Living the Lessons

Deepak Chopra: Spirituality and Lessons for Everyday Life

Prasanna Ranganathan

A few weeks ago, in anticipation of Oprah’s Lifeclass Season 2 and Deepak Chopra’s participation as a Lifeclass teacher in New York City and Toronto, I read his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.  This book explored seven core spiritual laws at play in our lives which form the basis for the realization of our dreams including: the law of pure potentiality; the law of giving and receiving; the law of karma or cause and effect; the law of least effort; the law of intention and desire; the law of detachment; and the law of dharma or purpose in life. 

His book was a fascinating read given my recent personal journey towards finding work aligned with my true calling or life’s purpose. I was especially struck by the central premise of his book that happiness and joy are not tied to the attainment of future objectives or goals, but are rooted instead in conscious, clear, daily decisions that demonstrate our connection to a higher consciousness or pure potentiality.

Several lessons from his work really resonated with me and prompted me to arrive at deeply personal insights about my life until now and its future trajectory.

First, in the chapter, the Law of Least Effort, Deepak Chopra makes reference to the principle: Accept people, circumstances, and events as they are in this moment. Practice surrender. I am constantly reminded of Oprah’s lesson (which she shared on the Oprah Show and in Master Class) about how she auditioned for the role of Sophia in the Color Purple and did not hear back for months from the casting director. When she called him, he told her that they were considering many other well-known actresses for the role and to not call him, he would call her.  Oprah then raised a prayer and said that she had done all she could do and was surrendering all to a higher power, singing the spiritual: “I surrender all”. She sang this song while running around a track at a retreat for weight loss. Immediately, she received a call from Steven Spielberg telling her she received the part.

Reading Deepak Chopra’s book and then recalling Oprah’s experience, I was immediately struck by the salience of these principles in my life. I am so driven to make changes in my life, to push for advancement, to make things happen, that I fail to realize that often the best course of action is to be silent and understand that, as Deepak Chopra explores in his book, “when you combine acceptance, responsibility, and defenselessness, your life flows with effortless ease. Your dreams and desires flow with nature’s desires. Then you can release your intentions without attachment, and when the season is right, your desires will blossom into reality.” (p. 57)

Second, in the Law of Detachment Chapter, Deepak Chopra explains that it is important to “accept uncertainty as an essential part of your experience. In your willingness to accept uncertainty, solutions will spontaneously appear.” (p. 80). I have always been terrible with uncertainty. Perhaps it is my proclivity to over-plan or the culture of the legal profession (I am a lawyer) where everybody knows in second year of law school where they will be working after they graduate a year and a half later. My tendency has always been to eschew uncertainty in favour of finding any opportunity to fill my time. This rush to “know what is next” has often forced me to deviate from thinking deeply about my life’s purpose and calling. I can unequivocally state that had I paused during my 20s to critically evaluate my choice of careers and question whether this choice was in line with my life’s calling, purpose, or intrinsic motivations, the answer would have been very different. I am trying to make these conscious decisions now to let uncertainty be my friend and to welcome its presence as an opportunity to help me delve deeper and connect more directly to the pure potentiality.

Third, under the Law of Detachment Chapter, Deepak Chopra explains that good luck is preparation meeting opportunity. Oprah often cited this lesson during episodes of The Oprah Winfrey Show and it is a lesson that has always stayed with me.  Luck is not a mythical, ethereal notion but rather the alignment of your life with your calling or purpose. As Oprah often says, the work of our lives is to discover our purpose and move about finding ways to align with that purpose. Re-reading this lesson, I was struck by the notion that perhaps preparation is the work of seeking that alignment.

Finally, under the Law of Dharma chapter, Deepak Chopra asks several key questions: How can I help? How can I serve? This reminds me of Oprah’s lesson during Lifeclass (Season 1) and during The Oprah Winfrey Show: How can I use my life in service to 1) the inner divinity within myself and 2) others/society?

If we disassociate our callings from an ego-driven purpose – “I want this profession because it will bring me acclaim or money” (or at least, as Eckhart Tolle says, acknowledge where the ego exists, because it is impossible to disassociate completely from ego, and then not let it rule our actions) – instead focusing on how the pursuit of our callings can allow us to use our lives in service, we are drawn to our life’s purpose as a vehicle for affecting positive change for ourselves and others. 

At this moment, I may not be working in my dream job.  I may not yet be fully honoring my life’s calling or purpose.  I may not know what the future holds.  However, reading this book, I was reminded of the fact that I can, in this moment and in every moment to come, use my life in service. 

That perhaps was the most powerful lesson of all: Take action.  Be of service. Make a difference.

Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.

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