The hall was packed with 600 wannabe writers. As the name Deepak Chopra was announced, there was a thunderous applause. As an Indian sitting in the Melbourne Conventional hall, I was secretly thrilled that someone from the sub continent had managed to make the audience, mainly women, break out into such an excitement.
Of course, Deepak Chopra is not your quintessential Indian writer in English. He does not satirise Indian customs J He is a doctor who has written vastly on Ayurveda, spirituality and mind-body medicine, he lives in the United States and his books are best sellers. Naturally, fans would throng where he steps.
I had come to attend the Melbourne Writers’ Workshop to hear best-selling authors Deepak Chopra, Doreen Virtue, Rachael Birmingham and Louise L Hay speak. While I am not a great fan of self-help books and people who write on how to become better or how to find the right path in life and such like, I thought I would learn something by meeting in person people who have sold millions of copies of books. Surely, that is no mean feat.
Deepak Chopra did leave an impression. To begin with, he did not have an American accent and he would have been understood most well by me. A wicked thought came to me. Good, let all your gyan come to me alone. To top it all, I was curious about a man who had been a friend of Michael Jackson for 20 years.
How a doctor began writing all things spiritual is an interesting one. “I was senior fellow in Boston in the field of endocrinology and I was just beginning my practice when I started to notice that some of my patients got better no matter how bad the treatment was, some died no matter how good the treatment was. There was something inexplicable about the fact that biological response to treatment was so unpredictable.”
Asking patients stories about their lives, he took all their stories and tried to put them into a framework. It was also the time when medical science was beginning to understand the ‘molecules of emotion’. This, Chopra explains, means that every state of consciousness is reflected in your nervous system, in a certain chemical milieu. “There are molecules that are generated in the brain and these molecules have effects on our biology into the immune system.”
Not much was known then in the medical world except that Chopra was beginning to see a link between what was happening in the consciousness and how it influences biology. Of course, somebody had already written about it, he says. “So it was not a brand new idea except that we were beginning to see some scientific evidence. And yet the evidence was not that convincing at that time. So I started to intuitively give explanations to what was happening. While I took all these stories, I wrote my own stories submitted them to hundreds of medical journals. Not a single publication picked up my papers.” He thought scientists were probably too fastidious; they want a lot of evidence. Of course 20 years later now, there are amazing evidence that shows how consciousness not only creates your physical body but, in fact, the universe.
Finally, while teaching at Harvard medical school, a student took his self- published books and put them at the Harvard cooperative store for display. “Two days later, I got a call from an agent, her son had picked up the book, Creating Health, and given it to her.” The rest is history. He had contracts from best publishers and each book was more successful than the first.
The point of this piece is: Deepak Chopra had something to say that day. “It does not matter how many rejections you get from publishers, if you think you have something to say write it.” I guess it is a lesson we can apply in life: learning not to give up on something we believe in.