Playing our Part - Deepak Chopra at Zeitgeist Americas 2011

Uploaded by zeitgeistminds on 27.09.2011

>>Deepak Chopra: It's really nice to be here. My talk is called "The Future of Well-being."
And before I go into the feature, let me go a little bit into the past, my past.
I'm a physician, and my training is in neuroscience and neuroendocrinology, which is the study
of brain chemistry. And when I was practicing, I was intrigued
by the fact that you could have two patients who had exactly the same illness, saw the
same physician, and got the same treatment, and could have completely different outcomes.
So very early in my career, I realized that at least bioscience was not an exact science.
Biology was not an exact science. That we, as biological human -- as biological organisms,
and particularly as human beings, are quite unpredictable in the way we respond to everything,
including illness. At the same time, my own research was in the
area of, as I mentioned, neuroscience and neuroendocrinology. And this was a very exciting
time for us, because during the 1970s, because of a new technique called radioimmunoassay,
we were discovering the molecules of emotion. So today you recognize some of these molecules,
serotonin, antidepressant, serotonin uptake inhibitors. Dopamine, opiates, same as endorphins,
oxytocin, which is associated with pleasure and sexual excitement and emotional bonding.
And there are many others. But, you know, for us, this was a very exciting time, because
we could actually see them, and we knew that there was a chemical substrate to what happens
in consciousness, that what happens in your consciousness, in your mind, has a direct
effect on your biology. These molecules, later we discovered, had
receptors to them in immune cells, which, of course, you know protect you from all kinds
of illnesses, including cancer and infection and a number of other illnesses. So your immune
cells, little T cells, B cells, macrophages that circulate in your body, they have little
receptors to these molecules. In other words, those cells are eavesdropping on your internal
dialogue. Somebody inside you is having a conversation with themselves. In a moment,
we're going to try and figure out who this person is and who -- what their local address
might be. [ Laughter ]
>>Deepak Chopra: But I think you'll agree, whoever this person is, he or she never shuts
up. The conversation goes on all the time. It's going on right now as you're listening
to me, evaluating me. It goes on in your dreams. It goes on in your sleep, and your immune
cells are listening. Not only are they listening; they participate
in this conversation. Because your immune cells can make the same peptides, the same
proteins, as your brain does when you have a thought. In fact, if you ask a good neuro
biologist today, "What's the difference between the immune system and the nervous system?"
They'll tell you there isn't any. The immune system is a circulating nervous system. It
thinks; it remembers. It makes choices in the face of challenges.
It just doesn't think in English with an Indian accent.
[ Laughter ] >>Deepak Chopra: But for all practical purposes,
it's conscious. Your immune cells are conscious. And today, 30 years later, we know this about
the whole body. So today when you say, "I have a gut feeling about such and such," you're
not speaking metaphorically at all. You're speaking literally. Your gut makes the same
chemicals as your brain does when you think or emote. In fact, you can trust your gut
feelings a little more, because gut cells haven't evolved yet to the stage where they
doubt their own thinking. Today, we also know that our heart cells,
you know, the heart which pumps blood, is considered a pump. It's actually an organ
of emotions as well. It has receptors to oxytocin and dopamine and all of that. And so it may
very well be true when you say, "My heart is broken," that that's a fact, literally,
structurally. Okay? When you say, "I'm in love," then it's a completely different chemical
composition. In fact, we call these cells neuro cardiocytes, because they are neurons
as well as muscles. To make a long story short, your mind has
escaped your brain. It's in all the cells of your body.
And now, to make a longer story short, because this is 30 years of work and research in various
places, when you put it all together, here are some principles that I want to tell you
about that in fact give us an idea of what the future of well-being is going to be.
The first principle is that your body is not a structure. It's a process.
You know, when we went to medical school, we were trained in structures, anatomical
structures. The first thing you learn in medical school is anatomy. That's about structures.
But your body is a process. It's not a noun; it's a verb. And your body recycles once a
year. So at the atomic level, you recycle your stomach every five days. Your liver,
once every six weeks. Your skin, once a month. Your skeleton, which is hard and solid, is
new every three months. Your genes, which carry the memory of millions of years of evolution
-- you know, genes are fascinating structures, little things that replicate to make you who
you are today -- your genes carry the memory of millions of years of evolution. So 65%
of your genes are the same as a banana. 80% of your genes are the same as a mouse. And
98.4% of your genes as the same as a monkey. All of recorded history is there, since 2.8
billion years of evolution, when the first microorganisms, called chemolithoautotrophic
hyperthermophiles, appeared on the rims of volcanoes.
But the actual raw material of your genes, it comes and goes every six weeks.
So the carbon, the hydrogen, the molecules that make up your genes, it's like migratory
birds. It wasn't there six weeks ago. And in approximately one year, you have recycled
your body almost down to the last atom. This is my year 2011 model.
