Dr Chopra: Changing Perception; Carlson: Other & Me

ATCA Briefings

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 Ideology."

intentBlog: Dr Chopra: Changing Perception; Carlson: Other & Me

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 threats.]

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." He writes:

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 Revolution.

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.


Deepak Chopra

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. She writes:

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 hell?"

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

Aurora Carlson


We look forward to your further thoughts, observations and views. Thank you.

Best wishes

For and on behalf of DK Matai, Chairman, Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance (ATCA)

ATCA: The Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance is a philanthropic expert initiative founded in 2001 to resolve complex global challenges through collective Socratic dialogue and joint executive action to build a wisdom based global economy. Adhering to the doctrine of non-violence, ATCA addresses asymmetric threats and social opportunities arising from climate chaos and the environment; radical poverty and microfinance; geo-politics and energy; organised crime & extremism; advanced technologies -- bio, info, nano, robo & AI; demographic skews and resource shortages; pandemics; financial systems and systemic risk; as well as transhumanism and ethics. Present membership of ATCA is by invitation only and has over 5,000 distinguished members from over 100 countries: including several from the House of Lords, House of Commons, EU Parliament, US Congress & Senate, G10's Senior Government officials and over 1,500 CEOs from financial institutions, scientific corporates and voluntary organisations as well as over 750 Professors from academic centres of excellence worldwide.

The views presented by individual contributors are not necessarily representative of the views of ATCA, which is neutral. Please do not forward or use the material circulated without permission and full attribution.

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