Deepak Chopra–Modern Yoga Sage or New Age Hype?

I just wrote this long comment on a blog in Elephant Journal .  The blog referred to a couple of Deepak Chopra’s books as “New Age Quackery”:

“Ageless Body/Timeless Mind” is actually an excellent book. But it’s excellent because the inside doesn’t begin to match the promise of the cover and title. So your derision of the title is entirely justified.

Chopra is a real puzzle. If you look at the actual content of his work, he is a modern sage of the Upanishads (one of the three main ancient Yoga texts, along with the Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutra). He comes across the same way in his presentations, which are just dripping in the one-with-the-universe message of the Upanishads and Gita.

“Ageless Body/Timeless Mind” is actually a well thought-out and deeply inspirational update of the philosophy of the ancient Yoga sages. “Timeless Mind” makes perfect sense in this context, because according to Yoga philosophy we are all part of the ocean already, not just a wave, and since the ocean (the universe) is timeless, so are we.

When you get inside the book “ageless body” means not living forever, but rather the fact that our molecules all turn into other things and continue on, with a lot of detail from modern quantum physics, and the fact that we might someday figure out how to arrest aging. Certainly not what’s implied by the cover.

I believe Chopra is, in fact, a modern Yoga sage, carrying on the central message of the ancient sages in a modern context. But he either creates or allows a marketing effort that can make him look like a quack.

I like his writing so much I’m willing to put up with the silly upfront hype. The books I’ve read so far are really terrific and not at all quackery.

I would love to hear other opinions about this, because I’ve only read a few of his many books.

For a quick summary of what I mean by ancient Yoga philosophy, see: “What Is It That Brings Us Happiness?”

For more on Chopra and others as modern sages of ancient Yoga philosophy, see Pure Yoga by Another Name

~ by Bob Weisenberg on October 12, 2009.

4 Responses to “Deepak Chopra–Modern Yoga Sage or New Age Hype?”

  1. Undoubtedly, you are correct. He is exactly as you described him. I have seen him live 2 times and he flows pure spirit. His education in physics and medicine, and his marketing, add an enormous strength to his appeal to mainstream America. He is helping the west to “wake up.” His marketing detracts from his appeal to those who might have already awakened somewhat. But those people should be able to look beyond the cover and see that he is teaching the very lessons they value so much. I believe he is doing important work.

  2. Thanks,David. That’s very confirming for me.

    You describe the whole situation very well.

    Bob

  3. you know Bob, I always resisted reading Chopra BECAUSE of the hype…stuff like “the secret” silliness (not Chopra I know, but the media lumps them all together…). I guess it’s the Punk Rockah yogini rearing her head again.

    Thank you so much for posting this- as it makes me reconsider. It’s nice to hear thoughtful perspectives from someone I respect :)

  4. EcoYogini.

    Yes, that’s a big problem. People do make the big mistake of putting all “New Age” philosophy into the same bucket when, in fact, there is tremendous diversity. There is no solution except to take a look.

    I feel the same way you do about things like “The Secret”, although, even there, I applaud anything that helps anyone genuinely improve their lives. Different strokes for different folks. People are different. Vive le difference.

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