Article Info

published: 12/18/05
updated: 12/13/13

Deepak Chopra and the Chopra Center




Who is Deepak Chopra?

Deepak Chopra is an Indian-born American physician who teaches that health and success can be found through a system of Ayurvedic medicine, yoga, and mind-body-spirit integration.

Fast Facts

Date founded:
1991
Place founded:
California, USA
Founder:
Deepak Chopra (1947-)
Adherents:
Unknown, but Chopra's books, CDs, and courses have sold millions of copies
Headquarters:
The Chopra Center for Well Being, La Jolla, California




History

Deepak Chopra, M.D., graduated from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in 1968, and after interning at a New Jersey hospital, trained for several more years at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Massachusetts and the University of Virginia Hospital. He taught at Tufts and Boston University Schools of Medicine, became the chief of staff at the New England Memorial Hospital and established a large private practice in the field of endocrinology.

In Washington D.C., in 1985, Chopra learned under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the Transcendental Meditation movement. Chopra has since broken ties with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, but continues to promote meditation as a way to develop a deeper self-knowledge.

According to the Chopra Center website, Chopra's teachings derived from his dissatisfaction with the ability of conventional western medicine to help his patients. He therefore developed a wellness system based upon a combination of western medicine and Ayurvedic principles of health and spirituality.

Beliefs

Chopra's teachings about the human being and its wellness are based on a Hindu pantheism or monism (everything that exists is ultimately a unity). Thus the Divine pervades the entire universe as well as human beings, and every person has divinity within himself or herself. Chopra writes, "we remain unfulfilled unless we nurture the seeds of divinity inside us. In reality we are divinity in disguise, and the gods and goddesses in embryo that are contained within us seek to he fully materialized." {1}

Based on this fundamental worldview, Deepak Chopra teaches the belief, a main tenet of New Age spirituality, that human possibility is limitless. With proper knowledge and practice, humans can lengthen their life, achieve perfect health, and achieve all their dreams. This emphasis can be seen in the titles of his books, listed above.

Chopra's main teaching is that the body, mind, and spirit are inseparable and affect one another. Therefore "health is more than the absence of disease; it is a dynamic state of balance and integration of body, mind, and spirit." {2}

Chopra teaches that each person inherits a particular mix of doshas, three "mind/body principles which creates our specific mental and physical characteristics." {3} One or two of these are the most dominant in each person, and keeping the dosha(s) in balance (through particular practices, foods, and products) is a key to mind-body health.

  • Vata dosha - thin, light and quick in thoughts and actions. In balance: creative, enthusiastic and lively. Out of balance: anxiety, insomnia or irregular digestion.
  • Pitta dosha - muscular, smart and determined. In balance: warm, intelligent and a good leader. Out of balance: critical, irritable and aggressive.
  • Kapha dosha - heavier frame, think and move leisurely, stable personality. In balance: calmness, sweetness and loyalty. Out of balance: weight gain, congestion and resistance to healthy change.

Chopra promises that mastery of his principles will not only bring physical and spiritual health, but also material success. He writes that his teachings "will give you the ability to create unlimited wealth with effortless ease, and to experience success in every endeavor" {4}.

Practices

Chopra teaches a lifestyle that includes meditation, yoga, mindfulness in daily life, proper nutrition based on whole foods, detoxing through fasting, enemas, and massage, and abstinence from drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and junk food. He teaches methods of healing that include both physical treatments and mental techniques such as focusing attention on the area of pain.

Chopra's "Ten Keys to Happiness" are:

  1. Listen to your body's wisdom.
  2. Live in the present, for it is the only moment you have.
  3. Take time to be silent, to meditate.
  4. Relinquish your need for external approval.
  5. When you find yourself reacting with anger or opposition to any person or circumstance, realize that you are only struggling with yourself.
  6. Know that the world "out there" reflects your reality "in here."
  7. Shed the burden of judgement.
  8. Don't contaminate your body with toxins, either food, drink, or toxic emotions.
  9. Replace fear-motivated behavior with love-motivated behavior.
  10. Understand that the physical world is just a mirror of a deeper intelligence.

