Thinking with the Heart

We think the world would be saved if only we could generate larger quantities of goodwill and tolerance. That’s false. What will save the world is not goodwill and tolerance but clear thinking. Of what use is it to be tolerant of others if you are convinced that you are right and everyone who disagrees with you is wrong? That isn’t tolerance but condescension. That leads not to union of hearts but to division, because you are one up and the others one down. A position that can only lead to a sense of superiority on your part and resentment on your neighbor’s, thereby breeding further intolerance.

True tolerance only arises from a keen awareness of the abysmal ignorance of everyone regarding deep truth. For truth is essentially mystery. The mind can sense but cannot grasp it, much less formulate it. Our beliefs can point to it but cannot put it into words. In spite of this, people talk glowingly about the value of dialogue which at worst is a camouflaged attempt to convince the other person of the rightness of your position and at best will prevent you from becoming a frog in the well who thinks that his well is the only world there is.

What happens when frogs from different wells assemble to dialogue about their convictions and experiences? Their horizons widen to include the existence of wells other than their own. But they still have no suspicion of the existence of the ocean of truth that cannot be confined within the walls of conceptual wells. And our poor frogs continue to be divided and to speak in terms of yours and mine, your experience, your convictions, your ideology and mine. The sharing of formulas does not enrich the sharers, for formulas like the walls of wells divide; only the unrestricted ocean unites. But to arrive at this ocean of truth that is unbounded by formulas, it is essential to have the gift of clear thinking. And clear thinking is the thinking we do with our hearts.

— Anthony de Mello, from The Way to Love

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