Decoding Deepak may be a bit of a misnomer because Deepak Chopra is very easy to interpret. This documentary, made by his son Gotham, follows Chopra over the period of a year from speaking engagements, to Sedona to a Buddhist monastery in Thailand. In an exclusive interview with Free Press Houston Chopra spoke quite freely about the film, his life and his latest book. Chopra’s life, you see, is an open book.
“My son asked me to be the subject of his documentary, and how can a parent refuse such a simple request from their child,” Chopra said. “It’s a classic father son story, it’s as much about him as about me.” Admittedly Chopra doesn’t see that many films. Before Decoding Deepak, which he saw at a festival, the last film he’d seen was “the previous Batman movie [The Dark Knight, 2008].”
Chopra’s newest book God explores the lives of mystics, saints and philosophers throughout history. Indeed the book starts with Job and Socrates and St. Paul who were all born in the time now referred to as Before the Common Era, and travels chronologically through the ages with parables about Shankara, Rumi, and Julian of Norwich. Chapters on Giordano Bruno and Anne Hutchinson reveal great thinkers whose visions of religion were too radical for the times they lived in, resulting in imprisonment and certain death. God ends with a description of Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore and Albert Einstein having a days-long conversation that was covered extensively by the then media (newspapers, radio). Perhaps not oddly the things these two men spoke about (the timeframe was before WWII) were of the same transcendental nature as the subjects that brought banishment and torture to mystics in previous eras. “It tracks our understanding of the source of the universe from the time of Job to the time of Einstein,” states Chopra.
FPH: You’ve written over 60 books. How does the creative process work for you?
Chopra: I write during the day, mostly in the morning.
FPH: What do you consider your best books?
Chopra: The Book of Secrets , Reinventing the Body , Ageless Body Timeless Mind , and my most recent book God, which came out yesterday.
FPH: In the film we see you going into a monastery. Can you describe your time there? How is it different from everyday meditation?
Chopra: I do a week of silence every year, sometimes a couple of times a year. What was different here was the experience of being in a monastery under the guidance of an abbot. We would observe silence during the day and talk to the abbot at night. From midnight until six in the morning we would meditate on impermanence and death. Then eat and sleep and then repeat everything the next day.
FPH: Is this kind of meditation conducive to breakthroughs in consciousness?
Chopra: Not really, breakthroughs come when they come.
FPH: In one interview you stated you hadn’t been nervous since you were 14. What happened at that age?
FPH: In another interview you say the body replenishes every atom on a yearly basis.
Chopra: Your bones recycle every three months, your stomach every five days, in one year your body has totally recycled.
FPH: Could you speak about biological creativity?
Chopra: Normally your body behaves predictably. You’re conditioned, and so is your mind. By and large we’re predictable beings. Creativity is a break from predictability. The more you embrace uncertainty the more you have access to creativity. The mind is conditioned by education, by culture, by parenting, by religion, by history, by economics, so when you go beyond all of that there is a whole consciousness. In spiritual traditions that’s called the soul. That unconditioned mind is creative. Children are creative because they haven’t been conditioned. Creativity comes from embracing uncertainty, being playful and not being bamboozled by the hypnosis of social conditioning. You can never program true creativity into a computer, you can simulate it but true creativity cannot come from a machine.
Decoding Deepak opens this weekend at the Sundance Cinemas Houston.
– Michael Bergeron