At the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum 2022 in Davos, I was lucky enough to meet the world-renowned pioneer in personal transformation, bestselling author, alternative medicine advocate and philanthropist, Dr. Deepak Chopra, during the dinner reception of Finnish Flow and Future of Cities. Dr. Chopra was a keynote speaker at the Wisdom Panel. He isn’t just the founder of the hugely popular Chopra Meditation and Wellbeing app. He is also the leader of a global campaign called NeverAlone — an organization under his Chopra Foundation that combats mental health and suicide.
Dr. Deepak Chopra. It is an honor to meet you in person after reading your books and listening to your meditations for years. What is your impression of the World Economic Forum in Davos this year?
Dr. Chopra: Davos is a mix of multiple events. Some of the events are all about generating money and how to get hold of passports in several European countries. That part is very uninteresting to me. I am actually not very interested in the elitism that Davos represents. On the other hand, there are very interesting happenings here, including talks on the science of medical psychedelics, climate change, and the future of well-being — which is great. I found a lot of enthusiasm there. By and large, the WEF in Davos seems to be a big networking operation, but there are always some visionaries. So, I think it’s very worth going.
What is the message you’d like to share with the leaders of the World (Economic Forum in Davos) today?
Dr. Chopra: Leadership needs a new incarnation. As far as I am concerned, fast leadership is about power, influence, cronyism, corruption, etc. I would like to see leadership more focused on global cooperation and moving towards a healthier, more peaceful, sustainable, and joyful world. If leaders come together for that instead of using leadership as a means to their own power, then that could be a good thing.
Nel-Olivia Waga: I’d like to add my personal opinion here: as a Millennial (Generation Y), I don’t understand why so many global leaders talk about wanting to make the world a better place, but the actions don’t really follow. The awareness seems to be there, and the solutions too. Why can’t you, Dr. Deepak Chopra, just co-create the agenda for the next World Economic Forum in Davos and add a workshop about consciousness? This workshop should be mandatory for every participant (just as mandatory as covid-19 tests and vaccination certificates are this year). Wouldn’t this help to finally wake up some global leaders?
Dr. Chopra: That’s a question that you have to address with Mr. Schwab. I am here and happy to work with global leaders to serve and help wherever I can. On that note, I do already work with Heads of State to advise on topics like social and economic justice, how to give leadership a soul, how to create plans for change, how to take responsibility, etc. But, the interest and openness for change have to be there first.
I have observed that the younger generation is very receptive to these new ways of thinking and cooperating for a better world. They are the future leaders.
If you had one piece of advice that you could give to every human being on this planet, and they would hear you, what would it be?
Stop asking, “What’s in it for me?” Ask instead, “How can I serve?”
Why should humanity listen to this particular piece of advice now?
Dr. Chopra: I think humanity is sleepwalking to extinction right now: with climate change, the extinction of the species, war, terrorism, recognized ways of killing each other, and destruction of the eco-system. Unless we take the road less traveled, we are doomed to extinction.
If insects disappeared from our planet, all life would stop within five years. If humans disappeared from this planet, all life would flourish in five years. So, we have to look at ourselves very seriously and ask how we can serve and work together with a shared vision and emotional-spiritual bonding for a higher cause. Only then can we save ourselves. The planet will continue without us. We need to understand that we are the predator. Unless we stop behaving in this extremely selfish and divided way, the planet will decide to flourish without us.
You have recently released your 92nd book called “ABUNDANCE – The Inner Path to Wealth”. What does true abundance mean to you?
Dr. Chopra: True abundance is a state of consciousness. Money is only one component. The book was inspired by lyrics from Bob Marley, who said, “Some people are so poor. All they have is money.” The book “Abundance“ not only talks about money as an exchange of values but also about security, safety, transformation, and the ability to love and have compassion. It’s about creative expression, insight, intuition, imagination, higher consciousness, and transcendence.
When we have fulfillment in all these areas, that’s called abundance. It comes from the generosity of spirit. Abundance is the nature of the universe. If you don’t have abundance, you must be focusing on only one aspect of “abundance” and sacrificing everything else. Ultimately, joy is the only measure of success and well-being. It does not matter what you have if you don’t have joy. And if you don’t have generosity, then you’ve wasted your life.
What is the first step each of us should take towards an abundant life beyond limitations?
Dr. Chopra: The first step is to ask yourself, “What am I grateful for?” And then, other questions like, “Who am I? What do I want? How can I serve? What is the meaning of life and existence?” It is a great mystery to me that people are not surprised that they exist. The very fact that we exist and are aware that we exist is a huge miracle. Unless we are grateful for that miracle, there are no further steps. First, we have to be grateful, bewildered, and surprised by the fact that we exist. If you open the door to gratitude, you also open the door to abundance.
“Work smarter, not harder.” Do you agree with that quote?
Dr. Chopra: No, I think smartness is overrated. So is hard work. My advice is to work with wisdom, playfulness, and service. Wisdom is the knowledge that helps improve the quality of life for all beings on our planet.
If you were to interview yourself today, what three questions would you ask Dr. Deepak Chopra?
Dr. Chopra: How can you make every moment of your existence precious?
How can you help create a critical mass of consciousness for a healthier, more sustainable, peaceful, just, and joyful world?
How can you help people get over the fear of old age, infirmary, and death?
Thank you, Dr. Chopra, for your meaningful words. It was an honor to meet you and interview you during the WEF in Davos. I look forward to continuing this conversation soon.