What is the True Nature of Reality?
The Basics of Quantum Healing
by Deepak Chopra, M.D.
What I hope to do this morning is to give you a brief glimpse into the quantum
mechanical body-mind, to at least attempt to understand the exact nature of what
the human body is like and also the exact nature of what the Cosmic Body is like.
We use terms like mind and body and universe, but what really is the exact nature
of these things? What is the mind, what is the body, what's the exact nature of
physical reality? As children, we always had questions like, "Where was I before
I was born? What am I doing here? What happens after death? Am I confined to
my physical body? Am I just a skin encapsulated ego in a bag of flesh and bones?
What really happens to me? Do I have a local address? Where do I live in this universe?"
And it's interesting that science today is beginning to ask the same questions. After all science is the quest for the
truth and if you're a real scientist, these are the questions that are most critical to us.
One of the interesting things that science has found, this should have been obvious all along, is that what we call
perception, what we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell, is really the least reliable test of what reality really is. We
cannot trust our senses at all!
After all, the senses tell us that the earth is flat and we don't believe that anymore. The senses tell us that the
ground that we stand on is stationary and we know it's spinning at dizzying speeds and hurtling through outer space
at thousands of miles an hour. The senses tell us things have a certain taste, smell, size, texture. Maybe that's not
the way they really are.
There was an experiment done at Harvard Medical School about 20 years ago. A group of scientists took some
kittens and brought them up in a room that had only horizontal stripes. All the visual stimuli in the room were
horizontal. Another group of kittens was brought up in a room that had only vertical stripes. And when these kittens
grew up to be wise old cats, it turns out that one group of cats could see only a horizontal world. The other group of
cats could see only a vertical world. And this had nothing to do with the belief system of these cats.
It's a phenomenon that psychologists call Premature Cognitive Commitment. Premature, because we make it at a
very early stage of our development. Cognitive, because that's how they cognize or see the world. And commitment,
because it fixes us to a particular reality, it imprisons us in a fixed mode of perception.
There are many variations of these experiments. In India, when they train elephants, they take the baby elephant
and tie it with an iron chain to a huge tree. Then they start cutting the size of the chain and the tree. Ultimately you
can tie the elephant which a big animal now, with a flimsy rope to a green plant but the elephant is unable to escape.
It's made a commitment in its body-mind that it's in a prison!
Or you can do another simple experiment. Take some flies and put them in a jar. After a while remove the lid from
the jar and you'll find that most of the flies, except for a couple of pioneers, will not be able to escape. They make a
commitment in their body-mind that they're in a prison.
People will tell you who work in aquariums that you can separate fish from each other. They're in big glass tanks and
the separations are transparent glass partitions. You can remove the glass partition after a while. The fish will swim
to the edge of where the partition was and return . They made a commitment that that's as far as they can go.
All these experiments, and there are many variations of these, are pointing to a very crucial fact as far as the
mechanics of perception is concerned. And that is that our initial sensory experiences and how we interpret them or
how they are interpreted for us actually structure the very anatomy and physiology of our nervous system in such a
way that ultimately the nervous system serves only one function: to keep reinforcing the initial interpretation.
Anything that doesn't reinforce the initial interpretation doesn't even get into the nervous system. So if you don't
have a concept or a notion or an idea that something exists, then your nervous system won't even take it in.
That's a very peculiar fact because it tells us that with bits of sensory experience, we'll never be able to comprehend
the whole. We never will be! After all the human eye can see only between 380 and 500 billionths of a meter. There's
nothing sacred between 360 and 370. It doesn't exist for us.
And so too for the other senses. This is true not only of the human species but of all species. A honeybee, for
example, doesn't have the apparatus to see the usual wavelengths that you and I perceive. It senses ultra-violet.
When a honeybee looks at a flower at a distance it doesn't see a flower. It sees honey from a distance but it misses
the flower altogether. A snake would experience the same thing as infrared radiation which means nothing to you
and me. A bat would experience that as the echo of ultra-sound which also means nothing to you and me. And a
chameleon's eyeballs swivel on two different axis. You can't even remotely imagine what this would look like to a
So what's the real nature of the world? What's it really like? We can't trust the senses. They give us a very distorted
view. They break up that wholeness into a small fragment and we call it reality. We happen to agree about it. We
even call it "objective reality" and we have a whole methodology that we call "science" to explore that . If you really
understand what science is, then science at least until now has not been a method for exploring the truth. Science
has been a method for exploring our current map of what we think the truth is. And the map is not the territory. The
territory that we explore is really an extension of the map we have. If we don't have the complete map then we will
not explore the territory that is not within the framework of that map.
