Book Review: The Book of Secrets by Deepak Chopra

The Book of Secrets by Deepak Chopra

by Brenton Russell on

The Book of Secrets by Deepak Chopra (Amazon affiliate link) is a New York Times Bestseller on spiritual awareness and growth.  “Every life is a book of secrets, ready to be opened” where bestselling author Deepak Chopra “holds the key to help you live a life with meaning and shape your destiny.” The book is subtitled as:

“Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life”

and is where Deepak Chopra shares 15 spiritual “secrets” for spiritual enlightenment.  Deepak’s book aims to achieve two things:

  1. Persuade you that there really is a mystery lying in the hidden dimensions of life.
  2. Inspire you to feel the passion and dedication required to get there.

Deepak states “that this is not a project to postpone until you are ready.  You have been ready since the day you forgot to keep asking who you are and why you are here.”

“Finding the hidden dimensions in yourself is the only way to fulfill your deepest hunger.”

The key point of Deepak’s book is the ultimate aim of living one unified reality: “When you are living the truth of one reality, every secret reveals itself without effort or struggle.” Do you want to be fragmented, conflicted and torn or do you want to step out of separation into wholeness?

Deepak organises the book into the following 15 secrets where each chapter concludes with practical exercises to start living that secret.  The following are key excerpts and summaries from each of the chapters to introduce the concept that each secret represents:

Secret #1 ‘The Mystery of Life is Real’

The life you know is a thin layer of events covering a deeper reality where the mystery of life is all around you waiting to be discovered.  Every secret in this book goes back to the existence of an invisible intelligence that operates beneath the visible surface of life.  How do millions of fireflies in Indonesia synchronise their flashes over several square miles? How do several million horseshoe crabs emerge on one beach once a year to mate on a full moon yet have emerged from the depths of the ocean where no light ever penetrates? To read this sentence, how do several million neurons in your cerebral cortex form an instantaneous pattern that is completely original and never appeared before in your life?

Secret #2 ‘The World is in You’

All the brain does is receive continuous signals about the body’s state of chemical balance, temperature and oxygen consumption along with a stream of nerve impulses.  This mass of raw data starts out as chemical bursts with attached electrical charges that run up and down nerve cells and once they reach the brain, the cortex assembles the raw data into even more complex arrangements of electrical and chemical blips.  We are not aware of this never-ending data processing, instead relying on the cortex to tell us about the world – it allows us to perceive sights, sounds, tastes, smells and textures – the whole array of creation.  There is no direct connection between the body’s raw data and our subjective sense of an outside world.  The only reason that rocks are solid is that the brain registers a flurry of electrical signals as touch; the only reason the sun shines is that the brain registers another flurry of electrical signals as sight:  “You are not in the world; the world is in you.” The very heart of spirituality is that everyone is a creator of their world.

“As creators we generate every aspect, good or bad, of our experience.  In this way, each of us is the centre of creation.”

How all these individual viewpoints somehow mesh so that your world and mine can harmonise is the very thing that makes people seek spiritual answers.

Secret #3 ‘Four Paths Lead to Unity’

Do you want to be a victim of the five senses or a co-creator?  If you depend on the five senses you will feel separation, duality, ego-based, detachment, limited.  If you depend on natural law you will feel in control, less subject to fear, inventive, understanding.  If you depend on consciousness you will feel creative, intimate with natural law, boundaries dissolve, intentions turn into results.  The five senses tell us that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, that the earth is flat, that an object made of steel couldn’t possibly be held up in the air.  Increasing our awareness of natural law means the observer is no longer a victim of the deception of our five senses.  The law of gravity can be figured out using mathematics and thought experiments.  Eventually though someone has to ask, “Who am I who is doing all this thinking?”.  That’s the question which leads to pure awareness.

“Awareness is all that changes in the journey from separation into the one reality.”

Every experience comes to us in one of four ways: as a feeling, a thought, an action or simply a sense of being.

Secret #4 ‘What you Seek, You Already Are’

You awareness has its source in unity.  Instead of seeking outside yourself, go to the source and realise who you are.  To be a silent witness and seek from within: follow the flow of awareness, don’t resist what’s happening inside, open yourself to the unknown, don’t censor or deny what you feel, reach beyond yourself, be genuine and speak your truth, let the centre be your home.

