Cover

CONTENTS

ABOUT THE BOOK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ALSO BY DEEPAK CHOPRA

TITLE PAGE

DEDICATION

EPIGRAPH

PREFACE

INTRODUCTION by Gotham Chopra

PART I

In the Face of Tragedy

Stages of Suffering, Stages of Healing

The Anatomy of Fear

“Why? Tell Me Why.”

The Meaning of Death

The Face of Evil

Recovering the Soul

PART II

A Hundred Days of Healing

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

COPYRIGHT

Also by Deepak Chopra

Creating Health

Return of the Rishi

Quantum Healing

Perfect Health

Unconditional Life

Ageless Body, Timeless Mind

Journey into Healing

Creating Affluence

Perfect Weight

Restful Sleep

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success

The Return of Merlin

Boundless Energy

Perfect Digestion

The Way of the Wizard

Overcoming Addictions

Raid on the Inarticulate

The Path to Love

The Seven Spiritual Laws for

Parents

The Love Poems of Rumi

(edited by Deepak Chopra;
translated by Deepak Chopra and
Fereydoun Kia)

Healing the Heart

Everyday Immortality

The Lords of the Light

On the Shores of Eternity

How to Know God

The Soul in Love

The Chopra Center Herbal Handbook

(with David Simon)

Grow Younger, Live Longer

About the Book

Following the events in New York in early September 2001, Deepak Chopra addresses the feelings that have come out of them for all of us: fear, the meaning of death and how to find your “higher self” under catastrophic circumstances. The sort of questions he asks are: is there a deep wound at the heart of humanity? Will revenge salve this wound or aggravate it? He also comments “if you and I are having a single thought of violence or hatred against anyone in the world at this moment, we are contributing to the wounding of the world.” Although this book has grown out of a tragedy that has affected us all, it is also of general application in situations where one might be feeling extremely vulnerable, frighteningly angry, deeply sad and trying to make sense of a terrible situation.

About the Author

Deepak Chopra is the author of more than fifty books translated into over thirty-five languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers in both fiction and nonfiction.

Visit him at www.DeepakChopra.com.

The Deeper Wound

Recovering the Soul From Fear and Suffering

Deepak Chopra

FOR RUTH AND PAIGE AND JULIANA

I know the day will come

When my sight of this world shall be lost.

Life will take its leave in silence,

Drawing the last curtain before my eyes.

Yet stars will still shine at night,

And mornings rise as before,

And hours will still heave like sea waves,

Casting up pleasures and pains.

When I think of this end of my moments

The barrier of the moment breaks,

And I see by the light of death

Your world with its careless treasures.

Rare is its meanest of lives,

Rare is its lowliest seat.

Things that I longed for in vain,

And things that I got—let them pass.

Let me but truly possess

The things that I ever spurned and overlooked.

RABINDRANATH TAGORE, 1913

PREFACE

ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, as fate would have it, I was leaving New York on a jet flight that took off 45 minutes before the unthinkable happened. By the time we landed in Detroit, chaos had broken out. When I grasped the fact that American security had broken down so tragically, I couldn’t respond at first. My wife and son were also in the air, on separate flights, one to Los Angeles, one to San Diego. My body went absolutely rigid with fear. All I could think about was their safety, and it took several hours before I found out that their flights had been diverted and both were safe.

Strangely, when the good news came, my body still felt as if it had been hit by a truck. Of its own accord it seemed to feel a far greater trauma that reached to the thousands who would not survive and the tens of thousands who would survive only to live through months and years of hell. And I asked myself, why didn’t I feel this way last week? Why didn’t my body go stiff when innocent people died through violence in other countries? Around the world my horror and worry are experienced by others every day. Mothers weep over horrendous loss, civilians are bombed mercilessly, and refugees are ripped from any sense of home or homeland. Why did I not feel their anguish enough to call a halt to it?

As we hear the calls for tightened American security and a fierce military response to terrorism, it is obvious that none of us has any answers. However, we feel compelled to ask some questions.

Everything has a cause, so we have to ask, what was the root cause of this evil? We must find out not superficially but at the deepest level. There is no doubt that such evil is alive all around the world and is even celebrated.

