August 23

The Mind and the Soul

August 23, 2007

Personal Growth

Not long ago I enjoyed the experience of visiting the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. In that place, they have more ancient artifacts — dating as far back as five thousand years — sitting out in some of their storage passageways as many other museums have in their entire collections. I was fascinated. As I was discussing what I was seeing with a friend — the progression of dynasties, the depictions on the tombs of the passage through the twelve hours of the night, the meaning of some of the hieroglyphics, Horus and the other gods — another person in our group said, “I don’t understand a word you’re saying. Am I somehow missing this whole experience?”

“Not at all,” I said. “The details are intellectually interesting, but they don’t really matter that much. What really matters is the meaning of everything you see. All these piles of mummies and cartouches and sarcophagi and papyrus and jewelry provide a great deal of evidence that these ancient people were just like us. They had a profound need to have a sense of meaning and a connection to a power greater than themselves — just like we do. They felt strongly about their families — as we do. They fought among themselves and with other nations for power, and in the process they caused great unhappiness — just as we have done. As I stand here among all these things, I’m reminded that we’re all part of the same family, learning the same lessons. I feel motivated to avoid the mistakes made by these people — or any other people — and to learn and to follow what they did to make them happy.”

Sometimes I see people get into intellectual debates about the principles of Real Love. “Which of the Getting and Protecting Behaviors are involved in this interaction,” they ask? “Which form of Imitation Love is being used here?” “Which of the Pearls of Real Love would best be used in this situation?” Or they discuss the mechanics of how exactly Real Love works to resolve a conflict. As with the Egyptian Museum, all the details don’t matter much. Real Love is not complicated. If a behavior leads toward feeling loved, loving others, and feeling happy, persist in that behavior. If a behavior yields only temporary satisfaction or excitement but then tends to degenerate into disappointment and emptiness, don’t continue that behavior.

Don’t worry about the intellectual details of Real Love. Look for the feeling of deep peace that invariably follows our feeling loved and loving others. In the end, it doesn’t matter much what you know. What matters is how you feel.

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