I am unfamiliar with the phenomenon of Deepak Chopra, but I didn’t have to read more than a sentence or two into Kay Miller’s account of his recent visit to the Twin Cities to hear the echoes of the Confidence Man, of the Duke and the Dauphin, and of Elmer Gantry, all in a New Age guise.
We appear to have here the recurrenece of a classic American character in cosmopolitan form. Kay Miller’s profile of Chopra in this morning’s Star Tribune begins:
Gini Rackner waited in a line 50-deep to meet Deepak Chopra. He had changed her life. She wanted to thank him.
“He’s right up there with the Dalai Lama, Buddha and Jesus — the people on Earth who spread love, compassion and good health among other souls on Earth,” Rackner said.
She was one of nearly 1,000 people who heard Chopra speak at the Minneapolis Convention Center recently. For an hour before the speech, dozens of Golden Circle participants who paid $99 for premium seats and a private reception with Chopra sipped wine from plastic glasses and waited in a line that stretched to the door.
“This is so stupid. I feel like I’m meeting God,” one teary-eyed woman told him. “I have read so much of your stuff. Now I don’t know what to say.” Chopra gave her a beatific smile. “Shall I sign this ‘To the goddess?'”
At the end of the profile Miller highlights Chopra’s versatility:
On other nights in other places, Chopra will talk with corporations about maximizing profits or with golfers about improving their swings.
“When I speak to Kellogg Business School, it is about spiritual states, but it has more to do with ‘How do I make my shareholders happy?’ ” he said.
“This is most enjoyable, because these people are coming from simplicity, innocence and tender hearts. I want people to get to this larger domain. And it doesn’t matter where I bring them from.”
Mr. Chopra indeed appears to be the master of his domain, if not of the larger domain.