Dis­cover your true po­ten­tial.

In his new book, You Are the Uni­verse, best-sell­ing au­thor and in­te­gra­tive-medicine ex­pert Deepak Cho­pra, MD, ex­plains that the uni­verse is par­tic­i­pa­tory and that all of us are cre­ators of our re­al­ity. Here, Cho­pra ex­plores how yoga can help us un­der­stand

Yoga Journal - - Contents - By Deepak Cho­pra

An in­te­gra­tive-medicine pi­o­neer ex­plores how yoga en­lists us as co-cre­ators of the uni­verse.

AL­THOUGH I GREW UP know­ing about yoga, as ev­ery child in In­dia did, and I later prac­ticed a set of asanas as part of my med­i­ta­tion prac­tice, the real rev­e­la­tion that the phys­i­cal prac­tice of yoga can serve as the door­way to ex­panded con­scious­ness didn’t oc­cur to me un­til fairly re­cently. The change of heart that turned me from pri­mar­ily a med­i­ta­tor into a ded­i­cated stu­dent of hatha yoga [the prac­tice of co­or­di­nat­ing phys­i­cal yoga pos­tures with breath] was dif­fer­ent, per­haps, from what oth­ers feel when they make yoga class part of their weekly rou­tine. It hap­pened when I be­came con­vinced that body, mind, and cos­mos were the same uni­fied ac­tiv­ity, thus de­serv­ing to be treated that way in­stead of re­fer­ring to them as sep­a­rate en­ti­ties. I could see that prac­tic­ing asana could help me ac­cess the univer­sal life force that unites us all.

We tend to treat the body as dif­fer­ent from the mind, or the mind as dif­fer­ent from the cos­mos, but we rarely stop to ask why. I be­lieve these sep­a­ra­tions are symp­toms of a larger sep­a­ra­tion, one that has had the dis­as­trous ef­fect of dis­guis­ing our cos­mic self. Any­thing that can

put us on the path to redis­cov­er­ing that lost cos­mic self is of ut­most value—and yoga is first on the list—be­cause there is a hid­den di­men­sion of re­al­ity that would deeply ben­e­fit us with a greater sense of peace, joy, and seren­ity once we reach it.

In or­der to un­der­stand yoga’s power to con­nect us with our cos­mic self, let’s start with a ques­tion so ba­sic it may at first seem triv­ial: What is a loaf of bread made of? The cur­rently ac­cepted an­swer in quan­tum physics is “noth­ing,” be­cause all mat­ter and en­ergy (along with time and space) emerge from a void, the so-called quan­tum vac­uum. But we know a lot about this noth­ing. We know it con­tains the po­ten­tial to cre­ate ev­ery­thing, from some­thing as vast as all pos­si­ble uni­verses to some­thing as in­ti­mate as a heart cell. There­fore, the void is more ap­pro­pri­ately called the womb of cre­ation, or a field of in­fi­nite pos­si­bil­i­ties.

This word, “pos­si­bil­i­ties,” catches my at­ten­tion, be­cause it lev­els the play­ing field: The pos­si­bil­ity of a new ge­netic mu­ta­tion or of a new su­per­nova be­ing formed or of a new piece of mu­sic be­ing cre­ated can be traced to its source. In ev­ery case, the source is pure pos­si­bil­ity—“pure” mean­ing that there is no mat­ter, en­ergy, or phys­i­cal trace of any kind. Physi­cists some­times like to say that cre­ation in­volves some­thing com­ing out of noth­ing, the ultimate magic act. And so we face a seem­ing para­dox: A loaf of bread is re­duc­ible to noth­ing, and yet that same noth­ing is rich with in­fi­nite po­ten­tial. Why would noth­ing turn into some­thing? What mo­ti­vates it? In physics, there’s no real an­swer, largely be­cause mo­ti­va­tion im­plies a mind seek­ing mean­ing, pur­pose, knowl­edge, and ful­fill­ment—all at­tributes main­stream physi­cists don’t con­sider ac­cept­able.

In con­scious­ness stud­ies, how­ever, these at­tributes are not just ac­cept­able, they’re to­tally nec­es­sary. When con­scious­ness emerges from the void—whether in the form of the hu­man mind or in the con­scious­ness of other be­ings—the ex­pe­ri­ence reg­is­ters as mean­ing­ful. If you throw out all the dif­fer­ences be­tween any thoughts, what’s left is the ir­re­duc­ible fact that we ex­pe­ri­ence the world, and we know we are hav­ing an ex­pe­ri­ence. With­out get­ting com­pli­cated, let’s just say that “know­ing” is al­ways united with “con­scious­ness.”

