How to Know God: The Soul's Journey into the Mystery of Mysteries

How to Know God: The Soul's Journey into the Mystery of Mysteries

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by Deepak Chopra

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You don't have to believe in God in order to experience God.
--- Deepak Chopra

The celebrated author of Ageless Body, Timeless Mind and The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success has written his most ambitious and important work yet, a runaway international bestseller that has inspired hundreds of thousands of readers to rethink their concept of…  See more details below


You don't have to believe in God in order to experience God.
--- Deepak Chopra

The celebrated author of Ageless Body, Timeless Mind and The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success has written his most ambitious and important work yet, a runaway international bestseller that has inspired hundreds of thousands of readers to rethink their concept of God.

According to Chopra, the brain is hardwired to know God. The human nervous system has seven biological responses that correspond to seven levels of divine experience. These are shaped not by any one religion (they are shared by all faiths), but by the brain's need to take an infinite, chaotic universe and find meaning in it. How to Know God describes the quest each of us is on, whether we realize it or not. For, as Chopra puts it, "God is our highest instinct to know ourselves." This book makes a dramatic and enduring contribution to that knowledge.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews
Our Review
Deepak Chopra, author of numerous books on the interactions of spiritual and physical healing, turns his attention in his newest book to those most plaguing spiritual questions: What is God? Where is God? And how do I find him? How to Know God: The Soul's Journey into the Mystery of Mysteries is an engaging blend of Eastern and Western mysticism, but it also draws significant insights from such material sciences as psychology, neuroscience, and physics. The combination, as drawn together in Chopra's inimitable style, proves irresistible.

The quest to know God is, for Chopra, a quest that we all undertake in common, though at different times and in different forms. "We are evolved to find God," he writes. "This is what the lightning storm of the brain's endless activity is all about. God for us is not a choice but a necessity." But in knowing God -- who is, for Chopra, not a person, but a process -- there are a number of stages, each of which provides benefits but brings difficulties as well. Understanding these "stages of God" as Chopra describes them is ultimately a journey toward an awareness of the self and into the mysteries of reality.

For Chopra, reality is multilayered, and much of this reality is not immediately visible to the human eye. The material reality by which we are surrounded is directly perceptible. "Virtual" reality (a term from physics, not to be confused with realities that are computer-simulated) is the level beyond time and space where God exists, a level that is not available to the physical senses. Between these two -- which together build what Chopra refers to as a "reality sandwich" -- is a transition zone, or a "quantum" reality. This quantum reality is in many ways illuminated by the findings of quantum physics, which argues that the appearance of solidity in the material world around us is deceptive, as the distances between particles on the atomic level are infinitely greater than the size of the particles themselves. Solid objects, then, are primarily composed of empty space. In Chopra's quantum reality, the solidity of the material world falls away, and we become aware of the spaces between. The quest to know God is, for Chopra, a quest to awaken to the quantum and virtual realities that exist just beyond our grasp.

These three layers of reality might be further characterized as follows:

  • Material reality -- the field of physical existence
  • Quantum reality -- the field of mind
  • Virtual reality -- the field of spirit

    For Chopra, all energy flows from the virtual level of existence, through the quantum, to the material. Learning to see the quantum reality through the material moves us closer to the energy that is God. Chopra explains the concepts of the material and the quantum in the first section of the book by examining the distinction between the physical brain and the field of mind. The existence of mind on the quantum level of reality rather than the material can be used to account for a number of otherwise inexplicable mysteries, including inspiration, synchronicity, telepathy, and the existence of savants. If mind were wholly contained within the material level of reality, each of these phenomena would remain impossible. Instead, just as dreams provided Freud with reason to posit the existence of the unconscious, these odd moments of insight, of extrasensory perception, of inexplicable genius, provide us with access to the quantum.

