Friday, April 30, 2010


Love is experienced in relationship. Without someone to love you, the feelings of love – the warmth in a mother’s heart, the gladness of friendship, the excitement of intimacy – have no stimulus. That is why the commonest image for being unloved is being alone.

When you are alone, there seems to be no relationship. People who find themselves alone rarely feel any incentive to explore love. They await contact with another person or run out to seek it. Thus we become dependent on other people to make us feel totally and permanently loved.

This expectation will, however, always be defeated, and although we blame those who failed to respond to us, who responded but then left, who stayed but then changed their minds, none of them is finally the cause of our problem. The cause is our inability to develop an unshakable relationship with ourselves. The Self is the source of love. People who live their own love stories have learned this lesson above all.

The absence of love is as devastating as its presence is beneficial. We will have to assume, unfortunately, that most people are not living a love story right now. Even those who say they are most deeply in love may be deluding themselves, at least in part.

Once it has grown to fullness, a love based on spirit has no fear of being wounded. Imperfect forms of love are much more vulnerable. Almost everyone has asked for love and received rejection instead. The effect of rejection, failure, humiliation, and other traumas is to numb one’s feelings.

Love requires sensitivity. It must have openness. Whatever has numbed you makes it much harder for you to feel love. Therefore people who are numb at the emotional level cannot live their love stories.

Adapted from The Path to Love, by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press, 1997).


What is the proper way to relate to your mind? The voice asked. Should you always do what it says? Clearly not, for we have all kinds of thoughts that are irrelevant or fantastic. Should we ignore what it says? No again, because the mind gives us all the desires upon which we build our lives.

There is no single way to relate to the mind. You can’t take a stance that will always work. When people decide arbitrarily to be optimists, they may miscalculate when it comes to serious crises, evildoing, wars, personal conflicts, etc. If they decide arbitrarily to be pessimists, they will miss many opportunities for joy, fulfillment, hope, and faith.

My mental guide showed me this, and I was intrigued. It would appear that being spiritual is one stance that works, yet there are situations where even being spiritual – tolerant, loving, accepting, and detached from materialism – won’t work at all.

A parent can’t simply accept and love a child addicted to cocaine, for example; active intervention is called for. A thousand other examples come to mind. Love won’t defeat torturers; tolerance won’t stop the excess of fanatics. A person must find an infinitely flexible way to relate to the mind; otherwise something gets lost. The most precious gift of the mind – its total freedom – is the source of our creativity.

Now, my mental guide said, look at the world. Isn’t it the same as the mind? The same unpredictability prevails, and therefore you cannot take a fixed attitude toward the world that works. People who are congenitally optimistic about the future are as shortsighted as people who are congenitally pessimistic.

Mind, the world, and Karma are the same thing, perfect mirrors of one another. Their complexity is impossible to fathom. Their infinite connections can never be mapped out, and even if they could be, the next tick of the clock will bring a new, equally infinite set of possibilities.

Adapted from Life After Death: The Burden of Proof, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2006).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


ow to Stop Putting it Off - Say Goodbye to Procrastination For Good - By Isi Dixon

Procrastination - probably the number one cause for people to be disorganized, for not achieving what they want, for not being the best they could be. What people don't realize, however, is you only need the right tools to conquer it.

Let's brush away the reasons why you might be procrastinating and we will basically leave you with no excuse to simply get on with it.

"I haven't got the time right now."

This is the most popular excuse for procrastinators. The thing is you are probably right. You have not got the whole block of time it takes to tackle the spare room, or the whole of the ironing pile, or the complete reorganization of the kitchen. But you have got 10 minutes, or maybe even 20 or 30. And that is all it takes to make a start. Start by sorting through one box, ironing 10 or 20 items, tackling one single drawer. And if you do that every day, you will realize that you are making slow but steady progress.

If you find yourself still procrastinating, then there must be other, deeper rooted reasons behind that. These possible other reasons fall into two categories, ones concerning the project itself, the others your personality style.

First, let's look at the project itself. The project might be perceived as:

1. Threatening
2. Too difficult
3. Boring
4. Impossible to finish
5. Waste of time

1. If a project or the outcome of the project is perceived as threatening, thoughts like "I'm in trouble if I get this wrong" might be going through your head. In this case a natural reaction is not to start the project at all or not to progress beyond a certain point so as to avoid failure. In cases like this make sure you have all the facts right.

Ask questions:

"What is the worst thing that could happen - realistically?" "How likely is this to happen?"

"What exactly do I need to do to get it right?"

