Dr Chopra: Changing Perception; Carlson: Other &
London, UK - 9 July 2007, 22:16 GMT - We are grateful to Dr Deepak
Chopra, based in California and New York, USA, for "Case of the
Evil Doctors: Changing Perception;" Aurora Carlson, based on the
West Coast, Sweden for "The Other and Me;" Michael Ward,
based in Mumbai, India, for "Remembering 7th
July 05, London, and 11th July 06, Mumbai -- The Far Pavilions of a shared
Imperial Past & Present;" Prof Jean Pierre Lehmann, Founder
Director, Evian Group, based at IMD Lausanne, Switzerland, for "Crossing
the Chasm: Evolution Towards a Liberal Society;" HE Basil Eastwood,
former British Ambassador to Switzerland & Liechtenstein and Syria,
for "Role of Islam in Politics"
and Florian Lennert, Director, Corporate Relations, LSE, from Kigali, Rwanda,
for "Avoiding Human Catastrophe"
in response to The Lord Desai of St Clement Danes, based at the Palace of
Westminster, London, for his submission to ATCA, "The
Roots of Terror: Islam or Islamism? Distinguishing between Religion and
Dear ATCA Colleagues
[Please note that the views presented by individual contributors
are not necessarily representative of the views of ATCA, which is neutral.
ATCA conducts collective Socratic dialogue on global opportunities and
Dr Deepak Chopra, based in California and New York, is the President of
the Alliance for A New Humanity. Dr Chopra also Chairs The Chopra Center
at La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, California, and in New York City at the
Chopra Center and Spa. He has been heralded by Time as one of the 100
heroes and icons of the century, and they credited him as "the
poet-prophet of alternative medicine." Entertainment Weekly described
Dr Chopra as "Hollywood's man of the moment, one of publishing's
best-selling and most prolific self-help authors." He is the
author of more than 45 books and more than 100 audio, video and CD-Rom
titles. He has been published on every continent, and in dozens of languages
and his worldwide book sales exceed twenty million copies. Over a dozen
of his books have landed on the New York Times Best-seller list. Toastmaster
International recognized him as one of the top five outstanding speakers
in the world. Through his over two decades of work since leaving his medical
practice, Dr Chopra continues to revolutionize common wisdom about the
crucial connection between body, mind, spirit, and healing. His mission
of "bridging the technological miracles of the west with the wisdom
of the east" remains his thrust and provides the basis for his
recognition as one of India's historically greatest ambassadors to the
west. Dr Chopra has been a keynote speaker at several academic institutions
including Harvard Medical School, Harvard Business School, Harvard Divinity
School, Kellogg School of Management, Stanford Business School and Wharton.
He is the author of "Peace Is the Way," which won the
Quill Award in 2005. He is Co-Founder of IntentBlog where "Open ATCA"
is based. He latest books are "Power Freedom and Grace","Life
After Death: The Burden of Proof" and "Buddha."
Dear DK and Colleagues
Re: Case of The Evil Doctors: Changing Perception
In the wake of the failed car bombs in central London ten days ago, every
newscast has dwelt on the fact that at least eight of the suspected terrorists
are in the medical profession. The Hippocratic oath enjoins a doctor to
"first, do no harm," and yet these doctors were intent on killing
innocent people. How could they reconcile the good they did every day
in the hospital and the evil they were attempting to do outside it?
The two men who tried to turn a car full of gasoline into a suicide bomb
at the Glasgow airport led the police to a ring of doctors from the Middle
East and India that may expand to a sizable conspiracy.
In the meantime there have been forty racially based attacks on Muslims
in Glasgow, which tells us that the average person has already solved
this mystery. The doctors were evil because of their religion. Yet another
black mark was placed against Islam. But I hope we can all back off for
a moment and seriously confront the mystery of evil. No question is more
important today. The fact that these suspects are doctors reminded me
that Al Qaida's second in command, Aymon Al-Zawahiri was trained as an
ophthalmologist. Being in the healing profession doesn't make one immune
to radicalism. In fact, being highly educated and sensitive to the plight
of the suffering poor, along with a conversion to fundamentalist ideology,
has become a hallmark of revolutionaries at least as far back as the Russian
This brings up the first ingredient of evil, which is perception. These
radicalized doctors don't perceive themselves as doing evil deeds, even
though violence is involved leading to the death and injury of innocent
people. In their perception, they are doing good. Indeed, they feel that
they have joined a noble cause that pleases God. They are sacrificing
themselves for the greater good of an oppressed people. All around them
they see unspeakable oppression of the weak by the powerful, and the situation
has grown so grave that only radical means will solve it and bring the
world back to an ideal of purity, the sort of purity God originally intended.
