i n t e g r a l   c o u n s e l i n g   i n s t i t u t e

                        e n e r g i z i n g    t r a n s f o r m a t i o n    t  h r o u g h    i n q u i r y ,   i n s i g h t ,   a n d   i n t e g r a t i o n


                   May/June 2007 Book Review and Quotes Archive




                     LIFE   AFTER   DEATH

                    The   Burden   of   Proof


                                                                      By Deepak Chopra

                                                                   Harmony Books 2006



I take this to be Deepak’s forty-first book counting from his authored and co-authored list, which comes after thirteen

pages of  “Praise for Life and Death”.  The printed praise comes from authors alphabetized from physicist Amit

Goswami, guru and publisher Andrew Cohen, columnist Ariana Huffington to Victor Chan of the Dalai Center for

Peace and Education and filmmaker Ward Powers.  I mention this because it makes it so clear that Deepak has the

system for producing books in the bag.  In that sense I am reminded of a story about Thomas Edison becoming

frustrated that some of his creations were too far ahead of their time.  He decided, simply, not to invent anything

that did not have a ready market.


And a ready market there is.  I’m not cynical about this topic and I believe, as Deepak says, that he was urged to

write this book. I, myself, have noticed death coming more frequently to my fellow baby boomers now that so many

members of the ‘greatest generation’ have found their eternal repose.  And, having dodged death myself more than

a time or two, consider it with both resolution and curiosity. 


 My personal observation is that there have been perhaps three waves of death themed books in the last sixty or so

years.  The first being exposes of the business of dying in death-denying America.  The second, perhaps, epitomized

by at least the early work of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross dealing with compassion and honesty in dying.  And the third wave,

for which Life After Death may be a kind of icon.


Deepak Chopra is a master storyteller.  And I must say I enjoyed this book from beginning to end for its style and structure.

Raised in India and steeped in Vedic tradition, he was tutored by Jesuit scholars, and then trained as a medical doctor

working in emergency rooms.  He has moved far beyond those beginnings now.  He weaves, in this book, a charming tale

about a woman who learns to win a bet with death as a cliffhanging page-turner for his digressions in philosophy,

contemporary studies in consciousness, quantum physics, psychic research, and Vedanta - the traditional teaching of the

rishis – “the sages of Vedic India”.

 It is almost too much.  The points of view and overlaps and perspective shifts between metaphor, anecdote, speculation,

and objectivity.  Often, this is exactly the point of his content – that categories of observation and experience do, indeed,

merge. The “Burden of Proof” should be on those who selectively choose their data.  On the other hand, it is also a well

written introduction to many facets of the inquiry into the nature of death and life, useful as a personal map to chart the

connectivity of your own inquiry.


Among interesting chapters worth noting was a brief summary of the work of Dr. Pim van Lommel, a Dutch cardiologist

and researcher in near death experience.  I was fortunate enough to have heard Dr. Lommel Speak at the 2006

Toward a Science of Consciousness Conference in Tucson.  I recommend his article on the website of the

International Association for the Study of Near Death Experiences for a deeper reading:



                                  May/June Quotes of the Month



“When people wonder if the personality survives death, the answer is that the personality doesn’t even survive

while we are alive.” - Deepak Chopra, Life After Death – The Burden of Proof 



“According to the India of my childhood, we don’t choose our next incarnation voluntarily, but an element of choice

does come into play.  The degree of choice you have depends on how clearly you can view yourself in the astral

plane.  This faculty called witnessing, is comparable to what we experience here and now.  Those who have the

least freedom of choice are driven by obsessions, compulsions addictions and unconscious impulses.  To the

extent that you become free of these, you have more choice.  The same is true of a soul contemplating its next

physical incarnation.” - Deepak Chopra, Life After Death – The Burden of Proof 



“The Christian brothers who taught me loved to talk about what life would be like in heaven, and for them God’s home

was as real and solid as any building in Delhi.  The swamis and yogis agreed with that, but only because they believed

that Spirit permeates every plane of existence.  Depending on your level of awareness, you project you own heavens,

hells, and purgatories to work through on the physical plane as well as astral planes.” - Deepak Chopra, Life After

Death  – The Burden of Proof



“Is it possible that medicine has all the answers after all?  Dr. van Lommel, who conducted the Dutch study of near-death

experiences, doesn’t think so.  He screened 344 patients whose heart had defibrillated (gone into chaotic twitching

instead of a normal regular heartbeat) in the hospital.  Talking to them within days of being revived, van Lommel

discovered that anesthesia or medications didn’t affect their experience.  What he marvels most at, however, are those

reports of consciousness in the absence of brain activity.  Years afterward this paradox still fills hi with awe:  “At that

moment these people are not only conscious; their consciousness is even more expansive than ever.  They can think

extremely clearly, have memories going back to their earliest childhood and experience an intense connection with

everything and everyone around them.  Any yet the brain shows no activity at all!” - Deepak Chopra, Life After Death –

The Burden of Proof




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