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Chopra tackles superheroes, science and spirituality

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Deepak Chopra will appear at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday
  • He has written more than 60 books, including a recent work about superheroes
  • His next book is about the tension between science and spirituality

(CNN) -- With more than 60 books to his name and countless speaking engagements, Dr. Deepak Chopra is widely known for his opinions on topics from spirituality to medicine.

Among his recent projects is an exploration of the often-contentious relationship between religion and science.

He's even got views on superheroes, which is why he's appearing at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday on a panel called "From Buddha to Batman."

Channeling superheroes in everyday life

Five years, ago Chopra and "Superman" comic writer Grant Morrison did a Comic-Con panel about how superheroes figure into our culture. That discussion inspired Chopra's recent book "The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes: Harnessing Our Power to Change the World."

"By popular demand," the panel is back, Chopra says. This time, his son Gotham Chopra, who founded Liquid Comics, will also speak.

"There's a potential for greatness within all of us. This greatness unfolds when we have an emotional relationship to role models, either in history or mythology or religion," he said.

These role models, including Superman and Batman, act as symbols that express our collective imagination and desire for greatness, he said. They are symbolic figures found in every culture. Moses, Jesus and Buddha, as well as more recent heroes such as Martin Luther King Jr., are examples.

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"The characters are the same; the uniforms have changed," he said.

Mahatma Gandhi reflected Jesus' teachings of nonviolent solutions, compassion and unconditional love, he said.

By asking meaningful questions -- What kind of world do I want to live in? What are my unique skills and talents? Who are my heroes and heroines? -- we can tap into those archetypes.

Chopra also recommends doing contemplative meditation on these ideas. The basic idea behind this technique is: You ask a question, and then you let it go, releasing it into "the stillness of your own consciousness," he said. You might be sitting in complete quiet or chanting a mantra. The answer may be an insight, a creative epiphany or other idea, but it "always comes back to you."

His favorite among the Western comic book heroes is Batman. "He doesn't really have any superpowers, but yet he can accomplish extraordinary things."

Can spirituality and science coexist?

Chopra's next book, "War of the Worldviews: Science vs. Spirituality," due in October, is co-written with physicist Leonard Mlodinow, who collaborated with Stephen Hawking on a recent book about the universe called "The Grand Design."

The scope of "War of the Worldviews" is ambitious. Chopra and Mlodinow explore how the universe began, the origins of life, whether there are inconsistencies in Darwin's explanations of evolution and the future of the evolution of the human race, among other things.

In Chopra's view, there is definitely room for science and spirituality to complement each other; the tension between them doesn't need to exist, he said. He represents a minority of scientists who integrate established scientific principles with ideas about spirituality and consciousness.

You can think of the beginning of the universe -- the Big Bang and the processes that followed -- as a place specifically created for conscious beings. Another theory is that there are trillions of universes, of which ours is just one. Or, it could be that there is "consciousness" behind the universe to make it so fine-tuned.

And, when you think about our understanding of the physics of the universe, it's even more magnificent than the "cultural mythology" of the creation story that various religions tell, Chopra said.

"The fact that actually universe began 13.8 billion years ago, in an instant, is much more impressive than God taking seven days 6,000 years ago," he said.

And why are there laws of physics? "Are they transcendent principles of a cosmic mind?" Chopra asks.

Naturally, Chopra and Mlodinow had a lot of arguments about what was going into this book, but they became friends also, Chopra said.

And Chopra is looking forward to his return to Comic-Con.

"I love it. It's a whole different world," he said.

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