Deepak Chopra Stars in the Renaissance of a Beloved Brand
Deepak Chopra’s central theme has always been, “Heal yourself.” In You Are the Universe, he adds another possibility — heal the planet.
The Bodhi Tree’s mission was a home for the spiritually curious for 41 years. Now, in their own reincarnation, the world-famous book store/community is being reborn online, with a sacred mercantile to turn your home into a sanctuary, alongside the resident New Age books, woo-woo tarot readings, astrology, apothecary and healing crystals.
On March 1, 2017, The Bodhi Tree held its first official off-site event since it closed its doors on New Year’s Eve in 2011 — a lecture and book-signing with Deepak Chopra. When I first arrived at the Skirball Center (in Los Angeles, California), I was a little worried for the renaissance of this beloved brand. It’s not easy to get to the Skirball Center in Los Angeles at 6:30 PM on a weekday. No amount of transcendence or meditation can part the sea of traffic. With only five minutes before Deepak was set to take the stage, the crowd was sparse — with not even 20% of the room filled. The warm-up entertainer, a singer/chanter, kept having his time extended, presumably to allow the late crowd to show up. I sat on my hands, holding my breath, and then exhaled, allowing myself to be coerced into singing along to the tune, “Smile” (made famous by Nat King Cole). When I looked up, the room was filled.
After a brief introduction from The Bodhi Tree CEO Stephen Powers, Deepak Chopra took the stage to a sell-out crowd of 500 to discuss his new book, You Are The Universe. Deepak laughed as he remembered his first book signing at The Bodhi Tree, when only about 10 people showed up. (Clearly this was before his 1993 interview with Oprah.) That Wednesday night, audience members paid $45-$65 each to hear the wisdom and passion of their beloved author of 23 New York Times bestsellers.
There was another thing that had me a bit worried. I love Deepak not only for his wisdom, but also for his poetic prose and ability to reduce complicated ideas into simple, actionable solutions. However, You Are the Universe reads more like a physics lecture. How would the lecture sound in person? The wisdom of the galaxies and stars has always befuddled me, so I felt comfort in learning that only 0.01% of the universe is actually visible. I didn’t completely comprehend how the magic of mirroring works — where two particles display complementary characteristics, even when separated by billions of light-years. But it struck me that I was witnessing a mirrored moment in real-time — how a book signing more than 20 years ago was intimately connected to this moment. How that gathering of ten in the early 1990s seeded the ground for 23 New York Times bestsellers and a sell-out crowd on March 1, 2017. Conscious choice — of The Bodhi Tree to host a relatively unknown author and of an unknown author to show up for just 10 people — can create these moments in the distant future, when complementary missions collide for health, healing and enlightenment, like stars lighting up the dark womb of the galaxies.
In 1970, when The Bodhi Tree first opened its doors for the spiritually curious, Deepak Chopra was just arriving in the U.S. from India for his medical residency in internal medicine and endocrinology. The life expectancy in the U.S. was 70.8 years. The Jackson 5 song “ABC” hit number one on the Billboard charts.
Today, people are living to 78.8 years of age, on average. Deepak Chopra, a long-time friend of Michael Jackson, looks vibrant and healthy, at the age of 70, like he is ready to live well past 100. He is living the dream of his teachings in consciousness, spiritual awakening and quantum healing. Sadly, Michael Jackson passed away at the age of 50 (June 25, 2009) from an overdose of prescription drugs.
In You are The Universe, Deepak and his co-author Menas Kafatos, Ph.D., sound the mysteries of the universe and the theories of quantum physics, coming to the conclusion that conscious choice has potential far beyond just the health and healing of an individual, writing:
Consciousness opens up a future in which the planet can be saved from potential destruction. It puts the individual at the switch where choices change personal reality… For future generations, “You are the universe” will be a credo to live by, no longer a dream wrapped inside a mystery.
The Bodhi Tree is the perfect platform for these messages, where the mysterious “unknowable” musings of the “Einsteins of consciousness” (as Deepak calls his teachers) are welcome.
One of the things that I’ve always loved about The Bodhi Tree is the way the store embraced outlandish ideas. Do I believe in astrology? Nope. UFOs? Possible. Would I like to have my Tarot cards read? Perhaps. Am I super interested in the Higgs Boson (FYI: if you are, you might love You Are The Universe)? While I’m pro-science and discovery, it’s not typically my night-time reading of choice. If I were putting in a request for the next Deepak Chopra bestseller, it would probably be the sequel to 7 Spiritual Laws of Success, something that would relate to me me me personally, and would be rife with bullet points. When I first began reading You Are the Universe, I rifled through page after page, acting a bit like an impatient fan, who just wants the star to sing her favorite hit. On Wednesday night, Deepak reminded me (and the rest of the crowd) that “Everything that you are experiencing is a projection of your conditioned mind.”
Is it my attitude that needs adjusting? Have I become too schooled by Tweets and the 5 Easy Ways to Climb Mt. Everest to dive into deeper, higher learning? Is You Are the Universe a koan? Is that why I feel so befuddled by the narrative, even though the central message flashes like a billboard in my brain?
You Are the Universe had me at hello. In the title itself, I saw, “Consciousness opens up a future in which the planet can be saved from potential destruction.” I want to be in that tribe, mirroring a complementary, contagious and collective action of planetary renewal that will result in a healthy home for all for light-years to come. As fate would have it, I was there when Deepak Chopra starred at the renaissance of The Bodhi Tree and that monumental moment has a time-stamp on my heart.
Ask the Questions
When you land on the new BodhiTree.com website, “Ask the Questions” is the tag-line that greets you. At the lecture on Wednesday night, this was essentially one of the four life lessons that Deepak left us with. “Open yourself to humility, wonder and curiosity, and extreme gratitude, bewilderment and astonishment,” Deepak said. “Astonishment and bewilderment, with gratitude, are the most spiritual experience you can have.”
I haven’t yet wrapped my head around the idea that “the universe is one undivided whole,” but I’m okay with that possibility echoing around in the areas of darkness that remain to be further explored and understood, both within the universe at large, and within the way my own brain understands it. Here’s where the bullet points from the chapter “Where You Really Came From” in You Are the Universe, offer guidance. The authors wrote, “The next thing you feel like doing is the best thing you can do… set off to explore unknown possibilities.”
For me, that’s going to be a re-reading of You Are The Universe, a few more trips to BodhiTree.com and a renewed commitment to the ways that I can indeed become more in harmony with Mother Earth, celebrating sustainability with wisdom and action.
In my mind’s eyes and ears, I can hear songs and sounds of planetary healing, as we collectively co-create a new paradigm, changing the course from unsustainable, dirty energy to healthy and vibrant lifestyles! I want to be a complementary particle waving to my ancestors across the light-years, winking a mirth-filled greeting of “We did it.”
You are the Universe, too. Join Deepak in an interstellar adventure. Buy the book at the reborn BodhiTree website. Support the bewildered and curious.
About The Bodhi Tree
The Bodhi Tree is an online destination for new and antiquarian book titles, as well as handcrafted sacred home and ceremonial products, consciously selected to support the thoughtful path.
About Deepak Chopra
Deepak Chopra is a licensed physician, the founder of the Chopra Center (a center for health and well-being of body, mind and spirit) and the bestselling author of 23 New York Times bestsellers. Deepak encourages everyone to join the conversation on DiscoveringYourCosmicSelf.com and to download his JIYO app — your personal wellbeing companion.