    Soul is for Chopra similarly "a junction point between time and the timeless." Turning to his own religious origins in India, Chopra explains soul as a combination of "Jiva," the individual soul that must undertake a journey to find God, and "Atman," the part of the soul that is "pure spirit, made of the same essence as God." These two aspects of soul are mutually interdependent, and yet often in conflict. If we stubbornly insist that all reality rest in the material plane of existence, we deny "Atman" and thus remain grounded by our own skepticism. In fact, as Chopra points out, the Vedantic literature argues that, of the five causes of human suffering --

      1. Ignorance about the nature of reality
      2. Identification with the ego
      3. Attraction toward objects of desire
      4. Repulsion from objects of desire
      5. Fear of death

    -- all are ultimately attributable to the first. Only when we are trapped within the material world are we led to overidentify with the ego, to prize or hate external objects, and to fear the passing of this life. If we open our minds to the true nature of reality, to the quantum and the virtual that exist behind the material, we can find our way to "Atman," and thus to God.

    In the second section of the book, Chopra explores the seven stages of God, how each is tied to a particular biological response, and how within each stage, our image of God changes based upon a projection of our human needs. In the first stage, when we are struggling for survival, God takes on the role of Protector -- but this Protector God, as in the Old Testament, often appears vengeful and merciless. In the second stage, when survival is assured, and we instead find ourselves driven by the demands of an ambitious ego, God becomes the Almighty, who represents a rational justice -- but also brings the birth of guilt. In the third stage, when we begin to redirect our attention from the outer life to the inner, we encounter the God of Peace -- but this inner-directedness runs the risk of solipsism. And so on, through the tolerance of God the Redeemer, the abundance of God the Creator, and the enlightenment of the God of Miracles, until, in stage seven, we encounter the infinite God of Pure Being, the "I Am." In this final stage, the divine and the earthly can at last become one.

    How to Know God is not a traditional how-to book. Its answers at times are more puzzling than its questions. But the truth of God, for Chopra, lies in the puzzles: "God lives in the unknown, and when you can embrace it fully, you will be home free."

    -Kathleen Fitzpatrick

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    From CHAPTER ONE: A Real and Useful God

    God has managed the amazing feat of being worshiped and invisible at the same time. Millions of people would describe him as a white-bearded father figure sitting on a throne in the sky, but none could claim to be an eyewitness. Although it doesn't seem possible to offer a single fact about the Almighty that would hold up in a court of law, somehow the vast majority of people believe in God -- as many as 96 percent, according to some polls. This reveals a huge gap between belief and what we call everyday reality. We need to heal this gap.

    What would the facts be like if we had them? They would be as follows. Everything that we experience as material reality is born in an invisible realm beyond space and time, a realm revealed by science to consist of energy and information. This invisible source of all that exists is not an empty void but the womb of creation itself. Something creates and organizes this energy. It turns the chaos of quantum soup into stars, galaxies, rain forests, human beings, and our own thoughts, emotions, memories, and desires. In the pages that lie ahead we will see that it is not only possible to know this source of existence on an abstract level but to become intimate and at one with it. When this happens, our horizons open to new realities. We will have the experience of God.

    After centuries of knowing God through faith, we are now ready to understand divine intelligence directly. In many ways this new knowledge reinforces what spiritual traditions have already promised. God is invisible and yet performs all miracles. He is the source of every impulse of love. Beauty and truth are both children of this God. In the absence of knowing the infinite source of energy and creativity, life's miseries come into being. Getting close to God through a true knowing heals the fear of death, confirms the existence of the soul, and gives ultimate meaning to life.

    Our whole notion of reality has actually been topsy-turvy. Instead of God being a vast, imaginary projection, he turns out to be the only thing that is real, and the whole universe, despite its immensity and solidity, is a projection of God's nature. Those astonishing events we call miracles give us clues to the workings of this ineffable intelligence. Consider the following story:

    In 1924 an old French villager is walking home. With one eye lost in the Great War and the other severely damaged by mustard gas in the trenches, he can barely see. The setting sun is bright, so the old man is completely unaware of the two youths on bicycles who have wheeled around the corner and are barreling down on him.