Does this evil grow from the suffering and anguish felt by people we don’t know and therefore ignore? Have they lived in this condition for a long time?

One assumes that whoever did this attack feels implacable hatred for America. Why were we selected to be the focus of suffering around the world?

All this hatred and anguish seems to have religion at its basis. Isn’t something terribly wrong when jihads and wars develop in the name of God? Isn’t God invoked with hatred in Ireland, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Israel, Palestine, and even among the intolerant sects of America?

Can any military response make the slightest difference in the underlying cause? Is there not a deep wound at the heart of humanity? If there is a deep wound, doesn’t it affect everyone? If all of us are wounded, will revenge work? Will punishment in any form toward anyone heal the wound or aggravate it? Will an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a limb for a limb leave us all blind, toothless, and crippled?

Tribal warfare has been going on for thousands of years and has now been magnified globally. Can tribal warfare be brought to an end? Is it possible, as we move into the future, that all of us, regardless of our race, religion, or even nationality, can transcend our tribal nature?

What are you and I as persons going to do about what is happening? Can we afford to let the deeper wound fester any longer?

This was a horrible attack on America, but is it not also a rift in our collective soul? Isn’t this an attack on civilization from without that is also from within?

When we have secured our safety once more and cared for the wounded, after the period of shock and mourning is over, it will be time for soul searching. I only hope that these questions are confronted with the deepest spiritual intent. None of us will feel safe again behind the shield of military might and stockpiled arsenals. There can be no safety until the root cause is faced. It is imperative that we pray and offer solace and help to each other. In this moment of deep sorrow for the wounding of our collective soul, the only healing we can accomplish as individuals is to make sure that our every thought, word, and deed nurture humanity.

Although the idea for this book was born out of the tragic incident on September 11, 2001, the intent of this book evolved so that it has become a manual that can be used to heal the deeper wound no matter what the cause. Great wisdom traditions tell us it is possible to go beyond suffering to reach expanded states of awareness where our personal transformation can not only bring joy to us but also heal the larger web of life. It is my hope that as you create the state of spontaneous joy for yourself by reaching into the depths of your soul, you will also contribute to the restoration of harmony in the world. Because you are the world.

A principle of physics states “When an electron vibrates, the universe shakes.” Let us then, you and I, be those electrons that vibrate at the level of consciousness to bring peace, harmony, joy, and love to the world.

INTRODUCTION

MY NAME IS Gotham Chopra, and I am Deepak Chopra’s son. I work as a TV reporter with Channel One News, the educational broadcast seen in an estimated 12,500 secondary schools.

At 8:00 A.M. on Tuesday, September 11, I boarded a flight in New York headed for Los Angeles. A few minutes later we lurched back from the gate, fired down the runway, and soared into the sky. It must have been almost 8:30 A.M. when I looked over my shoulder and gazed out at the New York skyline, noting the clear view, from Columbia University, my alma mater, all the way down to the World Trade Center.

“What a beautiful day,” I thought to myself. “I wish I wasn’t leaving.” I then closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.

A little over 90 minutes later I awoke when the pilot’s voice came over the loudspeaker. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he announced in a calm voice, “we are making an emergency landing in Cincinnati because of an apparent terrorist attack in the New York area. Please stay calm. . . .”

There was a nervous murmur throughout the cabin. The journalist in me demanded immediate information and I reached for the phone. I quickly ran my credit card through the phone, waited for the dial tone, and dialed my news desk in Los Angeles. The phone crackled but there was no mistaking the panicked tone of one of my colleagues.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

“I am.” I asked for further information.

“Two planes crashed into the World Trade Center. They’ve collapsed. They’ve come down. . . .”

The phone went dead. I frantically redialed.

No luck.

I tried my sister in Los Angeles.

No luck.

I slowly sat back in my chair and began to panic. I knew my father had flown out of New York on a different flight about an hour before me. I knew my mother was on a flight originating in London destined for San Diego. I tried to meditate and tell myself that everyone would be okay. Tears burned my eyes.

