Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Weakness, Vanity, and Cruelty: A Glimpse into the Moral Dementia of Deepak Chopra

Honestly, how does someone become as morally confused as Deepak Chopra? What is the source of such an enfeebled ability to reason in the realm of morality? It's not just that he's wrong--rather, it is that he reverses good and evil, right and wrong, decent and indecent. So it's more than just ignorance. It's some kind of active process that is "jamming" his conscience and making it dysfunctional. It is a moral dementia.

Chopra's latest contribution over at Huffington Post is entitled "The Trail from Munich," as pompous, sanctimonious and self-righteous a review of Spielberg's new film as you could imagine. The "trail" he is referring to is the trail that leads directly from Palestinian massacre of the Israeli Olympic athletes in 1972 to the attacks of 9/11. Yes, that trail. What, you didn't know about that trail? It's the trail that was blazed by our "eye-for-an-eye approach to terrorism" that began in Munich 33 years ago.

You see, it's all our fault. The problem began not with the terrorists, but with our response to them. This is logical--no different than how crime is caused by police, ignorance is caused by education, and disease is caused by doctors.

For Chopra, the film depicts, "with sickeningly convincing brutality, how tragically that approach has failed." Follow the holy man's paradoxical reasoning closely here. You see, the terrorists have not failed. Rather, it is our "sickeningly brutal response" to the terrorists that has failed.

The message of Munich "is that we are still on the road of endless violence and that the War on Terror, no matter how many jihadists are killed, will become our own paralyzing nightmare." Exactly. Just like World War II. No matter how many nazis we killed, it just turned into our own paralyzing nightmare.

Chopra continues:

"I'm sure audiences will be surprised at how detailed and serious the morality in this film is." (In other words, we will be surprised how much it mirrors Chopra's deranged view of the world.) He states, "The motives of the Black September terrorists are credible: they want their homeland back, they want reprisal for Palestinians killed by Israel, and they want the world to notice them."

Got that? The Palestinians are morally serious and credible people. When they engage in unprovoked warfare and deliberately murder innocents just to be "noticed by the world," their motives make perfect sense.

"But unlike the terrorists," the Israelis "do not achieve [their] aims." Avner, the ex-Mossad agent who heads the assassination squad is a "morally corrupt man" who is "disowned by civilization." Not only that, but he "stands for us, the 'good' people who set out to destroy the 'evil' people, who in turn believe that they are good and we are evil." You see, in Chopra's twisted moral world, no one is good or evil except people who believe in good and evil (with the exception of Chopra, who clearly believes that people who fight evil, especially when they are conservatives, are evil).

What does the morally retarded holy man advise? We need "to see equality between Arabs and Israelis, not in terms of right and wrong, but in terms of two opponents equally victimized by hatred." No one is right and no one is wrong, except for people who believe there is no excuse for terror. Israelis who are victimized by Palestinian terror are in actuality victimized by their hatred of the terror. Get it?

But "Insofar as right-wing factions in this country drag us into a war against evil, we will also be victimized, and our claim to be civilized will weaken bit by bit." So here in America, we're all actually victims of George Bush, who has victimized us by turning us into barbarians who want to fight evil.

Again, where does this perverse morality come from? It doesn't come from the Judeo-Christian tradition. Perhaps surprisingly, it doesn't come from orthodox Hinduism or Vedanta either. The Bhagavad Gita, probably the most revered teaching in Hinduism, takes the form of a dialogue between a frightened warrior, Arjuna, and the incarnate god, Krishna. Arjuna is afraid to do what needs to be done, telling Krishna,

Knower of all things,
Though they should slay me,
How could I harm them?
I cannot wish it:
Never, never....
Evil though they may be,
Worst of the wicked,
Yet if we kill them
Our sin is greater....
Let them come with their weapons
Against me in battle:
I shall not struggle,
I shall not strike them.
Now let them kill me,
That would be better.

Krishna's response:

"You ought not to hesitate; for to a warrior, there is nothing nobler than a righteous war. But if you refuse to fight in this righteous war, you will be turning aside from your duty. You will be a sinner, and disgraced.... Your enemies will also slander your courage....

"Shake off this fever of ignorance.... Be free from the sense of ego. Dedicate your actions to me. Then go forward and fight."

Krishna's response suggests that Arjuna, as noble as his pacifist sentiments might appear on the surface, is actually motivated by cowardice and by ego. Interestingly, this is exactly the conclusion drawn by the great Indian philosopher and sage Sri Aurobindo, in his celebrated Essays on the Gita. Aurobindo writes that the Gita "does not preach indifference to good and evil for the ordinary life of man, where such a doctrine would have the most pernicious consequences." He dismisses the notion that human beings are at a stage in their evolution that they can use "soul-force" alone to stop evil, as knaves like Chopra and Gandhi would have it. In the face of "soul force," the evil "in men and nations tramples down, breaks, slaughters, burns, pollutes." Resort to passive resistance and "you have perhaps caused as much destruction of life by your abstinence as others by resort to violence."

"A day may come, must surely come, when humanity will be ready spiritually, morally, socially for the reign of universal peace; meanwhile the aspect of battle and the nature and function of man as a fighter have to be accepted and accounted for by any practical philosophy of religion."

And here is the key: for it is not "compassion which actuates Arjuna in the rejection of his work and mission. That is not compassion but an impotence full of weak self-pity, a recoil from the mental suffering which his act must entail on himself.... Its pity for others is also a form of self-indulgence... This pity is a weakness of the mind and senses,--a weakness which may well be beneficial to men of a lower grade of development, who have to be weak because otherwise they will be hard and cruel; for they have to cure the harsher by the gentler forms of egoism."

Aha! So that's where the preening, narcissistic, and self-indulgent morality of the left comes from! Or as it says in the Talmud, "those who are kind to the cruel will be cruel to the kind."


Anonymous said...

- all the Irgun and Stern Gang men are rolling over in their graves, and have been for some time now -

Anonymous said...

"Resort to passive resistance and "you have perhaps caused as much destruction of life by your abstinence as others by resort to violence."

This makes me think of John Kerry and the other vietnam protestors, who, by stopping the war, caused the death of 2 million and the imprisonment and misery of millions more.

I think I'll get a copy of the Essays on the Gita to use for ammo next time I visit my hari krishna sister.

Anonymous said...

What Gagdad Bob said. And another thing about Chopra, whenever I see him give a workshop on PBS, it's just so obvious that he thinks he's a sex symbol because he has a slight resemblance to Cary Grant, and his admirers probably tell him that. Yeah, except Cary Grant wasn't pudgy.

Chris said...

out of curiosity, whatever happened to "turn the other cheek?" Was Jesus morally corrupt too? I'm not trying to dispute your point, it's both well said and fairly balanced, but I guess I'm wondering if you think that ALL disputes of this magnitude require violence or if sometimes the kind actions of an enemy (say, feeding the Iraqi people instead of bombing them) would do more to ease terrorism. I guess I'm not sure WHERE I stand on the issue of violence and am still seeking an answer, but I thought I should at least ask the question.

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