"Have I got all the skills and abilities to do this project?" - If the answer is no, then you should probably consider to get someone to help.

2. If you think a project is too difficult, you might never start it. Sit down and think about what is difficult. Are you just unsure of how to start and how to break the project into smaller manageable chunks? Find an expert on the subject, someone who has done a similar project before and ask for help.

3. If you think a project is boring, try and make it more interesting, See how much you can achieve in a certain amount of time. And then for the next chunk, see if you can beat your previous record. Or put some of your favorite music on while you work.

4. If you think a project is impossible to finish, either it's the type of project that literally never ends (like housework) or it is a very large project. Again, breaking it up into smaller portions will help. Set yourself a daily target.

5. Finally, if you consider the project a waste of time, re-evaluate it. Does it really need to be done? Is it simply one of those jobs that need to be redone on a regular basis like tidying up or ironing. Use one of the solutions from number 4 to get the job done. Some jobs do seem to be a waste of time but we would sink into crud and chaos if we didn't do them at all.

The second set of reasons is to do with someone's personality. These could be:

1. Perfectionism
2. Thriving on adrenaline
3. Lack of self confidence
4. Internalized negatives
5. Externalized positives

Let's look at these hurdles to getting things done in detail, see what they are about and how they manifest and what you can do about them.

1. A lot of people have a perfectionist trait. This kind of mindset is fine if that perfect condition is feasible and you have a good track record of starting and finishing your projects. If you don't, then your perfectionism is probably an excuse for not starting the project at all.

2. "I work better under pressure." We all know people like that and we might have used that phrase ourselves. Again, there are two ways of dealing with this.

Number one, it's a good excuse not to start until the last possible moment, and it's simply a way to put things off. Divide your project into segments and do one each day until it's done.

Number two, if you literally work better under pressure, and some of us do, then make the project more challenging. Set mini-goals with a shorter deadline. This way you keep yourself on your toes but are still making timely progress towards your end goal.

Also, get a project buddy. Tell someone about your project, and the deadline. Make yourself accountable. And be sure that certain someone is a person who will check up on you.

3. If you suffer from a lack of self confidence and feel that you simply can't tackle the project, find out what the first thing is you need to do to start the project. Do that, then find out the next step and so on. Also, divide the project into smaller chunks.

4. Internalizing negatives means that you always look for faults within yourself. If you do this, you will quite easily come up with negative emotions, such as "I'm lazy that's why I don't get things done" or "I'm stupid that's why I don't know where to start". I can assure you that none of this is true. You might lack motivation or not be an expert on a particular subject but you can easily do something about that.

Think of a treat that you reward yourself with once you have completed the first part of the task and then keep rewarding yourself for every bit that you achieve until the project is completed. Also, there is no shame in asking people for help and advice on how to tackle a particular project.

5. Externalized positives are usually the reverse side of the same coin as internalized negatives. It means that you attribute anything positive that you do to outside influences and not to your skills and abilities, such as "I was lucky last time and it was easy. I could never do that again." It is usually a sign of lack of self confidence.

Achieving something has most often nothing to do with luck. It is more likely to be the result of hard work and skill. And when you found something easy then you had the skills and talent to do it and nothing less.

Any more excuses? Or did we cover them all and showed you how to conquer them? So what's stopping you now?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Subtle action can make the difference between dreaming of an ideal love and achieving it. In ordinary life, love has become entangled with something else, usually the ego. By nature the ego is selfish, and although love appeals to it, the ego wants to have love on its own terms. These must be sorted out. One person may want to be in control, another to be taken care of. One may feel insecure no matter how much love is directed her way. Another may have to dominate his partner in order not to feel vulnerable.

But pure love exists, and it can be found. As with everything else, a process is involved. You begin where you are, and you grow through subtle action – that is, you quietly encourage the kind of love you really want.

In your own life, consider the qualities of love at the highest level. The soul’s love is unselfish, giving, blissful, warm and safe, self-sufficient, needing no outside validation, innocent, uncomplicated, kind, compassionate, constant, expanding, comforting, sacred.

These are terms you’ve heard all your life, and you have experienced them either a little bit or a great deal. Sit quietly and summon the memory of one quality, such as kindness, including your memories, visual images, emotions, and people connected with this quality.

Stay with your experience for a few minutes. Let it deepen of its own accord. In effect, you are subtly directing your mind to access the quality of kindness, which forms a neural pattern that differs from a mind that doesn’t dwell on kindness.

In the same way, you can go within yourself and feel as completely as possible, what “giving” or “sacred” means to you. Taking one quality at a time, pay attention to it until you have a clear sense of its personal meaning.

