Sunday, March 28, 2010

ABC News Nightline with Deepak Chopra, "Does God Have a Future?"

Many former TMers knew Deepak Chopra, his split with Maharishi, then Chopra's repackaging of Maharishi's programs in a slightly more mainstream package for his own financial gain.

Deepak Chopra is now more of a household name than Maharishi ever was, thus ABC invited him to a discussion on spirituality.

Nightline's description of this show :

The "Face-Off" is a recurring series where opposing sides debate hot topics. In the sixth installment of the series, Deepak Chopra, a physician and best-selling author of "How to Know God," and prominent scholar, philosopher and writer Jean Houston, will face-off against Michael Shermer, founding publisher of "Skeptic" magazine, and Sam Harris, author of "The End of Faith" on the tension between God and science."

Gina's comments on the show:

This conversation between critical thinkers with Chopra could just as easily have taken place with Maharishi.
In this conversation, Chopra mouthes MMY's teachings, sometimes word for word.
Coming from the same Hindu tradition, the Indian accent, and MMY's pseudo-science jargon, Chopra inadvertently provides good comedy for those familiar with Maharishi.

Chopra speaks circuitous non-sense which can cause a hypnotic effect for vulnerable listeners.
We've seen the hypnotic effect work with True Believers listening to Maharishi.

Chopra responds to discussion of the history of diety and sociology of religion with vague circuitous monologues on consciousness, inner experience and (undefined) quantum mechanics. This sounds so familiar!

Many of us know the futility of conducting these same conversations with TM or New Age True Believers!
(thus successful exit-counseling, "deprogramming," requires a professional)

Per Sam Harris talking to Chopra :
"Sprinkling in a bunch of scientific terms with New Age terminology does not make it scientific."
Harris also states that Chopra's merging of New Age philosophy with scientific terminology is neither scientific nor spiritual.

Unfortunately, True Believers listening to this show would merely state that critics of Chopra or Maharishi are "lost in the darkness of ignorance."

It's fascinating to watch Chopra spew the fluff, and become angry when confronted with analysis of his teachings.

This Nightline show may be watched by clicking :
"Does God Have a Future" The Nightline Face-Off



JB said...

I'm viewing the show now.  So far, its a bunch of people discussing different things, differs on abstraction levels.  Chopra sounds idiotic when he starts with the psuedo science speil.  But, the others are just too mechanistic and shallow.  Even if New Agers misuse science and mystical experience, so what?  Its just a different way of relating to the projection of our consciousness "out there".  Just like Music, Poetry, Pictures, literature, dance, ....   Plus, I object to the constant return to the Abrahmanic God as representing what religion is.  Even in these religions there are esoteric sides, Islam->Sufi, for example. 

So far not impressed with the discussion.  Actually, Chopra makes some very good points, and I'm not one of those 'true believers', God, I hope not.  Anyway, Chopra tries to speak about the future of God, and the other guy keeps returning to the past.  Huh?  Chopra so far is winning the "argument".

JB said...

Now the other guys are sounding better.  Chopra is being put in his place.  They make good points, you don't have to use all that science jargon to convince people. 

The discussion on the page are interesting.  Its shocking that so many of the religion based posters sound so unsophisticated.  Wow.  Science education needs to be improved.

Bjarne said...

I have not viewed the Whole show but find it entertaining indeed. Its not my impression that Chopra is solely MMY made, but he is an Indian with that accent and also his cultural background is that of a hindu, and I find he could be as honest about his points of views as Swami Vivekananda was in 1899 when he addressed US. To me "God" in this program is the at times wonderful warm humor, You simply cant laugh and think at the same time." type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="170" height="140

Gina said...

Agreed, humor is divine!
Likewise, I didn't have time to watch the entire show (yet), but found it entertaining. 
I'll watch the rest later this week.
g :-D

Paul Mason aka Premanand said...

Thanks Gina,
It of note that Chopra sets himself as an authority on various aspects of Maharishi lore and in particular The Beatles in Rishikesh era story. But in light of the numerous eye-witness acounts it is impossible to make sense of Chopra's account. So it is no great surprise to me that he is accused in this debate as pretending to know more than he actually does. Sam Harris tells us there is a part of the brain, that if damaged impairs the ability to empathise. I guess there is an area of the brain that deals with pretence and magical thinking.

Vaj said...

This is a true gem Gina, thanks for posting this.

I read the book Quantum Gods by Victor Stenger a while back and he in a very detailed argument unravels the phony "quantum mysticism" of Mahesh yogi (and others). But this does it in such a short time, it's amazing how fast the flimsy stack of cards falls that is (or was) Maharishi's teaching.

It's also amazing how seductive it was for those of us who grew up in the 50's and up to the present. We loved science. MMY, Domash, Hagelin and others had the perfect hook.

I'd love to see a similar debate happen with Hagelin, but I suspect the TMO's lawyers and PR staff are way too slick to ever let him step on a stage where they do not control the illusions.

Gina said...