Secret #5 ‘The Cause of Suffering is Unreality’

Pain is not the same as suffering.  Left to itself the body discharges pain spontaneously, letting go of it the moment that the underlying cause is healed.  Suffering is pain that we hold on to.  The steps of unreality that lead to suffering include:

  • Overlooking actual facts.
  • Adopting a negative perception.
  • Reinforcing that perception by obsessive thinking.
  • Getting lost in the pain without looking for a way out.
  • Comparing yourself to others.
  • Cementing the suffering through relationships.

Secret #6 ‘Freedom Tames the Mind’

In Buddhism, the mind is likened to a monkey peering out at the world through the five senses.  Monkeys are notoriously impulsive and fickle, liable to do anything without notice.  Buddhism psychology doesn’t aim to tame the monkey so much as to learn its ways, accept them, and then transcend to a higher awareness that is beyond the fickleness of the mind.   When the mind is free it settles down, gives up its restlessness and becomes a channel for peace.  Letting go involves:

  • Make the most of every experience.
  • Don’t obsess over right and wrong decisions.
  • Stop defending your self-image.
  • Go beyond risks.
  • Make no decision when in doubt.
  • See the possibilities in whatever happens.
  • Find the stream of joy.

Secret #7 ‘Every Life is Spiritual’

It is impossible not lead to lead a spiritual life.  You can’t be fired from the job of creating a world, which is the essence of spirituality.  And you can’t resign from the job even when you refuse to show up.  The universe is living through you at this moment.  The operating system of the universe applies to everyone alike, and it works along principles that do not require your cooperation.  However, if you decide to lead a consciously spiritual life a change occurs where the principles of the operating system (ie the rules of creation) become personal.  While still remaining who you are, you can bring about a quantum leap in your awareness, and the sign that the leap is real will be experiencing some of the following emergent spiritual properties:

  • Clarity of awareness
  • Knowingness
  • Reverence for life
  • Absence of violence
  • Fearlessness
  • Nonattachment
  • Wholeness

Secret #8 ‘Evil is not your Enemy’

Ultimately, both good and evil are forms that consciousness can choose to take.  In and of itself, none of the forces feeding into us is evil.  But under the significant amount of influences, each person makes choices.  Evil inclination comes down to a choice made in consciousness and “these choices seemed to be good when they were made”.  Conditions that release shadow energy:

  • Removing a sense of responsibility
  • Anonymity
  • Dehumanising environments
  • Peer examples of bad behaviour
  • Passive bystanders
  • Rigid levels of power
  • Prevailing chaos and disorder
  • Lack of meaning
  • Implicit permission to do harm
  • “Us versus Them” mentality
  • Isolation
  • Lack of accountability

Secret #9 ‘You Live in Multidimensions’

We choose where to focus our attention, and wherever that focus goes, a new reality opens up.  Dimensions refer to domains of consciousness where these domains are:

  • Pure Being. Absolute pure awareness before it acquires any qualities at all.  The state before creation.
  • Conditioned Bliss. The domain of awareness as it begins to become conscious of its own potential.
  • Love.  The motivating force in creation.
  • Knowingness. The domain of inner intelligence.
  • Myth and Archetypes. The collective patterns of society.
  • Intuition.  The domain where the mind understands the subtle mechanics of life.
  • Imagination.  The domain of creative invention.
  • Reason.  The domain of logic, science and mathematics.
  • Emotion.  The domain of feelings.
  • Physical Body. The domain of sensation and the five senses.

Secret #10 ‘Death Makes Life Possible’

Perhaps death is only relative, not a total change. After all, each of us is dying every day, and the moment known as death is really just an extension of this process. Life is intimately entwined with death, as you can observe every time a skin cell is sloughed off.  This process of exfoliation is the same as a tree dropping its leaves and biologists tend to think of death as a means for life to regenerate. Only by facing death can you develop real passion for being alive. The purpose of death is to imagine yourself into a new form with a new location in space and time. In other words, you imagine yourself into this particular lifetime, and after death you will dip back into the unknown to imagine your next form. Right now you are bringing up new thoughts by actualising your potential; it seems only reasonable that the same process produced who you are now. The absolute break between life and death is an illusion.  You can be as alive as you want to be through a process known as surrender.  Surrender is:

  • Full attention.
  • Appreciation of life’s richness.
  • Opening yourself to what is in front of you.
  • Nonjudgement.
  • Absence of ego.
  • Humility.
  • Being receptive to all possibilities.
  • Allowing love.

Secret #11 ‘The Universe Thinks Through You’

This secret is about escaping the bondage of cause and effect.  The universe is alive and imbued with subjectivity.  Cause and effect are just the machinery it uses to carry out what it wants to do.  You need to relate to the universe as if it were alive.  You can begin by adopting the following habits:

  • Talk to the universe.
  • Listen for its reply.
  • Be on intimate terms with Nature.
  • See the life in everything.
  • Carry yourself like a child of the universe.