[ Laughter ] >>Deepak Chopra: Okay?
And the last time I came to Arizona, I brought with me the same suitcase, but not the same
body, because my suitcase has a longer shelf life. And the body I brought with me last
time, it's dead; it's gone. It came from the biosphere. It's now recirculating in the biosphere.
And as far as I'm personally concerned, it's gone; it's dead.
But since I haven't died in the meanwhile, I hope you'll agree, this is scientific proof
of the existence of life after death. Because as conscious beings, with memories and desires
and emotions, we are constantly outliving the death of the molecules through which we
express ourselves. Okay. So your body is a process.
What about your mind? Your mind is -- and, by the way, this process
is part of the biosphere. Your body doesn't belong to you. In fact, you have a million
atoms in your body right now that were once in the body of Jesus Christ and Osama Bin
Laden, too. In just the last three weeks, a quadrillion
atoms, which is ten followed by 15 zeroes, have gone through the body that have gone
through the body of every other living species on this planet. So even with one breath, you
inhale 10 to the power of 22 atoms, you breathe out 10 to the power of 22 atoms, which is
10 followed by 22 zeroes. And these atoms are coming from every little bit of your heart
and kidney and brain tissue. And so, technically speaking, you're breathing out bits and pieces
of your heart and kidney and brain, and we are all intimately sharing our organs with
each other all the time. [ Laughter ]
>>Deepak Chopra: So first principle, you can't call your body yours. It doesn't belong to
you. It's the biosphere recycling through who you call yourself.
Second principle: The mind is also a process. And the best definition I found of the mind
is from a UCLA psychotherapist who says that the mind is an embodied and relational process
that regulates the flow of energy and information. I'll repeat that.
The mind is a relational and embodied process that regulates the flow of energy and information.
So here we go. Relational, because your mind is always in relationship with other minds.
You know, there's a saying in Africa, Ubuntu, I am, because you are. Or, as president Nelson
Mandela said, people are people because of people. You know, we don't have minds by ourselves.
We relate to each other. And this relational process gets embodied, both horizontally,
and these days, through social networks, even more horizontally, through Twitter and Facebook
and the Internet, but also vertically. Our minds are influenced by our parents' minds
and their parents' minds, history, culture, economics. So mind is everywhere, and it's
circulating everywhere. And this is the entangled mind both through time and space that then
regulates the flow of energy and information in our bodies.
So if somebody says to you, "I love you," and you're in love with that person, you have
a certain biological response. But if you are thinking of divorcing them, and they say,
"I love you," you have a different biological response. The tympanic membrane vibrates with
the same energy; the words are the same. But the meaning, the information is different.
And the information gets metabolized in your consciousness to create a biological response.
So the second principle, again, our mind is an entangled mind. It's a process. It's regulating
the flow of energy and information in our bodies.
The third principle is, there's no mental event that does not have a brain representation.
We know that now, thanks to functional magnetic resonance scans. We know that due to new technologies,
PET scans. So for every mental event you have, there is a brain representation. This is a
good handy model for the brain. So when you think reflectively or having an intellectual
conversation, your cortical brain lights up. If you are having an emotional reaction, your
limbic brain, which is connected to your hypothalamus and pituitary, lights up. If you are scared,
your midbrain, which is also called the reptilian brain, lights up.
I remember when we were in medical school, we used to remember the functions of the midbrain
as the four Fs, feeding, fighting, fleeing, and reproduction.
[ Laughter ] >>Deepak Chopra: And so this is -- this is
the brain that acts up when we are in one of those modes, and gets us into a lot of
trouble. Okay.
So there's nothing that happens in the mind that doesn't happen in the brain. There's
nothing that happens in the brain that doesn't happen in the body. And our bodies are entangled.
They are -- and our minds are entangled. And now we come to a deeper level, beyond
the mind and the body, what great spiritual traditions have called the soul or the spirit
or core consciousness, which transcends the mind and the body. And I can give you a little
bit of experience of that right now. So as you're listening to me, just turn your attention
to who's listening. As you're listening to me, be aware of who's
listening. There's a core consciousness there. It's a
very simple awareness. It was there when you were a baby, when you were a child, when you
were a teenager. It's there now. And it's not conditioned by labels, evaluations, who
you are, CEO, how much money you have. And that's what spiritual traditions call the
soul. And that consciousness, being unconditioned, is a place of creativity and insight and intuition
and imagination and choice and freedom and possibility, and uncertainty. Because in the
proliferation of uncertainty, there's an ongoing creative process.
And the great wisdom traditions have said, if you hold on to that, you will see that
it's -- your ticket to freedom. Okay. So since I have seven minutes left,
I'm now going to summarize everything in the following slides.
This is the thesis of my talk, that consciousness, which is the ground of our existence, differentiates
into everything that we call reality, whether it's personal relationships or social interactions
or perception or cognition or environment or moods and emotions. And that if we get
an idea of this place of freedom, we simultaneous effect everything else.