<span>I agree that the TMO would never allow Hagelin to communicate on a public debate.  The "control of illusions" is critical to the effectiveness of the persuasion.  
Fred Travis disappeared from our conversations on TMFree.  We will never know what influenced Fred to cease conversations, with the minds of Ruth, Bjarne, John, Paul, Vaj, JB,  and other articulate knowledgable particpants here.  His own withdrawal, or a new "teaching" from Vlodrop to avoid conversing with outsiders about "the knowledge."
FYI, feedback on Chopra's nightline appearance from one 50-year True Believer, (my mother):  
Thank you Gina.   Very interesting.    Perfect example of the uselessness of talking about God  from <span>different levels of consciousness</span>.   There can never be understanding, let alone agreement.   Applies to everything.  
 I was surprised at Chopra's strong approach to everything he said,   being accustomed to Maharishi's subtle handling of the same questions. The words "woo woo" really got him going.  
Love, Mom
<span>I guess it all comes down to consciousness (sarcasm here).  </span>
<span>From the mindset of a TM TBer, those in agreement are elevated in stature - they have more pure consciousness.  </span>
<span>Those who disagree are given no credence, as they are of a lower state of consciousness/ spiritual awareness. Their validity is automatically discredited.  It is as if an outsider is less-than-human. </span>
<span>It's only a small step from such thinking to the acceptance of slavery or genocide, for the "others" are not equal and less-than-human.  shudder.</span>
<span>g :) </span>

Gina said...

That's an interesting concept, Paolo, about an area of the brain that deals with pretense and magical thinking. So, a researcher should study the brain functioning of narcissists and sociopaths?  I've been known to say "I'm not smart enough to lie; it's too much to keep track of."

There IS a book titled, "The God Part of the Brain."  A friend said it's about human brains being wired to believe in a higher being.  Maybe as humankind evolves, that part of the brain is shrinking?

g :)

Paul Mason aka Premanand said...

Gina, yes, and it is recorded on Maharishi's passport that he had a noticeable scar on his forehead. If one looks at photographs taken late in his life one can clearly detect apparent damage to his skull, to his left. Blows to the head can have very severe consequences.

Paul Mason aka Premanand said...

Gina, my 'yes' was about the validity of studying the brain functioning of sociopaths, and according to Sam Harris that is exactly what they have done. With regard to being hardwired to believe in a higher being - well I don't reckon that it happens like that. To some extent it is dependent on the society we are born into, but also we as humans do tend to speculate on 'possibilities' generally, try to make connections, try to join the dots, and that has produced some wonderful results, so who is to say that the search for higher intelligence is misguided? On the contrary, giving up that quest for higher intelligence might well be a symptom of emotional damage rather than a sign of advancement or evolution?

Gina said...

Paolo wrote: On the contrary, giving up that quest for higher intelligence might well be a symptom of emotional damage rather than a sign of advancement or evolution?
Excellent point!  Well taken!
g :)

JB said...

Great followup here:
In a nutshell, it usually is a lost cause to use QM, or really most science, to try to back up mystical philosophy.  But, on the otherhand, this is traditional.  Honest philosphers and mystics would use science concepts in order to teach, inspire, and so forth.  Today, it is just too much and probably is a symptom of poor science education.   I read somewhere that the housing crisis itself may have worsened with the God wants you to be rich or QM Secrets stuff.

Gina said...

Great link, JB, thanks!
g :)

Karina said...

I've been following the Scientology expose on CNN and ABC news all this week.  Has anyone else seen it? 

It is so obvious to me that, to the Scientology higher-ups, all lies are acceptable.   The interviewer (CNN's Anderson Cooper) seems to only ask "Who is lying -- the ex-cultists, or the Scientologist spokespeople?"  The better question is WHY do they lie (we already know who is lying.)  

It goes to what Gina wrote --- the "others" are in need of being saved, so all manner of indignities,  including dismissal of all that they have to say, and outright lies to them, are all acceptable from the TBer's  "higher state of consciousness." 

One man who finally had the courage to leave said on camera something like, "I'm 58 years old, have no friends or contacts on the outside, and no job history.  It's very scary to leave."    I really empathized with him --- Scientology is a lot worse, IMO, than the TMO, but at least they did openly acknowledge themselves as a religion.   Scientology also uses shallow science (the E-meter) to promote themselves.

Bjarne said...

the E-meter (India Rishikesh) :-D

Karina said...

Thanks for that priceless photo --- Indian ingenuity at work!

Pru Joy said...

Gosh this is a fascinating discussion to follow 8-)

I have studied/practised both TM & Scientology & I have also watched w. interest a few of those CNN Anderson Cooper shows this past week.  From an insider's point of view it was pretty frustrating to see glaring questions that AC could have asked but didn't due to just "not knowing" the actual Church policy lying behind the "lying" ;) .

Luv that Indian version of an e-meter too Bjarne :-P .

Karina said...

Pru Joy --- I'm glad someone else here also caught some of the Scientology show.  I always see so many similarities between TMO, and all the other cult groups, including even Al Queda.   I'm always amazed that the TV commentators and journalists don't  make the same connections, and give the bigger picture. 

H said...

Deepak claimed today that he caused the Mexicali earthquake because he was meditating on a shiva seed mantra.  He apologized and assured his fans he won't do it again.

Gregg said...

Deepak did Twitter right after the earthquake that he was meditating on a Shiva Mantra and kind of apologized, but it seems like he was making a joke that just did not go over that well, at least I hope so, because otherwise, he comes across as rather crazed and insensitive to the few people that actually died and the hundreds of others who were injured. One would also think that such bad publicity would harm his million dollar Chopra Center operations overall, so one wonders if the Tweet was written with literal truth (scary thought) or was just an attempt at humor that failed? Either way, he seemed to do more harm to himself than any possible good in putting such a thing out into cyberspace for all to see.

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