Sir John Eckles who won the Nobel prize in physiology and medicine several years ago made the statement, "I want
you to understand that there are no colors in the real world. That there are no textures in the real world. There are
no fragrances in the real world. There is no beauty, there is no ugliness. Nothing of the sort. Out there is a chaos of
energy soup and energy fields. Literally. We take that and somewhere inside ourselves we create a world.
Somewhere inside ourselves it all happens."
It's not out there at all! Go to a physicist and ask him what's this made up of? And he'll tell you there are just four
basic forces: gravity, strong interaction, weak interaction and electromagnetism that make up everything that exists.
Gravity is that which holds us to the ground, makes the planets move and holds them together. The strong
interaction holds the nucleus of an atom together. If you disrupt it you get a nuclear explosion. The weak interaction
is a force that is responsible for transmutation of elements and radioactive decay. And electromagnetism is that
which we experience as light, heat and electricity.
Ask a scientist, "Is there anything else?" and they'll say, "No, there isn't anything else. Everything that exists out
there is made up of these forces." And ultimately even these forces come from one unified force which scientists
today call the Unified Field. And everything that is there, all stars, all galaxies, all flowers, all human beings,
everything that exists is just these forces of nature.
So what is the material world then? The material world is a cord that comes out of these forces and the cords of
intelligence that structure particulate matter in fact exist inside us. We are the creators of this world. Literally.
There was an interesting conversation I once heard between a spiritual master and his student in India. At one point
the student looked at this master and he said, "I don't know about you. You must live in a different world." And the
master said, "No. We live in exactly the same world. The only difference is you see yourself in the world, and I see
the whole world in myself. It's a minor perceptual shift that you need to make."
So let's talk about this minor perceptual shift. Because our current understanding is that this world is made up of
matter that exists in space and time. That even human bodies are nothing other than bits and pieces of matter. That
the human body is a physical machine that has somehow learned to think. That it's the dance of molecules that
creates the epi-phenomenon of consciousness: thoughts, feelings, emotions, desires, concepts, ideas, philosophies,
dogma, religion. All these. Poetry is the expression of the dance of molecules. Somehow these molecules move
around and we get this epi-phenomenon called thought. We have physical machines that have learned how to think.
And of course this superstition is very pervasive in the world of contemporary medicine also. We are basically
bogged down in the superstition of materialism which says that sensory experience is the crucial test of reality.
Therefore, all our healing methodologies are also based on this superstition. We have magic bullets for the
treatment of illness. And we have the expressions like, "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is." Or if you can't
believe you ate the whole thing you can have a couple of Alka Seltzers. If you can't sleep at night there's a sleeping
pill. It will cure insomnia. You're feeling anxious? There's a tranquilizer. It will give you tranquillity. You have an
infection? Take an antibiotic. It will cure the problem of infection. You have cancer? There's chemotherapy, radiation,
surgery. If you have chest pain, you can pop some nitroglycerin. Better still, have a bypass operation.
These are the magic bullets that are supposed to get rid of disease and improve our health but in fact all these
magic bullets are symptomatic approaches. They relieve symptoms or at best mask symptoms while the underlying
process remains unchanged. Sometimes they interfere with mechanisms of disease. And mostly scientific research
today is basically elucidating mechanisms at disease. So if we know how bacteria multiply, we can kill them and then
we'll get rid of infection. If we know how cancer cells multiply, we can kill them and then we'll get rid of cancer. It
doesn't work because mechanisms of disease aren't origins of disease. We can interfere with mechanisms of
disease and disease finds an alternative way of expressing itself.