As you become more aware of the love that is inside you, you align with an invisible force. Quietly but steadily, you will find that the higher qualities of love will start to enter your life.

Adapted from Reinventing The Body, Resurrecting The Soul, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2009).


Most people are trapped trying to impose their viewpoint on the world. They carry around beliefs about what is right and wrong, and they hold on to these beliefs for years. “I am right” brings comfort, but not true happiness. The people you feel wronged by will never apologize and make your wounds and grievances go away. The people you judge against will remain isolated from you. No one has ever been made happy by proving that they are right. The only result is conflict and confrontation, because the need to be right always makes someone else wrong.

There is no such thing as one and only one correct perspective. Right is whatever conforms to your perception. You see the world as you are. Others see the world as they are, too. This insight is tremendously liberating because, first of all, it makes you unique. Ultimately it makes you a cocreator with God. For as your consciousness expands, so does reality. Tremendous hidden potential is revealed.

The opposite happens if you insist upon being right. Because others will disagree, your need to be right will generate antagonism and rejection.

If the world is a mirror of who you are, it is always reflecting a point of view. Objectivity is an illusion of the ego, created to bolster its insistence that what it sees is right. It’s tragic that people sacrifice the real goal of life, which is increasing joy and happiness, for the cold comfort of judging others and feeling superior to them. If you see the world with judgment instead of love, that’s the world you will inhabit.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Would you rather be right or be happy?

Most people are trapped trying to impose their viewpoint on the world. They carry around beliefs about what is right and wrong, and they hold on to these beliefs for years. “I am right” brings comfort, but not true happiness. The people you feel wronged by will never apologize and make your wounds and grievances go away. The people you judge against will remain isolated from you. No one has ever been made happy by proving that they are right. The only result is conflict and confrontation, because the need to be right always makes someone else wrong.

There is no such thing as one and only one correct perspective. Right is whatever conforms to your perception. You see the world as you are. Others see the world as they are, too. This insight is tremendously liberating because, first of all, it makes you unique. Ultimately it makes you a cocreator with God. For as your consciousness expands, so does reality. Tremendous hidden potential is revealed.

The opposite happens if you insist upon being right. Because others will disagree, your need to be right will generate antagonism and rejection.

If the world is a mirror of who you are, it is always reflecting a point of view. Objectivity is an illusion of the ego, created to bolster its insistence that what it sees is right. It’s tragic that people sacrifice the real goal of life, which is increasing joy and happiness, for the cold comfort of judging others and feeling superior to them. If you see the world with judgment instead of love, that’s the world you will inhabit.

Adapted from The Ultimate Happiness Prescription, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2009).

Friday, April 16, 2010


God or spirit stands beside us in every aspect of our everyday lives. If you can begin to see how your notion of spirit has been shaped by your early childhood, you can start to look at love as a mirror of the present instead of the past.

This is a key concept: When you fall in love, you fall for a mirror of your own most present needs.

The intense desirability of another person isn’t innate in that person. Desire is born in the one who desires. If your underlying self-image is that of a helpless, unloved child, any show of power arouses incredible yearning in you.

There is nothing wrong with this – we all project similar needs in our search for love. Nor is there anything wrong with a bedazzled state of infatuation. Each affair, real or imaginary, has a repeated message to offer: “You are loved.” It is the simplest of messages, but often the hardest to absorb. For spirit isn’t saying, “You are loved as long as your passion for this person lasts.” It is saying, “You are loved,” without any qualifications.

There is infinite patience in spirit, infinite willingness to wait upon our attention. And one day, in your own time, you will notice.

Each person that you have loved is a tiny reminder of who you are. This isn’t solipsistic but a natural reflection of your needs. You aren’t judged by the love life you choose, since no one is outside yourself to judge – there is only you as the Self, looking at you from a different angle.

The Self looking at you is the primary relationship you bring into all situations. Realizing that, you will start to reduce expectations for other relationships. Your healing will be to fall in love with that Self.

Adapted from The Path to Love, by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press, 1997).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Who were you before you were you? Even though we all identify with a very limited slice of time and space, equating “me” with one body and one mind, in reality you also live outside yourself in the field of awareness.

The Vedic seers say, “The real you cannot be squeezed into the volume of a body or the span of a lifetime.” The package of body and mind that came before is a stranger to you now, and the one that might arise after your death is equally alien. But on a deeper level, millions of seeds have already been planted.

