You may have noticed the category for this blog is Ancient Wisdom. That’s where these ideas associated with our greatest freedom originated. I’m combining two sources here: the Kabbalah and The Upanishads.

The first thought comes from a book titled Kabbalah For The Student, 2008 Michael Laitman, Laitman Kabbalah Publishers. This is a text book used with an online Kabbalah study program. It contains numerous articles written by Rabbis who teach the Kabbalah. Honestly, it is not an easy read, but then the study of the Kabbalah is not simple either. Within this volume is an article on page 375 titled The Freedom, by Rav Yehuda Ashlag. The author introduces a quote about the ‘angel of death’ and then introduces the concept of freedom in order to explain the quote. If I may just give you ‘the bottom line’ as they say in business, the concept is that our greatest and most effective freedom is the freedom to choose our environment. By environment is meant primarily our friends but also the ideas, goals and lifestyles they represent.

Surrounding ourselves with the right kinds of friends gives us the greatest opportunity to improve ourselves as human beings; more specifically, it gives us the greatest opportunity to improve ourselves spiritually. This assumes that we recognize that improving ourselves spiritually is our purpose in life. If someone doesn’t know that, or disagrees, this point would look unimportant. But for one who agrees, it is of vital importance. We must associate with those people who have the same goals we have. Or, said another way, we tend to become like the people with whom we associate. “Birds of a feather …”

This concept is subtle, but powerful. Over time we develop habits based upon our thoughts and actions. These thoughts and actions are influenced by our environment: ideas and people. Once developed, a habit is difficult to change. I know. I smoked for ten years and found it extremely difficult to quit, in spite of health warnings. The same is true of ideas. Once we accept them into our lives we ASSUME they are correct; often not ever questioning them again.

My favorite quote of all time is from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (IV, 4.5):

“You are what your deep, driving desire is.

As your desire is, so is your will.

As your will is, so is your deed.

As your deed is, so is your destiny.”

Choose your environment carefully. It will become your destiny!