For example, one of the leading causes of death is not the AIDS virus or HIV disease but from antibiotic resistant
organisms that are acquired in hospitals. Several years ago, the California Medical Association did a study which
revealed that over 100,000 people die in the United States from antibiotic resistant organisms acquired only in
hospitals. The number one cause of drug addiction in the world is not the street drugs of Colombia, but legal medical
prescriptions. And despite the fact that more people have done research on cancer in this country than have cancer,
despite the fact the incidence of cancer in fact has increased in the last 3 decades, anywhere from 30-300%,
depending on the type of cancer you're talking about. 36% of all patients in a university hospital, according to a
study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, were suffering from iatrogenic disease which means
disease as a result of biotechnical medical intervention: disease a patient had because they happen to see a doctor.
So something is wrong. I don't mean to really give the impression that biotechnical medical intervention is not useful.
It's extremely useful in acute illness. But it does not alter the overall expression of disease in a population. It merely
changes its expression. We no longer have epidemics of polio, tuberculosis, measles, diphtheria and smallpox. But
in their place we have higher incidence of cancer, heart disease, degenerative disorders and obesity. The overall
picture hasn't changed because the model that we've structured of the human body is not the correct model. The
human body is not a frozen sculpture fixed in space and time. The human body is a dynamic bundle of energy,
information and intelligence that constantly is renewing itself and is in exchange with the larger field of energy,
information and intelligence that we call the universe. That in fact if we could really see the human body as it is, not
through the artifact of sensory experience, you would see it to be much more exciting.
The Greek philosopher Heraculutus compared the human body to a river. He said a river is a very mysterious thing.
When you look at a river it looks the same to you in every second of its existence but in fact it's not the same river.
He said you cannot step into the same river twice because new water flows in all the time.
And it's true also of the human body. If you could understand your body as it really is, you would see that the real
you cannot step into the same flesh and bones twice because in every second of your existence you're renewing
your body, changing it more rapidly, more effortlessly, more spontaneously and more easily than you can change
your clothes. We can take a number of processes: eating, breathing, digestion, metabolism, elimination, but most
fundamentally the movement of consciousness which expresses itself as these processes, and you would see how
effortlessly, how easily you can change your body and in fact are doing so all the time.
The physical bodies that you're using to sit on these chairs, for example, aren't the ones that you walked in with a
little while ago. Even with one breath you take in 10 to the power of 22 atoms. An astronomical amount of raw
material that ends up as your heart, brain and kidney cells, your neurons, your DNA. With each breath you breathe
out 10 to the power of 22 atoms. It's an astronomical amount of raw materials that is coming from every bit of your
body. You are literally breathing out bits and pieces of your brain tissue and heart and kidney. Actually, technically
speaking, we are intimately sharing our organs with each other all the time.
The American poet Walt Whitman said, "Every atom belonging to you as well belongs to me." And this isn't a
metaphorical statement at all. "Every atom belonging to you as well belongs to me." I can't even call my personal
body my own. And I try calling everything else my own. I can't even claim a copyright on my own physical body.
Right this moment in your body you have a million atoms that were once in the body of Christ. Based on radioactive
isotope studies and mathematical computations it can easily be shown that in this moment of your existence you
have a million atoms that were once in the body of Christ, in the body of Gautama Buddha or Leonardo Da Vinci or
Michelangelo or Mr. Saddam Hussein. You can't separate yourself from anything physically or anybody that has
In just the last 3 weeks, a quadrillion atoms, 10 to the power of 15 atoms have gone through your body that have
gone through the body of every other species on this planet. And if you do radioactive isotope studies which have
been done very elegantly, you can prove beyond a shadow of doubt that you replace 98% of all the atoms in your
body in less than one year. You make a new liver every 6 weeks, a new skin once a month, a new stomach lining
every 5 days, a new skeleton - it seems so hard and solid, but the skeleton you have now you didn't have three
months ago. Even the brain cells that you think with as carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, as those basic
elements, they weren't there one year ago. And the DNA that holds memories of millions of years of evolutionary
time, in fact hundreds of millions of years; the actual raw material of it comes and goes every six weeks. Those
atoms drift in and out like migratory birds every six weeks.
And if you want to be a real stickler about it and account for the last atom and every little sinew and collagen and
cartilage, then in less than two and a half years you replace every atom in your body down to the last single atom.
So if you think you are your material body then you certainly have a dilemma. Which one are you talking about?
The 1991 model is not the same as the 1990 model or even the one from a few months ago.
