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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, July 31, 2014

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In Arts & Entertainment

Chopra discusses the afterlife at Alverno


Deepak Chopra, one of the world leaders in mind-body medicine, is the author of 49 books. His latest, called "Life After Death: The Burden of Proof," explores one of life's greatest mysteries, and combines science with wisdom -- not faith -- to explain the afterlife.

Chopra discusses his new book on Monday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. at Alverno College's Pitman Theatre, 3400 S. 43rd St. The cost is $30 and includes a copy of "Life After Death: The Burden of Proof."

The event is part of Schwartz Bookshops' "Live at Alverno" series.

"Life After Death" is the first major book on the afterlife to be published in decades. Chopra waited 20 years to write it while research and documentation of near-death experiences provided more information and gained public recognition. The book attempts to cut through fear, skepticism, belief and superstition surrounding the issue of death, and takes the reader beyond the Christian concept of heaven and hell.

"Whatever it is that occurs at death," he writes, "I believe it deserves to be called a miracle. The miracle, ironically, is that we don't die."

Because of his deep knowledge of cutting-edge physics and his traditional wisdom from around the world, Chopra believes that the afterlife is a "rational subject," and one that is knowable when we're alive.

In a recent interview with OnMilwaukee.com, Chopra elaborated on his thoughts about the afterlife, and gave a sneak peek into what he'll discuss during his lecture at Alverno.

OnMilwaukee.com: If people walk away remembering only one or two things from your lecture, what would you like those lasting messages to be?

Deepak Chopra: If we can find that place in ourselves that is timeless and beyond death, then we have nothing to fear about death -- or anything. It's the fear of loss, of relinquishing the unknown (that keeps us from knowing) ... but if we can step into the unknown, then we will see death as a creative leap of our souls.

OMC: What, in a nutshell, do you think happens after we die?

DC: We return to our state of potentiality ... Our imagination creates our "here and now" while we are alive, and it can project a reality of our consciousness in all other realms, too ... All the mental abilities we use to create things in our life continue after death and in fact become more powerful. Whether we are in this domain or any other, we are in the same state of spiritual consciousness.

OMC: Is it truly possible for a person not to fear death?

DC: My father, at the moment of his death, said to my mother, "It was a wonderful life. I loved it, and now I am looking forward to the next stage." Then, he winked at my mother, closed his eyes and was gone. Then, we all celebrated his elegant and joyful life.

OMC: Why is science so important in your discussion of the afterlife?

DC: Because after centuries of faith as the only support for life after death, we can't hope to provide rational proof without turning to science. Also, in recent decades, physics has probed deeper into the subtle realms of nature, uncovering phenomena that give us fascinating clues about a so-called "intelligent universe." Such a universe could be the same as the subtle worlds of the afterlife described in the great wisdom traditions, East and West.

OMC: How does physics fit in?

DC: Physics already accepts that matter and energy cannot be destroyed. Information theory says that the same is true of all the information in the universe. This implies that our minds -- the source of information in the form of thoughts -- cannot be destroyed, either. The mind may undergo transformation after death, but it would still survive in some form.

OMC: How did your concept of the afterlife change while you wrote the book?

DC: I became more aware of how the different spiritual traditions on earth, and their various stories about the afterlife, led back to a single source in consciousness.

OMC: Do you believe in reincarnation?

DC: Reincarnation is one scenario. Everything the human mind can imagine is also a scenario. Rumi (a mystical poet) says, "When I die I shall soar with angels, and when I die to angels, what I shall become, you cannot imagine." Any imaginative realm that you can imagine exists in projective reality. You can't tie your shoelaces unless you think of it in consciousness first, so all reality is conceived, governed, imagined and finally becomes into being from the imagination.

OMC: You've written 49 books, have more than 100 audio, video and CD-ROM titles, scores of speaking engagements and a brand new comic book company (Virgin Comics). Do you have any free time in your life? And if so, what do you do?

DC: I golf, surf, ski, scuba dive and play with my grandchildren.

OMC: You believe that heaven and hell exist -- but they are right here on earth, at this moment. What does that mean exactly?

DC: "Heaven" and "hell" are states of our consciousness, just like everything else, and we manifest these concepts in our everyday reality. If our everyday reality is violent or we're addicted to drugs (then we are in "hell"), but if we hang out with good people and enjoy a beautiful life, then it is "heaven."

One thing to understand: Reality is a transition. It's a manifestation of who we are. We are not ego and we are not the environment and we are not the relationship that we are in. We are the creators of it all.


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