The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life (Chopra, Deepak) (英語) ペーパーバック – ラフカット, 2005/9/27
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"The Book of Secrets is the finest and most profound of Deepak Chopra’s books to date. Want the answers to the secrets of life? Let me recommend that you start right here." —Ken Wilber, author of A Brief History of Everything
We all want to know how to find a soul mate, what career would be most fulfilling, how to live a life with meaning, and how to teach our children well. We are looking for a personal breakthrough, a turning point, a revelation that brings with it new meaning. The Book of Secrets—a crystalline distillation of insights and wisdom accumulated over the lifetime of one of the great spiritual thinkers of our time—provides an exquisite new tool for achieving just that.
Every life is a book of secrets, ready to be opened. The secret of perfect love is found there, along with the secrets of healing, compassion, faith, and the most elusive one of all: who we really are. We are still mysteries to ourselves, despite the proximity of these answers, and what we most long to know remains lodged deep inside.
Because answers to the questions at the center of life are counterintuitive, they are often hidden from view, sequestered from our everyday gaze. In his ongoing quest to elevate our experience, bestselling author Deepak Chopra has isolated fifteen secrets that drive the narrative of this inspiring book—and of our lives. From "The World Is in You" and "What You Seek, You Already Are" to "Evil Is Not Your Enemy" and "You Are Truly Free When You Are Not a Person," The Book of Secrets is rich with insights. It is a priceless treasure that can transport us beyond change to transformation, and from there to a sacred place where we can savor the nectar of enlightenment.
Introduction: Opening the Book of Secrets
The greatest hunger in life is not for food, money, success, status, security, sex, or even love from the opposite sex. Time and again people have achieved all of these things and wound up still feeling dissatisfied—indeed, often more dissatisfied than when they began. The deepest hunger in life is a secret that is revealed only when a person is willing to unlock a hidden part of the self. In the ancient traditions of wisdom, this quest has been likened to diving for the most precious pearl in existence, a poetic way of saying that you have to swim far out beyond shallow waters, plunge deep into yourself, and search patiently until the pearl beyond price is found.
The pearl is also called essence, the breath of God, the water of life, holy nectar—labels for what we, in our more prosaic scientific age, would simply call transformation. Transformation means radical change of form, the way a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. In human terms, it means turning fear, aggression, doubt, insecurity, hatred, and emptiness into their opposites. Can this really be achieved? One thing we know for certain: The secret hunger that gnaws at people’s souls has nothing to do with externals like money, status, and security. It’s the inner person who craves meaning in life, the end of suffering, and answers to the riddles of love, death, God, the soul, good and evil. A life spent on the surface will never answer these questions or satisfy the needs that drive us to ask them.
Finding the hidden dimensions in yourself is the only way to fulfill your deepest hunger.
After the rise of science, this craving for knowledge should have faded, but it has only grown stronger. There are no new “facts” to discover about life’s hidden dimensions. Nobody needs to peer at more CAT scans of patients undergoing a near-death experience or take more MRIs of yogis sitting deep in meditation. That phase of experimentation has done its work: We can be assured that wherever consciousness wants to go, the human brain will follow. Our neurons are capable of registering the highest spiritual experiences. In some ways, however, you and I know less about the mystery of life than our ancestors.
We live in the Age of the Higher Brain, the cerebral cortex that has grown enormously over the last few millennia, overshadowing the ancient, instinctive lower brain. The cortex is often called the new brain, yet the old brain held sway in humans for millions of years, as it does today in most living things. The old brain can’t conjure up ideas or read. But it does possess the power to feel and, above all, to be. It was the old brain that caused our forebears to sense the closeness of a mysterious presence everywhere in Nature.
That presence, which is found in every particle of creation, suffuses your life, too. You are a book of secrets waiting to be opened, although you probably see yourself in totally different terms. On a given day, you are a worker, a father or mother, husband or wife, a consumer combing the mall stores for something new, an audience member waiting impatiently for the next entertainment.
When you are living the truth of one reality, every secret reveals itself without effort or struggle.