The emerging paradigm, and I drew this slide after a Google conference, by the way, year
-- last year, 22nd of October, on quantum biology, which is a new frontier. Quantum
biology says that we must now begin to understand biological organisms in terms of mathematics
and physics and information theory. It's time to do that, biological -- biology has been
left behind with all the other advances. So quantum biology is a new frontier. And
I have to congratulate Google, last year, they had the first conference, worldwide conference,
on quantum biology, to begin to see the body as states of information and energy. And this
will be the future of medicine when we'll in fact use technologies to maximize the flow
of information and energy in our bodies. And with this emerging paradigm, we are beginning
to see that our biological organism acts as a single integrated wholeness. Your thoughts,
your images, your breath, your perception, your feelings, your emotions, your neurotransmitters,
your cardiac function are all part of a wholeness and integration, which takes us away from
the reductionist model in science, which was always studying bits and pieces to understand
the whole. And the new model says, you have to understand the whole to see the bits and
pieces as parts of behavior of the whole. And this is just for interest. When you fall
in love, that's the best thing that can happen to you, because your brain lights up in many
areas, and you start to resonate with the person that you're in love with, and you,
in fact, regulate and get regulated by monitor and get monitored by the relationship in the
direction of self-repair or homeostasis. So no longer is this a myth that love is a healing
energy. Love is, in fact, the most powerful way to return to a homeostasis or baseline
biology. This slide, don't worry about the complications
of this. I'm a senior scientist at Gallup, and as you may know, Gallup has specialized
for 100 years in asking the right questions to get the right models of well-being. And
today we are doing this on a massive scale, in over 150 countries. And we measure well-being
in the following categories: Career well-being, social well-being, physical well-being, financial
well-being, and community well-being. Career well-being can be answered with just
the answers to the following questions: Are you happy with what you do every day? Are
you using your strengths? Do you have fun? And are you reinforcing the strengths of other
people with whom you work? And you know that we have a strength finder's
test that we employ where we engage with people to create coherent teams where people reinforce
their strengths and encourage each other, because we have found that if your manager
ignores you, your rate of disengagement goes up to 45%. If your manager criticizes you,
you get better, 20%, because now you're at least being acknowledged. And if your manager
notices a single strength that you have, rate of disengagement goes down to less than 1%.
This has huge economic implications. According to our Gallup data, about $280 billion a year.
Similarly, social engagement, if you have a happy friend, your happiness goes up by
15%. And if your happy friend has a happy friend that you don't know, it goes up another
10%. And if your happy friend's happy friend has a happy friend, whom you don't know, it
keeps going up. And this is the entangled mind.
How can this be that the happiness of people whom I don't know affects me and my well-being,
including my enemies, by the way? And there are two reasons how this happens.
When two people are having a conversation, let's say you and me, it's all the people
in my life that influence the conversation, and all the people in your life. If you're
worried about your child and I'm worried about the economic crisis and how it affects me,
it's going to cause entanglement and disrupt our biology. And then the people in my life
have people in their life and so on. Physical well-being, very simple. By my friend
Dean Ornish, who has already spoken here, has already talked to you about genetic internal
any of them and neuroplasticity, and even the reversal of biological markers of aging,
which we can assess so easily these days through technology. And these are the characteristics
of physical well-being and financial well-being. There's a lot of research we've done. But
it boils down to one simple thing: If you haven't bought into the idea of spending money
that you haven't earned to buy things that you don't need to impress people that you
don't like, -- [ Laughter ]
>>Deepak Chopra: -- then you're probably going to be okay.
And then, finally, community well-being, which is doing something for the larger cause.
So with that, I'd like to conclude my talk with the fundamental conclusions. Your body
is a process, not a structure. The time is coming to see it is as an energy and information
field. Your genes are not deterministic. You can turn them on and off. You can rewire your
brain. You can change your relationship to time. And the key to all this lies in your
own consciousness. As far as the future is concerned, I think
we're going to see technologies that will improve neuroplasticity through various instruments
including all these little gadgets that measure our calorie expenditure, our cardiovascular
ability, our neural regulation as part of the future, gene modulation and enzyme induction
through using really natural processes in our body but using information technologies,
personalized medicine, stem cell and cloning, not from the outside but using your own body's
inner intelligence, which is the ultimate and supreme genius and mirrors the wisdom
of the universe, your own cells that have evolved over billions of years of time to
formidable intelligence. And, finally, the era of personalized medicine, when you will
have in your handheld device everything you need to know about yourself, everything you
need to know, and visually. You don't have to be an expert. So by the time you leave
the physician's office and come home, you have a visual representation of our arteries,
of your brain, everything, exactly what to do and the instructions. And with a little
bit of training, use your handheld device to move nanorobots in your body to do what
you want them to do. Thank you. [ Applause ]