How to know God? For humankind, this fundamental question can also be one of the most perplexing — if not the most daunting — tasks of our oh-so-earthly existence. But renowned physician, author, theologian and alternative-medicine exponent par excellence Deepak Chopra offers a road map for that very quest in his new book, How to Know God (Crown/Harmony Books, 2000).
In connection with the publication of this new work, Chopra — the author of more than 25 volumes of spiritual exploration, including the blockbuster tome Ageless Body, Timeless Mind (Harmony Books, 1993) — is now touring the United States. On Saturday, March 11, he visits Jubilee! Community Church for a special reading sponsored by Malaprop’s Bookstore.
Chopra will discuss his own exploration of the nature and experience of God, an effort he’s defined as a seven-stage evolutionary spiritual quest interwoven with the physical world as perceived by humans and the inescapable quantum world of science, leading ultimately to the virtual domain of God.
Taking his inspiration from an amazingly diverse cache of ancient spiritual and religious writings — including Buddhist, Judeo-Christian and Vedantic texts as well as fixed scientific laws — Chopra fuses these traditionally disparate sources into a fluid and distinctly illuminating tour de force, providing no less than a guide for the soul as we “journey into the mystery of mysteries.”
Born in India into a family of doctors, the author took his training in Western medicine in both India and the U.S.; in the early ’80s, he served as chief of staff at Boston Regional Medical Center.
As a physician, however, Chopra soon found himself frustrated by the inadequacy of the traditional medical system in addressing the “whole person.”
“His frustration with these structural contraints to well-being led to his own spiritual exploration of health as a state of balance,” says Asheville’s Eric Larsen, a mind/body health educator and wellness consultant trained by Chopra.
What followed was an exhaustive personal search for understanding, taking Chopra back to his native India and the study of ancient Vedantic and yogic healing traditions. The result was Ageless Body, Timeless Mind and Journey Into Healing (Harmony Books, 1994) — two books that changed the face of Western healing traditions.
A chronic student of the universe, Chopra was fascinated by the inevitable thread that connects all sacred texts and religions — and the universal desire to become one with God in all incarnations.
His new book interprets this desire by taking the idea one step further. Says Chopra: “You don’t have to believe in God in order to experience God.” This startling and perhaps controversial revelation can be understood, he explains, as an evolutionary journey, a path of spiritual maturation and enlightenment into the very nature of divinity — and into ourselves.
Chopra is no stranger to Asheville, having previously conducted an exhaustive series workshops and seminars at the Grove Park Inn a few years back. According to a spokesman for Crown Publishers, the city’s burgeoning status as a New Age mecca is a chief reason the author is including Asheville on his current tour — which otherwise favors such major metropolises as Chicago, New York, D.C., San Francisco, Boston, Toronto and Atlanta.
“He is one of the most hard-working people I know,” says Larsen, adding, “[Chopra] is committed to getting the message out.” As part of that effort, the doctor has established the Chopra Center for Well-Being in La Jolla, Calif., a holistic retreat described as an all-inclusive “life-transforming and healing experience.”
For many, Asheville seems to offer that same experience. The Rev. Howard Hanger of Jubilee! Community Church, for example, sees the city’s purported spiritual renaissance as a natural extension of the beauty of the area.
So maybe it’s not so remarkable that Chopra — who’s included in Time magazine’s Top 100 Icons and Heroes of the Century list — would want to come here. The natural spiritual splendor of our mountain town draws people “who speak from the heart and not the head,” Hanger notes tellingly.
[Note: Deepak Chopra’s March 11 appearance at Jubilee! Community Church is sold out. To obtain signed copies of How to Know God, contact Malaprop’s Bookstore (55 Haywood St.) at 254-6734.]