For many years I wrote a column called Ask Deepak, answering questions about personal dilemmas that people sent in from all around the world, including India, China, the United States, Canada, and many countries in Latin America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Yet in a sense, everyone was writing from the same place inside, where confusion and darkness had overwhelmed them. They shared stories of feeling hurt, betrayed, lost, misunderstood, worried, anxious, and, at times, desperate. What I realized after answering more than 10,000 questions was that while the details of people’s individual situations vary, everyone who feels stuck or in pain is suffering from the same underlying problem: a state of contracted awareness. From this place of fear and constriction, every step forward feels like a battle. You keep doing more of what never worked in the first place, and as frustration mounts, you feel more and more exhausted. As the physicist Albert Einstein famously said, “No problem can ever be solved at the level of awareness at which it was created.”
On the other hand, when your awareness expands, you no longer feel tight or fearful, and fresh ideas have space to grow. In this expanded state, spiritual solutions spontaneously emerge.
Instead of trying to relying on the limited resources of the ego-mind, you let yourself be guided by your true self, which is the source of all peace, clarity, and wisdom. With clearer vision, you no longer feel confused and conflicted. As you continue to evolve, you enter the level of pure awareness. In this state, no problems exist. You are aligned with the infinite field of all possibilities. There is no struggle, and your desires are spontaneously fulfilled. Although it may seem like it takes a long time on the spiritual path to reach pure awareness, exactly the opposite is true: At every moment, pure awareness is in contact with you, sending creative impulses. All that matters is how open you are to the answers being presented.
To deepen your understanding of the three levels of awareness, the following analogy may be useful:
State of Contracted Awareness: Imagine that you’re walking in a dark room with only the small flame of a candle to light your way. You keep stumbling and bumping into furniture and other objects that you perceive as obstacles. You feel isolated and separated from the world around you (even though you are always inextricably connected to the universe). This is the state of contracted awareness.
State of Expanded Awareness: Now imagine that you’re still in the same dark room but someone has given you a flashlight. With more illumination, you can move around freely without the fear of tripping or hurting yourself. You can also see that everything that seemed like an obstacle has a clear purpose. You can beam your light around and see that there is a couch you can stretch out on, a shelf filled with wonderful books, and a stereo for listening to music. What appeared to be threats or barriers are actually opportunities. You feel connected to the web of relationships that links everyone and everything. This is the state of expanded awareness.
State of Pure Awareness: Now once again imagine that you’re in the same room but this time all of the walls, including the floor and ceiling, are made of transparent glass and the room is flooded with sunlight. When you look outside you see that the whole world is your playground. This is the state of pure awareness. There are no problems and therefore no need for solutions. You are the creative, evolutionary impulse of the universe. You feel the wholeness and oneness of life. You are in flow and so you play.
Problems arise in contracted awareness. Solutions emerge automatically in expanded awareness. When you have pure awareness—awareness without conceptual boundaries—then you live in pure creativity. That is the basis of spiritual solutions, and you can apply these principles whether you want to improve the quality of your relationships, cultivate greater wellbeing, enjoy more material success, or experience insight, intuition, imagination, inspiration, higher consciousness, and creativity.
Every problem has a spiritual solution. The solution is found by expanding your awareness, moving beyond the limited vision of the problem. The process begins by recognizing what level of awareness you are working from, then letting your inner awareness express itself. Life flows from within itself, and the more you let go, the more your true self can express its desire to evolve. Once the process is under way, everything changes. Inner and outer worlds reflect each other without confusion or conflict. Because solutions now arise from the level of the soul, they meet no resistance. All your desires lead to the result that is best for you and for the evolutionary expansion of the universe.
Deepak Chopra, M.D is the author of more than 65 books, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His medical training is in internal medicine and endocrinology, and he is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, and an adjunct professor of Executive Programs at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He is also a Distinguished Executive Scholar at Columbia Business School, Columbia University, and a Senior Scientist at the Gallup organization. For more than a decade, he has participated as a lecturer at the Update in Internal Medicine, an annual event sponsored by Harvard Medical School’s Department of Continuing Education and the Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
“Deepak Chopra has successfully blended ancient Vedanta Philosophy with his unique perspective on modern medicine to provide a vast audience with solutions that meet many needs for our modern age. He is among the influential scholars, authors, and thinkers like Arthur Schopenhauer, Carl Jung, and Aldous Huxley who have found truth in the Perennial Philosophy and developed ways to help people apply that truth to their daily lives.”