When we touched down twenty minutes later, the pilot instructed us not to turn on our cell phones. He gave us instructions to immediately evacuate the plane and follow the instructions of security personnel.

Finally in the terminal, I reached for my phone and turned it on. There I stood huddled with hundreds of other stranded passengers staring up at the television. There the images of two smoldering stumps—the remains of the towers of the World Trade Center—played on the screen. Finally I got in touch with my sister, Mallika, who was sobbing on the other end of the phone.

“I’m okay. . . . Where’s Papa? . . . Where’s Mom?”

Mallika supplied all of the answers—everyone was safe. I placed my next call to the office. I knew that there was work at hand. Sure enough, a car had already been reserved for my return to New York. At the rental agency, people in the long line started shouting out their destinations and everyone began carpooling. I joined two other men from the New York area and we were off. Over the next 12 hours we listened closely to the radio as details of the terrorist attack emerged. Every five minutes the name of another family member or friend popped into my head and I dialed the number frantically. Most New York numbers were jammed or out of service. One friend I was able to reach informed me that he had been unable to contact a mutual friend of ours who worked on the 105th floor of one of the towers. He was scheduled to attend an 8:30 meeting. Someone from the meeting had called to say they had survived the initial attack and were waiting for a rescue team. No one had heard from any of them since.

Finally, just after midnight we made it to Fort Lee, New Jersey, at the edge of New York City. There would be no crossing into Manhattan tonight—all the bridges and tunnels had been sealed. I spent the night in New Jersey unable to sleep much and by 6:00 A.M., I was dressed and ready. The only way to get across was via the commuter train, which was offering limited services. As we pulled into the station in Hoboken, New Jersey, the train slowed to a stop. There on the other side of the river they stood, like ashen smoking gravestones, the ruins of the twin towers. The train was utterly silent as everyone stood and gazed out the window. A young woman beside me began to whimper. Another man lowered his head into his hands to muffle his sobs.

Once in the city, I saw people walking around in a daze. Even the busiest streets, Broadway and Fifth Avenue, were empty of cars but full of wandering pedestrians. As we made our way downtown (I had already hooked up with a TV crew) we noticed small outdoor cafés open and people filling the sidewalk seats. People sat mostly in silence gazing upward at the thick plume of white smoke still snaking its way westward. At West Fourth Street, a group of kids played basketball. At one point the ball rolled out of play. A young shirtless boy ran after the ball and bent down to pick it up. When he lifted his head he looked up at the thick trail of smoke in the air. He shook his head and wiped away something from his eyes—either sweat or tears—and turned away.

I stopped and talked to a police officer. After chatting a few minutes, the officer asked me if I would like to see ground zero. I agreed to stay just at the edge, away from the workers.

The images on television of the devastation caused by Tuesday’s attack do absolutely no justice to the scene of the crime. In real life it appears as if an asteroid had hit the lower part of Manhattan. There are charred, twisting slabs of metal and concrete in every direction. It is unfathomable and unspeakable. The tragedy today is in its infancy. For the thousands who lost their lives—parents, children, siblings, friends, and neighbors who walked out of their buildings one morning and have not returned—there are thousands more, friends and family, who will never sleep a restful night.

This is a national tragedy but also a very personal one. On Wednesday night while in a cab returning from work to my apartment, I noticed the Muslim name of my driver. He noticed the tone of my skin in the rear view mirror, and nodded at me. On the radio, the commentator was relaying a warning to all men of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent—to be wary of unwarranted violent reprisals from agitated residents of the city.

The taxi driver again looked at me in the mirror and smiled ironically. “We love America. It is our home.” He shook his head. “But I think we’re fucked.”

missing-image

ABOUT A MONTH AGO, I rode up with two colleagues to the Northwest Frontier region of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan. We were covering a story on Islamic militancy training grounds based in Pakistani religious schools. In the West they have widely been reported to be the training ground for the grooming of young Muslim boys into hostile anti-Western terrorists. In Pakistan, both the government and the men at the school hotly contest these claims, castigating the West for generating such racist propaganda. I traveled to this lost area with as little bias as possible—but with a certain and undeniable fear in my heart.

