By Deepak Chopra
228 pages; HarperOne
Available at | Barnes & Noble

Like a car with two steering wheels, the world has been guided by two forces, the spiritual and the secular, that fight for control. The secular has seized the advantage today, but for many centuries the power lay with spirituality. Visionaries could shape the future as much as kings, often more. A king was anointed by God, but visionaries were visited by God. They heard his message personally before appearing in public to announce what God wanted people to do.

I became fascinated by the perplexing situation that visionaries find themselves thrust into. Very few asked for this power to affect other people. God wrenched them from the comfort of everyday life and guided their steps. The voice they heard in their heads wasn’t their own, but divinely inspired. What was that like? On one hand, it must have been terrifying. In a world that made a spectacle of feeding martyrs to lions, crucifying saints as enemies of the state, and jealously guarding old religions, the voice of God could be pronouncing a death sentence. On the other hand, to experience the divine was ecstatic, as witnessed by the mystical poets in every culture who had a love affair with the divine. That mixture of rapture and torment became the seed of this book.

"God" is an empty term except as it finds expression through the revelations of all the saints, prophets, and mystics of history. They exist to plant the seeds of spirituality as direct experience rather than a matter of hope and faith. Yet no one can say that God was revealed in one consistent shape delivering one consistent message—quite the opposite. Somehow revelations can be divine and contradictory at the same time.

God: A Story of Revelation. Copyright © 2012 by Deepak Chopra. Excerpted with permission from HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.