So here I stand before you with my l991 model and yet I don't feel that I wasn't here last year. Yet I don't feel that I
wasn't here 2 years ago. Maybe there's a deeper reality to the physical body. Maybe the physical body is what the
Rishis of India call maya, illusion, that which gives us the appearance of something but in fact there is something
else behind the mask of mortality. Behind that facade of mortality there's something else which outlasts the physical
expression of the physical body.
I stand here with a physical body but I have memories and hopes and aspirations and ideas and dreams that were
there last year, that were there 2 years ago. They also change but not so rapidly as my physical body. The shelf life
of my emotions is a little longer than the shelf life of my molecules.
So maybe the body is merely the place my memories are calling home for the time being. Maybe the DNA is also just
that place that my evolutionary memory is calling home for the time being. Maybe I'm not physical molecules that
have created the machine or created the epi-phenomenon of consciousness. Maybe I'm consciousness itself that
has learned how to create the physical machine. Maybe I am a force of intelligence coming out of that same unified
field that makes stars and galaxies and rain forests. Maybe I come from that same place too. And maybe that place
was never born and never died and in fact was always there. I've just forgotten for the moment.
And this is exactly what scientists are beginning to see. Scientists are beginning to see that it is not thoughts which
are a product of molecules, but in fact molecules are structured out of fluctuations of information in a field of infinite
information. That it is consciousness which is the phenomenon and matter which is the epi-phenomenon. It is
consciousness which conceives, governs, constructs and actually becomes physical matter.
In the last few years we've seen some extraordinary research in this field coming out of prestigious universities and
medical schools and places like the National Institute of Health. About 20 years ago it was discovered, for example,
that our thoughts and our feelings have physical substrate to them. When you think a thought you make a molecule.
To think is to practice brain chemistry. And in fact these thoughts are translated into very precise molecules known
as neuropeptides. '"Neuro"' because they were first found in the brain. And 'peptides' because they're protein-like
molecules. And thoughts, feelings, emotions and desires translate into the flux of neuropeptides in the brain.
You can think of these neuro-peptides like little keys that fit into very precise locks called receptors on the cell walls
or other neurons. So the way this part of the brain speaks to another part of the brain is not necessarily in English
with an Indian accent, but in the precise language of these neuropeptides.
What was found subsequently, which was absolutely fascinating was that there were receptors to neuropeptides not
only in brain cells but other parts of the body. So when scientists started looking for receptors to neuropeptides in
cells of the immune system, for example: T cells, B cells, monocytes and macrophages - when they started looking
at them, they found that on the cell walls of all these there were receptors for the same neuropeptides which are the
molecular substrate of thought.
So your immune cells are in fact constantly eavesdropping on your internal dialogue. Nothing that you say to
yourself, which you're doing all the time, even in sleep, escapes the attention of the immune cells. Not only that, the
immune cells, it was subsequently discovered, can make the same peptides that the brain makes when it thinks.
Now here we come to a startling finding, because if the immune cell is making the same chemicals that the brain is
making when it thinks, then the immune cell is a thinking cell. It's a conscious little being.
In fact, the more you look at it, the more you find that it behaves just like a neuron. It makes the same chemical
cords that the brain uses for emotion, thought, feeling and desire. An immune cell has emotions. It has desires. It
has an intellect. It knows how to discriminate and remember. It has to decide when it sees a carcinogen, "Is this a
carcinogen? Should I go after it? Should I leave it alone? Is this a friendly bacteria? Should I go after it or leave it
alone?" It has to remember the last time it encountered something. In fact it remembers the last time somebody else
encountered the same thing.
Your immune cells can immediately recognize anything that has ever been encountered by any living species.
If you are exposed to pneumococus for the first time in your life, your immune cells still remember the last time
somebody somewhere in prehistoric time encountered a pneumococus and knows how to make the precise antibody
to it. It's not only a thinking cell but it remembers way back into the evolutionary history of not only the human
species but other species as well. So you ask a good neurologist the difference between an immune cell and a
neuron and they'll say there isn't any. The immune cell is a circulating nervous system.
Now if that wasn't enough of a startling discovery, the subsequent discoveries in science have been even more
interesting, because when scientists started looking elsewhere in the body they found the same phenomenon. When
they looked at stomach cells and intestinal cells they found the same peptides. The stomach cells make the same
chemical cords that the brain makes when it thinks. Of course they're not verbally as elite as the brain, in that they
don't think in English or Swahili, but nevertheless, they are thinking cells. When you say, "I have a gut feeling about
such and such," you're not speaking metaphorically anymore. You're speaking quite literally because you're gut
makes the same chemicals as the brain makes when it thinks. In fact your gut feelings may be a little more accurate
because gut cells haven't yet evolved to the stage of self doubt.
