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“What I Know Now” by Madonna : People

Madonna - People / April 12 2004

When I was starting out in life, I thought the goal was to be popular, though in actuality I didn’t know what I was doing. I went to New York with the dream of becoming a professional dancer. Somehow I fell into music. I started writing songs and I wanted to get them played on the radio. I didn’t have a dream bigger than that.

Then it [her career] happened, and it was just incredible. And everything that happened after that was like, oh my God. I got caught up in that. It’s almost impossible not to. But through studying Kabbalah, I’ve learned that if your happiness is based on people approving of everything you do and getting accolades, you’re doomed to failure. It can’t ever be enough.

Kabbalah has taught me the goal isn’t about myself; it’s about bringing unity. The core of Kabbalah is the same as Christianity, and that’s to love your neighbor as you love yourself. In Kabbalah, I’ve found the tools to apply that to my life.

The very first lesson I got was on restriction—the idea of reactive behavior. That everything we do is reactive to something else, and that’s how we get into trouble. It’s why we get upset, why we get angry, why we show jealousy, why we show hurt. But the teacher explained how we as humans have the ability to restrict our behavior, to go against our reactive nature, and then by doing so avoid pain and let the light come in.

To me, it was such a simple concept and not a bunch of spiritual mumbo jumbo. I liked the practicality of it and thought, Hmm, I’m going to try that.

Every day now I try to do three things. 1) I ask God to help me to restrict my reactions (and not let my ego control me); 2) I pray to receive for the sake of sharing (which means to ask for everything in life but only so you can share it); and 3) I try to go outside my comfort zone in some way, shape or form to help someone.

Kabbalah has made me a better human being. I have a successful marriage. That doesn’t mean I don’t have my ups and downs, but I have an open and honest relationship, and we work things out. Guy [Ritchie] and I understand that we’ve embarked on a journey together. There’s no way our relationship would work if we didn’t both think the same way. I can’t just write a silly pop song anymore. I feel the need to share what I’ve learned. I don’t want to be boring and preachy. I still want to have fun. But I know there’s a way to inspire and entertain people at the same time. I’m writing children’s books that contain spiritual messages. I never would have done that before.

My studies have also allowed me to feel compassion for people in a way that I never could before. When you can feel other people’s pain, you’re in a constant state of wanting to help make things better.”


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