Some are the thoughts you will have tomorrow or the actions you will follow a decade from now. Time is flexible at the quantum level and nonexistent at the virtual level. As we watch these seeds sprouting in the fertile field of time and space, awareness wakes up to itself. This is how a single fertilized cell learns to become a brain–it wakes up to itself, not on the chemical level but on the level of awareness.

Imagine that expanded awareness is normal. Time and space could just be convenient concepts that hold true in the material world but dissolve gradually as you approach the quantum level. This is what I believe reincarnation is about.

Former lives fall into the unexplored territory of expanded awareness. It isn’t absolutely necessary to decide whether they are “real” or not. All of the quantum and virtual levels are open to us all of the time. To navigate them completely is impossible; they open up to us according to our own needs and abilities. But no part is intentionally closed off. Although we normally look no deeper than the personal domain, to look deeper is always possible.

It is more normal to learn from the past than not to, and people who shut out their former lives–if we want to use that terminology–are shutting out lessons that give this present lifetime its purpose and meaning. For someone who has absorbed these lessons fully, there is no need to go beyond this lifetime, and yet such visitations are still part of the natural order of things.

Adapted from How To Know God, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2000).


We’re all clinging to images of ourselves that pile up year after year. Some images make us look good, some make us look bad. But images can’t substitute for the real things. The real you is vital and alive, shifting and changing at every moment.

In everyone’s life, the ego extends its lease by saying, “Hold on. Keep trying. I know what to do.” But stand back and consider what this strategy comes down to: If all your hard work hasn’t brought you what you want, work harder. If you don’t have enough, get more. If your dream fails, keep following it. If you grow insecure, believe in yourself more. Never acknowledge failure; success is the only option.

This kind of ego motivation, turned into slogans, is deeply ingrained in popular culture. Following your dream and never giving up has become a credo repeated by the rich, famous, and successful. Yet for every winner of a beauty pageant, stock-car race, World Series, or Hollywood audition, there are an untold number whose dream didn’t come true. They followed their dream just as hard and believed in it just as much. By no means did the ego’s strategy work for them.

Fortunately, there’s another way; it’s the exact opposite of the ego’s strategy: If all your hard work hasn’t brought you what you want, look for new inspiration. If you don’t have enough, find it in yourself. If your dream fails, and you see that it was a fantasy, find a dream that matches your reality. If you grow insecure, detach yourself from the situation until you find your center again. You are not shaken by either success of failure; the flow of life brings both, as temporary states.

The real self is a shifting, elusive phantom that’s always one step ahead of us. It dissolves the instant you think you’re about to grab it. You can’t ever nail down who you really are. To understand your real self, you have to keep up as it moves. Finding the real you happens on the run. The same holds true for grace, since it is part of the real you.

Adapted from Reinventing The Body, Resurrecting The Soul, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2009).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Hillary for the court
By Brent Budowsky - 04/12/10 05:29 PM ET

With the retirement of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, the person who stands out as his ideal replacement is Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The departure of Justice Stevens from the court represents a double-barreled disaster for progressivism in America, following the passing of the irreplaceable Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).

In the legislative branch, while the House has repeatedly passed major legislation, the Senate has become the graveyard for change. Republicans adopt obstructionist tactics on a magnitude unprecedented in the history of the nation. No single senator can replace the progressive principles, institutional savvy and personal relationships that made Sen. Kennedy so unique.

Justice Stevens is to the Supreme Court what Kennedy was to the Senate. What made Kennedy different as a senator, and what makes Stevens different as a Supreme Court justice, is the ability to believe in policies of high principle while navigating the process of the institution, to build the widest possible majority for the best possible result.

The names being mentioned as possible replacements for Justice Stevens are all highly qualified. I would find some of them more exciting than others, but none of them possesses the combination of qualities that makes Justice Stevens so unique. This is meant as praise for Justice Stevens, not criticism of those being mentioned to replace him.

Secretary of State Clinton would be the Super Bowl choice for Supreme Court justice. Like Stevens, she would almost certainly evolve into a kind of shadow chief justice. She would be a leader and pivot point for court liberals in the same way Stevens is, while Chief Justice John Roberts appears determined to move the court to the right, and reject judicial precedent that conservatives disapprove of, instead of shaping consensus among justices.

Secretary Clinton possesses an exceptionally rare combination of qualities for a Supreme Court justice. She is a legal authority in her own right on various areas of the law, both domestic and international. She has very high-level experience in both the legislative and executive branches. She has a very diverse set of life experiences, and the breadth of having reached out to the full range of people and cultures that constitute the American people and the American experience.

While gender should not be dispositive, it would be a plus for the court to have a third female justice. While religion should not be dispositive, her Protestant faith would offer diversity and depth to the court.

