Occasionally, a true star becomes a celebrity and exemplifies a standard of accomplishment based on humility and compassion. Men who come to mind include inventor Buckminster Fuller, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and humanitarian Nelson Mandela. Jean Houston, Starhawk and Maya Angelou are just a few of the women worthy of mention. Here’s another name to add to the list: Deepak Chopra. Find out why when he speaks Wednesday, Oct. 22, at Clowes Memorial Hall on the Butler University campus. Dr. Chopra wields his celebrity status in service to a vision of humanity full of creative potential that can solve the vexing problems of life.
Since coming into general public awareness in the 1980s as a promoter of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Transcendental Meditation™ program, Dr. Chopra has become a recognized authority on mind/body medicine. Time magazine named him one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the 20th century and called him “the poet-prophet of alternative medicine.”
The author of more than 50 books (including the best-selling Ageless Body, Timeless Mind and The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success), Dr. Chopra has established the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, CA. He has embraced the multimedia world and regularly blogs for the Washington Post, Huffington Post and Beliefnet. His own site, deepakchopra.com, features videos and commentary on a range of subjects, including politics, religion, health and the environment.
Fame and good fortune notwithstanding, Chopra remains a humble healer. “I’m very grateful for all the things that have happened,” he said in a recent phone conversation. “It can only be summed up in one word: Grace.”
He is also an outspoken change agent. Asked to cite a positive trend, he pointed to Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy. “This means there’s a critical shift in collective consciousness,” Dr. Chopra said. “People are ready to be inspired.” But isn’t popular culture resistant to such talk? “We have to change the culture,” he said.
He described how this could work in regard to environmental degradation. Planetary transformation is closely linked to our personal transformation, he said. “It requires a shift in our perception of what we call the environment. The environment is not just an environment, it’s our extended body — trees are our lungs, the earth recycles our body, the rivers and waters are our circulation, the air is our breath.
“So first of all we need to shift our consciousness so that we can perceptually experience the world as our extended body — that’s a spiritual pursuit. When people have that, it becomes impossible for them to hurt the environment because they see it as their own self.”
Dr. Chopra said he founded a nonprofit organization, the Alliance for a New Humanity, to help catalyze the planetary cultural transformation already under way. “We’re creating a platform worldwide for people and communities and organizations to engage in three events. First, to be the change they want to see in the world. Then, to make a difference so whatever they want to do in the world, whatever they have a passion for, we’ll make it possible for them to do. And then, we will offer the ability to share their story of personal and planetary transformation with people going through the same experience.”
Such a vast global vision requires local action. “ It’s very important that you start where you are in your own neighborhood,” he said. “One of the things that we’ll be doing in Indianapolis is bringing awareness to what you can do in your own community.”
Efforts are under way to establish a local branch of the Alliance for a New Humanity.
Philanthropist Jeremy Efroymson is helping sponsor Dr. Chopra’s appearance. He’s been inspired enough by Dr. Chopra’s work to visit the Chopra Center to meet him and to attend ANH meetings in Puerto Rico as well. “It’s important for Deepak’s message to be heard here,” Efroymson said recently. “We need to hear alternative viewpoints, and I think he has a lot of constructive things to say.”
Another sponsor, Richard Brendan, president and founder of Journey’s Fire International, said bringing Dr. Chopra to Indianapolis helps his organization meet its mission of “inspiring soul and service for a new humanity.” “We bring social change agents to town with the purpose of enlarging the choir,” Brendan said. “Too often you go to events and see the choir. We want to expand the choir and bring in new people.” Brendan plans to hold follow-up meetings after Dr. Chopra’s appearance in order to keep the conversation going. “We plan to introduce people to the art of sacred activism — a fusion of inner work of the heart with outer service in the world,” he said.
The person most responsible for bringing Dr. Chopra to Indianapolis doesn’t even live here. Sister Judian Breitenbach runs the Sari Asher Namasté Center, a holistic healing facility in La Porte, IN. She has known and worked with Dr. Chopra since the early 1990s. When she steps up to the podium to introduce him at Clowes, she’ll be introducing a friend and a colleague. “Deepak has made us all feel like colleagues,” she said. “We are journeyers together. He’s such a wonderful, humble person.”
Dr. Chopra calls her “a very good friend and very inspiring. She exemplifies true courage,” he added, citing her recent successful battle with cancer. “She used every kind of alternative, integrative treatment and she’s doing extraordinarily. Her enthusiasm never wanes.”
Sister Judian says she uses a mantra given to her by Dr. Chopra. “When anything happens that is upsetting to me, my first response is, ‘We all do the best we can at our level of consciousness, and if we can remember that, we can continue to love each other and forgive each other.’”
“I was with him when he opened his center in California, and I have had the privilege of watching him grow through his books and lectures and his spiritual development into this magnificent spiritual leader,” she said. “What really impresses me is his authenticity.”
Wednesday, Oct. 22
What: Lecture and Reception
When: Lecture, 7:30 p.m.
VIP Reception 6-7 p.m.
Where: Clowes Memorial Hall
Tickets: Lecture: $45, $30
Lecture and VIP reception $125
Tickets sold at ticketmaster and in person at Clowes Box Office
or go to www.anhglobal.org;ww.journeysfire.org;ww.cloweshall.org
for more information