October 5, 2010

Gotham Chopra on man’s best friends…and best teachers

Posted: 01:36 PM ET

Deepak Chopra’s son, Gotham Chopra, spoke to LKL Blog about his new book: “Walking Wisdom: Three Generations, Two Dogs, and the Search for a Happy Life.”  It’s an observation about relationships, life and how to find inspiration from, of all places, your pets.

LKL Blog:  You talk about your influences in the book, your dad, teachers, mentors…and your dog.  A lot of people love their pets but probably don't look at their dog as inspiration.  How did you come to find that?

Gotham Chopra:  It's sort of a playful take on everything.  And in my family, certainly my father is looked to have answers for everything.  And I think I got to a stage in my life where I started to examine some of these questions myself. 

The first person I went to was my father.  But as I listened and learned certain things from him or reflected on them, Cleo, this dog we've had, has sort of lived many of those examples for many years.  So it became a fun process – myself, my father, my son and the dog – in these conversations.  It’s lighthearted and fun.  And the more I asked other people about things in their own lives and stories – you know people are very, very passionate about their pets – and so it became fun to hear what other people had to say and to hear their stories.  So I wasn't alone in feeling that there are certain qualities to be learned from our pets.

LKL Blog:  Not everyone has Deepak Chopra for a father, someone who can find inspiration in unlikely places.  Give us some examples of what people take away from their pets, maybe something they haven't paid attention to?

Gotham Chopra:  I’ve started to describe this book as a book about relationships – whether it's with siblings or parents or pets.  And so when I started to ask other people, I found everyone has stories.  For example, people who have lost loved ones or endured breakups in relationships – while we have conflicted relationships between humans to humans, there's sort of this devotion, loyalty and unconditional love we get from our pets.  That’s where you start to realize you get to "just be" with your pet, not feel judged, not feel antagonized.  Those are sort of interesting lessons. 

LKL Blog:  The subtitle of the book is: ‘Three generations, two dogs and the search for happiness in your life.’  Where are you with that?  Are you still searching?  Are you happy?

Gotham Chopra:  I’m happy but I think happiness for people of my generation, it's a never ending search.  It’s moment to moment.  We had contemplated many subtitles and I think "the path to happiness" was one of them at some point.  But I really fought against that because I thought it was way too presumptuous for me at my age – with still having things I want to do – to say that I found the path or that I’ve found happiness.  So I think it's still more of a search and it sort of defines the path, so to speak. 

I’m fortunate because of my family and how close I am with my family.  And it's all about enjoying and indulging in those moments, but not feeling completely satisfied.  The point at which life stops being exciting, it turns into something rather banal.  So I’m still on the journey.

LKL Blog:  The stories you tell of your dad in this book, he's a figure to millions of people obviously, but to see him not so much as a spiritual leader but more as "comic relief" in this book, it’s interesting.

Gotham Chopra:  That's a good way to describe it.  I think a big part of this book and where I am in general in my life, is decoding my father.  And I think part of that is just personally now being a father myself.  But part of it is just getting to a stage in life, a maturity, where I’m more comfortable – it hasn't always been easy to live in that shadow – but I find now that I have my own family, I really want to one, understand him better and two, help him understand himself better.  He talks about being at that stage in his life where he's reflecting a lot and says 'the whole world comes to me looking for answers, but you know, I have questions.'  

Click here to learn more about “Walking Wisdom” or share stories about your own life and your pet

Proceeds from the sale of “Walking Wisdom” will benefit, an organization provides food for rescue animals living in shelters.

Filed under: LKL Web Exclusive

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Laprince48   October 5th, 2010 3:03 pm ET

I really enjoy this blog on your new book, now I have to buy it, so I can learn more. Thank you very much for sharing!

missmikette   October 6th, 2010 1:22 am ET

Stumbled on this Blog while watching LKL tonight with Liza Minnelli;
and so apropos with what I am personally going through in my life.
I'm losing a loved one of 13 years and yes, its a dog being named Dakota with whom Ive become very attached of late due to his spinal disease with no cure.
Gotham Chopra has this right about the special magical moments on our paths similar to the Journey, not the destination.
Relationships are difficult as they are a give and take and never equal.
However the unconditional love that we receive from our animals is reassuring as in reality we are being accepted for exactly who we are and this affirms our identity aka ' Self' in this World.
Its always the Magical undefinable moments that we remember not necessarily the days that make up the years in our Life. Thank you Gotham for having the immense courage with your new book on man's best friends and best teachers . Although you are on a similar path as your Father; you are clearly on your own Path and your sensitivity shines through with sharing these magical moments . I look forward to reading your new book as its about a place that so many of us share. Thank you ever so much.

Jessie from Auckland, NZ   October 6th, 2010 4:46 am ET

I love my cat alright.

Jessie from Auckland, NZ   October 16th, 2010 4:14 am ET

This sounds a very good book and will make for interesting reading.

Yes and our dear pets can be like our therapists or sounding boards. You talk to them and they will listen and seemingly understand you. I suspect they can sense things like what mood you are in and even show their liking to your choice of music. They are highly tuned creatures and more intelligent than we give them credit for. They are indeed man's best friend, especially dogs. Cats will have to come a close second I think. They give you their unconditional love and ask for little in return.

We lost our dear ginger tomcat almost 1&1/2 years ago. He wondered into our place one day out of the blue and never left us. I said I wouldn't be having another cat, but my daughter insisted on getting another one, as she missed coming home from work to no cat to hug and make her feel better each day. She was quite depressed until she got a cat again. This is the effect it had on her. To this day, we are still missing that ginger tom, but happy with the new one.

Thank you for this book. God bless you!

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