deepak-chopra

Deciphering Deepak

For decades, Deepak Chopra has been at the forefront of a spiritual and wellness paradigm shift designed to expand consciousness and improve physical and spiritual health. On the eve of his Bhakti Fest appearance in Joshua Tree, he uncovers the myths of “reality” and the importance of knowing the true “self.”

GREG ARCHER Attractions, Current Digital

deepak-chopra
Deepak Chopra: "My focus is helping people unravel what is real and what is not. That’s been a lifelong obsession."
PHOTOGRAPH BY TODD MACMILAN

What you think is real may not be real, so let’s get real: “Reality” is not what you have been lead to believe it is.

And so it goes in conversation with Deepak Chopra.

To be sure, few would argue about the nature of reality with the renowned pioneer in personal transformation and integrative medicine. The prolific speaker and author of 85 books — 25 of which hit The New York Times bestseller list — is quite versed on the subject matter, and he has made it part of his lifelong mission to help others expand their consciousness and discover the true nature of their being.

Enter: Bhakti Fest.

Chopra is the main headliner for the popular, annual six-day yoga and sacred music festival held at Joshua Tree Retreat Center (Sept. 12–17). The event features the likes of music titans Krishna Das and Jai Uttal, a bevy of heart-and-mind expanding spiritual leaders, such as Shiva Rea and Dharma Mittra, and plenty of time for self-reflection, stretching — the body and mind — and more. (Think of it is a spiritual Burning Man whose flames are durable and more soulful.)

Chopra will present and participate in a full day of special panels, workshops, and meditations at Bhakti Fest, including his own talk (Sept. 15, 11:30 a.m.) dubbed “Nature of Reality Talk & Meditation.” And mark your calendars: he is also at the helm of a lecture Jan. 25, 2019 at the Infinite Possibilities Retreat (Jan. 24–27) taking place at The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage.

For Palm Springs Life, Chopra delves into the finer nuances of existence, reality, and his own spiritual path.

What made you say yes to Bhakti Fest?

I know a number of people who have been part of the festival for many years — some who are attendees, some who are supporters. And I have grown up with these traditions. I am always interested in any mode that will expand our consciousness.  It’s one of the great ways to ultimately know who you are.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY SANDRA GODIN

The 10th anniversary of Bhakti Fest will feature a variety of workshops, classes, and meditations led by Deepak Chopra.

How have yoga and meditation helped you?

At this moment, my only desire is to awaken a deeper understanding of what is reality. So, with my yoga practice and meditation practice — I am so used to that it’s like brushing my teeth. It’s a ritual every day. I don’t think of it as anything other than my daily routine. My focus is helping people unravel what is real and what is not. That’s been a lifelong obsession. Yoga and meditation have certainly helped.

People, in general, want to have calm, ease, purpose, and enlightenment. Why do we get so distracted from our core self?

Well, all of our current mainstream culture is based on the material and physical world as fundamental reality. Therefore, physicality and materialism rule our lives, and there is an assumption that the more things you acquire and the more success you have in the material world, that it will ultimately lead to fulfillment, joy, happiness, and peace of mind. But obviously, as we’ve been shown, the world right now is in crisis — climate change, extinction of species, possible human extinction, eco destruction, war, terrorism, extreme nationalism. There is a whole other world out there that has to do with who we are, what we want, what’s our purpose, desire for love, compassion, joy, equanimity, and our desire for going beyond the fear of death, and the material. We are so bamboozled and distracted by everything out there, or what we think is out there, when in fact, there is no “out there.”

Can you talk about divine timing, which you also have written about?

Everything is, in a way, divine timing. Everything unfolds or evolves. We can see that in our biology. We are born. And then the timing of when you learn how to stand, to walk, learn language, and then you have baby teeth, permanent teeth, puberty, you have hormones. It is all precisely timed. The DNA is orchestrating our biological life. But that’s just another metaphor. Because every situation and circumstance, every event, every relationship, is part of the matrix of experience.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY SANDRA GODIN

Ah, Savasana at Bhakti Fest.

And when you understand that everything, including your biology, is divinely timed, you realize that your biology is not who you are. Your biology is the container you are in. It’s another experience.

Does destiny exist?

It appears to exist, but when you go deeper into understanding, you see that life is a complex accommodation of karma and destiny and freedom. Karma means the past influences your present, freedom … you have choice, and destiny is ultimately, liberation. They are all inter-related aspects of existence.

That’s a good troika. So, what is the soul?

It is the core consciousness, which modulates itself as what we experience as mind-body in the world.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY SANDRA GODIN

Bhakti Fest founder with Sridhar Silberfein and music coordinator Shiva Baul.

What is one thing that you could impart of people that could help them, especially now?

Whatever you think it is that brings you happiness, if you think it’s something in the physical world, you are bamboozled by a dream. You need to wake up.

And what brings you the most joy?

Just being. Existence. There is no explanation for existence. You should be bewildered by it.

Bhakti Fest runs Sept. 12–17 at Joshua Tree Retreat Center, 59700 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree. Deepak Chopra’s “Nature of Reality Talk & Meditation” takes place Sept. 15 at 11:30 a.m. at the Hanuman Stage. For more information and detailed event information, visit bhaktifest.com.