The "Seven Spiritual Laws of Success" are:

  1. Law of Pure Potentiality (i.e. discovering the unity of the true self with the universe; "Atman is Brahman")
  2. Law of Giving (giving releases divine power and energy)
  3. Law of Karma (cause and effect of actions; "there is a perfect accounting system in this universe," p. 45)
  4. Law of Least Effort (going with the flow of the universal energy, as in Taoism)
  5. Law of Intention and Desire
  6. Law of Detachment
  7. Law of Dharma (having a purpose in life)

Texts

Chopra has derived his teachings in part from the Bhagavad-Gita, but the central texts of his movement are Chopra's own books, which have a sacred quality to many of his enthusiasts. Among Chopra's many books are:

  • Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine (1990)
  • Perfect Health Library: Perfect Digestion, Perfect Weight, Restful Sleep (1990)
  • The Unconditional Life: Discover the Power to Fulfill Your Dreams (1991)
  • Ageless Body, Timeless Mind: The Quantum Alternative to Growing Old (1993)
  • Creating Affluence: Wealth Consciousness in the Field of All Possibilities (1993)
  • Journey Into Healing (1994)
  • Creating Health (1995)
  • The Way of the Wizard: Twenty Spiritual Lessons for Creating the Life You Want (1995)
  • The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams (1995)
  • The Return of Merlin (1996; fictional novel)
  • The Path to Love (1997)
  • Creating Affluence: A-Z Steps to a Richer Life (1998)
  • How to Know God: The Soul's Journey into the Mystery of Mysteries (2000)
  • The Deeper Wound: Recovering the Soul from Fear and Suffering, 100 Days of Healing (2001)
  • Grow Younger, Live Longer: 10 Steps to Reverse Aging (2001)
  • Golf for Enlightenment: The Seven Lessons for the Game of Life (2003)
  • The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire: Harnessing the Infinite Power of Coincidence (2003)
  • Synchrodestiny: Harnessing the Infinite Power of Coincidence to Create Miracles (2003)
  • The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life (2004)
  • Peace Is the Way: Bringing War and Violence to an End (2005)

References & Sources

  1. Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, p. 3.
  2. "About Ayurveda," The Chopra Center.
  3. "What's my Dosha?" The Chopra Center.
  4. Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, pp. 1-2.

Links

Official/General/Supportive

  • Deepak Chopra Homepage
    This is Chopra's official webpage. It begins with a message from Chopra himself which incorporates his mission. Also included are a biography of Chopra, information regarding Mind/Body Medicine, The Chopra Center for Well Being, a list of his publications, a calendar of events, and a list of courses and seminars.
  • Deepak Chopra Interviewed
    An interview between Chopra and Sandra Goodman and Mike Howell. The basic question-answer format of the site allows for a clear presentation of what is meant by Ayurvedic medicine. There is much information regarding Ayurvedic nutrition, diet, and health presented here.
  • In Touch Magazine Interviews Deepak Chopra, M.D.
    This site provides an In Touch Magazine Exclusive Interview by Veronica M. Hay. In it, Chopra discusses his philosophies of aging, mind-body medicine, quantum healing, and Ayurveda.

Critical

  • Quantum Quackery by Victor J. Stenger
    Article for Skeptical Inquirer Magazine, 1997.
  • Skeptic's Dictionary: Deepak Chopra
    "Chopra gives hope to the dying that they will not die and hope to the living that they can live forever in perfect health. But his hope seems to be a false hope based on an unscientific imagination seeped in mysticism and cheerily dispensed gibberish."
  • Deepak Chopra and Ayurvedic Mumbo-Jumbo
    This article from the Quackwatch homepage is written by Stephan Barrett, M.D. who systematically refutes Chopra's claims that Ayurveda and Mind-Body Medicine are legitimate answers to curing ills.
  • Shameless Mind: Deepak Chopra and Maharishi Ayurvedic Medicine
    This article from Shameless Mind, a trancenet.org publication, by Thomas J. Wheeler, PhD of the National Council Against Health Fraud. This article defines Ayurveda, describes Chopra's role in it, relates the response of the American Medical Association,enumerates some points about the scientific status of Ayurveda, which according to the author is ineffective and unproven, includes the latest catalog of Chopra's offerings, and finally discusses Quantum Healing.
  • The Watchman Expositor
    This site provides an article titled "Alternative Medicine in the Church" by Janice Lyons. It is from The Watchman Expositor, a magazine put out by the Watchman Fellowship, a counter-cultist organization, devoted to exposing and educating Christians about the dangers of what they consider hazardous cults of new religious movements.
  • Christian Research Institute Book Review
    Review of the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success from an evangelical Christian perspective, by Douglas Groothius.
  • The Seven Critical Questions about Deepak Chopra
    This critique of Chopra's best selling book The Seven Laws of Success by Paul O'Brienis organized seven questions corresponding to the seven laws.
 
Deepak Chopra and the Chopra Center
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