    At the moment of impact an angel appears. He takes the lead bicycle by its two wheels, lifts it a few feet in the air, and sets it down safely on the grass beside the road. The second bicycle stops short, and the youths become tremendously excited. "There are two! There are two!" one of them shouts, meaning that instead of just the old man alone, two figures are standing in the road. The entire village becomes very worked up, claiming afterward that the youths were drunk or else have made up this fantastic tale. As for the old man, when he is asked about it, he says he doesn't understand the question.
    Could we ever come to an answer ourselves? As it happens, the old man was a priest, Pére Jean Lamy, and the appearance of the angel has come down to us through his own testimony before his death. Lamy, who was saintly and beloved, seems to be credited with many instances where God sent angels or other forms of divine aid. Although reluctant to talk about them, his attitude was matter-of-fact and modest. Because of Lamy's religious vocation, it is easy to dismiss this incident as a story for the devout. Skeptics would not be moved.

    Yet I am fascinated simply by whether it could have happened, whether we can open the door and allow helpful angels into our reality, along with miracles, visions, prophecy, and ultimately that great outsider, God himself.

    We all know that a person can learn about life without religion. If I took a hundred newborn babies and filmed every moment of their lives from beginning to end, it wouldn't be possible to predict that the believers in God will turn out to be happier, wiser, or more successful than the nonbelievers. Yet the video camera cannot record what is happening below the surface. Someone who has experienced God may be looking on the entire world with wonder and joy. Is this experience real? Is it useful to our lives or just a subjective event, full of meaning to the person having it but otherwise no more practical than a dream?

    One bald fact stands at the beginning of any search for God. He leaves no footprints in the material world. From the very beginning of religion in the West, it was obvious that God had some kind of presence, known in Hebrew as Shekhinah. Sometimes this word is simply translated as "light" or radiance. Shekhinah formed the halos around angels and the luminous joy in the face of a saint. It was feminine, even though God, as interpreted in the Judeo-Christian tradition, is masculine. The significant fact about Shekhinah was not its gender, however. Since God is infinite, calling the deity He or She is just a human convention. Much more important was the notion that if God has a presence, that means he can be experienced. He can be known. This is a huge point, because in every other way God is understood to be invisible and untouchable. And unless some small part of God touches the material world, he will remain inaccessible forever.

    From the Hardcover edition.

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    What People are saying about this

    Larry King
    Larry King, host of Larry King Live, CNN
    One of the best books ever written about a subject that more people think about than anything else.
    Dalai Lama
    I congratulate Dr. Deepak Chopra for this wonderful book, reaching out to many, many readers, on the subject of spirituality but with a scientific approach.
    Ken Wilber
    This book, which unfolds the knowledge of God-consciousness, is at once a map of Spirit and a map of your own deepest Self.
    —(Ken Wilber, author of Integral Psychology)
    Andrew Weil
    Andrew Weil, M.D., director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona
    How to Know God is a profound and accessible exploration of the experience of God, including an understanding of it in biological and scientific terms. It is both fascinating and uplifting.
    Marianne Williamson
    Just when I think he can't go any deeper, he does. We have in our midst a spiritual genius.
    —(Marianne Williamson, author of Return to Love)
    Robert Thurman
    Robert Thurman, Ph.D., professor of religion, Columbia University
    The most important book about God for our times. This book is a magical stairway to ascend to a life-changing experience of the sacred.
    Candace Pert
    Deepak Chopra has really done it this time a brilliant, scholarly yet lyrical synthesis of neuroscience, quantum physics, personal reminiscence, and Eastern, Western, and spiritual thinking.
    —(Candace Pert, Ph.D., research professor, Georgetown University School of Medicine, and author of Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine)

