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Deepak Chopra: Spiritual healing during times of crisis

Dr. Deepak Chopra is the Director of Education at The Chopra Center for Well Being which offers training programs in mind body medicine (Journey into Healing). He is the author of a number of books on spirituality, health and healing. Dr. Chopra joined the chat room from California.

CNN: Welcome to Dr. Chopra and thank you for being with us today.

DR. DEEPAK CHOPRA: Thank you for having me for this conversation today. It is a privilege to be with all of you.

CNN: Places of worship have reported high turnouts this past week. How do you explain this response?

CHOPRA: It is obvious that military power, economic wealth, and political clout have failed to protect us. We seek safety in each other's company and through spiritual solace and nurturing.

CNN: You and some of your family members were on planes the morning of the attack. How did that affect your own personal response?

CHOPRA: I was devastated to learn that my wife and son were both on separate flights from New York to the West Coast, and I spent hours agonizing over what might have happened to them. When I finally learned they were safe, my anguish did not diminish because I felt the suffering of those families who have been so directly affected by this great tragedy. Much later I had the realization that unless we could feel the anguish and suffering of all humanity, it was not even possible to begin the process of healing.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: DR Chopra. What should people do to try and keep away the post attack depression. I find it hard not to be glued to the unfolding events and concentration is tough.

CHOPRA: One of the best ways to alleviate your own misery at this time is to help alleviate someone else's misery. If you practice acts of loving kindness with people around you and even with strangers, you will start to feel better.

It is important for everyone to keep in close contact and preferably be in physical proximity with their loved ones Appreciate each other, show loving affection to each other, touch each other, and also engage in deep listening to each other.

And above all, pray for all sentient beings on our planet.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: How does one mediate and maintain spirituality through a war?

CHOPRA: It is the only thing that will give you strength. Do not be reactive and vengeful and if you look deeply into your anguish, you will see that it is the anguish of our wounded collective soul. There is no "us" or "them" there is only "us."

CNN: Dr. Chopra, what is your focus on during meditation now in these troubled times?

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CHOPRA: My focus is first of all, to remove every thought of violence from my own consciousness. I think if we can be totally nonviolent within our own self, because we are part of the web of life, we will restore cosmic harmony. We are ripples of consciousness of the vast ocean of consciousness. If we get agitated and become part of the reactionary and vitriolic behavior sometimes around us, we will only add to the disturbance.

The second focus is to pray for the well being of everyone. Evil is a superficial manifestation of a deep disturbance and imbalance in our collective psyche. The only way for us to help heal the wounds is to be sober, sane, quiet, loving, and attentive to each other.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: Dr. Chopra: What are your recommendations for helping young children to relax in the wake of the recent stressful events? How can we reassure them?

CHOPRA: Children do not need explanations at this time. They need loving attention, closeness and deep affection and also loving touch. Love will make them feel safe. And that is the most important thing to practice in this moment.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: Meditation is always needed, even before a war, but too much may lead to forgiveness and softness, don't you think?

CHOPRA: Ask yourself what vengeance and retaliation will achieve. Listen deeply to your heart and ask "will it help or aggravate the situation?" You will know the answer for yourself.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: How can we turn the fear and anger everyone is feeling into something that will make the world more peaceful and less hateful?

CHOPRA: If we could burn with a fire of love in our hearts that has the same intensity as the fire of hatred that caused this devastation, and if we stop thinking of ourselves and only of helping others, you will start to see a dramatic improvement in the suffering we are all going through.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: Do you believe that a personal spirituality is healthier for an individual (and the world) than belief in a specific religion?

CHOPRA: You can see that religion has failed us. Christ was not a Christian. Buddha was not a Buddhist. Mohammed was not a Mohammedan. And yet ever since the dawn of history, we have engaged in conflict and war and terrorism and murder and racism and ethnocentrism and bigotry and prejudice in the name of God. I think the time has come for us to embrace spirituality as a domain of awareness where we all experience our universal nature, where we all experience our inseparability, where we all know love as the ultimate truth at the heart of creation.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: What do you think is the reason for hatred between people across the globe?

CHOPRA: Fear is the emotion behind hatred. Fear comes when you are threatened either physically or emotionally or psychologically. When you do not have the basic requirements for survival and safety and belongingness and where there are huge inequities then that fear turns into hatred.

CHAT PARTICIPANT: Do you think spirituality works without intelligence or how can we use them both in order to balance?

CHOPRA: Spirituality is the only real intelligence. What we refer to as the "intellect" is the internal dialogue of "I and Thou." Intellect, therefore, is not true intelligence, but a deception that allows us to experience fear and separation. We must go beyond the intellect and find recourse in pure intelligence, which is spirit and movement

CNN: Do you have any final thoughts to share with us today?

CHOPRA: If you restore balance in your own self right now, you will be contributing immensely to the healing of the world. Please join us also on our prayer board at

CNN: Thank you for joining us today, Dr. Deepak Chopra.

CHOPRA: Thank you very much. Lets stay together and pray together and share both our joys and suffering together.

Dr. Chopra joined via telephone from Boston. CNN provided a typist for him. The above is an edited transcript of the interview, which took place on Thursday, September 20, 2001.

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