Above all, Secretary Clinton offers the kind of interpersonal skills and political savvy that make Justice Stevens such an important justice, and so hard to replace.

Hillary Clinton has been a very good secretary of State, but there are others who would be equally good in that capacity. However, at a momentous and divisive time for the Supreme Court, replacing one of the most important justices in modern history, few potential nominees offer the probability of reaching historical greatness and influencing the court the way Secretary Clinton would.

The replacement for Justice Stevens may be the most historic and important nomination President Obama will ever make. Hillary Clinton on the Supreme Court would be a consensus builder and majority maker. President Obama should swing for the fences and reach for the history books.

Monday, April 12, 2010


When two people fall in love, the existence of the mystery is obvious; it all but blinds them. They feel merged and perfected in their state of rapture, but when romance fades, this certainty fades with it. So it takes commitment to keep alive those first glimpses of a fulfillment that lies beyond yourself, yet is nothing but yourself.

When you commit to the path, you also surrender to it. Every day you ask, “What can love do? Show me. I am ready.” The answers will surprise you. Love can solve problems, heal wounds, settle disputes, and bring unexpected answers. Here we aren’t talking about personal love, the feeling contained inside a single person. This is a love beyond the personal that watches and knows everything. When you give yourself to it, family concerns all fall into place.

An invisible power reconciles opposites; it creates harmony of its own accord. To experience such a state, you cannot work for it or try to control it. You allow yourself to be in a state of openness. You witness what is going on; you hang loose; you obey when the right impulse takes hold. This is how life is lived spontaneously.

Whatever happens next is the right thing. Whatever you need at the deepest level is automatically given. It is possible to exist in such a state, although few people do. In fact, it is the most natural way to live. But if you judge your life, if you hold on to being right, if you insist on setting boundaries, then the mystery cannot reach you.

Living in harmony with the mystery takes some time. Surrender, like everything else, is a process, not a leap. Despite ups and downs, the path always goes forward, and every step is a step of love. Ultimately that is the reason for relationships, to be able to look into someone else’s eyes and share the knowledge that the power of love has blessed you both.

Adapted from The Ultimate Happiness Prescription, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2009).


Love is an act of endless forgiveness. –Peter Ustinov

A lot of people struggle with the idea of resurrection. The literal religious telling of a man overcoming death, of his coming back amongst the living for 40 days to teach the most esoteric and divine lessons of his life is hard to grasp for many. It is the tale that divides the believers and non-believers most passionately. In fact, believing the story is foundational to the fate your own death will bring you, or so those that passionately believe will tell you. There is no middle ground, you are saved or you are out. The black and white of it all is where many people lose faith.

It is ironic that the story that was intended to save us from our selves, actually continues to divide us. Within the literal story of the resurrection, may lie the deeper meaning and the opportunity for finding forgiveness. In a world of imperfect humans, forgiveness may be our only access to a life beyond the one we know and may well be the story that Jesus came back to tell. If love is a verb, than forgiveness is the action verb. It is the highest form of love and the single behavior that most distinguishes our human potential.

In an ancient tale from the Kaballah, God told the angels in training that the capacity to forgive is the most excellent gift in the human experience, more essential to the continuity of life than the courage to sacrifice your own life for someone else or enduring the pain of giving birth. God explained to one angel, “Forgiveness is the only reason my creation continues. Without forgiveness, all would disappear in an instantaneous flash.”

The need for forgiveness on our planet has probably never been more acute than it is today. Desmond Tutu once said that,”Forgiveness and reconciliation are not just ethereal, spiritual, other-worldly activities. They have to do with the real world. They are “real politik” because in a very real sense, without forgiveness, there is no future. And yet we don’t have to look that far. For most of us, right in our own homes, we struggle with hurts, real and imagined, that separate us from the ones we say we love. The smallest of details in sharing a life with someone can easily and often without notice turn into a storyline about the person you say that you love.

Before Christ was born, Marcus Aurelius said, “our anger and annoyance are more detrimental to us than the things themselves which anger or annoy us.” The petty arguments of life are the cracks in the foundation of the relationships we are building. Left unresolved, we often fall into the established patterns of retreat and attack that impact both partners’ abilities to be emotionally available and vulnerable.
Wendy Strgar

Friday, April 9, 2010


There is a profound Buddhist doctrine that speaks of a great river that flows through all of reality. Once you have found yourself, there is no more cause for action. The river picks you up and carries you along forever after.

In other words, effort from the personal level, the kind of effort all of us are used to in daily life, become pointless after a certain point. This includes mental effort.