What science is discovering is that we have a thinking body. Every cell in our body thinks. Every cell in our body is
actually a mind. Every cell has its own desires and it communicates with every other cell. The new word is not mind
and body connection, we have a body-mind simultaneously everywhere.
So when you say, "I have a sad heart," then you literally have a sad heart. If a scientist was looking inside the heart,
he'd find it heavy with sadness. He'll find it heavy with sad molecules. If you say, "I'm bursting with joy," a scientist
could look at your skin. He'll find it loaded with emipramine which is an antidepressant which in fact, has been used
in the treatment of depression by psychiatrists. If you say, "I feel exhilarated, unbounded and joyful," and I was to
examine your blood, I would find high levels of interluken and interferon which are powerful anticancer drugs.
About two years ago, interlukens and interferons were released for the treatment of kidney cancer and melanoma.
The only problem is they're extremely expensive. An initial course of interluken can cost you something like $40,000.
But you could take a joyride on "Magic Mountain" and make a few million dollars of interluken too. Of course, if that
was your idea of fun. In fact it isn't the joyride at all, it's your interpretation of it. Because if you panicked on that
joyride you wouldn't make interluken, you'd make cortisol adrenaline which is completely the opposite. It destroys the
When you have the experience of tranquility, you're body makes Valium and it's identical to the Valium that Hoffman
LaRouch makes except it's made in precise doses for the right target organs. It doesn't make you feel like a zombie.
It is an immuno-modulator. It modulates the activity of the immune system. Even little white cells know how to make
Valium. If you are jittery then your body makes jittery molecules, adrenaline, more adrenaline, cortisol. And they're
not made just by the adrenal glands. They're made everywhere in the body. Little platelets make adrenaline and
they huddle together in their fright. That's how the clotting cascade starts.
So I think the first major breakthrough in medicine, if that's what we're going to call it, is that the mind has escaped
the confines of the brain. It's not confined to the brain, it's everywhere in our body. And if that wasn't enough, it
seems that now it's breaking the confines of the body - out there. Our mind is not even imprisoned in our body. It's
completely non-local. It's everywhere in space and time. In fact, our mind is part of a non-local field of information
that we can only call the cosmic mind.
The German philosopher Nietzsche said, "We live on the presumption that we think when it's equally possible that
we are being thought." And, there may be something to that. What we call our Cosmic Body of the universe may be
in fact a projection of our collective consciousness. We've learned to create that too. Just like we've learned how to
create the body, we've learned how to create the universe.
A few years ago, scientists got interested in a group of hormones called pheromones that were produced by plants.
So if you infect a plant, for example, with gypsy moth, the plants will give off hormones into the atmosphere called
pheromones that immediately inform the rest of the forest that there's gypsy moth around - be careful. And the rest
of the forest will immediately make the appropriate antibodies to protect itself. A plant is aware. It's got a mind. it
informs the others, "This is what's happening. Watch out!"
Insects communicate through pheromones too. You've seen termites build perfect columns in the dark with arches
that meet at the top, perfect architectural designs. How do they do it? They communicate through pheromones.
Sexual and mating behavior is influenced through pheromones.
But recently it's been found that these pheromones in fact may also be the molecular substrate of our emotions. An
experiment was done at Stanford, a particularly cruel experiment, where mice were taken and were given electric
shocks. After a while the mice were removed from the room. Other mice are brought into the room and as soon they
enter the room they panic. They release stress hormones and cortisol because they have inhaled the pheromones
And now it's known that in fact for every single emotion that we have there is a counterpart, a molecular event that
happens not only inside our body but in fact we release those pheromones as information substrates into the
environment. So now when you say, "l went into this room and I felt that the atmosphere was really tense." That's
physiological. When you say, "I went to this holy shrine and I felt peace, love and compassion." That's completely
understandable from a physiological point of view. You say, "I don't know what it is about this chap, but he certainly
gives me the creeps." That's also completely understandable.
