Yoga & peace
DEEPAK CHOPRA speaks with DAAJI about the role Yoga has to play in bringing about world peace. This is an excerpt from their conversation broadcast on International Day of Peace, September 21, 2020. That documentary is available at:
Daaji: Namaste, Sir.
DC: Daaji, it is a great honour to be with you and celebrate World Peace Day. I was thinking, as I was getting online to speak with you, of the basic Yamas and Niyamas that are the basis of all of our yogic tradition. And if you look at the Yamas in order, it all starts with ahimsa. Ahimsa is the first Yama, which means to be established in non-violence.
The great sage Patanjali says that when we are firmly established in peace-consciousness ourselves, then all beings around us cease to feel hostility. So you are actually to do nothing but be peaceful yourself, and bring the presence of peace wherever you go. If you do that, then people around you will feel peaceful, not by what you say, not even by what you do, but just by your presence.
That is the great gift of Patanjali, when he says the first lesson of Yoga is to start with ahimsa. Then you start with satya. Satya is truth. When you have satya added to ahimsa, you automatically have asteya. Asteya means you don’t covet anything, because you are totally fulfilled within yourself. And from that experience of asteya, non-stealing, non-covetousness, non-jealousy, comes what Patanjali calls aparigraha, which means detachment from the fruits of action, which ultimately leads to the best use of your energy, your vital energy, your vital force.
And so, on World Peace Day, I think it is very appropriate for us to celebrate the great yogic traditions of India that also talk about the Niyamas – cleanliness, shaucha; fulfilment that comes from self-study or swadhyaya; and the effulgence that comes from the radiation of peace and ultimately results in what we call the oneness with our Source.
So Yoga is that tradition, and everything that we are doing in this world is the opposite of Yoga. We are coming from the fragmented mind, from the ego mind, which makes us look at ourselves as separate beings, and looks at the world also as separate, when we are one with it. As you know, one of the greatest Mahavakyas is “Tattvamasi” – whatever I see, I see pure consciousness; whatever I see, I see the Divine; whatever I see, I see the Infinite. It doesn’t matter what it is; it could be a cup of coffee that is the modified expression of the Infinite.
Bring the presence of peace wherever you go.
If you do that, then people around you will feel peaceful,
not by what you say, not even by what you do,
but just by your presence.
So, on World Peace Day, I think we should just be peace, we should speak peace, we should create peace, we should express peace, and we should celebrate peace. If enough of us do this, then we will have a peaceful world, because I have seen enough peace activists, even Nobel Prize winners in peace, and they are not peaceful. So peace can only by created by those who are peaceful, just like love can only be expressed by those who have received or given love. So, we have to be the change we want to see in the world, as Mahatma Gandhi is supposed to have said. And if there is a critical mass of that, and that’s why we are having this conversation, then hopefully we can reach a more peaceful, just, sustainable, healthier, and joyful world.
Right now, the world is very divisive, very quarrelsome, all within ideological conflicts. All the conflicts, whether it is communism, socialism, capitalism … these are good ideas meant for humanity, but human beings corrupt them, because they come from “self,” selfishness, basically. Me, mine. Everything is me and mine.
Now that we are celebrating World Peace Day with this great heritage that you represent, of India, then it is possible, by changing these conversations and having a critical mass participating in these conversations, that we can be the change we want to see in the world.
So, that is why I am so happy to speak to you. As you rightly said, meditation is the key to cut the veil of ignorance. Having gone through some of your material, I realize that you are very focused on what you call heart meditation, and recently there is a lot of research showing that your heart is actually also like your brain, except your heart is more contextual, more relational, more holistic. It doesn’t have a win-lose orientation, it is intuitive, it is eavesdropping on a larger non-local mind, you might say.
You know, the heart sets the coherence for the whole body. If one puts attention on the heart, meditates from the heart, even reads into the heart, or just has awareness of the heart as the seat of love, compassion, joy and equanimity, just that experience immediately changes heart wave coherence. It changes what we call heart rate variability. It creates a coherent electromagnetic – what some people would call an aura – but it is actually an energy field that extends about six feet, which can be detected. But actually, it extends indefinitely into space-time, we just can’t detect with our instruments beyond six to seven feet.
If one puts attention on the heart,
meditates from the heart, even reads into the heart,
or just has awareness of the heart as the seat of
love, compassion, joy and equanimity,
just that experience immediately changes heart wave coherence.
Everything that you experience and emanates from the heart is pervading all of space-time. This is the master oxylator of the body. We have a pacemaker here, a hundred cells that work together to make the heartbeat, and then that pacemaker sets pace-making everywhere – the brain, all the cells, ultimately the total body, which is the electromagnetic activity of the universe, which is the universal electromagnetic activity.
So, in today’s science, they identify four basic forces: electromagnetism, which is what we are using right now to have this communication, then the strong and weak nuclear interactions at the subatomic level, which are actually the same as the electromagnetic emanations of your body. They are the same, there is no difference. And finally gravity, which people don’t fully understand – how to correlate gravity with these forces and elements of the universe. Right now, people are thinking gravity is just the curvature of space-time, and is not actually a fundamental force, in the same way as quantum forces.
Even with all that, and leaving all the science aside, Patanjali, you, and the great Indian heritage are teaching the world: Even without knowing the science, as science is just a mapping of experience, we know that we actually feel through the heart. Even if you translate the four Yogas – Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Karma Yoga – it begins with Raja Yoga, which is meditation. And then Bhakti Yoga comes second, because out of that meditation comes the feeling that we call love and compassion and joy and equanimity. And then the third thing that happens automatically is the shift in identity, so Jnana Yoga also comes afterwards – identity. “Who am I?” “What am I?” Am I just this skin-encapsulated ego dragging a bag of flesh and bones, or am I the source of all experience? Jnana Yoga comes third. And finally comes Karma Yoga. You know, Karma Yoga is not a forced action. It is spontaneous. If we are established in ahimsa, then everything is spontaneous. We don’t have to do anything. Being is enough.
The heart is the seat not only of consciousness, but of intelligence.
And the heart’s intelligence is superior to the brain’s intelligence,
and to any other intelligence.
So this is where the great contribution of luminaries like yourself helps us, because we can understand that the heart is the seat not only of consciousness, but of intelligence. And the heart’s intelligence is superior to the brain’s intelligence, and to any other intelligence. Blaise Pascal, the French philosopher, said, “The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know.” The heart is the seat of ultimate, infinite computing, that is being downloaded from Brahman itself.
So, for that reason, I think what you are doing, contributing with heart meditation, and bringing peace to the world, is such a great thing that I am very honored and privileged to support this event.
Daaji: Thank you.
DC: Thank you.
Conversation with DEEPAK CHOPRA
Illustrations by GAYATRI PACHPANDE
April 01, 2021
April 01, 2021
April 01, 2021