Posts Tagged ‘deepak chopra’

The promo for Thursday night’s Nightline on ABC caught my attention: “Does Satan Exist?” Face-Off. The debate line up featured Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Deepak Chopra, Bishop Carlton Pearson, and some girl who founded Hookers for Jesus (no, seriously). I’ve been an admirer of Carlton Pearson and have blogged about his departure from evangelicalismbefore. I’ve also made no secret my support of Deepak Chopra in many blog posts. It was sure to be a dust up, so I watched.

The problem is there were only teaser clips from the most heated parts of the debate and neither view was given any length of time to be properly explored. I thought Deepak came across as angry most of the time, but I guess that comes with the territory when you’re on defense in a church full of people who think you are the anti-Christ. The Hookers for Jesuschick really needs some therapy, in my opinion. I thought Carlton Pearson was graceful as always. Mark Driscoll came across as a guy trying to get PR for himself and his church, who happened to host the event and pass out fliers to the attendees as they were leaving.

I think the unedited full length debate is far more informative than the 30 minute commericial-filled show, but overall I think it was a desperate ratings ploy for the dying Late Night news variety show. Just put Jimmy Kimmel on at 11:30pm est already!!!

Oh, as to the question of whether “Does Satan Exist?”, my answer is emphatically, “No!” I gave up on that a few years ago, along with sin, hell, and neurotic religion-induced guilt. I’m free!  I suppose most people would want a little more substantive explanation, but I really don’t have the intellectual energy to spend on the subject at the moment. Here’s my short take on it:

  • “Satan” is a means of avoiding personal responsibility for your own issues
  • “Satan” is a strained attempt to come to grips with the problem of human suffering
  • “Satan” is another means of religion using fear to manipulate people

The oft used excuse was used in the show a couple times that “The best thing Satan could do is to convince people he doesn’t exist” or some equivalent thereof. That’s a fairly weak argument. Deepak said that a belief in Satan was “primitive,” which got a rouse out of Mark Driscoll who accused Chopra of belittling believers. The point is that believing in Satan is literally one of the most “primitive” beliefs in human history, and its equivalent can be found in the oldest of all religions in ancient history. It’s akin to animal sacrifice, superstitions, etc.

The other argument made in the show was that you cannot believe Satan does not exist and believe that God DOES exist, that you cannot have one without the other. Therein is a slippery slope upon which few will dare to tread. It is my belief that the fundamentalist dogmatic view of God is dead as well as Satan, but that’s a whole other blog post or two or three or a hundred.

I recently finished reading Why is God Laughing? by Deepak Chopra with a foreward from Mike Myers. The book peaked my interest because I saw an episode of Iconoclast featuring both of them together some time ago. The book is also ficiton.  A comic comes to grips with the death of his father and all of the big questions that haunt us with the help of a spiritual mentor of sorts. Both characters seem like alter egos of both Chopra and Myers interestingly enough. I recommend the book as an easy, entertaining, and enlightening book. At the end of the book there is a section called “The Path to Joy: Ten Principles of Spiritual Optimism,” which I enjoyed as much if not more than the whole book. One section made me think more than usual:

Can a loving God  really supply us with life’s good things one day and pain the next? Most people who feel grateful to God tend to deny that he is also responsible for disease, calamity, and death. yet an all-knowing, all-powerful diety can’t be responsible for only part of what goes on. Either he sustains everything or nothing.

The way to escape from living under a God who brings pleasure one day and pain the next is to realize that God isn’t a person. We only call God “he” because our minds resist thinking of God as a total abstraction. In truth, being total, God has to be abstract. you can’t wrap your mind around the All. Instead, we wrap our minds around the things we notice, and choose to believe in.

I’m not really sure what to do with God anymore, as I’m sure he doesn’t know what to do with me either, assuming either of us are really real. This thought provoking excerpt challenges the assumptions that I grew up with. I have never read or heard Deepak say anything that would disavow the existence or presence of God in our lives, but he regularly challenges our preconceived ideas in order to stretch our imaginations. To think of God as a person like us completely baffles my mind. If he is a person like us, he is either powerless, ignorant, or a bigger prick than anyone can fathom. The problem of human suffering is one of the biggest hurdles to the argument of an all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving God. K + P + L ≠ G in any conceivable way to me. Evangelicals reconcile the problem by blaming us for our own misery, i.e. sin. I don’t have the time nor the stomach to go down the road refuting apologetics at the moment. Suffice it to say that most of the classical theological positions don’t measure up to science, common sense, or even common decency that one would expect from an all-loving God. It seems that many of the problems I have and maybe others is that we think of God as a person and try to force our expectations and assumptions upon that image. 

