Indian American author and medical doctor takes readers on a journey to the afterlife.
Deepak Chopra has no doubts about the afterlife. "The idea that we have a fixed body locked in space and time is a mirage," he says. In Life After Death he writes: "Life's ultimate purpose is to discover who you are. After death, we see more clearly the goals to be attained."
"We are the potential for memory, imagination, thought, feeling, emotions, desires, instincts, [and] drives," he says. "This is who we are and this is what projects as a mind, which then projects as a body, which then projects as the world."
Chopra talks about the soul, not as a thing, but as a process. "It is a continuum," he explains. "It is a dynamic, constantly evolving bundle in consciousness." And he says that ever-evolving soul is very much a part of life.
"You get in touch with it when you are intoxicated with love. You get in touch with it when you have a peak experience. You get in touch with it in the stillness of meditation. You get in touch with it when you do selfless service, like a Mother Theresa. So there are many ways. Being, thinking, feeling and doing can all allow you to get in touch with your soul."
Chopra takes the reader beyond the Christian concept of heaven or hell. He says the afterlife is fluid and open to infinite creative possibilities. Death, like birth, is a miracle. Without it, he says, life would stagnate. "Anything that is beautiful is impermanent. Which would you prefer: a plastic rose or a real rose? So, as long as something is impermanent in form, it has a living essence, which we call the soul or intelligence or consciousness. So at the quantum level, the universe is being created and destroyed every moment at the speed of light."
In his latest book, Chopra marries modern science and ancient wisdom to build his case for a life after death. Princeton University researchers are doing extended mind experiments. Scientists at the University of Arizona are studying communication with the consciousness of those who have died. "Others," Chopra says, "are doing research on out-of-body and near-death experiences, reincarnation [and] memories in children. These are the fertile areas of research."
But whether or not science can ever prove to us that there is an afterlife, Chopra says we can still benefit from letting go of the fear of death, and living our life more fully.
"First of all if you didn't have any fear, you would be much more present. Secondly, you would change your priorities. You would know what's important. You wouldn't waste your life on mundane, trivial unimportant things. You would spend time, a much more nurturing you would understand that we are inseparable from everything that exists, which would automatically make you more loving, more compassionate, less hurtful to others."
Memories, Chopra says, live for eternity.
He recalls the day his father's remains were cremated. Young boys playing nearby used the rising draft from the cremation fire to lift their kite into the sky. He says at this moment he, his father and the boys share the same overlapping consciousness.
Chopra says the scene is a metaphor for the soul. "As fervently as any devout believer, I have faith in this vision. My faith is renewed every time I have a moment of witnessing in which I can touch the silence of my own being. Then I lose all fear of death. Indeed I touch death right now and gladly."
In his new book, Life After Death, Deepak Chopra writes: "The human spirit is degraded when we confine ourselves to the span of a lifetime and the enclosure of a physical body. We are mind and spirit first," Chopra insists, "and that places our home beyond the stars."