After living a life of poverty and not caring much about material wealth, Denis Diderot received a fancy new red scarlet satin robe as a gift. Afterward, he noticed that his chair was just an old straw chair, and changed it to a beautiful new leather one; and he then also spotted that his desk was shabby, and replaced it with a large gorgeous table. Eventually, Diderot fell into debt over the fulfillment of his newly-discovered material desires, and he wrote that where he was once the absolute master of his old robe, he became the slave of his new one.
Generally speaking, he was right—that we would be better off living in our “old robes.” There is nothing wrong with living our lives without investing energy into materialistic acquisitions.
We need to have everything in order to comfortably pursue our goals, but beyond meeting those basic needs, we should make sure not to become slaves to our possessions or to the changing times we live in. Why should we work for new robes, chairs and desks, i.e. for material possessions? We would be better off to not waste our lives in such a way, and stay in our “old robes,” so to speak, while taking care of ourselves.
In such a context, “taking care of ourselves” means doing what we deem as important, and not what our surrounding society projects to us as important. We should never fall into such traps as valuing surplus materialistic acquisitions.
We should instead focus on our goal at the basic human development stage that is called “the animate level” within us, i.e. to not follow any goals and habits that society projects onto us, but to live for ourselves. Choose a goal and live for it. People need to validate their paths; to direct and shape them in ways that bring no harm to anyone, including themselves.
Based on the video “The Diderot Effect – A Kabbalist’s Response” with Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman and Semion Vinokur. Written/edited by students of Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman.
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