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Excerpted from How to Know God  by Deepak Chopra. Copyright © 1999 by Deepak Chopra. Excerpted by permission of Harmony, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 


"The experience of God feels like flying. It feels as if I'm walking above the ground with such equilibrium that nothing can sway me from my path."

Deepak Chopra, How to Know God, Part 4

When saints go almost mad with rapture, we find their expressions both baffling and yet very understandable. Although we have all gotten used to the absence of the sacred, we appreciate that journeys into the transition zone, the layer closer to God, continue to happen.

The experience of God feels like flying. It feels as if I'm walking above the ground with such equilibrium that nothing can sway me from my path. It's like being the eye of the storm. I see without judgment or opinion. I just watch as everything passes in and out of my awareness like clouds.(1)

This uplifting experience, which is common to saints and mystics, is the record of a quantum journey. There are no known physical mechanisms that trigger it, yet feeling close to God occurs in every age, among all peoples. We're all capable of going beyond our material bonds, yet we often fail to value this ability. Although we hear in church or temple or mosque that God is love, he doesn't seem to exert much passionate attraction anymore.

I don't believe saints and mystics are really so different from other human beings. If we look at our reality sandwich, the transition zone turns out to be subjective: This is where God's presence is felt or seen. Anything subjective must involve the brain, since it takes millions of neurons firing together before you can have any experience.

Now our search has narrowed down in a way that looks very promising: God's presence, his light, becomes real if we can translate it into a response of the brain, which I will call the "God response." We can get even more specific. Holy visions and revelations aren't random. They fall into seven definite events taking place inside the brain. These responses are much more basic than your beliefs, but they give rise to beliefs. They bridge from our world to an invisible domain where matter dissolves and spirit emerges:

1. Fight-or-flight response: the response that enables us to survive in the face of danger. This response is linked to a God who wants to protect us. He is like a parent who looks out for the safety of a small child. We turn to this God because we need to survive.

2. Reactive response: this is the brain's creation of a personal identity. Beyond mere survival, everyone pursues the needs of "I, me, mine." We do this instinctively, and from this response a new God emerges, one who has power and might, laws and rules. We turn to this God because we need to achieve, accomplish, and compete.

3. Restful awareness response: the brain can be active or at rest, and this is its response when it wants peace. Rest and activity alternate in every part of the brain. The divine equivalent is a God who brings peace, who enables us to find a calm center in the midst of outward chaos. We turn to this God because we need to feel that the outer world isn't going to swallow us up in its endless turmoil.

4. Intuitive response: the brain looks for information both inside and out. Outer knowledge is objective, but inner knowledge is intuitive. No one checks with an expert outside themselves before saying "I am happy" or "I am in love." We rely on our ability to know ourselves from the inside out. The God that matches this response is understanding and forgiving. We need him to validate that our inner world is good.

5. Creative response: the human brain can invent new things and discover new facts. This creative ability apparently comes from nowhere -- the unknown simply gives birth to a new thought. We call this inspiration, and its mirror is a Creator who made the whole world from nothing. We turn to him out of our wonder at the beauty and formal complexity of Nature.

6. Visionary response: the brain can directly contact "the light," a form of pure awareness that feels joyful and blessed. This contact can be bewildering, because it has no roots in the material world. It comes as a vision, and the God that matches it is exalted -- he delivers healing and miracles. We need such a God to explain why magic can exist side by side with ordinary mundane reality.

7. Sacred response: the brain was born from a single fertilized cell that had no brain functions in it, only a speck of life. Even though a hundred billion neurons developed from that speck, it remains intact in all its innocence and simplicity. The brain senses this as its source and origin. To match it, there is a God of pure being, one who doesn't think but just is. We need him because without a source, our existence has no foundation at all.

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