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#2156 - Friday, May 27, 2005 - Editor: Jerry Katz



I'm interested not only the hard, vast nonduality of "there's no one, there's nothing, there's nowhere," but also that in which our dreams, thoughts, and natural commitments in life take on the bearing of nondual perspective: cocooning nonduality.


There is a book review of A Gift for New Mothers: Traditional Wisdom of Birth, Pregnancy and Motherhood, by Deborah Jackson. It's a bright and stimulating book.


The second article is from a newspaper and speaks of a million dollar study being conducted on marriage and parenting.


The third article is an interview with Deepak Chopra: "Consciousness creates perception, cognition, moods and social interaction. Exploring consciousness should be followed like a discipline," he says.


Highlights editor Michael has landed safely in Taos after a long and challenging car drive through strong desert winds. Hopefully he will cover next Friday's edition. Have a good weekend.









Book Review by Jerry Katz


A Gift for New Mothers: Traditional Wisdom of Birth, Pregnancy and Motherhood

by Deborah Jackson


In these pages -- which are bright, colorful and lively, like the book's cover shown above -- are very brief stories, revelations, and practical offerings on how pregnancy, birth, and motherhood are viewed and managed in traditional cultures. It is a fast, stimulating, upbeat, and useful read. The author, Deborah Jackson, is a journalist and mother of three.


This book will appeal to people who are already part of a tradition of motherhood, as they will enjoy a further connection with tradition, and are bound to come across new and useful insights. It will also be useful to the woman immersed in a busy, western style life, who has little or no chance to slow down and make that connection. For those mothers this book may kick-start their intuition or deliver a fresh paradigm, a new way of experiencing their life change.


I like the breezy style of writing which touches on various cultures in meaningful ways:


"There are cultures in which childbirth is a major social event. When Navaho Native American mothers go into labour, the whole tribe gathers round to eat a meal and enjoy the spectacle. Among the Gasque people of Spain, a mother in labour is traditionally attended by her whole family. Weather allowing, the birth takes place outside, near a running stream. There is singing, story-telling and jokes to 'massage the mother and baby with laughter'. Yemenite women expect their neighbours and friends to visit during labour, to lend moral support, chant prayers to Allah and help out if necessary. In Yucatan Maya women in labour are not isolated from day-to-day life. They give birth in a blanket, slung from the rafters for privacy... ."


This isn't to convince the woman of the western world who is immersed in a corporate job and on the go all the time, to sling anything from the rafters. The intent is to give perspective. It's good to know how others have walked a road you are walking. Perhaps the reader will relax into the possibilities. In that sense it is like reading a guidebook about a place you are going to tour; it gives you a feel for the history, culture, and practices associated with a new land.


Some suggestions and ideas could certainly be acted upon, such as the planting of a birth tree, or recognition of the benefits of colostrum: "This rich pre-milk is produced in late pregnancy and for three days after birth. .... For a few hours after birth, colostrum contains enormous quantities of antibodies. In the first day it teems with fatty acids, growth factors, vitamins, zinc, immune defences and anti-infectious properties... ."


To give you a further idea of what this book is about, here is a handful of selections from the index: acupressure, candles, Greek myths, Inuit birthing houses, May night celebrations, pre-natal bonds, seven-month ceremonies, Trobriand Islanders, Zulus. 


Whether or not this book results in specific action from the reader, it will relax, open, inspire, and delight the woman who is going to be a new mother. Diverse, practical, not-so-practical-but-interesting, fun, curious, stimulating, every woman experiencing pregnancy and new motherhood will enjoy startling gems within this treasure chest.


--Jerry Katz


A Gift for New Mothers: Traditional Wisdom of Birth, Pregnancy and Motherhood

by Deborah Jackson




Spiritual DNA? BGSU researchers seek sacred building block to family life

26 May 2005

Marriage has been known as "holy" matrimony and childbirth as a "blessed" event for as long as there have been weddings and newborn babies. But is there something more to those spiritual terms?

Dr. Annette Mahoney, a Bowling Green State University psychology professor, calls religion's role in marriage and parenting an aspect of family life that's been overlooked by social scientists. Few researchers have studied it, let alone shown how spirituality impacts families over time.

Now, with $1.2 million in funding from the John Templeton Foundation, Mahoney and her Bowling Green colleagues Dr. Kenneth Pargament, a psychologist, and Dr. Alfred DeMaris, a sociologist, will embark on what is believed to be the first in-depth, long-term study of the part religion plays in couples' transition to parenthood.

"This is state-of-the-art social science research," according to Dr. Arthur Schwartz, vice president for research and programs in the human sciences at the Templeton Foundation, based in suburban Philadelphia.

The Foundation "is very interested in areas of spirituality and religiosity that have yet to be examined or understood scientifically," Schwartz says, adding that sanctification of pregnancy and parenthood fits that description. "We know so little about this area of human life that we wanted to fund something that was scientifically rigorous."

The four-year project is designed to examine the impact of sanctification of marriage, pregnancy and becoming a parent, and will involve 160 couples in the Toledo, Ohio area.

