Family Dynamic: Deepak Chopra reflects on how family has changed him
Photograph by Aaron Landman
We visted with Deepak Chopra a year after son Gotham’s documentary, Decoding Deepak, opened a window on the spiritual icon’s private life.
How has it affected you to have grandchildren?
Deepak: Over the years, I’ve gradually detached from material success to more meaning, more purpose, gradually detached from the profit-oriented activities of the Chopra Center to the nonprofit activities.
And I’m beginning to detach in my mind from the idea of being here all the time. I’m 66. everybody gets old, and everybody dies. But I’m not yet detached from the grandchildren; that’s one area in my life where there is a lot of emotional intensity. In the other areas of my life there is passion, but there is also some kind of sobriety and detachment—if it doesn’t work out, I’m not attached to the outcome. But with the babies I am—I want to be there.
What about you? How did having a child change you?
Gotham: I think your perspective changes. All of a sudden, your point of view on the world shifts, and it does sort of wake you up. We are incredibly fortunate and privileged and are able to give that privilege to our children, but a majority of children don’t have that, and I think you become a little bit more alert to that.
How has your motivation to make a difference in the world changed over the years?
Deepak: I was very idealistic when I was in medical school. We had the feminist movement, the peace movement; there were protests against Vietnam, Nixon was being (investigated), and the antinuclear movement had started. So I thought, when I was young and idealistic, in 10 years the world is going to change. Not only did it not change, it regressed: so many countries created nuclear weapons and joined the club, ecological devastation went rampant, there were more wars.
So what happened?
Deepak: In hindsight, I realized we were all just angry activists.
At some point you have to say, hey, the only person you can change is yourself, and that’s hard enough. But (now) I think it’s fomenting. People today are saying, ‘I have to change,’ and their kids definitely get it—at least in our house.
The other day, my 11-year-old granddaughter asked me, “Nana, is climate change going to affect my generation?” And I had to say, “Yeah, it is.” And she said, “Then we have to take care of it.” My granddaughter—11 years old. And I said to myself, “OK, this is the generation. “