Those of you who thought you are one person with a single personality need to learn a little Kabbalah. The body, says the Zohar, has three rulers: the brain, the heart and the liver. And they don't always agree with one another.

Think your heart is a mindless blood-pumping machine? That your liver is just a hunk of red meat? Think again. There's a kind of intelligence down there that your brain could never match. As much as your heart and liver need the direction of your brain, that grey matter in your skull needs the wisdom of those organic systems—and it has a lot to learn from them.

Think: rational mind, emotional mind, metabolic mind. Those are the three rulers, invested principally in those three organs of the body. In Hebrew, that's mo-ach, lev, ka-ved.













Take the first letter of each and you have melech meaning "king." Switch things around so the heart dominates the brain and the letters now spell lemech—clown. What if the liver comes first? Then we have kelev—dog, which is short for kulo lev meaning "entirely heart."

Brain, Heart, Liver

מוח, לב, כבד




Heart, Brain, Liver

לב, מוח,כבד




Liver, Heart

כבד, לב




Apparently, there's a difference in the governing styles of these three rulers.

The brain is the true heir apparent with natural leadership qualities. It has little need to enforce its decisions. It simply decides and resolves, and if its a true decision and resolution the rest of the body naturally follows suit. The Zohar says this as well, "The brain rules naturally over the heart." Not a dictatorial rule, but a natural one. The heart naturally moves in the direction of a determined brain, and the liver follows a heart that knows where its going.

When the brain doesn't take the initiative to make decisions, or is carried away with abstractions, or simply doesn't care to think too deeply about anything at all, then its the heart's turn to take over. But the heart—the emotional person—is not a born ruler. It doesn't make decisions by weighing the consequences; it's not proactive by any means. The heart consults the brain and the liver, and then just reacts to whatever they have to say. What results is not a king but a clown—no real personality, no resolution, nothing but a big show.

As the clown show progresses (or regresses), the liver—the metabolic persona—gains dominance. And the liver's modality is pure dictatorship. It yells, "I need this. I want this. I gotta get this." The heart jumps and runs to do its bidding, issuing ultimatums and demands to the brain. Eventually the brain finds it is no longer being consulted, but rather simply being told what to think. And the instructions always seem to be about the same: "How do I get what I want? How do I get it right now?"

The travesty is that the liver and the heart are not really bad guys. As I said before, they have a lot of wisdom to offer. The heart can feel the heart of another. It knows how to take an abstract idea of the brain and make it real. The liver understands intimately the needs of the body and holds the keys to its healing. It's just that they've risen to the level of their incompetence—and when they reach there, boy are they incompetent.

The good news is that the brain never forfeits its right to the throne. Except in extreme cases of addiction or sociopathy, the brain always retains its veto power over whatever the other two rulers have to say. Even as the entire endocrine system works overtime and the heart pumps those hormones feverishly about the body and up to the brain—the mind retains the capacity to block out all those signals and calmly say, "No, we're not doing that right now. We're not even going to think about it."

Having done that consistently, the brain is eventually capable of sitting with a tamed heart and a subdued liver, and listening carefully to what they have to say. Now they can really get down to work.

Get a GPS. But don't be a fool to listen to everything it has to say. Remember: You are the driver and it is but a tool for consultation.