Emerson, the philosopher, said, "Who you are shouts so loudly in my ears, I cannot hear what you're saying." And
he was making a physiological statement, completely understandable from the dynamics of how neurobiology
operates. What we will call the universe is in fact a Cosmic Body that we have created in exactly the same way that
we have created our physical body.
And in fact, even though the artifact of sensory experience said, "There's a world out there separate from me and
there's something here that's my body that's separate from that," that's not physiologically true. We are not
skin-encapsulated egos confined to a bag of skin and bones. We may be the Universal Mind itself. There 's a
Universal Body that we have, there's a Cosmic Body that we have and we share our personal body and our Cosmic
Body with each other all the time. And we have learned to create both in exactly the same way, and our Cosmic
Bodies are as crucial to our survival as our personal bodies. They're equally our own.
So, this is the teaching that comes to me, at least I can't take any credit for this incidentally. I'm just a messenger of
a very ancient form of teaching that is known as the Veda, and Ayurveda is the part of Veda that deals with health,
the health of nature. And Veda says that if you just remember who you are, you'll suddenly recognize that you, in
fact, are the Creator.
At one time a fundamentalist preacher met a Vedantist, and the two were talking for a while. After a while the
fundamentalist looked at the Vedantist and he said, "It seems to me that you're an atheist." And the Vedantist looked
back at the fundamentalist and he said, "I used to be one until I realized I was God." And of course this offended the
fundamentalist who said, "Are you denying the divinity of Jesus Christ?" And the Vedantist said, "Heavens! I've never
denied anybody their divinity. Why would I do it to Jesus Christ ?"
This is the essential teaching of the Vedic tradition, and it has very practical applications. The Veda says, "As is the
atom, so is the universe; as is the microcosm so is the macrocosm; as is the human body, so is the Cosmic Body; as
is the human mind, so is the Cosmic Mind." And if you feel uncomfortable with the word "Cosmic Mind," we can
simply call it a "non-local field of information with self referral cybernetic feedback loops." I give talks these days at
medical schools and people are very comfortable with that definition.
Our bodies are literally the music of nature. We have here a symphony which is part of a symphony that has been
there forever. The Veda says, "Behind the mask of mortality is that quantum mechanical body, that subtle Causal
Body, it's something you always had. You always had that. Fire cannot burn it. Water cannot wet it. Wind cannot dry
it. Weapons cannot cleave it. It was never born and it never dies."
Is there any basis for that? Today we are seeing that in fact there is basis. If you could see the body again as a
physicist could see it, all you'd see is atoms. And if you could see the atoms as they really are, not through the
artifact of sensory experience, you'd see these atoms of particles that are moving at lightning speeds around huge
empty spaces. These particles aren't material objects at all. They are fluctuations of energy and information in a
huge void of energy and information. If I could see your body not through this sensory artifact, I'd see a huge empty
void with a few scattered dots and a few random electrical discharges here and there 99.999999% of your body is
empty space! And the .000001% of it that appears as matter is also empty space.
So, it's all empty space. The question is what is this empty space? Is it an emptiness of nothing or a fullness of
non-material intelligence? In fact it is a fullness of non-material intelligence...or information that influences its own
expression. And with that definition, it's very obvious that this empty space is not an emptiness of nothing but a
womb of creation. And nature goes back exactly to that same place, to fashion a galaxy and a rain forest, as it goes
to fashion a thought. It's the same place. And it's inside us, it's our inner space which gives rise with amazing fertility
to all these things that are so crucial to us: right, wrong, God, Heaven, sin, salvation, damnation, grace. All this
comes from the same place. We are it! It's right there.
Bringing that to quantum healing, bringing that whole perspective to quantum healing, we can see how practical it
can become. Because we have to begin to understand the body is really, ultimately, just a field of ideas. And the
universe is just a field of ideas, literally a field.
A scientist by the name of Herbert Specter did an experiment about 20 years ago. He was at the National Institute of
Health, head of Molecular Biology. In this particular experiment he gave mice an injection of a chemical called
Polyisee which stimulates the immune system. He had the mice smell camphor at the same time. After a while the
mice would smell camphor and it would stimulate the immune system. He took some other mice and gave them
psychlophosphamite which is a chemical that destroys the immune system and had them smell camphor at the same
time. And they smell camphor and they destroy the immune system. Here's 2 groups of mice now. One that smells
camphor and stimulates the immune system. One that smells camphor and destroys the immune system.