Once you become self-aware, you realize that the flow of life needs no analysis or control, because it’s all you. The great river only seems to pick you up. Actually, you have picked yourself up – not as an isolated person, but as a phenomenon of the cosmos. No one gave you the job of steering the river. You can enjoy the ride and observe the scenery.

Learning to step aside from your false responsibilities means giving up your urge to control, defend, protect, and insure against risk. All of that is false responsibility.

To the extent that you can let it go, you will stop interfering with the flow. To the extent that you cling, life will continue to bring even more things to control, and to defend yourself against. Risks will loom everywhere.

It’s not that fate is set against you. You are simply seeing reflections of your deepest beliefs, as consciousness unfolds the drama drawn up beforehand in your mind. It’s the universe’s task to unfold reality; yours is only to plant the seed.

Adapted from Reinventing The Body, Resurrecting The Soul, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2009).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Barbra Streisand Statement to Republicans

"Republicans Are On The Wrong Side of History"
MARCH 29, 2010, 5:32 pm

Last week, the Republicans took a big gamble and lost by lining up on the wrong side of history with their battle against health care reform. After the bill passed in Congress, all we heard from Republicans on the 24 hour news channels was, how can Congress pass a bill without even one Republican vote? The answer is…the same way President Clinton passed his Budget Reconciliation Act in 1993. He had to rely solely on Democrats to win passage after not one Republican voted for either his stimulus plan or his budget. Clinton’s economic initiatives ultimately brought us the greatest period of prosperity for our country in modern times by creating 23 million new jobs and projecting a federal budget surplus for the first time since 1969.

Conversely, during the time when Republicans held control of the House, Senate and Presidency, they used their power to pass economic policies that led to the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression. Despite this fact, Republicans continue to revise history, accuse Democrats of fiscal irresponsibility and vote in lockstep against President Obama’s most important policy initiatives, in their effort to have him fail.

Just this last week, the Senate Banking Committee moved to approve financial reform legislation. Not surprisingly, the panel passed the overhaul bill on a 13-10 vote, without support from one member of the Republican Party. Given that the world economy nearly caved to its knees under Republican stewardship and millions of Americans are still suffering, one would think that at least on this issue, partisanship would not trump good policy.

Health care reform, financial regulation, the economic stimulus, energy policy….the GOP has continually stonewalled legislation to move our country forward. The only victory the GOP can claim after the successful passage of health care legislation is that they stuck together in solidarity to do nothing. The GOP’s obsession with seeing the President fail and their refusal to work with the Democrats to better the lives of the American people will come back to haunt them.

The American people are starting to resent the “politics of no” and the Republicans are quickly devolving into the “party of no tolerance.” Recently, leading intellectual and former Bush White House aide, David Frum, was fired from his fellowship at the conservative-leaning think tank, American Enterprise Institute, after he was critical of the Republican strategy against President Obama's health-care overhaul. Bruce Bartlett, who was also fired by a right wing think tank in 2005 for writing a book critical of George W. Bush's policies, commented that “rigid conformity is being enforced, no dissent is allowed.”

Republican’s need to understand that elections matter--even when they don’t win them. America voted overwhelming for Barack Obama because they wanted big change, and now they are getting it. The President deserves a chance to realize his agenda, and I hope that by the November mid-term election, Americans will see that Democrats are the only ones working to put forth policy initiatives to move our country forward.

Monday, April 5, 2010


When people complain that life is unfair, what they are really saying is that there is a mismatch between inner events (hopes, wishes, expectations, ambitions, goals) and the response of the outer world.

In our society we constantly reinforce the idea that we should follow our dreams, but what about the millions of people whose dreams have faded? In some way the chain that leads from being to feeling to thinking and then to doing has been broken.

Restoring the sequence isn’t difficult, but you must move things in the right direction. Pure being leads to the highest level of feeling, and the highest level of feeling creates the highest level of thinking and doing. Now we see the solution to being a loving person in an unloving world.

You don’t struggle to be loving; you don’t oppose those who are unloving. Instead, you establish yourself in pure being, which is loving by nature, and then inner and outer reality cannot help but reflect who you are.

This picture of reality streaming from one source creates a radical transformation at every level. Take thinking. As we saw, most of the time the mind is occupied with distractions, unable to focus on the present moment. Habits of worrying, fretting, planning, and dwelling in fantasy are by-products of disconnection from pure being.

The highest level of thinking is a constant flow of creativity from the source that is accompanied by feelings of joy and compassion. The final result is doing. No one has to be told what it’s like to act out of conflict, stress anxiety, indecision, and doubt.

