on February 15, 1998
The following is a letter I sent to a friend in response to reading Chopra's book: December 1, 1995 Dear Friend, I appreciate your openness to discussing world views with me. It is always refreshing to find one who shares an interest in exploring life's purpose and reality's perception. As promised, albeit, somewhat delayed, what follows is my review of Chopra's The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. This look at Chopra's book is structured as a comparison of New Age and my Christian beliefs. As the authoritative basis for Christianity, the Bible is my primary reference for the alternative to Chopra's world view. Although Chopra is clearly New Age, he offers advice which I can fully embrace as a Christian. Several places in his book, and in fact the third component of his Law of Dharma, is service of humanity. Christ's second greatest commandment to us is to "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Mt 22:30). Christ also said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all" (Mark 9:35). Throughout the Bible, serving others is not only a theme but a charge. Chopra accurately points out that it is what is in your heart that counts when giving. Paul also emphasized in his letter to the Romans that it wasn't the execution of the law but one's heart that God scrutinized. Chopra's practical application is wonderful (pg. 35), "Wherever I go, and whoever I encounter, I will bring them a gift." On other themes, Chopra is again on the mark. There are no victims in his world of choices and responsibilities. Problems are opportunities and there are no rewards without risk. As Paul advises the Corinthians (1Cor 9:24-27), "Run in such a way as to get the prize." Our freedom to make choices, and the discipline that may be required to make a change (though Chopra doesn't think that hard work plays a role), is clearly within our power. This understanding of how a man can create his own circumstances has been around at least since King Solomon (Prov 22:8, ca. 1000 B.C.). It is true that a man reaps what he sows (Gal 6:7-10). Chopra also correctly points out that there is no security in things. In fact, King David points out that even people (much more things) are just a blip on the screen of forever: "As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and it's place remembers it no more." (Psalm 103) While Chopra clearly offers certain "sage" advice that is in the category of "universal truth," in many other areas he is in direct conflict with the truth reflected in Scripture. An attraction of his book, the prize awarded those who follow his laws, is a worldly success promised no where by the God of creation. The lure of affluence is the bait he uses to snare a materialistic world. On page 34 he almost seems to be quoting scripture (see Phil 4:8-9 and Matt 6:33). The implication is that if you seek joy, love, peace, etc., that what comes to you "spontaneously" (no less) is affluence. On page 44 he says, "You can use the Law of Karma to create money and affluence,..." Another statement on page 55 says, "...the surplus energy you gather and enjoy can be channeled to create anything you want, including unlimited wealth." Throughout the book, he provides the reader with this incentive, a selfish incentive, for living a certain way. Christ's incentive for following him wasn't money or affluence. He says, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matt 6:33). "These things" are food and clothing, the necessities of life, not money. As Paul says in Phil 4:9, the reward for living a righteous life is the peace of God. The reward that is available beyond this life, righteousness from God, is based on faith alone, not Karma (Eph 2:8-9, Rom 5:1). I live for him because I am grateful for his free gift, not for rewards that can't be earned. My first clue that Chopra had a world view different than mine was in the Introduction on page three where he says, "...we are divinity in disguise,..." Deification of self is a common theme in New Age literature. Christianity, however, claims only one perfect God. And logically, Chopra's assertion doesn't make sense to me, because I am not perfect. Saying that I am, blurs the distinction between good and evil, making morality relative. The fact is, the Bible states that not only are we not gods, we have no right to stand in the presence of God without Christ's help (Rom 3:23, 6:23). Through his payment though we can find total forgiveness and acceptance in him (John 5:24). Not only are we divine but everything and everyone is divine, says Chopra, "..we are pure consciousness", components of the "body of the universe", "the unity of one all-pervasive spirit," "bundles of thought in a thinking universe." The God of the Bible on the other hand is transcendent, meaning that while He is the creator of everything, He is not the creation (John 1:1-3). The idea that one impersonal force is the basis for reality is a monistic notion that is in conflict with my theistic world view. New Age and Chopra take the concept a step further by adding to this pantheistic belief a dab of naturalism, using scientific terminology to legitimize for modern man the nature of the "cosmic computer." Throughout the book Chopra tells the reader to .."judge nothing that occurs," that we must "...remain open to all points of view and not be rigidly attached to any of them." He says that arguments can be avoided if you have no point to defend: "... if that choice brings distress either to you or to those around you, then don't make that choice." While arguments can be avoided by saying you don't care, you are merely avoiding immediate pain and postponing it until another day. Jesus said something that sounds the same, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged" (Mt. 7:1). While seemingly similar to Chopra, when taken in context, what He is saying is that we should not judge hypocritically or self-righteously. The other verses that follow in the same chapter (and throughout the Bible) clearly call for evaluation of others. "Test everything," says Paul to the Thessalonians (I Thes 5:21). The whole area of discerning truth suggests a related area of disagreement between Deepak Chopra's view of the world and mine. The pantheistic twist of his philosophy says that many paths lead to the same end. Contrarily, Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me," (Jn 14:6); "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it," (Matt 7:13-14). Chopra would have one find one's own truth, whatever that may be. One of his means is with the eastern form of meditation, whereby a state of consciousness, out of touch with the physical world, provides the door to an uncluttered view of what he would call the Self. The problem with this practice is, freeing our mind of our God-given ability to think and reason actually disables our ability to discern sense from nonsense. Similarly Chopra tells the reader to "...commune with nature and silently witness the intelligence within every living thing." Besides the fact that not every living thing possesses the ability to think, the whole truth is not to be found in nature. While God's general revelation to us through his creation gives us a glimpse of him, only with his written revelation, which records the words of the prophets and the life and ministry of Christ, and our intelligence, can we test that reality.