In the school itself, the chancellor was most kind and hospitable. He invited us to tour the grounds of the school and to meet teachers and some of the boys—though at first we weren’t allowed to talk to them. Then we were escorted into his private residence.

The first thing I noticed on the center table was a bowl of big yellow mangoes and a picture. The photograph was of our host—a bearded older Muslim mullah wearing a traditional white turban—and his friend Osama bin Laden, the man at the top of the FBI’s list of Most Wanted. I asked the mullah if we could interview him. He agreed but insisted that first we share mangoes. I agreed and he took out a long knife and proceeded to slice the fruit for me. We slurped and chatted for a while and finally my crew was permitted to turn on the camera.

I asked the mullah a wide array of questions. Did he hate the United States? Why is there such anti-Americanism in this part of the world? Should Americans be afraid?

He answered them all eloquently and without hostility. He talked about the history of the United States and Afghanistan, how during the Cold War they were allies, united in fighting a war against the Soviets.

“You gave us weapons and trained our men. You built our roads, fed our people. Do you realize, young man, that your government helped to create and to fund the Taliban because it was their interest to use guerrilla warfare and terrorist tactics against the Russians? You made us your friend.

“But then your Cold War ended and you deserted us.” At this point, a hint of animosity crept into his voice. “Because it was no longer in your selfish interest to have us as your allies, you abandoned us, left our people hungry, and hateful. You turned your friends into foes because you used us like whores.”

There was a silence between us.

Finally I asked him about the picture, about the nature of his relationship with Mr. bin Laden.

“He’s an old friend. And a good man.”

I shook my head. “Is he a terrorist?”

“We don’t call him that here.”

The mullah made it clear he was not interested in talking anymore. We shook hands. I thanked him for his hospitality.

On the way out I thought about that hospitality. I knew that the mullah himself had endorsed a fatwa, or religious order, by bin Laden several years ago urging Muslims to kill American civilians. Yet here was this man cutting mangoes for us and being very gracious. It brought to mind an Afghan tradition: “Today you are our guest. If we were not hospitable. we would be very ashamed. But in times of war, yes you would be an enemy and we may kill you. Today a friend, tomorrow, inshallah (God willing), there will not be war.”

missing-image

TODAY, FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2001, four days since the terrorist attack, it appears we may be on the threshold of war. Our president has called it the first world war of the twenty-first century. I am not sure whom we will be fighting. I would like to visit my favorite café in the city, a small Egyptian place on the Lower East Side that I have been going to since college. The waiters—mostly young Middle Eastern guys who like to talk about basketball and soccer, who come and sit at your table and share a puff on the sweet tobacco hookas they serve there—are my friends. But I’m not sure when it will open again, if it will open again. There’s a mosque next door that has been closed since the attack.

The weeks and months and perhaps even years ahead promise to be complex and wary. Hopefully our leaders will be judicious, precise, and compassionate in the difficult decisions that lie ahead. But it is each of us who now must rise up and be the true warriors in this difficult time. Does that mean seizing weapons and braving the threat of death out on a battlefield?

I think not. The battlefield is invisible. The enemy is elusive, and the web of evil too complex. Today there are no simple answers. It is too early for solutions.

For now we each have our stories—where we were on the day that the twin towers toppled. Each one is dramatic; each one is tragic. From this day forward, every day I shall observe a quiet remembrance for the victims of this calamity. We may each choose our own way to memorialize this moment, but I believe we are all obligated to reflect for a moment, to care about our neighbors, to meditate for peace and tolerance because ultimately the only forces that can defeat such profound evil are compassion and hope.

I hope you will find comfort and insight in the pages of this book. And I ask everyone to join my father and me in prayer for the healing of our wounded civilization (if we can call it that). Let us pray every day to whatever God we worship, remembering, as my dad has taught me since childhood, that Christ was not a Christian, Mohammed was not a Mohammedan, Buddha was not a Buddhist, and Krishna was not a Hindu.

GOTHAM CHOPRA, September 15, 2001

PART I

In the Face of Tragedy

WHEN TERRORISTS FLEW