What the Heck is Wrong With Me Anyway, and What Deepak Chopra Had to Say About It. Part Two.

In part one, I was describing my life and in the later part of it, I felt like one of the ancient Greeks, constantly fearful of the gods’ wrath.

Something the ancient Greeks would do when they had doubt or fear, or needed direction, was go see an Oracle. The oracle, usually a woman, would go into a trance and provide advice that would need to be translated by other temple priests into a practical guide.

I was in need of a modern-day oracle.

Enter Deepak Chopra. If you’re curious who he is, I think this Time Magazine profile does him the most justice. At the heart of his appeal, to me at least, is this:

“Nothing feels more impossible than human suffering,” says a character in The Daughters of Joy. (One of Chopra’s books.) “We get trapped in it because we’ve lined up our unsolved problems like horses on a merry-go-round. Every day the same horses go around inside our heads. Old grievances, unforgotten pain, resentment, anger, failure and insecurity — the circle keeps turning.” Through his books, videos and workshops, Chopra offers a ticket off that merry-go-round. He is hardly to blame if, to date, there has been no shortage of takers.

I need to get off the merry-go-round. I need to let go of my fear. Is it possible?

The ancient Greeks didn’t believe in free will. I used to. I still believe that human beings can achieve great things of their own volition. How much of this is attributable to luck, genetic predispositions, energy levels, skills and hard work is a formula that has been recalculated in my mind in the last eight years.

If I could reinvent my own myth, my own story, I’d love to tell a different story. One that is as true as the current narrative, but one that tells a more hopeful chronicle.

In this story, I would be cast as an Athena-like warrior, who battles through disease, infertility, protects her children valiantly, puts her own physical health on the line as a sacrifice for her family, tells her story in hopes of helping others in their fight for resources to fight infertility. The truth is, yes, a bunch of shit happened to me (and continues to happen to me) but I have overcome a lot of problems as well. Against bad odds (less than a 10% chance) I conceived two wonderful children. I held them in my body, stayed in bed and birthed them. I protected them from harm. I took one for the team and did night duty so my husband could be the financial provider, fully rested. I protected my husband from getting germs. I survived many illnesses and remained standing.

The problem is, in this story, I still am associated with my problems. So, I went to the Oracle.

There must have been other people waiting in line, asking similar questions of the Oracle. So I was lucky enough to get a three-part response from Deepak Chopra.

The responses are as mysterious to me as those that the ancient Greeks must have received. I have to admit that I don’t know a huge amount about Eastern philosophy (something I am going to change) but I know that quite a few of my readers do.

Oh, wise readers: can you help me interpret the words of the Oracle?

I’d like to invite EVERYONE reading to discuss Deepak Chopra’s words. Even if you’ve never commented on a blog before, or read this blog without commenting. Even (especially?) if you are one of my family members! What do you think these words mean? Do they help you to explain how you identify yourself? Can we craft a story together that makes us more hopeful and joyful everyday, in a meaningful way, something I think so many people want, not just myself?

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16 Comments

Filed under Discovering joy, Family, Fear, SAHM, twins

16 responses to “What the Heck is Wrong With Me Anyway, and What Deepak Chopra Had to Say About It. Part Two.

  1. Esperanza

    Okay, here is my take on it. First of all, I had to put it all together to really see it and read it as one thing. I also had to look up “qualia”. Here it is, as one piece:

    Our real identity is a non-local consciousness in which the observer and observed simultaneously co-arise. Both “me” and “other” are subjective feelings or qualia (quality regarded as a separate object) in consciousness. Abiding in nondual consciousness there is spontaneous experience of love, joy, compassion equanimity, loss of ego identity and fear of death.

    I remember reading about ideas to this effect when I was studying Buddhism after my loss. From what I remember it has to do with the ego, which feels the need to define itself by separating itself from others. Everything is “me” and “others” or “everyone else”. In this way we experience life as a dichotomy of what is happening to “me” and to “others”. This also paves the way for judgement and of course desire or longing, which are the precursors for suffering. If you are able to actually understand, truly in your heart (and I believe this requires enlightenment in the Buddhist tradition, or perhaps it just would signify enlightenment if you were able to do this) that there was no separation between yourself and others, that everything in existence is of same energy manifesting and ceasing to manifest, then you will no longer experience fear or longing or suffering of any kind. Of course the ego is a powerful thing and being able to truly recognize the true nature of the world requires intense practice and profound insight. Buddhism teaches you can reach it through loving-kindness and mindfulness (which is cultivate through meditation). That doesn’t mean that you have to become a Buddhist monk and meditate for days on end, but it does mean you have to have some practice in mindfulness and experience the present moment without judgement, as that will give you the foundation needed you to see the true nature of things.

    So I think that is what it means. I believe the “non-local consciousness” is the energy that is everything and doesn’t actual reside in separately in each person but everywhere simultaneously. The “observer” and the “observed” are the separation created by the ego of “me” and “others”, but these are just subjective, or perceived qualities that aren’t actually there and when you can strip away this dichotomy and abide in the “nondual consciousness” you will be free of suffering and experience immense joy.