Sanctification is defined as perceiving aspects of life to have divine character and significance, or seeing life "through a sacred lens"--the title of the project led by Mahoney.

Spiritual emotions such as gratitude, awe and humility are among the implications of sanctification, as are investment in and commitment to that particular aspect of life and access to other spiritually based resources that help people cope effectively with stress.

"If pregnancy's a spiritually meaningful event both emotionally and mentally, we think it's going to lead to better outcomes for the parent and the child," according to Mahoney.

"The more people view the emergence of family through a sacred lens, the more they'll invest in the family," she hypothesizes.

The Foundation's hope, Schwartz adds, is that, regardless of their findings, Mahoney and Pargament, already "so well established in their field," will be regarded in future years as having "blazed a new trail" in research of sanctification of parenthood.

Contact: Scott Borgelt
[email protected]
Bowling Green State University






Interview with Deepak Chopra


27 May 2005

Every problem has a creative solution and every situation can be improved through creativity, says popular author Deepak Chopra in an interview with PRADEEP KUMAR

‘New Age Supersage’ is how Time magazine described Deepak Chopra, when it listed him alongside 99 others in its compilation of 'top 100 heroes and icons of the century'. Former president of the erstwhile USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev described Chopra as “one of the most lucid and inspired philosophers of our time.” It is not statesmen alone who have found Chopra, a medical graduate from New Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences, inspiring. From Hollywood actress Demi Moore to Tibet's Dalai Lama have found the 58-year-old to be a good motivator.

“I just do what feels natural to me. I like singing in the bathroom. Some people like my singing and they listen,' is how Chopra described his works, to Weekend.

India-born Chopra moved to the United States in 1970 to pursue his medical studies. After working in many hospitals in different positions, he went on to become the medical director of the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Centre for Stress Management and Behavioral Medicine. In 1993, after splitting from the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center, Chopra published the bestseller Ageless Body, Timeless Mind: The Quantum Alternative to Growing Old. He shot to instant fame when he appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show to promote his book and works — according to a news report, he sold 130,000 copies of the book in one day after he appeared on the hugely popular television show.

In 1995, Chopra established The Chopra Center for Well Being in California, which, in his words, was “a formal vehicle for the expansion of his healing approach using the integration of the best of western medicine with natural healing traditions.

From being a pioneer in mind-body medicine, Chopra is today sought after worldwide as an expert speaker on subjects as diverse as spirituality and world peace. He has written close to three dozen books, which have been translated into 35 languages with over 20 million copies sold worldwide.

Weekend caught up with Chopra to know more about him and his philosophies.

Author, educator, philosopher, motivator, holistic healer, spiritual guru and much more. How does Deepak Chopra describe himself?

I perceive myself as someone who is constantly exploring consciousness, in the same way as a biologist studying biology, or a geologist studying the earth or an astronomer studying stars. And I write about my explorations.

How does one define consciousness?

Consciousness is synonymous with life, not necessarily good life. Consciousness, life, spirit, awareness are all synonymous with each other. The more aware you are, the more creative you become. Being creative helps you get all the things you want in life. Hence, consciousness is creativity.

Is creativity the answer to all the problems?

Every problem has a creative solution. Every situation can be improved through creativity. Look around and you see see creativity everywhere.

Spirituality is creativity directed inwards — to explore your intuition, your vision, your ability to love and have compassion, your ability to expand the experience of happiness and your ability to have a sense of connection with the very mystery of existence.

Anybody who achieves anything in life does it through creativity. They do not achieve it through hardwork or by driving ambitions or exacting plans — these are the hallmarks of failure.

You were trained to be a doctor in modern medicine. But most your work has been in alternative therapies. How did this happen?

My goal has always been to give a scientific understanding to various kinds of therapies. I would not use the term alternative therapy. Instead, I would term them integrative therapy.

I never ask people not to use allopathy. Although, many a times, allopathy medicines are used indiscriminately.

It was not difficult for me to get into Ayurveda. My training was as a neuroendocrinologist, which is the study of brain chemicals. I was learning that the molecules carry messages from the mind to the body — whenever a thought moves, a molecule travels with it. Ayurveda, incidentally, was talking about the same molecular biological connection between the body and mind. Hence, the principles of ayurveda was reinforcing what I was already learning.

Didn’t you stop your medical practice for some time?

Yes, I did. That was only for a short period of time. I stopped my practice because people were complaining that I was being selective. According to them, I was treating only movie stars. I resumed my practise after sometime to see everybody, but movie stars.

In California, where I live, one has to pass an exam every two years to held on to your licence. I have been holding on to my licence for the last 25 years now. In spite of the fact that I am involved in other stuff, I am still a doctor.

Is Deepak Chopra a performer?

Some people perceive so. I just do what feels natural to me. I like singing in the bathroom. Some people like my singing and they listen.

