A Different Way

Deepak Chopra’s Joke

Deepak Chopra’s joke surprised me. I’ve read many of his books, loved most of them, but for the first time, I saw his sense of humor full blown. Previously, I wasn’t all that sure he had one.

Deepak Chopra's joke about consciousness
Consciousness is what scientists call “the hard problem.” They can’t figure it out. So, some solved the hard problem, declaring that consciousness doesn’t really exist. No joke. It’s an illusion, they claim, and Chopra saw that as a straight line.

By David Stone

Reading Deepak Chopra’s new book, Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential, I assimilated a lot I liked, but I didn’t agree with everything.

Some elaborate details made sense where I’d been uncertain, and some got me shaking my head in disagreement.

I like books that do that. I’m engaged, and I don’t drift.

In my brain, neurons fire, and my mind swims with ideas, complex and interconnected. That’s healthy. It satisfies.

Listening to Books

An audiobook reader for fifteen years now, I read faster, and I read more. Dog-earing a page when reaching my subway stop is over. I just keep reading as I climb the stairs out of the subway.

When the author reads his own book, as Chopra does with Metahuman, it adds character to the story.

Years ago, I laughed out loud on a subway platform, reading Al Franken’s opinion that the easiest job in the world was “Rush Limbaugh’s fact-checker.”

Franken’s delivery was pitch perfect, and I read everything of his that came out.

The Consciousness Debate

But back to Deepak Chopra’s joke. I wasn’t expecting it, and surprise added to the fun.

To understand the context, you need to know a little background.

Digging into the surprising debate over consciousness, Chopra turned unusually aggressive, and I loved it.

He’s annoyed by the same intellectual malarky as I am. Being in league with Deepak Chopra ain’t too shabby.

He singled out two writers, Stephen Pinker and Daniel Dennett. Pinker, in his book, Enlightenment Now, took the standard line. Consciousness is an illusion, he agrees, an accidental byproduct of brain activity.

It just kinda happens, but it’s meaningless.

I read that all the time, and it irritates me. It resembles religious dogma, and every right-thinking scientist must nod agreement or face ridicule.

No matter that it makes little sense, and no viable explanation exists for how physical matter converts into nonphysical reality. But that’s what the mainstream argument demands.

Simply put: Pinker and other insist your brain spontaneously creates the illusion of your being aware and conscious.

Saying it simply makes it no less explosively radical and completely lacking foundation. And no advocate has yet told us why our brains waste energy on such hocus-pocus.

Turning ridiculous intellectual…

Dennett defines consciousness as an homunculus, a fake creature hunkered down in your brain pretending to have real experiences.

I’m not kidding. But that’s how you fool yourself. Inventing an homunculus inside your skull to act like a fantasy ringmaster.

Again, no reason why evolution devised such a scheme. Just for fun, maybe, a whole new function for the process…

You might be surprised to find that smart people paid well, writing and teaching at respected universities, believe we’re not really conscious. We’re not really here. We just think we are, and that academic jazz pisses off Chopra and me.

And now, Deepak Chopra’s Joke

Paraphrasing, I hope I do it justice, and I can’t repeat Chopra’s delivery in print. But bear with me.

After going over Pinker’s and Dennett’s arguments that consciousness — including their own — is an illusion, Chopra pauses and sighs.

“So, we are illusions guided by illusions,” he summed up.

In one stroke, he exposed their claims as absurd and logically ridiculous.

His voiced dripped with jolly disdain.

It was a Deepak Chopra new to me, and I liked it.

Again, I laughed out loud.

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