Chopra, Spiritual Escapism & Fantasy—Charmed Myths & Feel-Good Prose Don’t Lead to Enlightenment
Deepak Chopra's original success stemmed from his strong talent for creative writing and bringing together Eastern philosophy and healing methods with Western Medicine.
Chopra's work tends to be more appealing to those who like their spiritual concepts to read in a more obscure yet poetic fashion, including folk-tales and fables.
We respect his early work and like that he has been instrumental in introducing Eastern spirituality to many Westerners, but feel he's gone off on a totally different path. We miss the old Chopra.
Chopra's current approach appears to be targeting an audience with a thirst for "spiritual romance" and escapism, a lack of understanding of or a refusal to acknowledge the dynamics of karma and personal fate, and a distaste for reason and critical thinking in favor of feel-good prose.
This is a group that is easily led in circles and guided into hungrily devouring unsupported assertions and who will gladly embrace fantasy and self-delusion, expecting (yet will be forever denied) significant life-changes from magical epiphanies through poetry and charmed myths.
Regarding the promotional material for one of his recent books, we are disappointed with the way it reads and feel the statements made contribute to the bad image the New Age and metaphysical field has earned (yes, earned). The following are select quotes from the promotional email and our comments.
"In just one hour, you can learn what it takes to be successful in all areas of your life."
This statement is misleading. He may outline what helps to be successful in all areas of life, but it would be impossible to give a formula for everyone to follow in order to be successful. Based on our experience and research, "what it takes," in addition to initiating the right action at the right time, and having the right supportive circumstances, is fate, and everyone's personal fate is different.
"You can have material wealth, as well as good health, energy and enthusiasm for life, and fulfilling relationships."
This declaration is also misleading. It implies that everyone is entitled to these things and they can have them if they read this book. No amount of mediation, praying, manipulating, affirmations, seminars, readings, or focus on strengthening and magnetizing beliefs will lead to those things if it's not someone's fate to have them.
"This ‘One Hour of Wisdom' edition of Chopra's most popular title offers powerful pearls of wisdom and a life-altering perspective on the attainment of success."
We give Chopra credit for how he helps to inspire others through this book. This is what he's good at. However, whether or not the perspective offered is "life-altering" is debatable.
"It shatters the myth that success is the result of hard work, exacting plans, or driving ambition."
Also misleading. For some it may be, for others it may not be.
"Discover the natural laws that govern all of creation, align with these laws, and success comes easily and naturally. But first, these principles must become your second nature, and repetition is the key to learning them!"
This statement implies that if you follow his recommendations, success will be yours, easily.
If this were true, anyone could have anything they wanted, despite their personal fate and karma.
Through our extensive research, we've found this belief to be false, no matter if they are beginners or gurus who already practice such concepts. The "second nature" emphasis is cleverly outlined to allow the author some breathing room when his readers don't get what they want "easily and naturally."
"The ancient sages described the most effortless way to bond with the universe and fulfill our desires. Their guiding motto turns out to be exquisitely simple: Act in accord with the laws of nature." -Deepak Chopra
Chopra is saying that if you act in accordance with the "laws of nature," you can have all you desire. He peppers his books with spiritual principles to support lofty promises, but what he fails to mention, or perhaps doesn't fully comprehend, is that there are additional laws, some of which completely mitigate some of his views.
Also, he erroneously groups select "sages" together with the mystics and Gnostics (such as most respectable ancient astrologers who regularly predicted personal fate) who constantly refuted, through stellar predictive work, the notion of anyone being able to "fulfill any desire."
We asked a friend of ours, a Chopra fan, for his interpretation of a particular (cool-sounding, yet erroneous) passage in the book: "The law of intention and desire: Inherent in every intention and desire is the mechanics for its fulfillment." He replied, "I don't know what it means, man, it just feels good!"
Truth be told, everyone has occasional (for some, very regular) desires that aren't rooted in reality (thus, are unachievable), such as wanting to end strife and war on Earth forever, or achieve major career goals and become a multi-billionaire without effort and the supportive good karma. Perhaps the multitudes new to Eastern philosophy and metaphysical thought don't really care about truth at this point, until they realize the emptiness of these supposed fixes.
Thinking back to the early 1980s when we first began exploring non-traditional spiritual concepts, we had to weed through a lot of books to begin to be able to detect truth. At first, the superficial, sometimes "channeled," "spiritual" writings, the far-out, empty rhetoric and gross generalizations lacking substance did have some appeal, but it's like a destructive, sensually gratifying habit; it offers an escape from reality, but ultimately leads you down the path of illusion and distances you from "enlightenment." If you love inspirational poetry, fine, but it's in your best interest to avoid confusing it with spiritual truth.
It's disconcerting, to say the least, to have a very commercially successful author imply that you can have the success he has enjoyed ($20 million + earnings in 2006, according to Forbes magazine) if you would just take the hazy, feel-good approach he promotes, when that author refuses to acknowledge that everyone may not be fated for what he promises. The laws of personal karma and fate dictate that you can't have what you want unless it's predestined as part of your destiny and you've earned it through current life and especially past life actions. Unfortunately, many may buy this book hoping to reach certain goals. If they don't reach those goals, they may end up feeling worse than before.
We applaud Deepak Chopra for his intelligence and for the success he's had in reaching people all over the world with inspiration and encouragement. We just would like to see more plain truth and fewer false promises, even though it may result in fewer book sales.
Copyright © Scott Petullo, Stephen Petullo