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Chapter 7. Realizing Our Free Choice

If we summarize the four factors that design us, we will see that in the end, we are ruled by two sources: our inborn elements, and the information we absorb from our environment during the course of our lives.

Interestingly, science has reached similar conclusions. Since the 1990s, the field of behavioral genetics has been gaining ground. This field of science seeks the links between genes and personality, and human cognitive and behavioral qualities, such as irritability, adventurousness, shyness, violence, and sexual desire.

One of the first researchers in this field was Professor Richard Abstein, head of the Research Department at the Herzog Psycho Geriatric Hospital in Jerusalem, Israel. Prof. Abstein argues that genes determine about 50% of our characteristics, and the rest are determined by the environment.

Since we cannot change our innate structure, we must turn to the second element that our development depends on—our environment. The only thing we can do to progress toward realizing our life goals is to choose an environment that will push us toward it.

In “The Freedom,” Baal HaSulam explains: “Therefore, one who strives to continuously choose a better environment is worthy of praise and reward. But here, too, not because of one’s good deeds or thoughts, which emerge without one’s choice, but because of one’s effort to acquire a good environment, which brings one these good thoughts and deeds.”

Those who strive to choose and create a favorable environment for the optimum development can thus realize their individual potential. Understanding this principle requires quite a bit of awareness, but apparently many today have already acquired it.

If we wish to turn our attitude from egoistic to altruistic, we must bring ourselves to a state where our desire to care for others’ wellbeing and to bond with them is far greater than our desire for any egoistic possession. This can happen only if our environment’s values affirm that altruism is the highest value.

We were made as social, egoistic creatures. Hence, there is nothing more important to us than the opinions of those around us. As a matter of fact, our life’s purpose is to be praised and appreciated by society. We are completely and involuntarily controlled by society’s views, and we are willing to do all that we can for its appreciation, recognition, respect, and fame. This is why society can instill a wide variety of values and behaviors in its members.

Society also constructs the criteria we use to measure our self-respect and self-esteem. Hence, even when we are alone, we operate according to society’s codes. In other words, even if no one knows about a certain act that we perform, we will still perform it for the sake of self-appreciation.

To start building our desire to care for others and to bond among others as parts of a single system, we must be in a society that supports it. If people around us appreciate altruism as the highest value, each of us will naturally be compelled to obey and adopt it.

Ideally, our environment should project this: “To reach equilibrium with Nature, be good to others, to the single system of which you are part.” When the desire for altruism is evident in our surrounding environment, we will absorb this value from it. If we encounter reminders and respect for altruism wherever we go, our attitude toward others will change. Gradually, the more we think about it, the more we will want to become healthy parts within the single system.

The environment can be likened to a crane that lifts us to a higher level. Hence, our first step toward meeting our life goals is to contemplate and search for the most suitable environment to support them. As we absorb the effects of being in the environment we chose, we will move more surely toward our objectives.

As we have said, the power of thought is the most powerful force in Nature. Therefore, if we aspire to be in a better environment, our innate force will lead us toward an environment where we can develop. The more we focus on improving our environment, the more possibilities will open up before us to implement it.

When our environment consists of people who are drawn to seek equilibrium with Nature, we will be able to use their examples and be encouraged and energized by them. These people will understand that we want to treat them with love, and will help us learn how to do it.

In this manner, through “practicing” on others, we will learn the meaning of being similar to Nature’s force, and feel how good it is to be inside this love. In such an environment, we will feel protected, happy, and carefree. This is the kind of life toward which Nature is leading humanity.


We can begin our process of assuming Nature’s qualities of loving and giving by making an effort to care for others, bonding with them with the recognition that all are part of a single body. Of course, this is still not an internal ego correction, but it is the first step in the process.

We can actually mimic Nature the way a child mimics its parent. Even though children do not understand what their parents do, they imitate them because they want to be like them. For example, a boy sees his father hitting a nail with a hammer, and imitates his father with a plastic hammer. By so doing, he gradually acquires his father’s knowledge. If we try to imitate Nature’s quality of love and giving, this mimicry will serve as a higher degree than ourselves, and we will want to reach it in our innate qualities as well.

Care for the wellbeing of others can arise from two motivations:

  1. Wanting society’s respect and appreciation.

  2. Genuine acknowledgement of the supremacy of the quality of love and giving to others, over the quality of appreciating only oneself.

Imitating Nature the way a child imitates its father, without understanding quite what the father does, means caring for the wellbeing of others because of the first motive, not because of the second. Such mimicry is the basis for the mechanism of development and growth, and we cannot exist without it.

At first, we will care for others simply to receive the pleasure of social recognition. Gradually, however, we will begin to feel that such an altruistic attitude toward others is a sublime and extraordinary thing in and of itself, regardless of the social esteem it grants. We will find that an altruistic attitude toward others is a source of perfect, unbounded pleasure as we actually begin to feel Nature’s force itself, the unlimited, unbounded perfect force.

In other words, through our efforts to imitate Nature’s force, we will begin to feel that there is wholeness within Nature’s quality itself. This feeling will induce an internal change within us; we will slowly realize that the attributes of loving and giving are sublime, nobler than our inborn attribute of self-reception, and we will want them.

In this manner, we will rise from the level we were created in, to a higher level, the level of Nature’s force itself. We will be integrated in its harmony and perfection. This is where Nature’s evolutionary law is leading humanity.

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