Photo: Burcu Avsar
Oprah: Who has been your greatest teacher or teachers?

Deepak: These days my greatest teacher is my own inner silence.

Oprah: Really?

Deepak: If I want to know something, I go into silence. I still go into silence. My wife, too. Every January she goes to South India for one month of silence.

Oprah: Oh my God.

Deepak: It's a ritual. She's been doing it for 20 years.

Oprah: Thirty days of silence. I'd lose my mind. And maybe I'd find it. [Laughs.]

Deepak: Once, we went together for silence to the canyons of Utah. All by ourselves. We were dropped off by somebody, and there were no phones, no contact with the outside world. She had her own cabin and I had my own cabin, and we met once a day to walk together, but we wouldn't speak to each other. You're not even supposed to write or anything—just stay in silence for the whole week.

Oprah: Just silence.

Deepak: There were a couple of mice in my room, but every time I went into stillness they would also be still.

Oprah: They didn't bother you.

Deepak: But on day three I got to her cabin and she was gone. I looked everywhere and she wasn't there. And then I panicked a bit. I looked in the trash and everything in case a bear had come in the night. Couldn't find her. And I had no way of getting in touch with the outside world for the next four days. So I meditated for a bit and then I walked out of the cabin again and saw a hill far away. I said maybe if I cross the hill, there'll be something on the other side. So I went across the hill, and indeed there was a cottage a little farther away. And when I got to the cottage, the door was ajar and there was loud noise and she was sitting on the sofa watching television. So I took a piece of paper out and wrote, What happened question mark. And she wrote, Mice exclamation mark.

Oprah: [Laughs.] So you meditated with the mice. And in 2010 you became a monk for a month.

Deepak: Yes, I went to a monastery in Thailand. We took our baths in the stream, we begged for our food in the streets, I shaved my head and walked barefoot. My head monk asked how it was walking. I said it hurt without shoes. And he said, "It hurts on the foot that's down, but the one that's up feels really good—so focus on that one."

Oprah: Wow.

Deepak: And I realized that all pain and pleasure is where you put your attention.

Oprah: Whew, I love that. But going back a little to the idea of the soul: What is the soul?

Deepak: The soul is the core of your being. Your body is in your soul. Your mind is in your soul. The whole universe is in your soul, and your soul is part of the universal consciousness.

Oprah: [Takes a breath.] Okay. [Laughs.]

Deepak: It's also, by the way, in the space between your thoughts. So: thought thought thought, and then there's a little space.

Oprah: The little space between your thoughts. That's good. And what do you believe is the purpose of life?

Deepak: The purpose of life is the progressive expansion of happiness and the ability to love and have compassion. And also the ability to be in touch with the creative source inside you.

Oprah: And what is the secret to living a happy life?

Deepak: The secret to a happy life is to recognize that no matter what the situation, there's a creative opportunity in it. Also, finding meaning and purpose in your life to make a contribution. And ultimately the secret is to make other people happy.

Oprah: Got it. Now I just want you to finish a few sentences for me. Life is...

Deepak: A field of infinite possibilities and an opportunity to evolve in the direction of truthfulness, beauty, and harmony.

Oprah: The world needs...

Deepak: More compassion and love.

Oprah: Love is...

Deepak: Not a sentiment or an emotion. It's the fact that we're all the same being in different disguises.

Oprah: I want to thank...

Deepak: All the people who have given me so much love without my even asking.

Oprah: I am ready to forgive...

Deepak: I have already forgiven.

Oprah: Whew. That's great. That's really great. And what do you know for sure?

Deepak: Nothing.

Oprah: [Laughs.] Well, I know one thing: This conversation has made me happy!

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