It comes down to the age-old choice of separation or unity. Do you want to be fragmented, conflicted, torn between the eternal forces of darkness and light? Or do you want to step out of separation into wholeness? You are a creature who acts, thinks, and feels. Spirituality fuses these three into a single reality. Thinking doesn’t lord it over feeling; feeling doesn’t stubbornly resist the higher brain; doing occurs when both thought and feeling say, “This is right.” The one reality can be recognized because once you are there, you experience the flow of life without obstacles or resistance. In this flow, you encounter inspiration, love, truth, beauty, and wisdom as natural aspects of existence. The one reality is spirit, and the surface of life is only a disguise with a thousand masks that keeps us from discovering what is real. A thousand years ago, such a statement would have met with no argument. Spirit was accepted everywhere as the true source of life. Today, we have to look with new eyes at the mystery of existence, for as proud children of science and reason, we have made ourselves the orphans of wisdom.
Therefore, this book must work on two fronts. First, it must persuade you that there really is a mystery lying in the hidden dimensions of life. Second, it must inspire you to feel the passion and dedication required to get there. This isn’t a project to postpone until you are ready. You have been ready since the day you forgot to keep asking who you are and why you are here. Sadly, most of us keep shutting out thousands of experiences that could make transformation a reality. If it weren’t for the enormous effort we put into denial, repression, and doubt, each life would be a constant revelation.
Ultimately you have to believe that your life is worth investigating with total passion and commitment. It took thousands of tiny decisions to keep the book of secrets closed, but it takes only a single moment to open it again.
I take it literally when the New Testament says, “Ask and you will receive, knock and the door will be opened.” It’s that simple. You will know every secret about life when you can truly say I must know. I can’t wait a moment longer. Buddha sitting under the Bodhi tree and Jesus wrestling with demons in the desert are symbolic of the same drama of the soul that you were born to repeat. Never doubt this: You are the most significant being in the world, because at the level of the soul you are the world. You don’t have to earn the right to know. Your very next thought, feeling, or action can begin to uncover the deepest spiritual wisdom, which flows as pure and free as mountain waters in spring. It isn’t possible for the self to keep secrets from itself forever, no matter how thoroughly we’ve been trained to believe otherwise.
Secret #1: The Mystery of Life Is Real
The life you know is a thin layer of events covering a deeper reality. In the deeper reality, you are part of every event that is happening now, has ever happened, or ever will happen. In the deeper reality, you know absolutely who you are and what your purpose is. There is no confusion or conflict with any other person on earth. Your purpose in life is to help creation to expand and grow. When you look at yourself, you see only love.
The mystery of life isn’t any of these things, however. It’s how to bring them to the surface. If someone asked me how to prove that there really is a mystery of life, the simplest proof would be just this enormous separation between deep reality and everyday existence. Ever since you and I were born, we’ve had a constant stream of clues hinting at another world inside ourselves. Haven’t you ever fallen into a moment of wonder? Such moments may come in the presence of beautiful music, or in the sight of natural beauty that sends a shiver up your spine. Or you may have looked out of the corner of your eye at something familiar—morning sunlight, a tree swaying in the wind, the face of someone you love as he or she sleeps—knowing in that moment that life was more than it appears to be.
Countless clues have come your way, only to be overlooked because they didn’t form a clear message. I have met an astonishing number of people whose spiritual beginnings were nothing short of amazing: As children, they may have seen a grandmother’s soul leave at the moment of her death, witnessed beings of light surrounding on a birthday, traveled beyond their physical bodies, or come home from school to see a beloved family member standing in the hallway, even though the person had just died in a terrible auto accident. (One man told me he was a “bubble boy” for the first ten years of his life, journeying in his bubble high over the city and away to unknown lands.) Millions of people—this is no exaggeration but testimony from public polls—have seen themselves bathed in a pearlescent white light at times. Or they heard a voice they knew came from God. Or they had invisible guardians in childhood, secret friends who protected them while they slept.
Eventually, it became clear to me that more people have had such experiences—truly secret voyages into a reality separated from this one by a flimsy veil of disbelief—than not. Parting the veil means changing your own perception. This is a personal, totally subjective, yet very real shift.
