Dr. Chopra, 64, who grew up in New Delhi and moved to the United States in 1968 to further his studies in medicine, is the author of more than 55 books, including The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, How to Know God and The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire: Harnessing the Infinite Power of Coincidence. He is also the co-founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, Calif. On Tuesday, Harmony Books will release The War of the Worldviews, in which Chopra and physicist Leonard Mlodinow debate the argument between science and God. And at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Chopra will appear at Carol Morsani Hall at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. After his presentation, "Healing, Transformation and Higher Consciousness,'' the author will hold a book signing. (See Book Talk for details.)
What's on your nightstand?
I'm reading two books. The View From the Center of the Universe: Discovering Our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos by Joel R. Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams, this is a book about a new interpretation of the universe, and why we on Planet Earth are actually at the center of the universe. The other is Aleph by my friend Paulo Coelho, a novel. The first is a book on the scientific uncertainty of humanity . . . the second is a journey of spiritual awakening.
Do you call yourself a citizen of India? America? I expect to hear you say you consider yourself a citizen of the world . . .
A citizen of the world is too small. The cosmic identity is the only identity worth having. . . . You are literally the dust of stars that comes together in life and space and time. That's a cosmic identity.
As that cosmic citizen, what books would you wish to hand the typical American?
Americans have been used to a life of comfort. Now Americans are in a particular crisis because of the economic crisis, the fact they are losing jobs, the fact we are fighting three wars, the fact there is a lot of polarization in the political climate. Politicians are behaving with belligerence. . . . Instead of handing them a book, I'd encourage them to rather try to find a deeper understanding of their immense potential as a human being, for inspiration, creativity. I'd like them to choose a deeper understanding of their purpose in life and the relationships they can have.
I understand that as a child, you read Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis, which helped you decide to become a doctor. Would you encourage kids today to read authors like Lewis?
It was Sinclair Lewis and also W. Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge and Of Human Bondage. . . . As child I also loved reading Rudyard Kipling and Mark Twain. . . . But, if anyone wants to know the human condition and its complexities, then they should read Shakespeare.
Any particular Shakespeare plays?
He deals with comedy, tragedy . . . all of life's dilemmas . . . I encourage people to read all 37 of his plays.
Times staff writer Piper Castillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.