In one group of mice if you give them pneumococcide they get pneumonia and die of it very quickly. If you give them
carcinogens, they get cancer and die of it very quickly. In the other group nothing happens. And what's the crucial
difference between survival and death in these mice? It's the interpretation of the memory of the smell of camphor.
Is this relevant to us? You bet it is. Because like those mice, we too have conditioned ourselves to respond to
memories in a certain way. We link stimuli to certain memories and every time we're exposed to those stimuli we
reinterpret the universe and ourselves according to the memories. We become the victim of the stale repetition of
It's estimated that the average human has 60,000 thoughts a day. This is not surprising. What is disconcerting is
that 90% of the thoughts you have today are the ones you had yesterday.
So through the same mechanics we keep creating and become bundles of conditioned reflexes and responses
constantly being triggered by people and circumstance into the same predictable biochemical responses and
ultimately into the same behavioral responses and ultimately into the same patterns of disease, aging and death.
We take our sensory experiences to be real. The sage, the seer Audishankra, who lived a long, long time ago in the
Vedic tradition of India said, "The reason we grow old and age and die is we see other people growing old, aging
and dying. And what we see we become." What we see, we become - because we hold that to be true. We cannot
see the world again with fresh eyes.
In the Shiva Sutras, which are again thousands of years old, the yogi of all yogis, Shiva himself, says, "If you want to
recreate the world, then look at it with fresh eyes." The way it really is. Look at it without the camouflage of your own
memories. A true yogi says, "I use memories but I don't let memories use me."
In the Shiva Sutras, again, Lord Shiva says, "Look at a beauteous person or an ordinary object as if for the first
time." How many people can do that? Because they've forgotten to get in touch with the one who is seeing. We are
just a bundle of conditioned reflexes. The outcome of our thoughts and feelings. But who is having these thoughts
and feelings? The one who's having these thoughts and feelings is not the thought. The one who is having these
feelings is the silence between the thoughts. The one who is having these feelings is consciousness itself. But
consciousness itself is not thought, it's the source of thought.
Recently I had a patient with a very dramatic outcome. I just want to go over a couple of case histories to show how
relevant this is. In fact, how relevant this is to not only our survival as a species, but the survival of our own planet.
This young patient that I had, (he was in fact from this area) - he was one day repairing an antenna on the roof and
he picked up a wire, but it happened to be live and had 12,000 volts in it. He was immediately electrocuted. The
mechanism of death for this is ventricular fibrillation which is an electrical event in the heart.
He fell from the roof 15 feet to the ground and as luck would have it he fell with the right impact at the right place
with the right location of his chest with the right amount of angularity to restart another current and defibrillate.
So it's as if God called him and then changed His mind.
And you ask him, "Bob, what happened?" He says, "I went into the gap." I say, "What was there in the gap?" He
says, "It was sheer unbounded joy. It was absolute, total bliss." You ask him, "Were there any thoughts there?"
"No. I didn't have a mind." "Did you have a body?" "No. I didn't have a body." "So what was there?" He said, "l was
just aware. " You ask him, "What were you aware of?" "I was aware that I was aware. But it was pure wakefulness. I
was grounded totally and completely in the experience of my own immortality."
So much so, that he now doesn't know what the meaning of fear is. In fact, not only was he lucky to have this
experience, but like a true scientist, he started experimenting in this field of pure awareness. He would go into the
gap. Now he knew how to slip into it, and from there he would put his attention on his leg which had completely
burned. There was no muscle - nothing. His femur was exposed to the atmosphere. Over the course of 2 years, by
diving into the gap, projecting his awareness from there, be has actually regrown a new lower extremity. Because he
found that place from where everything was created. It's his own Self. It's his own Self.
And where is the Self? Is it in the brain? Is it in the body? Where is it? Because this is really the only important
experience as far as the Vedic teaching of India is concerned. It's the only important experience. The Rishi says, "All
your problems exist because you never paid attention to yourself, only to your experiences." And you're not your
experiences. You're the one who's having those experiences. Enlightenment is not another experience. It's the
discovery of the timeless factor in every experience. And who's that timeless factor? It's you!
