Deepak Chopra is unhappy with my brand of skepticism--the type that identifies woo-woo nonsense and calls it for what it is: baloney.
Last week Deepak and I debated life after death on Larry King Live, which did not include Larry King and was not live, but did feature guest host Jeff Probst, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Dinesh D'Souza, a reincarnation researcher, a young boy alleged to be a reincarnated World War II fighter pilot, and Deepak rolling his eyes and mumbling to his table-mates in the New York studio while I was alone in the Hollywood studio trying to get an edge in wordwise. You can read my account of the show at TrueSlant.
No one uses fuzzy language more adroitly than Deepak Chopra, who has an uncanny knack for stringing together words and phrases that, with his punctuated delivery style, actually sounds like something intelligible is being said. (All quotes are from the complete transcript of the show available here.) Deepak Chopra is obviously a smart guy, and maybe it's just me, but what do you make of Deepak's explanation for Near-Death Experiences?:
"There are traditions that say the in-body experience is a socially induced collective hallucination. We do not exist in the body. The body exists in us. We do not exist in the world. The world exists in us."
Maybe I'm dim witted, but I cannot for the life of me figure out what this means. Likewise this ditty on life and death:
"Birth and death are space-time events in the continuum of life. So the opposite of life is not death. The opposite of death is birth. And the opposite of birth is death. And life is the continuum of birth and death, which goes on and on."
Uh? Can someone please tell me what this means? Likewise this gem of obfuscation:
"And life is, as he said, it's a process. It's one process. It's perception, cognition, emotions, moods, imagination, insight, intuition, creativity, choice making. These are not the activities of your networks. You orchestrate these activities through your synaptic networks. But if I ask you to imagine the color red or look at the color red, there's no red in your brain. There's just electrical firings."
If these "are not the activities of your networks" what are they? Oh, they are "just electrical firings." Uh? Isn't that a contradiction? What am I missing here?
During the show segment on reincarnation, I asked Deepak if the little boy's body is now occupied by the soul of a World War II fighter pilot, where is the boy's soul? Chopra offered this jewel of Deepakese:
"Imagine that you're looking at an ocean and you see lots of waves today. And tomorrow you see a fewer number of waves. It's not so turbulent. What you call a person actually is a pattern of behavior of a universal consciousness. There is no such thing as Jeff, because what we call Jeff is a constantly transforming consciousness that appears as a certain personality, a certain mind, a certain ego, a certain body. But, you know, we had a different Jeff when you were a teenager. We had a different Jeff when you were a baby. Which one of you is the real Jeff?"
Guest host Jeff Probst looked as confused as I felt.
Deepak has challenged me to a debate. I accept. I'm looking forward to collecting many more quotable maxims from the master of Deepakese.