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Leader of mind, body and spirit movement speaks at Penn State|
by Celena E. Kusch
It is not often that you hear the words of gospel writers and biblical prophets, quantum physicists, psychoanalysts, poets and the Bodhisattva cited in a single lecture. Even less likely is it to hear these words juxtaposed and set into dialogue with each other in an effort to find new knowledge. But, for the hundreds who attended a lecture by Dr. Deepak Chopra at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel last autumn, the improbable and the unlikely were the focus of the entire evening.|
His presentation was sponsored by the College of Engineering, the Science, Technology and Society Program (STS) and Continuing Education. Chopra, who is a physician and the best-selling author of Perfect Health; Ageless Body, Timeless Mind; The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success; The Return of Merlin, and The Path to Love, attracted more than 600 Penn State faculty, staff, students and members of the Centre County community.
Dr. Rustum Roy, Evan Pugh Professor of the Solid State and founder of the Science, Technology and Society Program, was instrumental in bringing Chopra to Penn State. In his welcoming address, Roy called Chopra one of the leading interpreters of the integration of body, mind and spirit into whole persons.
Although he is best known for his work in complementary and alternative medicine, Chopras presentation at Penn State explored what he called the next frontier into the world of consciousness. During the lecture, he asked the audience to consider the presence of layers of existence beyond those taken for granted by using scientific research to explore those realms of existence often considered least scientific. Discussing the phenomenon he calls SynchroDestiny, Chopra used an interdisciplinary approach to understand the role of uncanny coincidences and synchronicity in our lives.
He directed the audience to the theories and observations of coincidence already accumulated in a number of fields, including medicine, religion, physics and philosophy.
The experience of synchronistic events elicits a sense of wonder at the statistical improbability of the coincidence, Chopra explained. A quantum physicist has a term for this synchronicity: an acausal, nonlocal, quantum mechanical interconnectedness. The Bodhisattva has a term for it as well: inter-experience through inter-events.
According to Chopra, that interconnectedness is not recognized by most science, because of its inability to move beyond physical, sensory observation and embrace the realities of theory, ideas and even the soul. By combining disciplines to explore the junctures between the physical, intellectual and spiritual, his work is challenging some of the most fundamental assumptions about ourselves, our cultures and our society.
Today, slowly we are witnessing through science and technologysurprisingly not through religionthe final overthrow of the superstition of materialism, Chopra said, pointing to the effects of the digital revolution in raising questions about the human psyche and spirit.
He cited neurological research that describes the brain as a tool to convert one kind of energy into another, adding meaning through digital information of a thought to the kinetic and light energy that enters the body through the senses. In addition, medical research has studied the immune system and found that it emits exactly the same particles as the brain when it has an idea. If the immune system, really every cell of the body, is a mind, then the body is a field of information and energy, he continued.
With his emphasis on such interdisciplinary synergies, Chopras lecture paralleled the scholarly work of Penn States Science, Technology and Society Program. The STS Program brings together faculty from such fields as physics, religion, engineering, English and the social sciences to design and deliver undergraduate courses on how science and technology have been and are related to all aspects of society.
Roy commented that this kind of interdisciplinary thinking may provide us a chance to make a break in the reductionist culture of modern science.
Chopras work contributes to a paradigm-breaking actionas significant as quantum mechanicsin the area of whole person medicine. The efforts of Deepak Chopra and Andrew Weil have made the field respectable, acceptable and intellectually rigorous in the United States. Deepak Chopra is truly the foremost spokesperson of the movementeven tidal waveof this change in our consciousness of mind, body and spirit, Roy said.
Part of this change lies in Chopras analogy of that consciousness to a virtual domain. According to Chopra, as growing numbers of scientists explore the physics and chemistry of consciousness, their research may prove the value of centuries of religious and philosophical thought within the physical and psychological realms.