Where is the Self? Scientists have been looking for it for a long time. Dr. Penfield the neurophysiologist and
neurosurgeon in Canada, also a Nobel Laureate, when he operated on patients, he would cut open the skull and
look inside. During operations, he'd take an electrode and stimulate different parts of the brain.
So he'd stimulate some part of the motor cortex and the patient's arm would start going up. That's the part that
controls movement. He'd ask what's happening to the patient. The patient would say, "My arm is moving up." And
then he'd say, "Are you moving your arm?" The patient would say, "No. It's moving up." Then he'd say, "OK. Now
you move it." And the patient would move the arm up.
No matter where you look you'll never find the decision maker in the brain You'll only find the execution of those
decisions. The motor cortex, for example, in the brain, it's that place that executes the commands. But where is the
commander? You cannot find it. It's not local. It's everywhere or nowhere depending on your perspective. It's
everywhere and nowhere at the same time. And that's who you are! That's who you are. You're everywhere and
nowhere at the same time. You don't have a local address.
And you're not confined to your physical body either. The Rishi when he finally understands his from his own
experience of immortality, he says, "When I'm in this state, I know for sure that my real state is this Bliss
Consciousness. This bliss that follows me wherever I go. It's closer to me than my body, and there is no past
because what I'm seeking is so near, there is no room for a past. What I'm seeking is the one who's doing the
seeking. It's closer to me than my body, closer to me than my mind. It follows me wherever I go and when I know
this then I'm in bliss."
This is not happiness. Happiness has reasons for it. You're happy because of a reason. But when you're happy for
no reason whatsoever, then you're in bliss When you're grounded in this bliss then you recognize that you're not in
the body, the body is in you You're not in the mind, the mind is in you. You're not in this universe, the universe is in
you. Body, mind, universe just happened to you because you find them interesting. That's all.
This is ultimate Quantum Healing that gets rid once and for all of the maya of mortality, of the facade and
superstition of materialism. When people get grounded in this experience then they lose all fear, including the fear
The poet Tagor said, "This is just a remembering." And it, again, comes not by going outside. It comes by going
inside, by doing that inner work, by going inside, by remembering. It comes by remembering that Silent Witness that
was with us. There's a part of you that was with you when you were born. It was with you when you were a child. It
was with you during adolescence. It's there right now listening. It's independent of all the experiences. It's that Silent
Tagor, in one of his celebrated poems, he says, "I was not aware of the moment when I first crossed the threshold of
this life. What was that power that brought me into this world in the middle of the night like a little bud that opens up
in the forest at midnight. And yet in the morning when I looked upon the light, I felt that I was no stranger in this
world. That the inscrutable without name and form had taken me in its own arms like my mother. Even so, in the
moment of death I will step into the same unknown that has been ever known to me "
What you need to be afraid of is not the unknown, because that's where we live all the time. What we need to be
afraid of, if anything, is the known! Because the known is the rigid patterns of past conditioning that imprison us in a
prison of space, time, and causation - squeeze us into the volume of a body in the span of a lifetime. When that's not
the way it really is.
He says, "Because l love this life I know I can never fear death. The child cries out when it's mother takes it from the
left breast only to find in the very next moment consolation in the right one. Space, time, matter, energy are similarly
engendered by frequencies of self interaction. Curving back within myself, I create again and again. Ultimately I'm
not all of this, I'm the field itself."
In the Gita, Lord Krishna, speaking to Arjuna says, "Know yourself as the field and the knower of the field." The poet
Rumi says, "Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there."
So I'd like to end with a little quote from Franz Kafka, whom everyone remembers as more or less a writer whose
literary reputation rests on his portrayal of acute suffering. But he said something which is a brilliant affirmation of the
path to enlightenment. He said, "You do not need to do anything, just remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not
even listen, just wait. Do not even wait, just be quiet, still and solitary, and the universe will expose itself to you. It has
no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet."
In those words, one feels the breath of reality because they speak to us without disturbing their own stillness. And if
we really want to know what they whisper to us, then we must learn to be equally still ourselves. Thank you very
A Talk Given by Dr. Deepak Chopra, M.D. at the Seattle Center on May 18, 1991.
Originally appeared in Vol. 1, No. 21 of The Sovereign Scribe, P.O. Box 350, McKenna, WA 98558