Where would you begin to solve a mystery that is everywhere, yet somehow never forms a whole message? A great sleuth like Sherlock Holmes would start his search from one elementary deduction: Something unknown wants to be known. A mystery that doesn’t want to be known will just keep retreating the closer you come to it. The mystery of life doesn’t behave that way: Its secrets are revealed immediately if you know where to look. But where is that?
The body’s wisdom is a good entry point into the hidden dimensions of life, because although completely invisible, the body’s wisdom is undeniably real—a fact that medical researchers began to accept in the mid-1980s. The former view was that the brain’s capacity for intelligence was unique. But then signs of intelligence began to be discovered in the immune system, and then in the digestive system. In both these systems, special messenger molecules could be observed circulating through every organ, bringing information to and from the brain, but also functioning on their own. A white cell that can distinguish between invading enemy bacteria and harmless pollen is making an intelligent decision, even though it floats in the bloodstream apart from the brain.
Ten years ago, it would have seemed absurd to speak of intestines being intelligent. The lining of the digestive tract was known to possess thousands of nerve endings, but these were just remote outposts of the nervous system—a way for it to keep in touch with the lowly business of extracting nutrition from food. Now it turns out that the intestines are not so lowly after all. Their scattered nerve cells form a finely tuned system for reacting to outside events—an upsetting remark at work, the threat of danger, a death in the family. The stomach’s reactions are just as reliable as the brain’s thoughts, and just as intricate. Your colon, your liver, and your stomach cells also think, only not in the brain’s verbal language. What people had been calling a “gut reaction” turned out to be a mere hint of the complex intelligence at work in a hundred thousand billion cells.
In a sweeping medical revolution, scientists have stepped into a hidden dimension that no one had ever suspected. Cells have been outthinking us for millions of years. In fact, their wisdom, more ancient than cortical wisdom, could be the best model for the only thing more ancient than they, which is the cosmos. Perhaps the universe has been outthinking us, too. No matter where I look, I sense what cosmic wisdom is trying to accomplish. It is much the same as what I myself want to accomplish—to grow, expand, and create—the main difference being that my body is cooperating with the universe better than I manage to.
Cells have no problem fully participating in the mystery of life. Theirs is a wisdom of total passion and commitment. So let’s see if we can link the qualities of bodily wisdom with the hidden dimensions we want to uncover: the wisdom you are already living.
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Chopra (page 21) tells us: "You are not in the world; the world is in you. The only reason that rocks are solid is that the brain registers a flurry of electrical signals as touch; the only reason the sun shines is that the brain registers another flurry of electrical signals as sight. There is no sunlight in my brain, whose interior remains as dark as a limestone cavern no matter how bright it is outside."
I found the best way to read Chopra is in small 30 minute mini-reads, ideally sitting outside in the park with birds chirping in the background, a mere rest spot within my hour long walks that may occur daily. Chopra has a poetic style to his spiritual advice that can be enhanced significantly by background conditions that are beyond the book. A good example is provided by Chopra's (page 43) remarks: "Thinking points the way whenever your mind stops being restless and speculative. On this path, you silence your internal dialogue in order to find clarity and stillness. It takes clarity for your mind to see that it doesn't have to be so driven. Thinking can turn into knowing, which is to say wisdom. With greater clarity your intellect looks into any problem and sees the solution. As your knowingness expands, personal questions fade. What your mind really wants to know is the mystery of existence. Questions knock on the door of eternity, at which point only the Creator can answer them for you. The fulfillment of this path comes when your mind merges with the mind of God."
Chopra (page 31) writes: "An infinite, silent energy field flickered for an instant, experiencing an object (the rose) and the subject (you the observer) without going anywhere. Awareness simply took look at one aspect of its eternal beauty. Its only motive was to create a moment of joy. You and the rose stood at opposite poles of that moment, yet there was no separation. A single creative stroke took place, fusing you both."
