When those of us thirsty for understanding lower our buckets into the well of wisdom, our vessel often “comes up dry.” We tend to remain thirsty and become confused as to how to evaluate the teachings of the mystics, where to “fit them in.” That is because we have to try to place those teachings into our own personal narrative, to place those principles into our already existent beliefs, attitudes and values, into our worldview. Usually the feelings, beliefs, attitudes and values of the speaker or writer simply do not fit our own worldview. So it was with Al Lewis the Denver Post columnist for the business section. Interviewing Deepak Chopra who was speaking at a weekend seminar this week in Denver (2006), he did not have the context to understand how to make sense of Chopra’s concepts which seemed ridiculous to him.
For example, Chopra told him that “You don’t exist.” To understand that concept, we must grasp the Buddhist concept of no “I” or in Western terms, no “ego.” Naturally, no one, not even Buddha is saying that we don’t physically exist or that we have no physical body but only that we do not exist as separate human beings independent and separate from the rest of creation. Making the leap across this chasm between the illusory paradigm that most of us are trapped in to the paradigm that will ground us in Reality is not as hard as it might seem at first encounter. In part that is because the ego is an illusion in that it only seems to exist in relation to its reactive aversion or reactive craving of physical and mental “forms” in the world. Such forms, of course, exist in the individual subjective mind and are impermanent and always changing; a constant ebb and flow. That is to say, they have no “substantial” existence.
The failure to grasp the significance of the principles of impermanence and the non-existence of the “I” explain the origins of all human suffering. Few Americans or anyone else for that matter understand these fundamental truths about Reality. That is our challenge if we want to create a sustainable human community.
In other words, there can be no American exceptionalism because there are no “Americans.” To persist in such a delusion is to court self-destruction; to fly in the face of Reality because of the false self’s need for the sensation of affection and esteem is a fool’s game. It is sleepwalking in a nightmare.
Before dismissing Chopra’s ideas as those of a charlatan Lewis might have taken a second look at the quote found in his own column. Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, no intellectual lightweight, said of Chopra that he is: one of the most lucid and inspired philosophers of our time.
Before we discount highly successful (financially that is) speakers and authors, we should admit that we might be just a little jealous. And furthermore, we need to encounter their ideas with an open mind and see if indeed they might be onto something. If we listen to our own still, small intuitive voice we will hear this ancient wisdom which has been available since humans first began to ask the truly important questions. If we do that, then maybe the next time we go to the well, we won’t “come up dry.”
References and notes are available for this article.
For a much more in-depth discussion on Simple Reality, read Simple Reality: The Key to Serenity and Survival, by Roy Charles Henry, published in 2011.