We know that all of these are mental obstacles to right action. The highest level of doing is completely clear. Since it comes from a level beyond personality, such action reaches beyond personal benefit. It benefits everything around you, beginning with your family and extending to the entire world.

Adapted from The Ultimate Happiness Prescription, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2009).

Sunday, April 4, 2010


They can be eccentric, slow afoot, even grouchy. But dogs live out their final days, says The Washington Post’s Gene Weingarten, with a humility and grace we all could learn from.

Not long before his death, Harry and I headed out for a walk that proved eventful. He was nearly 13, old for a big dog. Walks were no longer the slap-happy Iditarods of his youth, frenzies of purposeless pulling in which we would cast madly off in all directions, fighting for command. Nor were they the exuberant archaeological expeditions of his middle years, when every other tree or hydrant or blade of grass held tantalizing secrets about his neighbors. In his old age, Harry had transformed his walk into a simple process of elimination—a dutiful, utilitarian, head-down trudge. When finished, he would shuffle home to his ratty old bed, which graced our living room because Harry could no longer ascend the stairs. On these walks, Harry seemed oblivious to his surroundings, absorbed in the arduous responsibility of placing foot before foot before foot before foot. But this time, on the edge of a small urban park, he stopped to watch something. A man was throwing a Frisbee to his dog. The dog, about Harry’s size, was tracking the flight expertly, as Harry had once done, anticipating hooks and slices by watching the pitch and roll and yaw of the disc, as Harry had done, then catching it with a joyful, punctuating leap, as Harry had once done, too.

Harry sat. For 10 minutes, he watched the fling and catch, fling and catch, his face contented, his eyes alight, his tail a-twitch. Our walk
home was almost … jaunty.

Some years ago, The Washington Post invited readers to come up with a midlife list of goals for an underachiever. The first-runner-up prize went to: “Win the admiration of my dog.”

It’s no big deal to love a dog; they make it so easy for you. They find you brilliant, even if you are a witling. You fascinate them, even if you are as dull as a butter knife. They are fond of you, even if you are a genocidal maniac. Hitler loved his dogs, and they loved him.

Puppies are incomparably cute and incomparably entertaining, and, best of all, they smell exactly like puppies. At middle age, a dog has settled into the knuckleheaded matrix of behavior we find so appealing—his unquestioning loyalty, his irrepressible willingness to please, his infectious happiness. But it is not until a dog gets old that his most important virtues ripen and coalesce. Old dogs can be cloudy-eyed and grouchy, gray of muzzle, graceless of gait, odd of habit, hard of hearing, pimply, wheezy, lazy, and lumpy. But to anyone who has ever known an old dog, these flaws are of little consequence. Old dogs are vulnerable. They show exorbitant gratitude and limitless trust. They are without artifice. They are funny in new and unexpected ways. But, above all, they seem at peace.

Kafka wrote that the meaning of life is that it ends. He meant that our lives are shaped and shaded by the existential terror of knowing that all is finite. This anxiety informs poetry, literature, the monuments we build, the wars we wage—all of it. Kafka was talking, of course, about people. Among animals, only humans are said to be self-aware enough to comprehend the passage of time and the grim truth of mortality. How, then, to explain old Harry at the edge of that park, gray and lame, just days from the end, experiencing what can only be called wistfulness and nostalgia? I have lived with eight dogs, watched six of them grow old and infirm with grace and dignity, and die with what seemed to be acceptance. I have seen old dogs grieve at the loss of their friends. I have come to believe that as they age, dogs comprehend the passage of time, and, if not the inevitability of death, certainly the relentlessness of the onset of their frailties. They understand that what’s gone is gone.

What dogs do not have is an abstract sense of fear, or a feeling of injustice or entitlement. They do not see themselves, as we do, as tragic heroes, battling ceaselessly against the merciless onslaught of time. Unlike us, old dogs lack the audacity to mythologize their lives. You’ve got to love them for that.

The product of a Kansas puppy mill, Harry was sold to us as a yellow Labrador retriever. I suppose it was technically true, but only in the sense that Tic Tacs are technically “food.” Harry’s lineage was suspect. He wasn’t the square-headed, elegant type of Labrador you can envision in the wilds of Canada hunting for ducks. He was the shape of a baked potato, with the color and luster of an interoffice envelope. You could envision him in the wilds of suburban Toledo, hunting for nuggets of dried food in a carpet.

