Remark: Looking at our life, we see that it’s not so often that we choose something in it. Maybe it seems to us that way, but even from recent studies on this topic it shows that birth, death, character traits, and even political views are determined by society or are genetically defined. It turns out that nature leaves us no choice.
The greatest Kabbalist of the 20th century, Baal HaSulam, wrote an article on this subject, “The Freedom,” where he describes four factors that influence our development and determine our choice. The first factor is called the “basis of a person” or his hereditary information.
Remark: Baal HaSulam says that ideas, thoughts, and opinions all lose their previous form and at birth go to people in the form of properties. We do not choose these. They are inherent to nature.
The second factor is more interesting: the unchanging properties, which is that each foundation contains properties that change and others remain unchanged.
My Comment: A person is born with certain traits, with a certain character. Within this framework, he can change something, but he can’t change the framework. We even see such inclinations in our own experience and in our lives that can’t be changed.
Remark: Baal HaSulam gives an example that wheat will always grow from wheat.
My Comment: Yes. Nothing else will work. Under the influence of the environment or some other influences we can change certain internal qualities of a grain, but nothing other than that. It depends on what environment the grain is placed in.
Question: This is the third factor when the properties set by nature can change under the influence of the environment.
For example, if a person who is stingy by nature is placed in a certain environment where there is wealth, then it is entirely possible that this property in him will change to the extreme opposite or will not develop at all.
The fourth factor that determines the developmental stages of creation is external influence: climate, global warming, crises, etc. Suppose if we live in a normal society and everything is fine, then it’s stable. And if the global crisis begins and problems arise, then, quite possibly, it will change.
How do these four factors affect a person?
Answer: Simultaneously and sometimes in incomprehensible combinations. We don’t clearly understand what is happening here.
All we need to clarify is how dependent we are on them, and in what state at every moment we can act upon them selectively, with a certain direction, for a specific purpose.
Of utmost importance is how we can identify what is desirable to receive from ourselves or from others. For example, receiving from children, from upbringing, and how to influence them each moment, at what level, etc.
Question: So is the environment the only factor that we can change?
Answer: Yes. However, this is not about the usual environment. First, we must set the ultimate goal, understanding what we want to get from our actions. Maybe we will invest a lot in education and in the end get nothing but a zero depending on what we concentrate on, what we want to change.
Here you need to understand where the border of our capabilities is, what we have the most optimal means for, and how we can approach a person so that he himself takes part in his changes. Everything here depends not only on us, but on the object itself and the environment.
From KabTV’s “Fundamentals of Kabbalah,” 2/4/19