Oprah: But you are the Material Girl.

Madonna: That was meant to be ironic. I'm so not the Material Girl now. There were many years when I thought fame, fortune, and public approval would bring me happiness. But one day you wake up and realize they don't.

Oprah: When was that day?

Madonna: After I made Evita [in 1996]. I'd won a Golden Globe, I was about to have a baby, and life was hunky-dory. But I still felt something was missing.

Oprah: And what was that?

Madonna: An understanding of my place in the world. Before then, I felt controlled by the ups and downs of my life. If things were going great, I was happy. If someone said something negative about me in the newspapers, I got depressed. If I had a relationship that was fun, then I was happy again. If that relationship fell apart, I was down. I didn't feel in control of my life.

Oprah: You were defined by external things.

Madonna: Exactly. The big turning point was when I was about to become a parent. I wanted to understand what I would teach my daughter, and I didn't really know where I stood on things. I wanted to know the meaning of true and lasting happiness and how I could go about finding it.

Oprah: What do you think when you look back on all the girls who were imitating you, walking around with their bras on the outside of their clothes? They wanted what they thought you had, whatever illusion you created.

Madonna: Right. When I look back, I think, "Wow, I had a huge desire to receive." I was ambitious, I was courageous, and I was provocative. But I didn't have the whole picture of life.

Oprah: So what is Kabbalah?

Madonna: It's a belief system that gives you tools to deal with life. Many of its principles resemble concepts in Christianity or in Buddhism.

Oprah: What is the fundamental principle?

Madonna: Each of us is responsible for everything that happens in our lives. When good things happen—we win an award, meet the love of our lives, or get a promotion—we take ownership of that. But when bad things happen—we get fired or we divorce—we often don't take responsibility. We call it something that just happened. I now understand that just as we can draw the positive, we can draw the negative.