But there’s an epiphany lurk­ing in­side that sim­ple state­ment. If con­scious­ness also emerges from a field of in­fi­nite pos­si­bil­i­ties, and know­ing emerges with it, then know­ing is also in­fi­nite. We can’t back away from this idea as too grandiose, ab­stract, or the­o­ret­i­cal, be­cause it isn’t. In fact, this char­ac­ter­is­tic of in­finite­ness is how know­ing cre­ated the re­al­ity you per­ceive all around you. All the qual­i­ties of re­al­ity you rely upon—the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and tex­tures of the world—are self-cre­ated. As the em­i­nent Aus­tralian neu­rol­o­gist and No­bel lau­re­ate Sir John Ec­cles de­clared, “I want you to re­al­ize that there ex­ists no color in the nat­u­ral world, and no sound—noth­ing of this kind; no tex­tures, no pat­terns, no beauty, no scent.” What Ec­cles meant was that all the qual­i­ties of na­ture, from the lux­u­ri­ous scent of a rose to the sting of a bee and the taste of honey, are pro­duced by hu­man be­ings. In other words, ev­ery­thing you con­sider real is ac­tu­ally a re­flec­tion of what you know. If you strip away the rose, the bee, and the honey, their phys­i­cal re­al­ity will van­ish, but your abil­ity to know re­mains. This know­ing is the leaping-off place for all cre­ativ­ity, be­cause new knowl­edge is in­fi­nite.

Which brings us back to yoga’s con­nec­tion to the cos­mic self. The in­spired ge­nius con­tained in yoga—mean­ing its en­tirety, in­clud­ing med­i­ta­tion, pranayama, phi­los­o­phy, and hatha yoga—was to re­store hu­man be­ings to the sta­tus of know­ers, a sta­tus that is lit­er­ally god­like. Along with Lord Kr­ishna in the Bha­gavad Gita, we can say, “I am the field and the knower of the field.” This state­ment is al­ready true. It is true here and now, right this in­stant.

The only dif­fer­ence be­tween a yoga master and some­one else is their de­gree of know­ing. Be­fore dis­cov­er­ing what yoga is about, a per­son may not feel like the cre­ator of their own per­sonal re­al­ity; but through yoga, they ab­sorb that this is true. How? Be­cause re­al­ity is dif­fer­ent in dif­fer­ent states of con­scious­ness, and each asana gen­tly places us in a new state of con­scious­ness, if only briefly and sub­tly at first. This un­cov­ers an­other rev­e­la­tion: Ev­ery ex­pe­ri­ence is about con­scious­ness. The an­cient sages of yoga had a vi­sion that the ultimate pur­pose of be­ing hu­man here on this earth is to en­gage in life as a process, and that all pro­cesses take place in con­scious­ness, lead­ing in an evo­lu­tion­ary arc—a never-end­ing jour­ney—to the field of in­fi­nite pos­si­bil­i­ties, which is our source.

When you reach the source and know it per­son­ally, it dawns on you that “I am That, You are That, and All This is That.” This say­ing sounds so ar­cane and mys­te­ri­ous, but its mean­ing is ac­tu­ally quite ba­sic: Ev­ery­thing is an ac­tiv­ity in con­scious­ness, orig­i­nat­ing in con­scious­ness, and made of con­scious­ness. This re­al­iza­tion is con­sid­ered the ultimate lib­er­a­tion. We can’t be sure that this lib­er­a­tion lies ahead of us to­mor­row, but we can live know­ing that this is the goal and pur­pose of be­ing here. More im­por­tantly, we can em­brace the glimpses we get of life in lib­er­a­tion, glimpses that come any time we feel joy, love, com­pas­sion, safety, a sense of mean­ing, and the touch of “the light,” how­ever you wish to de­fine that. Yoga is based on the knowl­edge that no one is weak, lost, or in­signif­i­cant. We are chil­dren of the uni­verse, and for that rea­son, the hu­man uni­verse spreads out all around us, in­fi­nite in ev­ery di­rec­tion.

Deepak Cho­pra MD, FACP, founder of The Cho­pra Foun­da­tion and co-founder of The Cho­pra Cen­ter for Well­be­ing, is a pi­o­neer in in­te­gra­tive medicine and per­sonal trans­for­ma­tion, and is board cer­ti­fied in in­ter­nal medicine, en­docrinol­ogy, and me­tab­o­lism. He is the au­thor of more than 85 books trans­lated into over 43 lan­guages, in­clud­ing nu­mer­ous New York Times best-sell­ers.

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