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    How to Know God 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
    Old_Sage More than 1 year ago
    "How to Know GOD" is one of the first books that I read by Deepak Chopra. The book was a recommended read by someone that I have great respect for. My respect for them remains intact! To me, the subtitle, "The Soul's Journey into the Mystery of Mysteries," is indicative of where you need to be spiritually and mentally in order to fully appreciate the enlightenment that unfolds before you as you proceed from chapter to chapter. You need to be on a "journey" towards discovering the true essence of the purpose for your life. If there is a force that binds the nucleus of an atom together to create "you" and everything in existence, surely there is a purpose for your life. In this book, Dr. Chopra plays the role of "help-mate" by taking his knowledge of religion, quantum physics, and neuroscience to help you on your journey. If you are truly on a journey towards discovering the true essence of the purpose for your life, this book is a "must read." Knowledge is power, reading is fundamental, and life is a journey. Enjoy this book and your journey.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    Deepok deals with our world's most important subject--God. He explains that we are all directly connected to God---but that we somehow forget this. He also explains how this connection can be made outside of religion. This is a great book by a man I consider a prophet. He conveys a lot of truths and references many great religions, cultures and teachers---not just one. Mike Sale
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I have not completed this book , but is gives the reader many things to ponder and meditate on.Deepak Chopra has a very quite and peaceful way of look at our world and God and how we all fit into the scheme of things.. It quiets my mind and lifts my soul.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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    BlueGiantSun More than 1 year ago
    After the entire history of man with all of the war and blood shed, the fighting, hate and anger people still want to try to force everyones thinking to be what "their" thinking is. Deepak Chopra doesn't think like the religious schools in that he attempts to give a different view of God. All the talk of Jesus Crist and the Bible are also 'Hear say" because the only real proof of them is someones discription of them. As we know with all religion it is something pushed upon conquered lands by the stronger people, army, nations. This process eliminates the conquered peoples right to believe they did originally... the story of past-the reality of this moment. No matter what you believe It doesn't give you the right to tell me that I can't feel what ever way that I chose to about Deepak Chopra's Material. I think that it is a beautiful undertaking to investigate, use what is helpful and leave the rest. This isn't about forcing you to believe but for those who disagree it is their means of a justifiable soil for even more unrest. He attempts to show another vision to view God, from our minute sight, in all of the granduer that God emcompasses. Naming God is impossible and inffeable. His view is not from a religious standpoint but a personal one paralleled with scientific understanding on a PERSONAL LEVEL. I found it really good in that he stayed with his beliefs and never sounds preechy say like a...Bible. Don't get me wrong I think that ALL HOLY BOOKS have remnants of GOD within them but when those that believe in those specific books try and force/judge the rest of us for not believing what "They" believe is when they do the entire world a dis service. Man has evolved but his thinking is still primitive.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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    Guest More than 1 year ago
    This book was incredible in showing exactly as the title shows. I picked up the book skeptically seeming the task at hand would be imposible but Deepak Chopra used a wonderful blending of various religious wisdom to show how it can be possible. I've recommended it to everyone who's willing to take the next step.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    I love this book. It helped fill in the blanks and revolutionize my thinking. If you seek a deeper truth of man's existence and the reality of a supreme being, this is a great read.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    Deepak Chopra has taken Fundamentalist Christianity, Eastern Religions of Islam and Buddhism, Science and the modern spiritualism to which many people have been awakening, and made a valiant attempt to tie them all together. As a recent student of religion and spirituality, I found the book helped to crystallize ideas I had forming in my head as well as initiating other discoveries. I found myself at times blown away by the thoughts he evoked. He is a true intellectual who presents a well-rounded view of the deepest mysteries.