In both this book and others Deepak talks about God as the All, the unifying force creating and sustaining everything we know as reality (my words not his). That helps me to think about God in a different way, albeit more distanced. I’m still not sure if I believe in a unifying force in the world that we tap into, ignore, or abuse at our peril, anymore than I do the Judeo-Christian view that many of us were raised with. The jury’s still out on the subject for me, but I appreciate being challenged to think about God in a different way before giving up on the idea altogether.

Set your DVR’s now. The Sundance Channel is featuring Mike Myers and Deepak Chopra together on “Iconoclasts” this week, Thursday night at 10pm/9pm central.

“All relationship is a mirror to the self. Those whom you are deeply attracted to or repelled by are both mirrors of you. You are attracted to those in whom you find traits that you already have but want more of, and you are repelled by those in whom you find traits that you deny in yourself.”Deepak Chopra, Power, Freedom, and Grace

I didn’t agree with this when I first read it. I thought about the people who “repel” me, to be polite. No way, I’m not like them. After I continued reading and began thinking about specific traits in people that attract and repel me, I think he’s right.

  • What are some of those traits in people that attract me to them?  I enjoy being around people who are inquisitive, creative, independent, humble, selfless, positive, and enjoyable.
  • Those traits in others that repel me? I loathe people who are judgemental, narrow-minded, critical, elitist, negative, and sour in disposition.

I would like to think that I find some of those positive qualities in myself. I certainly hope that they increase, but I have a hard time confronting those darker qualities in me, “my shadow,” as Chopra calls it. Truthfully, while I have come a long way, I can look back and see many of those darker elements in my life history, and from time to time they try to raise their head and have their way with me again.

How does recognizing these familiar traits in others impact your relationship with them? First of all, it goes a long way to breaking down the walls in “us vs. them.” He may be a sorry, terrible, no good son of a bitch, but he’s really not all that different from me. When I was still pastoring churches, the phrase I used often to keep from judging others was “there for the grace of God go I.” Especially, when I worked with inmates for years in the state prison, I recognized that there was only one wrong decision between where they were and myself. Strangely, I often felt more in common with some of those inmates than the people in the churches that I pastored. That’s the subject for a whole other post, but mostly I identified with the inmates because their weaknesses were on display. There was no pretense about perfection, as there was on Sunday morning at church.

If I recognize those “repulsive” traits in others as being similar to those tendencies in me, I am less likely to judge and more likely to empathize with them. In doing so I come closer to accepting myself with all of my faults and shortcomings. I shared this other quote from Chopra’s book as a comment to a friend’s post earlier today: “Self-acceptance, total self-acceptance, means self-forgiveness. When you forgive yourself and stop judging yourself, then you won’t judge others, and there will be less conflict in the world.”

Now it seems we are digging close to the heart of the matter and must tread softly. Our ego’s are a many fragile thing, to turn a phrase. One of the compulsive reasons we have for judging others is that we do not accept ourselves. Chopra urges us to “embrace your shadow, understand your shadow, forgive your shadow.” I have come to believe that the driving force behind dogmatists that are bent on making everyone agree with them is that they are very insecure and need the agreement of others to reinforce their own shallow ego’s.

If we enlightened moderate types can be honest with ourselves, we too crave the agreement of others. We all need and want affirmation from others. I’d love to have ten comments to this post from people telling me that they relate to what I’m saying and support my opinion, but self-acceptance means that I am at peace within myself whether or not people agree or disagree with me. It means that my self-worth is no longer dependent on winning others over to my side. Dialogue and debate can be good and healthy. There’s nothing wrong with having different opinions, sharing them, or defending them, but there is a huge difference in conceding a point versus picking up a gun and killing your neighbor over it.

The greatest battles today rage inside the heart of man. The secret to peace in the world isn’t that everyone relinquish their positions and embrace uniformity. Perhaps the secret to peace in the world is that we learn to embrace ourselves.

“Whatever relationships you have attracted in your life at this moment, are precisely the ones you need in your life at this moment. There is a hidden meaning behind all events, and this hidden meaning is serving your own evolution.” ~ Deepak Chopra 

Life has taught me again and again both the immeasurable value and incredible frailty of relationships. Flipping through the scrapbook of our memories there are fading photographs that grow more precious with every turning page. Our hearts are warmed with thankfulness for each life who has touched our own.

People enter our stage and dance a while, some for a song and some for a night. Today we take a picture of this moment and see new faces and familiar friends. The company of lovers and the laughter of children are sweet. This is a day unto itself not to be enjoyed the same again. For each soul who touches mine today, for each soul my own might touch, I give thanks and listen.