Deepak Chopra, known the world over as the mind and body healer who counts Oprah Winfrey, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian as friends, is trying to make medicines obsolete through technologies such as virtual reality (VR).
Progresses in this field give Chopra hope that doctors’ prescriptions will change drastically.
“In a few years, this will replace traditional pharmaceuticals. You go to a doctor, he will tell you to go for a VR session,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on Saturday.
“VR rewires the neural network, it influences the gene network. We are pioneering this in a big way.”
In that he is living up to the role of someone who switched tracks from practising traditional medicine to transcendental medication.
A trained physician specialising in endocrinology, Chopra migrated to the US in the 1970s.
In 1985, he was in the audience at a science conference in Washington, DC, addressed by Maharshi Mahesh Yogi, known for having The Beatles among his disciples. The Yogi picked Chopra from the audience, probably because he was the only Indian there, and said he wanted to speak to him later.
At their subsequent meeting, Yogi asked Chopra what he did. At the time, Chopra was doing research in brain chemistry. He knew emotions and thoughts affected biology. It was a radical new idea then.
Yogi told Chopra he should look at Vedanta for more insights. That made the doctor switch tracks.
Things went smoothly until 1993, when Chopra exploded on the big American stage, thanks to an hour-long appearance on the Oprah show. “It was the first time the mass audience in the US heard a diluted version of Vedanta,” Chopra recalled.
The topic was ageless body, timeless mind. And enough people watched the programme because Chopra’s book on the subject sold 800,000 copies in the week following the show.
Chopra, who has always used modern technology, is using VR to treat the trickiest of conditions, including phobia.
“VR is a good way to treat phobias, such as the fear of flying, by simulating conditions.”
The same goes for eating disorders.
“Give a person a feeling of fullness and you can teach them to eat right. If someone does not want to eat, you can make them feel hungry.”