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Exclusive interview with New Age Guru Deepak Chopra. He was in town to promote his new book "Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment".
[Interview and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Was Bhagwan Buddha a God?
God is the highest instinct to know oneself. In that sense Buddha is a God. So can you if you reach that level of consciousness.
Your book "Life After Death" was described as "a must read for everyone who will die". "Buddha" has been written for what kind of people?
This is a book for those interested in secular spirituality and willing to move beyond ideologies and dogma.
What do you think Buddha would feel if he lands up in Delhi today?
Nothing has changed much in the last 2,500 years. Yes, we are more technologically advanced but our ancient tribal ethno-centric prejudices have not changed. Differences have deepened with time. It is a dangerous situation. In the ancient times, two armies would decimate each other and that would be it. Today we have the capability to destroy the entire world.
So Buddha would be disappointed?
No. An enlightened being is beyond disappointment. Even beyond hope.
Are you suggesting we accept the things as they are? Can problems like poverty be addressed that way?
Acceptance of the present moment is realistic. It could lead to the creation of a better future. But do not confuse it with fatalism which is often the case in India. Karma in the past influences the circumstances of the present.
Is it practical to search for our soul while living in this soulless city?
It is a reflection of our own insanity if Delhi feels chaotic and mad. The city does not affect our soul. Our collective soul projects the city. We may find Delhi changed overnight if we have shifts inside. Peace of mind is attainable while stuck in a traffic jam.
You are a Delhi boy...
I was born here. Our house was near Humayun's Tomb. I would attend mushairas with my uncle and play cricket with St. Columbus schoolmates. My days as a medical student in AIIMS were fun. Sometimes we boys would cycle all the way to Agra. I also worked part-time in the AIR. For Rs 75, I would read news on an hourly basis from 11 pm to 6 am. It was hectic but I had a Vespa scooter that would get me to classes on time.
Do you have a house here?
Yes, in Defense Colony. My parents lived there. Now there is only a servant.
You run a Chopra Center for Well Being in California. Why not also in Delhi?
It can be a reality some day. People have approached. We would have to plan it properly.