    Of course I could be totally wrong, but that is what it sounds like to me. Good luck!

    • Wow. Great, insightful answer. I’m trying to wrap my mind around this. Do you detach from your own feelings by taking on the feelings of others? Like a super sized version of Bill Clinton’s “I feel your pain”? I remember when I became an Iron Commenter for one of the ICLWs, I felt a lot more empathy for all members of the ALI community. I also felt really depressed and hopeless, but that’s another story…do you share in other’s joy? Like a contact high, being at a wedding or christening or bar mitzvah?

      A lot to think about…

  2. chhandita

    I think you got it right Esperanza! I believe that all of us have Buddha nature as in we all possess the highest possible life condition. and Our environment is actually a reflection of our life condition. Unfortunately, most of the time we are unable to see beyond.

    I quote “Life is, without exception, an ongoing struggle with various problems and difficulties. Faith (faith here is about faith in the energy that exist in every atom of the Universe) is what allows us to calmly transcend the accompanying pain and suffering and to establish an indestructible fortress of happiness and love in our lives – a fortress that will last for all eternity. Our fortune grows in direct proportion to the state of life we are able to develop (as in our environment reflects our life state).

    We are all Boddhisattvas of the Earth who chose to be born into our respective circumstances. This was so that we could proudly overcome suffering and lead lives filled with A mission, in order to inspire boundless hope and courage in those who follow in our footsteps.”

  3. Mo

    Hi hon,
    I’m not going to chime in with deep philosophical interpretations. I myself feel a lot like you’re feeling right now. So I’m with you in questioning mode. What I can do is the following:
    1) Thank you. Your re-telling yesterday of everything you’ve been through put some major things in perspective for me. I’m early in my journey when it comes to having that elusive baby, but your story reminded me that having a baby is not “the end”. It’s not a magic pill to make pain, suffering, or existential crises go away. So thank you for being so open and honest about yourself. I feel like you put up a mirror for me.
    2) I’ve been exploring all of this myself over the last few months. Today, I sat with my yoga instructor and we talked about the meaning of surrender versus control. He said something very wise – at least in my opinion: All we can do is plant seeds. We have no control what grows out of them. If you practice yoga for 20 minutes every morning, that’s one kind of seed. If you sit and listen to the news, that’s another. But that’s all they are – seeds. I don’t know if this is making any sense to you, but I think what I took away from it is that life happens, and I can only control the seeds I plant, not their outcome. Better to accept and embrace that rather than to fight it. Easier said than done. But there you go.
    *hugs*

  4. I’ve heard so much about Deepak Chopra but have never gone so far as to read his works. As you said, his response to your question was difficult to dissect. After reading that it makes me want to sit down with him and understand his thinking. To me, it seems that he’s saying that we need to be true to ourselves, “nondual consciousness,” and not look to others. Is that right? Now I/we need someone to truly tell us what was meant by his response.

  5. Esperanza really nailed it. It’s habitual human nature to drawn lines between what we think of as ourselves and what we think of as “all that out there” aka our fellow man, our partners, the endless number of viruses, the morons in traffic, the Universe, etc. which becomes antagonistic if we think of “it” as doing things to “us”.
    That’s a story that’s repeated in almost all traditions in the “fall from grace” myth. Think of the garden of eden. Eve’s walking around and the snake comes up and says, “You’re being deprived. If only you ate that apple, boy would you be happy… God, that all powerful but harsh guy, out there, is trying to keep you from having something good.” So Eve eats the apple, but guess what? God wasn’t doing anything to her and giving in to the belief that he was is what messed her up three ways from Sunday. And people have been believing that ever since. We think “That’ out there is taking/keeping something from me” because we don’t see that, as the Hindu chant say “hamsah” I AM that.
    Think of the Jungian collective consciousness. At that level, we are all connected and in essence the same “thing”. Some of what has to happen to benefit from that knowledge is the determination to see it. It is there, and if other people have seen it, any one can see it.
    I don’t think it takes enlightenment, as much as it takes insistence. In practice it’s a lot like the way you would INSIST your children aren’t bad even when they do things that make you crazy and heaven help the person who told you they were bad. You’d fight like a tigress to defend the truth about them. Your peace of mind merits at least that much determination because having it is the only way you can give it to the people you love.

  6. Wordgirl

    So many wonderful insights here!

    I know, for me, in meditation and mindfulness — in realizing that these chattering bits of my mind and identity — are just that — subjective — not objective — in realizing that then I am then not tied to the emotions that have always been heavily associated with the observations that I’ve always named as objective truth — does that make sense?

    Its in those fleeting moments of not even realizing — but being in a body and understanding the mind is just whirling away on its own path — understanding for that moment that the mind isn’t truth — that, for me is that fleeting moment of peace and joy and relief from whatever story I’ve been telling myself that is causing me suffering.

    Thanks so much for this!

  7. Lut C.

    I went over to read the Times profile.

    My spirituality genes must be faulty. My loss probably, but what I don’t know I can’t miss.

