software problem and watched the video. How did that make you feel when he stood in front of you pointing his finger?

    It looked pretty aggressive to me. And self righteous. And self important. A big show of alpha male ego. He reminded me of the surgeon who operated on my mother. My sister and I had some questions about quality of life issues and the risks of a major surgery for a woman nearly 80 years old. The surgeon stands up in front of us, raises his voice and starts doing an aggressive sales close on the importance of this surgery. Some of what he said did not even make sense, and I have some medical background so I saw it as B.S. but my mother got sold by his confidence and certainty, so she made her decision to get the surgery before I could arrange for a second opinion.

    She had a devastating stroke after surgery and the cancer that the surgeon removed has since returned. We found out AFTER the surgery from another doctor what a high risk of stroke she had, and we found out AFTER the surgery that the cancer will USUALLY return unless the patient undergoes radiation and chemo therapy after surgery. Both of which my mother definitely did not want to do. She’s steadily deteriorated in nursing care facility with very low quality of life.

    Sorry to carry on about that. I got triggered I guess, but when I see Deepockets getting all self righteous and self important in front of you, I see a man in denial of his shadow, and his towering ego.

    Deepak- When you reach pure awareness you will have no problems, therefore there will be no need for solutions.
    Joe Rogan- If you reach pure awareness and someone kicks you in the balls you still have problems.

  11. F Gerard Lelieveld Says:

    Irrespective of the content of the debate, this video is interesting study material for people in relationships.The woman starts by finding fault with the man. The dominant male reacts by taking a purposely relaxed stand and giving a convincing argument. The discussion drifts off and becomes complex. The man gives the woman a simple question that is interpretable as critique. In reaction the woman takes an agressive stand (a zen answer, she might explain later). The man backs off.

    You can imagine her fists would have hit the target when there was no audience around. That’s how it usually goes in relationhip quarrels. Only a Buddha could be able to handle such intense female energy, by staying quiet, but then there would be no sex.

  12. tenzenbookblog Says:

    It’s hard to remember how I felt but I think it was a mixture of confusion and fear. I remember saying to myself ‘just stay present and listen’ which I did. I was also quite amused by the way he seemed to be trying to tower over me when he is really very short. Later on, when he began asking about self, I was just a bit annoyed. It was a cheap trick – hence, I suppose, my leaping up like that. There seemed to be nothing to say, so maybe that’s why I leapt rather than spoke.

  13. tenzenbookblog Says:

    I wonder whether they would?? The action was purely spontaneous. I do not remember thinking about it or planning it in any way. It felt like ‘You want to know who I am – well this is me’.
    Anyway – an interesting analysis.

  14. Nando Ronteltap Says:

    For some bizarre reason you destroy and suppress knowledge that has a logic of alternatives and decision (freedom), favoring instead a logic of cause and effect (force). This you call being scientific and skeptical about things.

    No, solely creationism is right science, in distinghuising objectivity relevant to what is chosen, and subjectivity relevant to what chooses.

    Those scientists who have not distinghuished objectivity from subjectivity, as you fail to do, have been social darwinists and the like, and are in essence pseudo scientists bringing infamy to science.

  15. tenzenbookblog Says:

    I can destroy knowledge? That would indeed be bizarre!

  16. juanitezpaz Says:

    This is really funny. People getting in the Ring to fight a mind game. Who has the appropriate argument, who´s mind is the more clever one?

    John Lennons song “mind games” says it all:

    We’re playing those mind games together
    Pushing the barriers, planting seeds
    Playing the mind guerrilla
    Chanting the mantra, peace on earth
    We all been playing those mind games forever
    Some kinda druid dudes lifting the veil
    Doing the mind guerrilla
    Some call it magic, the search for the grail
    Love is the answer and you know that for sure
    Love is a flower, you got to let it, you got to let it grow …

    But in the end mind is mind is mind. And no one can “win” an argument becuase who´se mind will be the judge. Mind is thought itself and thought cannot be neutral. The eastern philosophies put it right when they say that mind itself is the dis-ease. So what to do? Avoid mind? Then how to discuss. Nevertheless sometimes it looks like Chopra is winding like a worm constantly trying to justify his way of life. Why would anyone try to justify and explain him/herself if he is sure to be right? One thing is certain for me: why delay to become free, why delay to be Peace? This is true wealth and everything comes after.

    But it is only a big joke, and it seems that we are lost in a linguistic dream. Lost in words, definitions, symbols. Philosophy is the dream in which we have lost ourselves taking it as a substitute for the real world.

    Just keep on moving in Zen and everything will simply transcend into compassion for those who still try and struggle.

    “To see that I am emptiness (no mind) is knowledge, to see that I am everything is love.” Nisargadatta Maharaj

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