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Deepak Chopra at the Rubin Museum of Art

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Deepak Chopra, photo courtesy of DeepakChopra.com

Dr. Deepak Chopra will be the guest of honor at this year's annual Nine Rivers Gala at the Rubin Museum of Art. The gala dinner menu will be created by renowned Indian chef, Vikas Khanna and will be executed by chef Ali Loukzada from the Starr organization. The RMA is dedicated to the art of the Himalayas and is a natural fit for Dr. Chopra's eclectic spiritualism. We had a conversation about art recently at Deepak HomeBase at ABC in New York City.

You just took a tour of the Rubin Museum of Art -- how was it?

It was a great experience. It's not often you get to see art in such a beautiful, spiritual setting and the collection has a deeply personal feeling to it. I love the place.

What do you think people should know before they go to see Himalayan art?

I don't think you need to know anything. Art involves archetypes that resonate within you whether you are educated about it or not and whether you even want it to or not. You just need to go and let yourself feel it. All art is for everyone.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

I have many that I love but from India, one of my very favorites is M. F. Hussain.

Do you know many artists?

Yes. Many of my friends are artists. I feel an affinity for them. Especially musical artists. George Harrison and Michael Jackson were great friends.

Why do you think tyrants and bureaucrats fear art?

Art is extremely powerful because it acts directly on your consciousness and it makes it impossible to control people. Art always becomes more important when society becomes unstable. At its most powerful it can start a revolution. This is why dictators try to destroy it. But you can never destroy art because it is constantly being recreated. The people who try to destroy art are in a very low state of being. You can go and see great works of art all over the world that have changed our human experience and it has been impossible to destroy the ideas that they represent.

"Deepak Chopra: The Role of the Artist in Society"

Picasso said: "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist when he grows up."

That's true. It is natural and even necessary for us all to give expression to the artist within because it is an essential part of our being. Too many of us are boondoggled by a society that teaches us to value achievement over experience. The proper occupation of our lives is in learning, loving and living in harmony. When you don't have art in your life, something essential within you dies.

Can I give you one more quote?

Sure. Why not.

Thomas Merton: "Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time."

Art is paradoxical in the sense that it includes both the sacred and the profane and it allows us to give expression to things we can't name. It goes beyond the rational mind. Art is for the feeling mind and science is for the rational mind. We need both to have a full life. By letting go you are able to access the divinity within you and you then are able to find your true self.

Do you think anything was lost when Western Art diverged from religion?

I don't think so. All art is still about trying to reach beyond the mundane experience. All art, literature, poetry, visual arts and music... it all comes from the same place. I don't think anything is ever lost. It might be forgotten for a time but eventually it is rediscovered.

Are organized religions in trouble today?

Yes, I think they are. Particularly due to the actions of the extreme right wing. By becoming too involved in politics and self-perpetuation they fail to fully engage their followers. This is why people seek out new spiritual practices to fill the void they feel within.

How can I get my children more engaged in art?

The important thing is not to tell them about it but rather to ask them about it. If you approach them with sincere curiosity about what they're thinking and feeling then they will become more interested. They are naturally artists already; you just have to approach them honestly about it.

What should we do to let our elected officials know that we want our government to continue supporting community based arts?

Rebel through art.

I have a teenaged stepdaughter who wants to know how you became friends with Lady Gaga.

She came to me originally to learn how to meditate. As we got to know each other better she began to tell me about terrible nightmares that she was having. I encouraged her to begin using those images in her creative process and it seems to have helped.

How does one evolve from needing a guru to being a guru?

I don't think of myself as a guru. I'm just a man standing in his shower and singing his song. If other people want to listen, that's fine. I'm not a guru.

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Deepak Chopra with Lady Gaga, photo courtesy of DeepakChopra.com

The Nine Rivers Gala takes place on October 16th at the Rubin Museum of Art.