Chopra (page 25) reminds us that ego is not the enemy: "Throwing the ego into the dark, making it the enemy, only creates more division and fragmentation. If there is one reality, it must be all-inclusive. The ego can't be thrown out any more than desire can be thrown out." Yet even Chopra's forgiving outlook can confuse the ego when it is genuinely needed; e.g., when "you are stopped at a red light on the way home, but the car behind you doesn't stop and rear-ends you," (page 116). Chopra recommends these personal identifications of self: "This accident was no accident; it's a reflection of myself. This stranger is a messenger. When I find out why this event happened, I will uncover some aspect of myself." When the other driver is discovered to be intoxicated, for example, Chopra's critics will point to his gullibility with the issue of ego surrender. Even if some events are found to be random occurrences among many meaningful events, Chopra is not so gullible to accept the advice of a guru without the ever critical ego (at least I hope not). He (page 84) does admit that "manipulators use charm, persuasion, coaxing, trickery, and misdirection." Chopra (page 79) recommends taking the attitude that: "I will put a distance between myself and those who want to hurt me. I do not have to confront them, guilt-trip them, or make them the cause of my self-pity. But I cannot afford to absorb their toxic effect on me, and if that means keeping my distance, I will."
Chopra (pages 111) plays up the term "wholeness", writing that: "Wholeness means including everything, leaving nothing out. At the present we each experience life sliced up into bits of time, bits of experience, bits of activity. We clings to our limited sense of self to protect the slices from falling apart. But it's impossible to find continuity in this way, hard as the ego tries in its struggle to make life hang together. Wholeness is a state beyond personality." But "wholeness" carries the connotation of web of life, the dynamic flux unto itself, and of system theory, and these views can only be a misplaced caricature if taken literally. For example, Ken Wilber called these views a "flat land" perspective, while having been critical of Chopra in particular. I think Chopra can find a way beyond this criticism, by sticking to his poetic spirituality in its simpleness, and while leaving system thinking in its proper place.
One of the high points in Chopra's book is his treatment of evil. He (page 126) tells us that "evil depends completely on one's level of consciousness." And Chopra (page 138) writes of the repressed shadow: "the shadow has grown used to being repressed, to access this region of the mind doesn't happen easily. Nor is direct assault effective. The shadow knows how to resist; it can slam the door and hide its dark energy even deeper." He (page 141) writes: "The fleeting gap between sensation and interpretation is the birthplace of the shadow. When you go into the gap and see how intangible everything is, the ghosts begin to disperse... Evil is born in the gap. The gap isn't anyone's private possession. The gap contains collective responses and collective themes. When an entire society accepts the theme of `the outsiders' who cause all the trouble [us versus them], then evil has everyone for a father and mother." Chopra (page 142) writes, "I don't accept that evil people exist, only people who have not faced their shadows."
The shadow, in fact, is found to be our lover and helper. Chopra (page 146) tells us: "That's why the words don't matter. Once you access the feeling, the real work of release can begin. You need to go on and feel it completely, ask for release, and keep going until you get a new bit of self-understanding. It may take practice before any real deep release comes to you, but step by step the walls of resistance will come down. The shadow is subtly involved in everyday life. It is never so hidden that you cannot bring it to light."
Chopra (page 183) writes: "In clarity you know that you are not a puppet - you have released yourself from the unconscious drives that once fooled you into thinking that you were acting spontaneously."
Chopra (page 198) writes on being mindful: "You catch the present moment without words or thought. Few things are easier to describe and harder to do. The crux of the matter is time. Time is as slippery as that blessed moment before you say `I'm happy right now.' Was that moment really fleeting or is it eternal? "
Disclosure: My agenda is declared in my profile.
All that is surprising, as I generally dislike New Age writing. I find it tends to be smug, preachy, and assertive rather than persuasive. But this book is highly persuasive and highly engaging. Chopra offers compelling frameworks for thinking about issues, but puts full responsibility on the reader; he offers suggestions for integrating his insights into one's life, but avoids the nagging To Do lists that mar the works of people like Dyer.
Of course it won't speak to everyone. Nothing can. But do your self a favor and give it a try. It may change your life for the better.
It shipped immediately, and qualified for Free Super-Saver-Shipping!