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Ireland must forgive the church in order to find peace, says guru

Deepak Chopra tells Niamh Horan that people should judge less but must keep on asking big questions about the meaning of life

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DEEPAK CHOPRA: Prolific speaker and author is followed by millions of people around the world seeking spiritual enlightenment. Picture: Getty

DEEPAK CHOPRA: Prolific speaker and author is followed by millions of people around the world seeking spiritual enlightenment. Picture: Getty

DEEPAK CHOPRA: Prolific speaker and author is followed by millions of people around the world seeking spiritual enlightenment. Picture: Getty

One of the world's leading spiritual thinkers, Deepak Chopra, has told the people of Ireland to forgive the Catholic Church for the sake of their own peace of mind. Mr Chopra, who as a young boy was taught by Irish Christian Brothers, said it would be part of the nation's healing.

His words come after the recent visit here by Pope Francis caused the country to question its future relationship with the Catholic Church.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr Chopra said: "Despite all the mishaps in the church that have occurred, let us not forget that the church has also done some amazing things. It has carried out humanitarian work and brought a lot of alleviation to human suffering, especially in impoverished countries.

"But like any other institution, the church is made of human beings and human beings are not infallible. They have both the divine, the diabolical, the sacred and the profane. So let's be a little more tolerant, less judgmental, while we seek justice for those who were abused."

He also said: "Let's have measured forgiveness because when forgiveness occurs, healing occurs. You don't forgive necessarily because the other person deserves forgiveness - you forgive because you deserve peace.

"And that's the most important thing that we need right now if we collectively want to embark on a more peaceful, just, sustainable, healthier and joyful world. We need to expand our awareness and dream together."

The prolific speaker and author of 85 books - 25 of which hit The New York Times best-seller list - is followed by millions of people around the world seeking spiritual enlightenment. He has been lauded by Oprah and is seen by many as a spiritual thinker for the millennial age. His daily meditation videos are watched by millions as part of a trend towards meditation practice.

A 2009 survey found that 72pc of US millennials (18- to 29-year-olds) say they're spiritual but not religious.

The phrase is now so prevalent that it has been likened to a movement. It has even given rise to its own acronym ("I'm SBNR").

Mr Chopra also advised the young of Ireland to keep asking 'the big questions' in life. He said even if you don't identify as being religious, it was "still very important to be spiritually aware and that means being aware of your inner-most self. To constantly ask yourself: 'Who am I?' 'What do I want?' 'What is my purpose?' 'What am I grateful for?' 'How can I find that part of me which is also part of the divine?'

On his relationship with Ireland, he said he has been visiting for 30 years. "I feel very close to the Irish people. I did go to an Irish Christian Brothers school so I have a lot of deep connections with the Irish people."

Speaking about the malaise in a younger generation, he said: "I think the world is in turmoil because of social and economic justice because of war, terrorism, eco-destruction, climate change.

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"This is a time of turbulence but also a time for transformation, so hang in there and let's all collectively work towards a more joyful and healthier and aspirational world."

Mr Chopra once wrote of his education: "In India I was educated as a boy by Irish Christian Brothers, because my parents believed that their schools were the best. The Christian Brothers were gentle propagandists. We boys accepted them as friends, but we also knew that our teachers would be delighted if we converted to Catholicism."

He added: "I was inspired by Jesus, even as I went through several turbulent phases later in life, from idealist to agnostic, before adopting scientific medicine as my faith, and eventually becoming what I'd call a practising idealist."

Mr Chopra was a speaker at the Pendulum Summit in New York last week.


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