There remains a crucial difference, however, between the New Age philosophies of Chopra and Russell [a prominent 'spirituality' expert in the UK] and those of the Buddhist tradition. Unlike the New Age emphasis upon cultivating the self and individualising responsibility, in Buddhist thought the idea of an autonomous individual self is precisely the problem to be overcome (p. 101).
Chopra promises that we can fulfil all our worldly desires, desires that the great wisdom traditions have repeatedly reminded us are the very source of endless suffering and ignorance -- desires for immortality, unlimited wealth and unending romance, all without having to struggle or make effort in any way... Rather than recognizing spiritual transformation as an ultimately demanding endeavor, as taught by the greatest sages, Chopra popularises the notion of an easy, feel-good spirituality, with no mention of the perennial spiritual imperatives of renunciation and one-pointed dedication. And rather than emphasizing that true spiritual life is and has always been about the death of the ego, Chopra teaches us to bend the power of the infinite to our own will... Chopra's brand of spirituality is like fast food; while it seems to satisfy, it actually numbs the very hunger that inspires the spiritual quest in the first place.
... materialistic values are not bad. The idea that spirituality must be divorced from material success is one of the things that has kept India in poverty and dependent on the rest of the world throughout these centuries. It comes from that interpretation of spirituality... the spiritual path, if you consider it demanding, you will make it demanding. You will be very serious about it and you'll never get anywhere. I really think that what is required is easiness, comfort and not taking yourself too seriously.
zavk wrote:As I've said, I've only read excerpts and commentaries of Chopra's work. Therefore, it might be objected that I cannot adequately critique Chopra. However, what I am questioning is the modes of understanding and values that are reproduced through Chopra's work. What I am critical of, then, is not Chopra the 'person' but the 'position' he represents.
Anyway, I do not think it is skillful to be critical of others only by pointing a finger at them. A critical attitude should at the same time also turn on oneself to question one's own premises. I should then also explain how a critique of Chopra's idea of spirituality informs my own efforts to gain greater clarity on my Buddhist spiritual endeavours. I'll have to gather my thoughts before I do that. I've written too much anyway. Will post again.
Ben wrote:I'm sorry if I didn't make myself clear, it is a lack of confidence in his teachings.
Modus.Ponens wrote:The vague memory I have from Deepak Chopra is that he's just another pseudoscientific new age garbage.
christopher::: wrote:I could be wrong, but it was my understanding that Chopra employs a Hinduesque spin on the New Agey ideas that he teaches. He's from India, and I think he was raised Hindu, so I would expect that. But he recently wrote a book telling the story of the Buddha. Has anyone read that? If he presents Buddha's teachings in a "New Agey" way that do not coincide with the dhamma, then I think Buddhists have a right, and responsibility, to be openly critical...
zavk wrote:So, looking into these potential flaws of (certain strands of) New Age spirituality, I began to question the conditions enabling my own Buddhist spirituality.
Does not the fact that I have the social and cultural resources to study Buddhism, interact on the Internet, etc, etc, indicate that I am in a position of luxury and privilege too?
How then can I avoid taking my circumstances for granted?
How can I avoid valorising my Buddhism over that of other Buddhists (in Third World countries, for instance) who may not have the resources to study Buddhism as I have?
How can I (in ways that my circumstances allow) contribute to society and the welfare of others whilst earning my keep?
... It seems to me that I must continually confront these issues if I were to develop the paramis, especially dana, sila, and nekkhamma.
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