Deepak Chopra is a physician whose unhappiness with western
medicine led him to search for an alternative. An endocrinologist who is
a former Chief of Staff at the New England Memorial Hospital in Stoneham,
Massachusetts, and who has taught at Tufts and Boston University Medical
Schools, Dr. Chopra was introduced to the ancient methods of Indian healing,
known as Ayurveda, by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the man who has done more than
any other to bring traditional meditation to the West.
Chopra proved an apt student, and has become a master teacher as well. He
is the founding president of the American Association of Ayurvedic Medicine,
and has written and lectured widely, authoring the bestselling Quantum
Healing,as well as Creating Health, Return of the Rishi, Perfect
Health, Unconditional Life, and Ageless Body, Timeless Mind.
Dr. Chopra has initiated collaborations with medical associations in the
Russia, Poland, Hungary and Brazil. He has spoken at the U.N. in New York,
the World Health Organization in Geneva, the Soviet Academy of Sciences
in Moscow, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Australia, the
National Institutes of Health in Washington, and at medical schools worldwide.
Chopra has been instrumental in developing the practice of Ayurvedic medicine,
which may well be the world’s oldest living system of healing, in the United
States. He is the Medical Director of the Sharp Institute for Human Potential
and Mind-Body Medicine in La Jolla, California, and lectures and teaches
Chopra Center for Well Being
7590 Fay Avenue, Suite 403
La Jolla, CA 92037
Deepak Chopra Interview
DR: What led a western-trained medical physician such as yourself to
pursue the ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda?
DEEPAK CHOPRA: Just an unhappiness with the mechanical approach of
contemporary medicine, which says that there is a magic bullet in the form
of a pill for everything we have. And the fact remains that none of our
medical interventions either get to the root cause of disease, or make a
significant difference in mortality or morbidity. They just alter its expression.
It’s frustrating to see patients again and again, and to keep giving them
sleeping pills, tranquilizers and antibiotics, for their hypertension or
ulcers, when you know you’re not getting rid of the problem or disease.
The word “cure” is not even used. You are just treating the patient.
“Curing” is a term that all physicians avoid. Our training is
not oriented toward that.
DR: Can you explain what you mean by “quantum healing?”
DEEPAK CHOPRA: Quantum healing is healing the bodymind from a quantum
level. That means from a level which is not manifest at a sensory level.
Our bodies ultimately are fields of information, intelligence and energy.
Quantum healing involves a shift in the fields of energy information, so
as to bring about a correction in an idea that has gone wrong. So quantum
healing involves healing one mode of consciousness, mind, to bring about
changes in another mode of consciousness, body.
DR: How important is meditation in achieving and maintaining health?
DEEPAK CHOPRA: Meditation is a very important aspect of all the approaches
that one can use in quantum healing, because it allows you to experience
your own source. When you experience your own source, you realize that you
are not the patterns and eddies of desire and memory that flow and swirl
in your consciousness. Although these patterns of desire and memory are
the field of your manifestation, you are in fact not these swirling fluctuations
You are the thinker behind the thought, the observer behind the observation,
the flow of attention, the flow of awareness, the unbounded ocean of consciousness.
When you have that on the experiential level, you spontaneously realize
that you have choices, and that you can exercise these choices, not through
some sheer will power but spontaneously.
DR: What aspects of contemporary lifestyles do you feel are most
harmful to people’s health?
DEEPAK CHOPRA: The most harmful is the loss of simplicity, and the
loss of trust. The experience of alienation, fragmentation, isolation….this
ultimately leads to all of the problems, like contamination of our environment,
hostility towards each other, poor nutrition, and hard work, too much work
. . . A work-oriented society, a success oriented society, in which we believe
that somehow, material objects are the only source of our happiness.
DR: How do you find time for medical practice, writing, travel and
family life, and still get to bed early, as you recommend in your books?
DEEPAK CHOPRA: That’s a good question. I in fact don’t believe in
the existence of time. That’s one thing I have to tell you, and the other
is that I don’t take myself or what I am doing seriously. I believe in the
ancient saying that this is a recreational universe, for those who want
to share God’s one great passion, beauty. I feel that I’m having a wonderful
time. I don’t look upon any of this as work. It’s a source of great joy
and happiness for me.
I experience beauty in everything I do, and when I experience it emotionally,
then I know intellectually that it must be the truth. So if I don’t go to
sleep by ten, it doesn’t bother me, because I’m not tired. Most of my writing
I do in planes, when I have plenty of time. I meditate whenever I have a
chance, and that is actually more frequently than most of my patients meditate.
I see patients about 50% of my time at this clinic. That too is a source
of great joy to me, talking to people and interacting with people. In fact,
I have learned more from my patients than from anybody else.
DR: What has surprised you most in your practice of Ayurvedic medicine?
DEEPAK CHOPRA: What has surprised me most is that when given insight,
even a little bit of insight, patients find themselves empowered to do the
DR: Your father is a medical physician in India. How did his values
influence you with regard to your choice of a career, and also regarding
your outlook on western and eastern healing methods?
DEEPAK CHOPRA: My father was a great source of inspiration for me,
because he was such a wonderful father, who never in his life have I heard
raise his voice. He brought up his two children as princes, told them that
their birthright was to have all their desires fulfilled. He was a very
strongly western-oriented doctor, however. He is a cardiologist, very well-known
in India. But he is also a very fun-loving person. I still remember going
on vacations and picnics together, going to Shakespearian dramas together.
I never wanted to be a doctor. I always wanted to be a writer and journalist,
but when I got to college, I felt that I also had to be a doctor, because
that was a very important part of my childhood experience, watching my father
heal people. He has that ability. Not only as a great, great cardiologist,
but also as someone who cares about his patients. Even when he is not in
the hospital or office, he cares about them, he thinks about them, he talks
about them to his children and his wife. Not giving away any confidential
information, but just wondering how he can help them. He has always been
a great source of inspiration.
He was not, however, inclined very favorably toward Ayurvedic medicine until
I introduced him to it. Now he is the most enthusiastic researcher on Ayurveda
DR: What current research on Ayurveda interests you most?
DEEPAK CHOPRA: The research that interests me most is the research
on Panchakarma, which is the procedure for removing toxins from the body,
and how it affects biological aging. And of course the research on the herbal
preparations, which yield very interesting and previously unthought of ways
of healing. Herbs don’t usually work the way pharmaceutical compounds do,
binding to receptor sites. They seem to be evoking and amplifying the body’s
own healing processes. They are much more gentle. That means they probably
take longer. It’s a much more gentle, a much more holistic, and a much more
DR: You said your father raised his sons to believe that their wishes
could be granted. If you had one wish that you knew could be granted, what
would it be?
DEEPAK CHOPRA: My wish would be for peace on the planet, and that
we all fall in love with each other.
Daniel Redwood is a chiropractor, writer and musician who lives in Virginia
Beach, Virginia. He is the author of A Time to Heal: How to Reap the
Benefits of Holistic Health (A.R.E. Press), and is a member of the editorial
board of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. He
can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
©1995 Daniel Redwood