I am passionately in love with what I do. I feel good and empowered with it, and would love to share my experiences with people who want to listen. There are many others who do not listen. There are many who criticise, condemn, complain — well, that is their business. There are people who think I am doing a good job, and I think they are also doing their business. Whatever people think — good or bad, it is their business.

Your ‘bathroom singing’ lessons come at a huge cost. The course fee for your programmes are huge and certainly beyond the means of the common man

Ten per cent of every programme we do in the US is free. When I come out of the US, it is up to the promoter to decide on the costs. I have no control over it. Eighty per cent of my income goes to the two foundations of mine, which work for many social causes. I feel good about the expensive courses I do because they help raise funds, which is invested in projects that benefit a lot of people.

I live in a country, which generates its income through trading and manufacturing of weapons, and where army is the biggest industry. The fact that I can make my money and compete with these guys by doing something good, gratifies me.

So, are your ‘bathroom singing’ lessons a way of raising funds for your foundations?

I am involved in at least three philanthropies and they take most of my time these days. I am in the autumn of my life, hence have to change my priorities. We live in a silly world, which is full of conflict, racism, prejudice and hatred. I live in a country whose president is belligerent, arrogant and is one who believes in unilateralism and militarism. In a way, I am grateful to that because he is going to accelerate the relevance and the legitimacy of the United States as a superpower. So, I am having a good time, participating in all things to make people more aware.

This is then the right time for Deepak Chopra to excel.

It has always been the right time. I am adaptable to how the environment works. I believe that infinite flexibility is the secret to reaching people. There was a time, when I was only interested in mind-body medicine. I was then inclined towards spirituality. Now, I am more interested in social issues, such as social justice, conflict resolution and addressing economic disparities.

Do you consider yourself as a spiritual guru?

No, I don’t consider myself as a guru, but I am definitely spiritual. Thousands have read my books and many have attended my workshops. I must tell you that I have never moralised anyone. I believe self righteous morality is the worst thing in the world. There are too many fundamentalists doing that in the world. I want to stay away from that.

From spirituality to social causes. Isn't that a strange move?

These are only extensions of spirituality. Spirituality, as I mentioned earlier, is awareness. The more you expand your awareness, the more global it becomes. Start from personal health, then collective health, then ecological health and so on and so forth. Health and holy mean the same. Holy means wholeness, which includes everything. The word has nothing to with religion.

One of the organisations I am involved with is Alliance for the New Humanity. We are in the process of connecting non government organisations (NGOs) around the world. We are trying to network people to create a critical mass of public opinion. Critical mass of public opinions will influence public policies, and even government legislations.

You are also part of the George Bush bashers club. Is that an easy route for some instant publicity?

Well, that is your interpretation. I live in a country which is slowly becoming an island in itself. It has come to a point where you feel embarrassed to claim, ‘I am an American citizen'.

Ageing, according to you, is more of a perceptual change. How do you explain it?

Over the years, the demographics of ageing has changed dramatically. In the days of Roman Empire, the average lifespan was 28 years. In the last century, it increased to be 48 years. Today, it is much higher, thanks to proper nutrition and hygiene. Today, we understand that biological markers for ageing is blood pressure, cardio vascular conditioning, immune response, bone density, skin thickness etc. And to an extent all these are reversible. You can chronologically be 60, but biologically still look 45. This situation has helped. What you perceive what you are influences your biological process. One of the biggest crises in the world today is perception. Every problem in the world is a problem of perception.

How does one overcome the problem of perception?

First, you need to have the desire. Second, one needs to explore consciousness. Consciousness  creates perception, cognition, moods and social interaction. Exploring consciousness should be followed like a discipline.

A term which you have used frequently is quantum healing. What is quantum healing all about?

Healing is a real phenomenon. You can give two patients the same drug for the same ailment and they can give completely two results. This is due to something called ‘host response,’ which is a biological creativity.

One of the most profound things about people who recover is that they have no fear, even the fear of death is many a times overcome by some. Fear creates a casket of biochemical changes that destroys the body’s immune system.

Quantum healing is the biological creativity hat allows your body to heal itself, which is what it wants to do. Everyday, your body gets mutations of cancer cells. The body knows how to handle them and hence most of them are not affected by the cancer cells. The body has inner intelligence, evolutionarily developed over thousands of years. When we interfere with this evolutionary intelligence, we are prone to be affected by diseases.

How big a brand is Deepak Chopra?

Very big, it is a huge brand. I can accomplish so many things with the brand. In fact, I am now considered an expert in branding. I was recently invited by the Singapore government to help them in one of their branding exercises.

Brands are myths — embedded myths. Deepak Chopra is a myth. Myths necessarily do not conform to reality.

Bill Clinton, Mikhail Gorbachev, Hollywood stars are all your celebrity clients. Where does this take Deepak Chopra?

Nowhere. My wife and children do not take me seriously, which is important to me.

Well, they do believe in my principles but they do not buy the celebrity status tag.

Would there ever be a perfect world?

There is nothing such as a perfect world. If it were, then all of us would be doomed to eternal senility. All creativity comes from discontent. Hence, I call discontent divine.


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