(Chopra quotes from article in italics.)
"There are traditions that say the in-body experience is a socially induced collective hallucination. We do not exist in the body. The body exists in us. We do not exist in the world. The world exists in us.""There are traditions that say the in-body experience is a socially induced collective hallucination. We do not exist in the body. The body exists in us. We do not exist in the world. The world exists in us."
I would differ from Chopra only in his interpretation that the hallucination is socially-induced. It is, to the extent that secular mass consciousness in Western society champions and fosters the belief that we are our bodies. This socially-maintained belief system further intensifies the experience. The deeper cause, however, is hundreds of thousands of lifetimes spent identifying with the body. It is the deeply-ingrained mental impressions, beginning with our animal incarnations, which lock our consciousness in to this experience. However, have a heart attack, remain conscious, and be thrown from your physical body--begin experiencing through your astral body--and you will immediately see for yourself that it was untrue.
The final statement is advanced metaphysics. It is told to us by those very few people who have attained a very high state of consciousness. They tell us that, in fact, the world exists in us. We can follow their logic, but we cannot have their experience until we have the state of consciousness they have. The teaching, however, is correct, and there is a very precise logic, based on direct experience, to back it up. Here, what Chopra is suggesting is that even our own science tells us that the information from our senses is processed in our brains, creating the subjective experience of an objective world. The Eastern teaching is still deeper and goes further.
"Birth and death are space-time events in the continuum of life. So the opposite of life is not death. The opposite of death is birth. And the opposite of birth is death. And life is the continuum of birth and death, which goes on and on."
Inayat Khan said, "Only one in thousands realizes that life lives, and death dies." But birth, as an experience, as an event, is passing through a portal, and death, as an event, is also passing through a portal. Therefore, life is not the opposite of death, when we are speaking of these things as events. Life, as the quality of aliveness, comes into juxtaposition with matter. Death, as a quality, the quality of "deadness," is what is left when life ceases that juxtaposition. In that sense, life is the opposite of death.
In short, birth, as an event, can be said to be the opposite of death, as an event. Life, as a quality, is something entirely different. It does not cease when the physical body is sloughed off, like a snake's skin or a cicada's shell. It is not a process. Processes occur when life is juxtaposed with matter. They cease when that partnership is severed. But life itself is indestructible.
Chopra's language is, for the most part, quite clear. If it becomes unclear, it is in trying to accommodate Western thinking. It is primarily the skeptic who is confused here, because of his assumptions. There is nothing wrong with Shermer's logic, per se--it is his underlying assumptions (the assumptions of materalistic Western society) that cause his confusion when faced with clear statements.
"And life is, as he said, it's a process. It's one process. It's perception, cognition, emotions, moods, imagination, insight, intuition, creativity, choice making. These are not the activities of your networks. You orchestrate these activities through your synaptic networks. But if I ask you to imagine the color red or look at the color red, there's no red in your brain. There's just electrical firings."
Here, Chopra is "dumbing down" the Eastern teachings to fit Western scientific ears, to some extent. If by life you mean physical life, then, indeed, it is a process. Science knows this quite well. Indeed, there is no red in your brain--it is an interpretation. Chopra was speaking the skeptics' own language here. There is, indeed, as Mr. Shermer indicates, a contradiction, for this reason, because Chopra is trying to make a point using materialistic constructs. Chopra is a popularizer and educator--he stands with one foot in the East and one in the West, and he is trying to bridge the gap. So he speaks to scientists in scientific terms. However, there is a deeper understanding of life; namely, that it is a manifestation of energy; that energy is a manifestation of mind; and that mind is a reflection of the soul, which is to God as the drop is to the ocean. Chopra knows this, but was trying to speak in Shermer's language.
"Imagine that you're looking at an ocean and you see lots of waves today. And tomorrow you see a fewer number of waves. It's not so turbulent. What you call a person actually is a pattern of behavior of a universal consciousness. There is no such thing as Jeff, because what we call Jeff is a constantly transforming consciousness that appears as a certain personality, a certain mind, a certain ego, a certain body. But, you know, we had a different Jeff when you were a teenager. We had a different Jeff when you were a baby. Which one of you is the real Jeff?"
Now, Chopra is delving into the deeper teachings, as I described above (before I read this last quote). What Chopra says here is perfectly clear to me. What we call a person is a process. If you could set up a camera and create a fast-motion imagine of him, condensing a lifetime into 5 minutes, you could see it the way we see clouds race across the horizon on nature shows. In fact, it's been done with photographs--I easily found two examples on Youtube.
You have few, if any, of the same body cells left from when you were a child. You look very different. You don't even remember it clearly beyond a certain age. And yet, you assert that this was you. What's the difference between this, and who you were in a previous lifetime? The exact same criteria apply--different body cells, looked quite (though probably not entirely) different, don't remember it except for a few things under certain conditions.
In short, Chopra is not obsfucating. It is the skeptic who is confused, due to his unconscious assumptions. His primary premise in this disrespectful article, that Chopra is speaking gobbledegook is, simply, mistaken. I think, however, that profound thanks are due to Mr. Shermer for quoting Chopra so extensively, and thus exposing his ideas, intact, to a much wider audience. As for the ridicule, it's like someone making fun of a radio as a useless box because he doesn't know about electricity. The radio does nothing for him, so he therefore assumes it does nothing for anybody else.