Deepak Chopra has done it again. A prolific author and a spiritual rock star, he had written another book to add to his famed literacy. It is simply but audaciously entitled The Future of God and the back flip burb declared this words, "What has God done for you lately?" Sounds like that Janet Jackson's me-centered song, "What have you done for me lately?"
Mm...it is definitely interesting to contemplate the future of god. It is like an ant trying to contemplate the future of man or a lump of clay asking the potter about his plan for tomorrow - to borrow an analogy. And asking what has god done for you lately somehow seems like turning the tables around where the creation becomes the creator and vice versa. It is a role reversal of the most bewildering sort. Talk about a cosmic genie.
Chopra actually does not endorse any specific religion. He is the all-embracing guru of our time. He is the postmodern renaissance man. Towards the end of the book, Chopra wrote this, “When you are free, silent, at peace, and completely self-aware, you inhabit the transcendent world. Labels applied to such people are Buddha, Christ, mahatma, swami, yogi, the enlightened, the awakened.”
In fact, Chopra likened this god to a cosmic Houdini and he reminded the reader that “God will escape every kind of box, including all the ones we depend upon the most: time, space, feeling, ideas, and concepts. Hence the mystery.” Yet, at the last page of the book, he confidently listed out “Ten Ideas That Give God a Future.” You can read the list as stated in the insert here as a summary. It seems like he has taken this god out of the traditional box and snugly fitted him into a personal box marked “Chopra’s universe”. Mystery unraveled?
In my view, his book seems to advocate bringing the divine hermit within us out into the public light. He encourages us to see god in a new-improved version. For a lack of apt terminology, he borrow the technical term of God 1.0 and God 2.0. God 1.0 is based on our needs. It is our projection of god premised upon satisfying our needs for security, protection, family and communities. At this point, he wrote, “How, then, should we re-create God?” Here is where God 2.0 comes in.
Now mind you, Chopra is not talking about the god of the West or the East or the fundamentalists. These different views of God are primitive and muddled, even self-serving. He has a different idea of god altogether. Here is where Chopra truly shine in grandiloquence as he offered his own upgraded definition: “In order to have a future, God must fulfill the promises made in his name throughout history. Instead of being a projection, God 2.0 is the reverse. He is the reality from which existence springs. As you journey inward, everyday life becomes suffused with divine qualities like love, forgiveness, and compassion. These are experiences in yourself as a reality. God 2.0 does much more – he is the interface between you and infinite consciousness.”
In deftness of pomposity, he wrote about making the connection with this God 2.0 in three stages. The first connection is when you become centered as god experience dawns Then, the deeper connection comes when higher consciousness becomes real and this god experience transforms you. Finally, at the last stage, he calls it the total connection where “you merge with your source” and “God is revealed as pure consciousness, the essence of who you are.” At this last stage, he uncovers the god he had kept in his personal box with this catchphrase: “Your true self is God.” Mystery truly solved?
Alas, there is actually nothing new here. It is similar to the tale of the emperor's new clothes with his royal nudity still in full public glare save that the king is now ever more media-hording.
Personally, I can imagine the future of god no different from the future of man. And we know morbidly where we are all heading towards if we push our fragile ecosystem over the existential cliff compliment of our insatiable lust and greed. If that should happen, I guess there goes Chopra's god too. It is both a massacre of us and our public-shy deity. It is like a Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) leading to mass genocide and deicide.
So I guess every time we die and are duly cremated, a part of god also dies with us (to be revived to join the cosmic consciousness?). And if Jesus is to salvation what the Cross is to sin, that is, to be crucified to self, then Chopra's god is to us what we are to ourselves, that is, god and us are invariably interchangeable and indistinguishable.
Of course, we are all created in his image, but there is a difference with that and saying that "our true self is God" if we follow a certain course of action and meditation as recommended in the book. In other words, god and us do not have a separate reality. It is so well mixed that we literally lose ourselves in his nature. We are essentially him and he is essentially us.
This provokes in me this often heard philosophical conundrum: If no one is around to hear the sound a twig makes when it falls from a tree, is there a sound? So, with a little tweak, if there is no conscious being like us around (or even ever existed), is there a god in the first place?
The answer to this question is temptingly obvious because if god lives in all of us and all it takes is for us to "lure" him out so that we can finally experience true transcendent reality and have an unsurpassed peace of mind, what if an accidental worldwide nuclear holocaust tomorrow brings this world to a complete end? No mankind means no god-kind? What will become of god then?
Or, if this world is mysteriously converted to atheism with not even one soul believing in the supernatural, what then becomes of Chopra's god? Is he put out of commission or duly decommissioned? Is he then taken out of circulation?
Of course I can hear Chopra's rebuttal that god has to exist first before we could exist because he is the first uncaused cause of everything and is everything. It is basically a chicken-and-egg thingy except that in this tweaked version, the chicken "god" has to come first before eggheads like us can exist. Well, in my view, this applies to the Biblical and sovereign God because His existence is clearly independent of ours. But, according to the way Chopra had defined his God 2.0, does it apply equally? And if we were to ignore him, dismiss and renounce him, what will Chopra's god do to get a little attention thrown his way? Will he send a rainbow or a flood or appear in a burning bush to shock and awe us? If no one believes in him, will he retire into a cosmic geriatric ward tucked somewhere in the godforsaken universe and dunk Oreo biscuits in a cup of milo for eternity? So many cheeky questions and so few serious answers…
I guess in Chopra's universe, the future of god depends on the future of men. Their existence is mutually dependent and self-reinforcing. And if god has done nothing for us lately, then is it time for those who are still harboring him to evict him out and start scouting for a more proactive divine tenant? God 3.0 or God 6.1 maybe?
In the end, Chopra's god makes me uncomfortable. It is a god that is too dependent on us. It blurs the line between us and him. We also run the risk of elevating ourselves on the pretense that we are bringing this god out of us. And I guess the greatest discomfiture for me is that Chopra's god is no more than the god we have created in our own image. But what we tell ourselves is really the other way round to perpetuate the delusion.
And in creating him in our image, we naturally want him to grant us all our wishes. And trust me, the self-serving list here is endless because this new-improved god somehow shares a common trait with us, that is, he too has a voracious appetite to feed. And I have this feeling that since the interest of Chopra's god is so aligned with mine, I will not be surprised when I die and go to heaven to find that the one seated on the divine throne is none other than my cosmic doppelganger cheerily inviting me into eternal rest. Cheerz.