Unconditional Life: Mastering the Forces that Shape Personal Reality

Unconditional Life: Mastering the Forces that Shape Personal Reality

by Deepak Chopra,
M.D.; Bantam, 1991.

Deepak Chopra, described in a recent issue of Publishers Weekly as one of the most popular practitioners and authors in the “wholeness school of health,” assumes in Unconditional Life a positive attitude that does not discredit other approaches to the treatment of disease processes and patients' various health complaints.

Chopra's fields of medical practice are alternative medicine and endocrinology. He maintains that complete healing depends upon the individual's ability to “stop struggling.” This is exemplified throughout the book, which in essence is a collection of narrative passages taken from case histories of his own patients and some of his colleagues' patients. One anecdote flows casually into another, frequently with dialogues on the mind-body approach which Chopra applies to his cancer patients, patients with so-called incurable diseases or injuries, and others suffering from personality problems.

Aside from his medical training, Chopra is a highly perceptive and not ably sensitive practitioner who feels the pain of his patient s and empathizes with their reactions to their own suffering. The reader gets the feeling that Chopra suffers along with his patients, yet exhibits control over each conference-room interaction. His writing is lightened and enhanced by frequent quotations from great literary figures of the past such as Tagore, Wordsworth, Thoreau, Tennyson, Frost, and Yeats.

Having grown up in New Delhi and having been educated in both India and the United States, Chopra is able to apply both Eastern and Western modes of healing and of interrelating the healing of the emotions and the spirit with the restoration of physical well-being or improvement of status.

Chopra recommends meditation to his patients, and he himself practices Transcendental Meditation. He states that in English the “classic description” of meditation is in the writings of William Wordsworth in poems such as “Tintern Abbey.” He attributes the healing of many patients to their having engaged in meditation over a period of years. He finds that in addition the showering of “loving attention” on a wound, even for muscle regeneration, can bring astonishingly favorable results.

Chopra devotes sufficient space to the Bhagavad-Gita to introduce the central dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna to Westerners unfamiliar with this classic, and to define significant Sanskrit terms. He devotes a passage to yoga as one means to search for the knower and to become liberated from pain and suffering. Chopra is cognizant of the problems that people in the Western world have in accepting such ideas as that there is life in everything. His own explanation is that the same stream of life once flowed through every thing. Thus, we should not be skeptical about mysterious forces functioning in healing.

Always, to Chopra, the patient is capable of making a choice. Through exercises, patients can learn to control their thoughts of fear and anxiety, so that they concentrate on the space between thoughts and seeing past their problems. Early in his practice, Chopra began to observe in his office patients in whom physical and mental states had become severely “disjointed.” This fragmented state, says Chopra, seems to be best alleviated through the use of meditation. He continually accepts pain and suffering as real, stating that many of his patients have been to other doctors before being referred to him and have been subjected to negative approaches to health care.

Readers should find this book fascinating and will gain new insight into disease manifestations and the alleviation of pain and suffering. It is rare to find a book on the subject of disease written in lay person terms throughout that is also compelling from beginning to end.


Winter 1992