    Don’t you have to have been on the merry-go-round at least for a while to appreciate what it means no longer to be on?
    I don’t mean that you can’t appreciate the good without first having experience the bad. I mean that when the bad hits, it’s unrealistic to think you can shrug it off instantly – no matter how bad it is.
    Even if you turn to spirituality to get you off, you were on first.

  8. I’m with Esperanza. We spend our lives making everything about “mememe” and so when something bad happens to us, we become that bad thing. But when we allow ourselves to dissolve into the rest of the world, it’s not so much about ourselves any more. I don’t think we need to “take on” the feelings of “other people” (because that simply recreates the dichotomy) … I’m less sure how to put this into practice, though.

  9. Love it and don’t have anything else to add as far as interpretation.

    I have gone through a profound sense of me wrapped up WITH others rather than me and others since the birth of E. It has been very painful in one sense and very enlightening in another. I can hardly believe how much more open my world and awareness are, but it’s been hard to manage and figure out how to be the me in my old world. Now I just have to figure out how to get to the point where peoples’ hatefulness does not affect my existence. So difficult.

  10. Interesting! I love the quote you shared from the Time magazine profile! I had a lot easier time digesting and making sense of that, then I did the tweets you shared from Chopra. I can so relate to what you said about needing to “get off the merry-go-round!”

    I really appreciate Esperanza thoughtful comment and how she helped all of us to decipher those tweets. I like what she said about our egos and how we/they “feel the need to define itself by separating itself from others.” It really made sense to me when she went on to talk about how this “paves the way for judgement and desire or longing, precursors to suffering.” Wow! Definitely an “a-ha” moment for me reading that. I too want to strive for and practice loving-kindness and mindfullness. I need to work on “cultivation (them) through meditation” as Esperanza suggested and trying to “experience the present moment without judgement.”

    I also resonated with what Mo shared about her conversation with her yoga instructor about the “meaning of surrender vs. control.” I am still contemplating the planting seeds example, as I agree that we cannot completing control what grows out of what we plant, nor should we try to. However, I do think we can and should have some influence on what grows out of what we plant (i.e. trying to raise our children to have good manners, moral, values etc.)

    I also liked what Tracy said about how she doesn’t “think it takes enlightenment, as much as it takes insistence.” So much to chew on in that and so many of these thoughtful comments.

    I appreciate how Wordgirl pointed out the importance of realizing that our thoughts are subjective and that we are not tied to “the emotions that have always been heavily associated with the observations that I’ve always named as objective truth.” I so often allow myself to believe that my memory of and take on past events and interactions with others is the “objective truth,” while at the same time judging others and thinking that it is their truth that is subjective. Definitely something else for me to ponder and work on.

    Thank you Barb for what you shared as well! I too have struggled with a sense of being “wrapped up WITH others rather than me and others,” as you said. I also need to try to figure out “how to get to the point where peoples’ hatefulness does not affect my existence.” Very well said and also so difficult, as you concluded.

    Well JJiraffe, I don’t have much to add to all this, but I did find it helpful in my processing of your post/Chopra’s tweets to summarize what I most resonated with in the other comments you have received. I may be back if I have any of my own thoughts to share. In the meantime, I need to continue to try to wrap my brain around all of this and I do think attempting to get off the “merry-go-round” is a great place to start.

    Thank you for your two very deep, moving and thought-provoking posts. I wish you well as you continue on your quest to find joy in your journey and look forward to growing and learning along with you. Take care and hang in there.

  11. The odd thing is, I kind of get this, all the spiritual stuff that Chopra, Tolle, Winfrey, et al talk about. I get it in my head. In fact, I’ve written about it a few times, including my series on the chakras (starting here).

    The less surprising thing is that even though I “get” it in my head, I find it very much a struggle to “get” it emotionally and energetically. I have moments where I get it, where I become part of The All, but those are fleeting and too rare. This is one reason I do perfect moments — to encourage myself to be more conscious and aware.

    Excellent post, J. This will keep me thinking long after I close the window.

  12. Wow. I’m glad I jumped over here from Esperanza’s blog. These two posts are truly wonderful. I can relate to the crazy path you’ve been on and the absolute necessity to get off of it.

    I think that all of the thought’s here are insightful but LLL’s comment resonates with me especially. Even once you feel that you have a reasonable understanding of these concepts, they don’t necessarily become easy to incorporate into everyday life. This must be where the practice comes in.

    I wish you the best on this journey!

  13. Pingback: Bridging the Divide Between Those Who Have Gotten “The Call” and Those Who Have Not | Too Many Fish to Fry

  14. Here from Stirrup Queens. I was going to suggest Lori’s blog but then she linked over there herself above!

    My husband and I have worked through many of these issues ourselves after two very complex deliveries out of four pregnancies. For me, the key to letting go of the past was to fill my life with things that make me happy, in addition to my children. My friends, my book club, my part time teaching job, spending time getting to know my neighbors and become part of th neighborhood, volunteering at my daughter’s kindergarten… I am a people person, and I surrounded myself with fun people in real life, as well as the blogosphere. Now my horrible stories are more of a Murphy’s Law Funny Anecdote than a The-World-Is-Out-to-Get-Me kind of thing. It took years, though. So I guess time was a big factor as well.

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