Lady Gaga may be one of his most ardent fans, but for best-selling self-help author and spiritual guru Deepak Chopra, being one with his consciousness, is one of his biggest victories. “Some people are attracted to my celebrity connections, but it is a put-off for others. I have never consciously given attention to celebrities. But if they show up, I don’t refuse them,” he says.
With almost four lakh followers on Twitter, including Oprah Winfrey and Ashton Kutcher, Chopra confesses he is a compulsive tweeter. “I’m hooked on to it,” he says, flashing his Blackberry.
The 64-year-old has released his new book titled, Soul Of Leadership
. He was in the country in December, travelling from Rishikesh to Lavasa. “My son Gotham is shooting a documentary titled I’m That, which explores consciousness,” he says. “He covers everything from the sacred to the profane, so we met everyone from holy men from Rishikesh to women from Thailand’s Walking Street.”
Chopra is a medic turned sage and scientist who prefers calling himself a “student of consciousness”. He spent six months in Bangkok last year, leaving his lifestyle to take to a begging bowl. “I stayed at a monastery and lived like a monk. I was in vipasana (form of yoga). In Bangkok, I was living in austerity and begging for food. It changes you,” he recalls.
An endocrinologist by learning and an advocate of alternative medicine, Chopra says he got into spirituality only when he became a doctor. “I saw that people went through immense suffering, and only then did they ask themselves the important questions of life: Who am I? What’s the meaning of life?”
The king of spirituality also recalls his first trip with drugs. “I was at AIIMS, studying to be a doctor when I first tried LSD. It was in the ’60s, I was 17 years old and looking for out-of-the-box experiences. The night after my group experimented for the first time, we showed up for class without any clothes. Our professor had to call for security,” he laughs. Talking about various cultural uses of hallucinogenic drugs to achieve enlightenment, Chopra confesses he has tried everything, but feels there is no substitute to good old meditation. “LSD was fantastic. If I had not had that experience, I would not be where I am today. Experimenting with LSD actually caused a shift in my consciousness,” he says. “But addiction is a serious disease. When people experience that feeling for the first time through drugs, they think they will keep having it if they keep taking drugs. It doesn’t happen that way.”
With all his controversial statements and ideas, Chopra’s influence still reaches everyone from the bored housewife to a corporate honcho, down to Michael Jackson and even Demi Moore, all of whom have looked up to him for help and his views on life and the universe. “For me, consciousness is the ultimate reality and it can apply to anybody. I’m not scared of what I think, since I know the exact date of my death. My books, like the latest one on leadership, are probably a success because they are meant for you, me and even Obama to take lessons from,” he says.