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    With specific reference to this title - How to know God: The Soul's Journey into the Mysteries of Mysteries- In conjunction with the captioned, although I have been able to only glimpse through a prelude synopsis pertaining to this title, I feel a sense of pride to assert the following remarks in this specific context: Although, I do hope that I shall definitely have the opportunity to read this entire book, as an evenet may emerge corresponding to this title. This is certainly a proficiently creative workmanship of intellectual prowess that has been utilized to derive mutual benefit for universal harmony and a better rapport and understanding towards perceiving this most contentious thought about subject of life(s) and life time(s). Need I say more, words cannot narrate the extent of the degree of the considerable amount of enthusiastic perspective that this publishment has evoked. With Best Wishes for many more prospective intellectual titles and sincere best wishes for world peace, good health, happiness and greater understanding all around the world. Thank you for providing this opportunity to interact and share thoughts. Sincerely, Vashi Ramchand Chandiramani,
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    No one could have written this book except someone from within the "virtual domain," and Dr. Chopra has most certainly given us all the opportunity to merge our religious and spiritual beliefs and questions into a single understanding of God. Years of study alone could not give such joy, such hope, and such promise at a time when so many of us are searching to "find" God. He is truly a great Master here to guide many of us through his spiritual gift of writing.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    Deepak Chopra is the most amazing author in the world. His mind gives birth to thoughts that one wouldn't even think that the human mind is capable of. If I could go anywhere in this world, it would be inside this man's mind.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    This book is truley amazing. It talks about the seven stages in which a peson connects with god. I had realized half way through how much I strayed in my faith. This book is not only for Christians but for anyone who belives in a greater power. I know of four people who have been greatly impacted from this book including a buddist and a hidi friend of mine. This book is sure to inspire and touch the hearts of thousands for generations to come.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    i have ten or twelve of chopra's tapes, and i'm obviously a big fan. this was another great work. the man spits them out like brian wilson of the beach boys writes songs. however, in this unabridged version it seems some chapters are given short shrift. i wished there was more detail given to such things as synchronicity. this is the first one of his works that i could actually tell was edited. i probably should read the book also. after five hours of audio he still whets the appitite for more.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    This book opens your heart & soul to the truth of what we are all looking for.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Seriously, this tiny book is smaller than the palm of your hand. As for the content, I didn't find it interesting or helpful. Dr. Chopra is a prolific writer, but I have yet to find much substance in his pretty words.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    They say the brain is hardwired to believe in God. Actually, we believe in God due to habit, not evidence, not reason, not choice. We still live in a stupid society that thinks 'God', a total unknown mysterious piece of squish, is the answer to hard questions like 'Who am I? How did I get here? What is the meaning of life? Is there life after death?' This is answering the unknown with the unknown and is seriously bogus logic. I could have written a book 'How To Know Unicorns' and could have used the same exact logic as Deepak Chopra who hides his Hindu based malarky behind his multitude of degrees and titles. Ayurveda, his Hindu style medicine promises practitioners of life 200, 300 or more years. In fact, Deepak informs us elsewhere, that the human body actually has no termination date, no end except that people eat wrong, exercize wrong. And this is science? Had Deepak Chopra, a supposedly educated man ever heard of Telemeres? In The Chicken Soup series, an essay by Deepak Chopra about his daughter informs us with a serious tone that Hindu idols actually drink milk! What a miracle! What malarky! This book is another of his con-games designed with only one purpose in mind. Make lotsa lotsa money and build mega mega empire, and gain biga biga influence so you can appear at $25,000 or more a hit on talk shows, which also promote your books! Let's get one thing clear, Mr. Deepak Chopra like other charlatans from India like Mahesh Maharishi Yogi and Bhagwan Sri Rajneesh is no fool. These guys know that Americans are sick and tired of Xian hogwash. But do they replace it with education, freethought and reason? No they replace fundamentalist claptrap with either New Ager, or Old Age superstitions. Science education, meanwhile in the good ol' USA lags behind every developed country in the world, and falls far behind many developing nations. Go ahead and buy this book and his others and pay for his vacation to San Tropez, while impoverishing yourself, and filling your head with pleasant sounding drivel. This is all a pipe dream. Let's see if Mr. Chopra lives beyond 100, much less 200, or 300 as he ought to if his 'divine' principles had any validity. But then he knows his critics won't be around either 100 years from now.