The strange thing about perception is that it is so convincing. The reason
for this is the blurred line between subjectivity and objectivity. To
a fundamentalist of any stripe, not just Islamists, everyday events show
the hand of God. Signs and portents fill the air. When a radical ideology
seeps into the mind, myths about God and Satan colour the most basic facts.
The basic fact of an Iraqi suicide bomber killing himself and carrying
an American soldier along with him becomes a holy act to the terrorist
and a senseless act of barbarity to the US public. Perception leaves room
for many conflicting interpretations. And the blurring of subjectivity
and objectivity is usually equal on all sides.
This doesn't mean that perception excuses evil-doing, but it does help
explain it. There is a psychological component to all aberrant behaviour,
and we need to keep that in mind before we jump too quickly into religion,
nationalism, and xenophobia. For the past six years many American leaders
have done the opposite, foisting explanations based on God, civilization
versus barbarity, and the satanic irrationality of terrorists. To the
extent that we put "them" into the box of religious evil, there
will never be a chance for a creative solution. The doctors who became
radicalized in a peaceful country like Britain see themselves in a world
where anyone who doesn't actively work toward an Islamic state is on the
side of Satan. We must change our perceptions so that we don't make the
same mistake, seeing every suicide bomber and radicalized intellectual
as another proof that these people are satanic.
Where perception is involved, evil can be countered by changing one's
own perceptions. This happened after WW II when the Japanese changed in
the American mind from atrocious combatants to friendly suppliers of transistor
radios and cars. In our present inflamed situation it's hard to believe
that Iraqis and Palestinians have that same benign potential, but of course
they do. Objectively speaking, there are multitudes of Arabs attempting
to live normal lives untouched by radical ideas. We need to allow them
into our perceptual field, because until we conceive of "good Arabs"
and "good Muslims," they won't exist for us. The doors of perception
must be cleansed, as William Blake said, which is an actual process, one
that everyone on both sides needs to undertake.
Aurora Carlson is the founder of the Open One Center in Sweden, which
is dedicated to teaching holistic health and to raising the level of collective
consciousness. She has studied at Bucharest, Stockholm, Uppsala and Halmstad
universities and at the Nordic School of Public Health in Gothenburg.
She has served as an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) advisor
in the mission of rebuilding the Romanian Red Cross after the revolution
and has worked for over six years with the Swedish National Red Cross.
For four years she has been a teacher at the Ayurveda School in Markaryd
and has later developed a program for Ayurvedic counsellor certification.
Her main interest is the evolution of human consciousness. For the last
six years, Aurora has lectured extensively about spiritual ways to reach
maximum individual and collective potential. She is a mother of two and
lives on the West coast of Sweden. As an active member of the Alliance
for the New Humanity founded by Dr Deepak Chopra, a distinguished ATCA
contributor, Oscar Arias and others, she is working on bringing together
those individuals who are consciously expressing higher human values.
Dear DK and Colleagues
Re: The Other and Me
I would like to start by applauding the vision of "freedom, dignity
and well-being of every individual on this planet", so beautifully
expressed by Florian Lennert on ATCA! Thank you Mr Lennert!
I strongly believe this admirable goal is our natural next step. However,
I think that in order to reach it, we need to address the important question
posed by Prof Jean Pierre Lehmann, "Is it humanity's fate that
in order to gain a reasonably decent world, we must first descend into
I would suggest that the answer is YES. We need to descend into hell,
but I am talking about another kind of hell than the one of wars and suffering
mentioned by Prof Lehmann. The hell we need to descend into is the inner
landscape of greed, fear, aggression, fanaticism, egotism, selfishness
and irrationality present in every one of us. We need to bravely face
this dark side of our personal and collective psyche if we want to stop
projecting it on "the Other" and fight it in endless wars, in
a (hi)story repeated ad nauseam.
I believe we are now collectively ready to recognize that it is not "the
Other" who is the terrorist, the cause of conflict and suffering,
but our own denied and suppressed egotistic traits. No matter who we consider
ourselves to be -- what national, cultural, racial or religious labels
we carry -- we need to recognise that we all have the seeds of discord
and pettiness inside, as well as the seeds of harmony, generosity and
greatness. The devastating violence out there is rooted in the conflict
inside each of us, and when we can make peace with, accept and understand
both aspects of ourselves -- the good and the bad, the light and the darkness,
the hero and the terrorist -- we will find that what we have called "the
Other" is actually just another "Me".
Thank you and best wishes
We look forward to your further thoughts, observations and views. Thank
For and on behalf of DK Matai, Chairman, Asymmetric Threats Contingency
ATCA: The Asymmetric Threats Contingency
Alliance is a philanthropic expert initiative founded in 2001
to resolve complex global challenges through collective Socratic
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The views presented by individual contributors are not necessarily
representative of the views of ATCA, which is neutral. Please
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