You don't have to believe in God in order to experience God.--- Deepak Chopra The celebrated author of "Ageless Body, Timeless Mind and "The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success has written his most ambitious and important work yet, a runaway international bestseller that has inspired hundreds of thousands of readers to rethink their concept of God. According to Chopra, the brain is hardwired to know God. The human nervous system has seven biological responses that correspond to seven levels of divine experience. These are shaped not by any one religion (they are shared by all faiths), but by the brain's need to take an infinite, chaotic universe and find meaning in it. "How to Know God describes the quest each of us is on, whether we realize it or not. For, as Chopra puts it, "God is our highest instinct to know ourselves." This book makes a dramatic and enduring contribution to that knowledge.
Prolific author Chopra (The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Creating Health, etc.) explores the different ways people apprehend God. Chopra contends that there are seven responses to God and that "the brain cannot register a deity outside the list of seven responses." Chopra's seven include: fight or flight (a God who can save us from danger), reactive (a rule-giving God), restful awareness (a God who brings tranquility out of chaos), intuitive (a good and forgiving God), creative (God as Creator), visionary (God as exalted) and sacred (God as the source of everything). Different personalities envision God differently, says Chopra; a go-getter determined to shape his own destiny will imagine a creative God, whereas someone who feels she is just barely getting through the day will have the stage-one "fight or flight" response, envisioning a God who can rescue her. For Chopra, these seven ascending stages are normative; someone who has reached stage seven is more in tune with God than someone stuck at stage one. (Readers from law-based religions may feel dismayed that Chopra so devalues their "stage two" conception of God.) To help spiritual pilgrims reach the seventh stage, Chopra recommends that they see themselves and others "in the light," forgive themselves when they err and seek out the sacred and the unknown. Like most theories that claim to be all-encompassing, Chopra's scheme is often reductive, but this will nonetheless be a worthwhile addition to the spiritual seeker's library. (Feb.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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February 19, 2001
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Excerpt from How to Know God by Deepak Chopra
From CHAPTER ONE: A Real and Useful God
God has managed the amazing feat of being worshiped and invisible at the same time. Millions of people would describe him as a white-bearded father figure sitting on a throne in the sky, but none could claim to be an eyewitness. Although it doesn't seem possible to offer a single fact about the Almighty that would hold up in a court of law, somehow the vast majority of people believe in God -- as many as 96 percent, according to some polls. This reveals a huge gap between belief and what we call everyday reality. We need to heal this gap.
What would the facts be like if we had them? They would be as follows. Everything that we experience as material reality is born in an invisible realm beyond space and time, a realm revealed by science to consist of energy and information. This invisible source of all that exists is not an empty void but the womb of creation itself. Something creates and organizes this energy. It turns the chaos of quantum soup into stars, galaxies, rain forests, human beings, and our own thoughts, emotions, memories, and desires. In the pages that lie ahead we will see that it is not only possible to know this source of existence on an abstract level but to become intimate and at one with it. When this happens, our horizons open to new realities. We will have the experience of God.
After centuries of knowing God through faith, we are now ready to understand divine intelligence directly. In many ways this new knowledge reinforces what spiritual traditions have already promised. God is invisible and yet performs all miracles. He is the source of every impulse of love. Beauty and truth are both children of this God. In the absence of knowing the infinite source of energy and creativity, life's miseries come into being. Getting close to God through a true knowing heals the fear of death, confirms the existence of the soul, and gives ultimate meaning to life.
Our whole notion of reality has actually been topsy-turvy. Instead of God being a vast, imaginary projection, he turns out to be the only thing that is real, and the whole universe, despite its immensity and solidity, is a projection of God's nature. Those astonishing events we call miracles give us clues to the workings of this ineffable intelligence. Consider the following story:
In 1924 an old French villager is walking home. With one eye lost in the Great War and the other severely damaged by mustard gas in the trenches, he can barely see. The setting sun is bright, so the old man is completely unaware of the two youths on bicycles who have wheeled around the corner and are barreling down on him.
At the moment of impact an angel appears. He takes the lead bicycle by its two wheels, lifts it a few feet in the air, and sets it down safely on the grass beside the road. The second bicycle stops short, and the youths become tremendously excited. "There are two! There are two!" one of them shouts, meaning that instead of just the old man alone, two figures are standing in the road. The entire village becomes very worked up, claiming afterward that the youths were drunk or else have made up this fantastic tale. As for the old man, when he is asked about it, he says he doesn't understand the question.
Could we ever come to an answer ourselves? As it happens, the old man was a priest, Pére Jean Lamy, and the appearance of the angel has come down to us through his own testimony before his death. Lamy, who was saintly and beloved, seems to be credited with many instances where God sent angels or other forms of divine aid. Although reluctant to talk about them, his attitude was matter-of-fact and modest. Because of Lamy's religious vocation, it is easy to dismiss this incident as a story for the devout. Skeptics would not be moved.