Secret #12 ‘There is no Time but Now’

Being in the mindful state, time doesn’t really pass at all.  There is only one instant of time that keeps renewing itself over and over with infinite variety.  The secret about time is  that it exists only as we usually think of it. Time is misused by:

  • Being anxious about the future.
  • Reliving the past.
  • Regretting old mistakes.
  • Reliving yesterday.
  • Anticipating tomorrow.
  • Racing against the clock.
  • Brooding over impermanance.
  • Resisting change.

If you want to get serious about being in the presence then:

  • Catch yourself not paying attention.
  • Listen to what you’re actually saying.
  • Watch how you react.
  • Remove yourself form the details.
  • Follow the rise and fall of energy.
  • Question your ego.
  • Immerse yourself in a spiritual milieu.

Secret #13 ‘You are Truly Free when you are Not a Person’

If you live at the centre of one reality, you begin to witness patterns coming and going.  At first, these patterns continue to feel personal.  You create the patterns, and that brings a sense of attachment.  The notion of detachment is when having created an experience and then lived it out, one finds that detachment comes naturally:  “True freedom occurs only in nonlocal awareness”. The real you is detached from any role, any scenery, any drama.  In spiritual terms, detachment isn’t an end unto itself – it develops into a kind of mastery.  When you have this mastery, you can shift into nonlocal awareness anytime you want.  If there really is a secret to happiness, in can be found only at the source of happiness, which as the following characteristics:

  • Nonlocal.
  • Detached.
  • Impersonal.
  • Universal.
  • Beyond change.
  • Made of essence.

Secret #14 ‘The Meaning of Life is Everything’

Life is pure potential until someone shapes it into something. The meaning of pure potential is that life is infinitely open.  Similarly, to say that the meaning of life is everything indicates that life leaves nothing and no one out. “Everything” is just another way to embrace the infinite range of possibilities. Whatever meaning you want to universe to reflect, it provides. If you try to pin the universe down to one reflection, you pin your own life down at the same time.  You the observer bring your version of reality into being.  The following are how to navigate the field of everything and dive into pure potential:

  • The deeper you go, the more power is available to change things.
  • Reality flows from more subtle regions to more gross ones.
  • The easiest way to change anything is to first go to the subtlest level of it, which is awareness.
  • Still silence is the beginning of creativity.  Once an event starts to vibrate, it has already begun to enter the visible world.
  • Creation proceeds by quantum leaps.
  • The beginning of an event is simultaneously its ending .  The two co-arise in the domain of silent awareness.
  • Events unfold in time but are born outside of time.
  • The easiest way to create is in the evolutionary direction.
  • Since possibilities are infinite, evolution never ends.
  • The universe corresponds to the nervous system that is looking at it.

Secret #15 ‘Everything is Pure Essence’

At last, every layer of the onion has been peeled away.  We come face to face with the indescribable, the secret at the core of life.  What do you have when you find yourself facing the indescribable?  You can only try with inadequate words to describe it.  Essence is the purest form of Being.  Essence is the ultimate mystery because it manages to do three things at once:

  1. It conceives everything in existence.
  2. It turns what it has imagined into reality.
  3. It enters that reality and keeps it alive.

All that is required to find the essence of life is to step outside the picture and see yourself.  You won’t see a person or even a soul, just a speck of awareness – the point that is producing the most lovely, appalling, mundane, holy, astonishing, ordinary and marvelous pictures.  With every unreal aspect of yourself stripped away, only essence remains. Once you realise that essence is the real you, the golden door opens.  There are four conditions that must exist if you want to find reality:

  1. Contentment.
  2. Inquiry.
  3. Self-awareness.
  4. Strength.

My Thoughts & Opinions!

Deepak Chopra’s ‘The Book of Secrets’ is an incredibly insightful, thought provoking and perspective altering book.  While I have including excerpts and summaries for each chapter in this review to give you an introduction to each ‘secret’, I have barely scratched the surface or come anywhere close to giving this book the justice that it deserves.  If you are after a book for light reading then this is not the book for you.  If you are after a challenging and potentially life altering experience, then this book is an exceptional resource for spiritual growth and awareness.  I do not begin to pretend to understand (or necessarily agree) with everything that Deepak Chopra has written; this is certainly a book that will require re-reading and reflection on the concepts to achieve a better understanding.

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