His full name was Harry S Truman, and once he’d reached middle age, he had indeed developed the unassuming soul of a haberdasher. We sometimes called him Tru, which fit his loyalty but was in other ways a misnomer: Harry was a bit of an eccentric, a few bubbles off plumb. Though he had never experienced an electrical shock, whenever he encountered a wire on the floor—say, a power cord leading from a laptop to a wall socket—Harry would stop and refuse to proceed. To him, this barrier was as impassable as the Himalayas. He’d stand there, waiting for someone to move it. Also, he was afraid of wind.

While Harry lacked the wiliness and cunning of some dogs, I did watch one day as he figured out a basic principle of physics. He was playing with a water bottle in our backyard—it was one of those 5-gallon cylindrical plastic jugs from the top of a water cooler. At one point, it rolled down a hill, which surprised and delighted him. He retrieved it, brought it back up and tried to make it go down again. It wouldn’t. I watched him nudge it around until he discovered that for the bottle to roll, its long axis had to be perpendicular to the slope of the hill. You could see the understanding dawn on his face; it was Archimedes in his bath, Helen Keller at the water spigot.

That was probably the intellectual achievement of Harry’s life, tarnished only slightly by the fact that he spent the next two hours insipidly entranced, rolling the bottle down and hauling it back up. He did not come inside until it grew too dark for him to see.

I believe I know exactly when Harry became an old dog. He was about 9 years old. It happened at 10:15 on the evening of June 21, 2001, the day my family moved from the suburbs to the city. The move took longer than we’d anticipated. Inexcusably, Harry had been left alone in the vacated house—eerie, echoing, empty of furniture and of all belongings except Harry and his bed—for eight hours. When I arrived to pick him up, he was beyond frantic.

He met me at the door and embraced me around the waist in a way that is not immediately reconcilable with the musculature and skeleton of a dog’s front legs. I could not extricate myself from his grasp. We walked out of that house like a slow-dancing couple, and Harry did not let go until I opened the car door.

He wasn’t barking at me in reprimand, as he once might have done. He hadn’t fouled the house in spite. That night, Harry was simply scared and vulnerable, impossibly sweet and needy and grateful. He had lost something of himself, but he had gained something more touching and more valuable. He had entered old age.

In the year after our move, Harry began to age visibly, and he did it the way most dogs do. First his muzzle began to whiten, and then the white slowly crept backward to swallow his entire head. As he became more sedentary, he thickened a bit, too.

On walks, he would no longer bother to scout and circle for a place to relieve himself. He would simply do it in mid-plod, like a horse, leaving the difficult logistics of drive-by cleanup to me. Sometimes, while crossing a busy street, with cars whizzing by, he would plop down to scratch his ear. Sometimes, he would forget where he was and why he was there. To the amusement of passersby, I would have to hunker down beside him and say, “Harry, we’re on a walk, and we’re going home now. Home is this way, okay?” On these dutiful walks, Harry ignored almost everything he passed. The most notable exception was an old, barrel-chested female pit bull named Honey, whom he loved. This was surprising, both because other dogs had long ago ceased to interest Harry at all, and because even back when they did, Harry’s tastes were for the guys.

Still, when we met Honey on walks, Harry perked up. Honey was younger by five years and heartier by a mile, but she liked Harry and slowed her gait when he was around. They waddled together for blocks, eyes forward, hardly interacting but content in each other’s company. I will forever be grateful to Honey for sweetening Harry’s last days.

Some people who seem unmoved by the deaths of tens of thousands through war or natural disaster will nonetheless grieve inconsolably over the loss of the family dog. People who find this behavior distasteful are often the ones without pets. It is hard to understand, in the abstract, the degree to which a companion animal, particularly after a long life, becomes a part of you. I believe I’ve figured out what this is all about. It is not as noble as I’d like it to be, but it is not anything of which to be ashamed, either.

In our dogs, we see ourselves. Dogs exhibit almost all of our emotions; if you think a dog cannot register envy or pity or pride or melancholia, you have never lived with one for any length of time. What dogs lack is our ability to dissimulate. They wear their emotions nakedly, and so, in watching them, we see ourselves as we would be if we were stripped of posture and pretense. Their innocence is enormously appealing. When we watch a dog progress from puppy­hood to old age, we are watching our own lives in microcosm. Our dogs become old, frail, crotchety, and vulnerable, just as Grandma did, just as we surely will, come the day. When we grieve for them, we grieve for ourselves.

From the book Old Dogs, text by Gene Weingarten and Michael S. Williamson, based on a longer excerpt that originally appeared in The Washington Post. ©2008 by Gene Weingarten and Michael S. Williamson. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster Inc