Deepak Chopra on His BlackBerry, Snoring and Consciousness: Spiritual Teacher's Son's Intimate Portrait

PHOTO: Deepak and Gotham Chopra
Share
Copy

Deepak Chopra is the spiritual teacher to the stars, such as 50 Cent, Kim Kardashian and Lady Gaga. He's the inspiration for the film "The Love Guru," and the author of 66 books, including a new one just this week.

He is revered by millions, but not, apparently, by his own son.

"His audience often has a very idealized version of him and that is a hard expectation to meet," Gotham said. "There is a classic tradition in this country of elevating our celebrities, for the lack of a better word, to a certain place and then trying to topple them and taking great glee in that."

In an interview together with "Nightline," Deepak Chopra and his 37-year-old son talked about Gotham's new documentary, "Decoding Deepak," an intimate and not always flattering portrait of his father. In the movie, Gotham captures his father scratching his back side, snoring when he was supposed to be meditating and constantly on his BlackBerry. He portrays him as being obsessed with the public eye and detached from his family.

"I am detached," Deepak Chopra said. "I am independent. My love for [my son] is none of his business and I would love him to irrespective of that."

Deepak said he was not offended by the way he is depicted in his son's film. Gotham said the point was to show that he is a human being.

"It's the first half of the movie that is quite cynical," Gotham said. "It's part of growing up in this bubble. You cannot grow up in the world of self-help and new age and all of that without seeing the irony of it all."

But in making the film, there was a turning point, Gotham said. "What I have come out with is a deep appreciation and respect not only for him, but for it, meaning his audience. And what people are searching for, what they are finding and how he is helping them."

In the film, Gotham portrays himself as the prodigal son who was groomed to inherit the keys to his father's spiritual empire, but instead went off to be first a journalist, and then an entrepreneur and filmmaker. He is seen as a man who still nurses wounds from a childhood with an often absent father.

"My father was not the father who came to soccer games or played catch in the front yard," he said.

Deepak said he wasn't hurt that his son portrayed him that way because he said it was the truth.

"I'm detached as a father," he said. "I think my wife's soul took over everything as a responsible mother, so that I felt totally comfortable that I didn't have to do anything. I mean, it's fact."

During the interview with "Nightline," Gotham was at pains to point out that his depiction of Deepak is also an affectionate one.

"I never set out to destroy my father," he said. "It's called 'Decoding Deepak' not 'Destroying Deepak,' so I never set out to do that, and I am sensitive to that. On the other hand, I am a journalist by training and I knew I had to be objective and I had to be honest."

"Objective?" Deepak chimed in. "He was subjective totally. He wasn't objective, but that's OK."

In the film, Gotham and his cameras chase his frenetic father across the globe for a year, during which Deepak often tries to take control.

"Nightline" makes a cameo during one scene, in which Deepak is at a Buddhist monastery in Thailand. Gotham explains in the film that his father was still "irritated" after participating in the 2010 "Nightline" Face-Off debate over God's existence. In the next scene, Deepak has his head shaved and is ordained as a monk, although he does not let go of his BlackBerry.

Throughout the film, Gotham chides his father for continuing to "play the role expected of him," even when he is with family, and for spouting sometimes incomprehensible spiritual notions, such as "the universe is a nanotechnology workshop in the mind of God."

"I am glad everybody is seeing this," Gotham said. "Getting a little window into my world of -- it's like every time you think you are here you slip into the Matrix. It's a collective blue pill we all took every time you talk to him."

While there are many tough moments in the film, it is also, in Gotham's words, a love letter to his father, who rose from nothing, became a pioneer in mind/body medicine and has affected countless lives.

"I am moved quite regularly now by people who come up to me on the street and say, 'Your father helped me through one of the darkest periods of my life,'" Gotham said. "So if I step back and get passed my own sort of personal cynicism, I recognize there is something here. There is this massive body of work that has changed people's lives."

Still, when Deepak saw the film, he said it was a bit of a wake-up call, especially when he watched his wife say on camera that he was "self-involved."

"I think I've gone through some transition and some introspection because even in Thailand, we had a conversation where you asked me if I was wrong, I think, and I said I don't think so, and I then thought about that and maybe I am wrong. At least he perceives me as wrong many times, maybe there is some truth to it."

One concrete change Deepak said he has made is to put down the BlackBerry when he is talking to other people.

"When you look at the world and your own world with this context you don't get easily offended," he said. "You also realize that we have little time. We are like a little puff of smoke gone into the air there. A flash of lightning."

It is an important bit of perspective from a spiritual teacher, who may have learned a few things from his own son.

For more information about "Decoding Deepak," visit the film's website, www.decodingdeepak.com.

Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...