Taming Hearts

“Men,” said the fox. “They have guns, and they hunt. It is very disturbing. They also raise chickens. These are their only interests. Are you looking for chickens?”

“No,” said the little prince. “I am looking for friends. What does that mean– ‘tame’?”

“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. It means to establish ties.”

“‘To establish ties’?”

“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…”

“I am beginning to understand,” said the little prince. “There is a flower… I think that she has tamed me…”


The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Laughter is the Best Cement

Have you ever noticed how contagious emotions can be?

Research shows that positive emotions are the most contagious and that laughter – in particular – spreads like wildfire.  The fact is that laughter is both universal, and universally trusted.

As everybody knows – you can fake a smile, but not a laugh. 

In neurological terms, laughter represents the shortest distance between two people because it instantly interlocks limbic systems.*  This immediate, involuntary reaction, as one researcher puts it, involves, “the most direct communication possible between people – brain to brain – with our intellect just going along for the ride – in what might be called a, ‘limbic lock.’ (1)

Funny that…


*Photograph – Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Lyman, Polish tobacco farmers, near Windsor Locks, Connecticut, (LOC) – Delano, Jack, photographer.

1940 Sept. Persistent URL: hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsc.00255

Call Number: LC-USF34- 041573-D

* Limbic systemhttp://biology.about.com/od/anatomy/a/aa042205a.htm

(1) Primal Leadership: realizing the power of emotional intelligence – By Daniel Goleman, Richard E. Boyatzis, Annie McKee p. pp 10,11 Harvard Business School Press, 2002

Self knowledge and Selflessness

True loss is for him whose days have been spent in utter ignorance of his self. (1)

One of the distinguishing features of human beings is the capacity for self-knowledge.  Animals are wonderful but there is no evidence that they spend a lot of time reflecting.  A common objection to the development of self-knowledge is that it will lead to selfishness.  This happens because self-knowledge is often confused with pride and conceit. 

However, as the Holy Books of all religions recommend knowing yourself and also recommend selflessness perhaps the road to selflessness might include self-knowledge? After all, you literally can’t forget what you don’t know.

It’s like driving. Once you become a competent driver, you’re no longer conscious of every single thing you do as you drive.  In effect, you ‘forget’ you are driving.  But it is essential for you to really know how to drive before this forgetting can happen.

Mastery of anything – including the self – is only possible through knowledge, so perhaps if we are also interested in being selfless as well as being in control of ourselves, then perhaps we must first have a good understanding of who we really are and how we work.

Diversity Rules – OK

There are hundreds of examples of how two or more seemingly opposite things can happily co-exist.  Take for example, the use of colour in mourning rituals – black is the traditional colour of mourning in some cultures, in other cultures white is used to signify mourning, in this simple instance three truths co-exist.

  • A: Some people believe they must wear black when they mourn;
  • B: Some people believe they must wear white when they mourn;
  • C: Colour has no intrinsic value to the mourning process but can be used to symbolize feelings that are difficult to express which makes it a useful statement of emotional state.

A useful first step in understanding anything – including ourselves and others – is realising that there is no need for dichotomies or indeed multichotomies.  It is entirely possible for two – or more – things to be true at any given time, especially when we add the element of subjectivity.  Once we become comfortable with this fact we can relax quite a lot as we are no longer required to defend our own experience of reality.  Learning to think for ourselves requires that we know ourselves.  Once we ‘know’ ourselves we can ‘forget’ ourselves – but not until then.

Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. (2)

TomorrowThe Laughter of the Gods

(1) Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 156

(2) Tao Te Ching