Peace is the Way. Bringing War and Violence to an End
by Deepak Chopra
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Reviewed by Sreeram Chaulia
Deepak Chopra needs no introduction. The most famous New Age
guru who brought back community and spirit to our decadent
times, he is read, quoted and followed by millions
worldwide. In his latest writing venture, the Indian-born,
US-based celebrity doctor goes beyond faith healing and
alternative medicine to the greatest scourge of history -
war. This optimistic how-to guide to
couples metaphysical nuggets with psychological case
studies. It reinstates humanistic truths in a climate of
terror and counter-terror.
To end war, the idea and habit of war have to be eschewed.
War has worn a groove on American minds - a secret pleasure
that brings excitement and pumps up the adrenalin. Although
the 20th century took more than 100 million lives in violent
conflict, Americans still think war does some good. Chopra's
substitute is the way of peace, conscious evolution to "love
in action", one person at a time. War begins in the human
heart and can only
end there. If we can demonstrate that peace is more
satisfying than war, collective consciousness will shift,
because "society takes a direction that the individual
wants". (p 5)
Adventure, power and expansion are primary values in life,
all of which are better serviced by peace than war. The
world may be constructed on greed and fear, but intimidating
blocks are unsustainable. If one enters the realm of peace,
consciousness expands without having to invade and occupy
other countries. Ancient Vedic texts demonstrate how peace
uplifts the perceiver and brings unique satisfactions of
having no enemies.
Chopra's personalized practicum to attaining a peaceful
conscience runs as follows: free up emotions to feel the
anguish of war survivors; relate to others non-violently and
bond with mutual trust; love and respect the environment
with awareness; give up outworn militarized ways and
encourage evolutionary impulses; relinquish grievances and
send out forgiveness; offer help without expecting gratitude
Dehumanizing and demonizing the "other" is propaganda "so
that more of 'them' can be killed with a clear conscience".
(p 33) Chopra nudges seekers to get out of the trap of
separation, bringing otherness to closure. Echoing the
Advaita Hindu philosophy, he urges us to "escape the
divisions that duality imposes". (p 48) Instead of blaming
victims (eg "they deserved to be bombed"), we should look
inward to discover our own darker sides. To be liberated at
the level of soul and reclaim the hijacked part of our
identities, "examine the layers of false identity" that we
mistakenly call "us" and keep unraveling until the core gets
Toxic nationalism keeps Americans in the grip of unreality.
A society dominated by the military, where arms outstrip
culture, is "the opposite of freedom". (p 58) Chopra asks
his fellow countrymen to sidestep rationalist hegemony and
"realize who you really are" through technologies of peace
such as spoon-bending, telekinesis, magic, healing and
One of the core beliefs in arms buildups is the masculine
illusion that military might is essential for feeling secure
in a dangerous world. Old realist beliefs persist in the age
of record defense budgets and depleted uranium weapons.
Chopra logically argues how "American militarism is utterly
futile and useless against terrorists." (p 87)
Notions of efficiency, rationality and free markets have
disrespected Mother Nature. If we abandon the claim of
conquerors, the universe freely offers gifts and bounties.
Chopra holds reason and objectivity responsible for the
hellish machinery of war. They disconnect people from
emotions, instincts, feelings and intuition by shutting off
and condemning the lower brain's nobler functions.
Chopra's golden preaching is to overcome rigid scientific
prejudices and learn to access the soul, which lies deeper
than anger and hate. "Pay attention to messages that come
from some place deeper than the superficial layer of
personality and ego." (p 120) As divisions between outer and
inner melt, pure consciousness will spring into action.
Sharing the consciousness with others, as practiced in the
Indian tradition of Satsang, ignites the highest purpose and
constructs an ideal peace movement.
Memory keeps long-held resentments inflamed. It occludes new
information and holds old rages captive until they fester.
Chopra advises the victimized to follow Mahatma Gandhi's
manner of inner guidance to "integrate old hurts and new
experiences". (p 131) If we choose the intent to forgive and
heal, new energies come in. We must patiently discard masks
and be willing to be touched by beauty and truth.
Chopra rues the impotence of the churches in the US to bring
war to an end. More believers are convinced that "God
supports war and is on the side of America." They avoid
self-confrontation, judge others outside the Christian faith
as sinners and claim to be on the one and only correct path.
In the least evolved state of consciousness, God appears
harsh, unyielding and vengeful. In the next stage, He is
comfortable with violence to secure land, money and power
for the "chosen ones". In stage three, He is kind and
lenient but does not welcome humans as "co-creators of their
own reality". The God of stage four is a mysterious presence
who is revealed through insight, but cannot resolve war
because believers are detached from others. The stage five
God is a pure creator unable to change the world. In stage
six, God is grace personified and has vehicles in the form
of saints and visionaries. At the capstone of evolution, God
loses attributes and presides over a completely unified
world that is beyond opposites. This state is described in
the Rig Veda as one where "no one is ever at war with anyone
else". (p 168)
Chopra addresses peacemakers not to ignore the inhuman
cruelty of jihadis. Terrorists create a false sense of self
as virtuous and utopian due to ideology. A rival brand of
ideology has arisen in the form of fundamental Christianity.
Both show no mercy in the holy war to wipe out "evil". In
the absence of distorting authorities and ideologies, "the
natural course of awareness is deep need for love". (p 185)
Love will endure much longer than terrorism.
The current style of diplomatic negotiations comes in for
criticism from Chopra. Opponents pretend to be friends
across the table but remain enemies in their hearts with no
fundamental respect for each other. Genuine forgiveness, of
the sort that Japan displayed for the US since World War II,
has healing power. It clears the obstacles that prevent love
from coming through and establishes an emotional
comfort-level based on trust.
Hope for peace has often been a cloak for violence. Chopra
insists that war and pummeling adversaries to submission
never yield real peace. Violence "pollutes the emotional
body" to imagine dangers and threats everywhere. Wars are in
fact "eruptions from the unconscious" loaded with fear and
anger. Contrary to the likening of homo sapiens to beasts,
humans are not hard-wired to go to war. Sharing, altruism
and other higher emotions are very much present in us and
actually have survival benefits. Compassion is the innate
quality that could save humanity from mechanized death and
violence. The body at peace is less burdened with random
uncontrollable stress and has stronger immune systems. The
key is to "find a spiritual center, a core, and hold on to
At the bottom, a violent person is hopeless, living in an
environment where hopelessness is a daily fact. Only a form
of suffering can motivate someone to desperate measures.
Chopra offers real hope founded on "self-knowledge". It
uncovers denial, inspires an end to apathy or emotional
numbness, and assists in relating to the world through soul
rather than trauma. Absolute consciousness is connecting to
pure being. Our task is to find "the timeless region, that
seed ground beyond right and wrong, where you add to the
peace of the world". (p 235)
Devoid of claims to originality of thought, Chopra has
masterfully distilled timeless wisdom in this easily
comprehensible book that proposes alternatives to activist
and humanitarian approaches to peace. To the heedless world,
the endorsement I can humbly submit is: read it and be
Peace is the Way. Bringing War and Violence to an End
by Deepak Chopra. Random House, London, 2005. ISBN:
1-8441-3019-3. Price: US$23, 264 pages.
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