The people you surround yourself with will make or break you. This week’s Zohar portion explains:
“A person should only live in a place where men of action live. For what reason? Woe unto the person who dwells among the wicked, for he is caught in their sins. And if he dwells among the righteous, he is dwelt well with due to their merit.” - Zohar, Bo, Verse 138
Kabbalist Rav Ashlag, the founder of The Kabbalah Centre in 1922, wrote about this concept in his groundbreaking book, The Wisdom of Truth. He explains that within every person are found positive seeds of the soul, as well as negative seeds of ego. The only free will we have over which seed we choose to water is in choosing the people we surround ourselves with.
If we surround ourselves with people who have a lower consciousness—negative, shallow, materialistic—then that type of energy will be more easily nourished within us. Suddenly we will be more interested in materialistic things—even though on a soul level we know it doesn't matter. We will find ourselves worrying about why we don’t have the same car, or that we're not being perceived right, or that we're not as socially accepted.
Deep inside, we might be spiritual, but if we allow ourselves to be surrounded with people who have a limited and narrow consciousness, then it will grow the negative seeds within and cause us to think that way. It will cause the frequency of our consciousness to operate on a lower level.
If we surround ourselves with people who have a more elevated consciousness, individuals who care more about effecting change in other people’s lives, who care more about the elimination of ego, who care more about the Big Picture, then we will be nurturing the positive seeds within, and we will start to be concerned with those issues.
“Rabbi Chasda lived at first among the people of Cappadocia, and it was difficult for him and he was plagued with sickness. He then moved his dwelling among the protectors of Tzipori [meaning among the kabbalistic scholars who are called ‘protectors’]. He became great and merited much good, many riches…and he said: I merited all this because I came among these people, whom the Holy One, blessed be He, takes care of, to good for them.” - Zohar, Bo, Verse 139
What the Zohar is teaching us this week, is that 95% of free choice is in choosing our surroundings, choosing the people with whom we surround ourselves—choosing friends, choosing partners, choosing neighbors and choosing acquaintances.
Sometimes we think of friends as those people who soothe us, who give us love and unconditional acceptance and support and encouragement, who give us exactly what we want and need; those people with whom we have such fun and with whom we have an open heart. This is one type of a friend, but we also need to allow ourselves to have friends who will challenge us.
The energy of Bo is such that it creates an opening in our consciousness to allow in friends who will create positive pressure in our lives, who will cause us to say, “Wow, they are pushing me to my next level!” In Kabbalah, that is called “Surrounding Light”—when we allow ourselves to have friends around us with a stronger consciousness. These friends have the potential to help us grow spiritually—just by their presence. If we do not allow friends like this into our lives, then there is a problem: We are in denial. We are sheltering ourselves. We are sheltering the depth of our souls. We are sheltering the depth of our intuition, of our gut feelings.
According to the Zohar, in every day and in every moment, there are voices and angels which help to direct us to where we need to be in life. But many of us are blind and deaf. We are afraid to hear that voice—because indeed, that voice requires change, growth and momentary discomfort. We do not want it.
One of the ways to allow these voices and angels to be heard in spite of ourselves is to allow ourselves to be in the company of true friends. According to Rav Ashlag, with our true friends we will be able to see in each one something powerful that we do not have within ourselves—something we can admire. It is within this process that we create our Surrounding Light.
Sometimes we say, “I do not want to go to that meeting.” “I do not want to spend time with those people.” “I am more comfortable with this group of people.” But sometimes it is really our inner saboteur, who wants to make us small and righteous and isolated. Sometimes we do need to expose ourselves to people who are not yet in the highest consciousness because it may be our job to be their Surrounding Light.
Take advantage of the Zohar this week. Scan its letters to connect to a source of power beyond comprehension so that you can find the clarity to look at the people with whom you are surrounding yourself, and receive the courage to begin relationships with the people you've been admiring from afar.
Read the full Zohar portion of Bo and connect to the energy of the week here.