recoverysoul

Spiritual Principles behind the Traditions

Law of Attraction: a hoax? Part 2


I was cynical at the time, but it did look ridiculous: my friends had plastered colored print-outs all over their house.  Print-outs of mostly ‘sunset scenes’–bruised, magenta skylines and foamy, coastline horizons–with one clear subject: houses, and happy silhouettes enjoying their ocean-view porches.  Even on the slender edge of the wall separating living-room from kitchen, the curled-up edge of paper appealed to all its gazers to “Believe.”

It was disgusting.  Clearly they had just read “The Secret” and its law of attraction; worse yet, they were now applying it.  Looking tentatively up at me as a three-year old who’s just spilled milk might, they saw the judgment break out in the form of a scowl on my face.

Cowering up at me from the couch, a movement of wind forced the countless strips of paper up off the wall–it looked like a madman had gone to town with stick-it notes–and my ‘friends’ looked rightfully stifled by the power of my logic.  As if ‘friends’ of mine could do this.

Did people really expect to get all their dreams fulfilled in life just by thinking hard enough that they could come true?

With the wilt of the wind, the gritty-colored, sunset-beach houses came back to curl against the wall.  My friends, it would seem, had taken the extra initiative to go ahead and visualize their desire.  So they wanted a new house did they?

In the last post, I pointed out how interpretations might affect our lives more than we like them to.  Can our dreams come true simply by believing them hard enough?

If you’re anything like me, the immediate answer is “No”.  This law of attraction is too simple to be true, thank you very much.  Now take your magical thinking to the next idiot.

The law of attraction, however, does make some qualifications, and they might be worth considering before we close our final verdict.  As we looked at in the last post, these dreams and desires need to come from the Higher Self.  Typically, the Higher Self is not concerned with buying the latest BMW so that it might acquire some more “bitches” in its endless pursuit to appear better than everyone else.  Alas, these are all ego-goals, and the ego will have to resort to its usual schemes if it wants to get them: manipulation, dishonesty, over-work.

Not to say that everyone that drives a BMW is an ego-maniac, or that you can’t be materially and spiritually affluent, but that this first qualification is actually a significant one.

To lay it all out simply, let’s look at Deepak Chopra’s ‘Seven Spiritual Laws of Success’, which is more or less what every variation of the law of attraction says.

1)     The Law of Pure Potentiality

This ‘law’ assumes the premise that our basic, underlying nature is pure consciousness–or, in Christian terms, that our Holy Spirit is connected somehow with “God the Father”.  And, as Jesus taught, there is no separation between us and It.  “It”–pure consciousness or God–is capable of any number of possibilities.

2)     The Law of Giving

Basically, this law acknowledges that the Universe or Nature operates on a flow, and that what we put in–good or bad–comes back to us.  “You must give and receive in order to keep wealth and affluence–or anything you want–circulating in your life.”

3)     The Law of Karma (or Cause and Effect)

Essentially, this says “what you sow is what you reap”.  Only now the key is to make your choices consciously. “You must become consciously aware that your future is generated by the choices you are making in every moment of your life.”

4)     The Law of Least Effort

Based on and modeled after nature’s intelligence, it holds that Nature unfolds with effortless ease, and if we’re connected to our basic nature, our dreams should likewise unfold with little effort.  But it does subscribe to three fundamentals:

  1. 1.      Acceptance

Quite simply, acknowledging that ‘all is well’, that all in the universe is exactly as it should be.

  1. 2.      Responsibility

You don’t blame anyone or anything for your situation.  You take responsibility for what you create in life.

  1. 3.      Defenselessness

You don’t have the need to persuade others to your opinion.  (Kind of feeds into ‘acceptance’).

5)     The Law of Intention and Desire

Now we come to the idea of ‘thinking hard enough’ to materialize our dreams.  For, as this law acknowledges, everything in the universe, when broken down small enough, is energy and information.  “

6)     The Law of Detachment

A kind of qualifying paradox to the previous law, this law maintains that for anything to materialize or ‘manifest’ into our daily lives, the obsessive attachment to its outcome has to be relinquished.

7)   The Law of “Dharma” or Purposein Life

This law insists we came into this life with a purpose, armed with unique skills and gifts that were intended to be shared with the rest of creation. “Expressing your talents to fulfill needs creates unlimited wealth and abundance.”

Well, when framed in such a careful and convincing way, it’s difficult to find too much to complain about in the ‘laws’.  It really becomes hard to escape, because even when one comes armed with cynicism and ready to refute everything professed with cold, steely, systematic logic, one actually sees a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Almost as if the law of intention is being played out, those coming into the “principles” with a desire to refute them will come away with exactly that affect.

Again, the power of interpretation rears its powerful roar, reminding us that faith and uncertainty plays a deciding role even in the most certain of us.  I mean, even if one wants to take a quasi-scientific and obsessively rational approach to these “laws”, one would probably best be served to simply take them for a test drive, to try out the methods and see if they actually work.

But that’s the trick–and the inescapable truth of ‘the power of intention’–because who really knows how long it takes for the desires to materialize?  And if you quit, who’s to know if it’s too early–you either have faith in the process or you don’t: either way, it’s the power of your intention and thoughts that have cemented your subjective reality into a judgment.

Perhaps it’s interesting–worthwhile even–to see the principles couched in more “psychological” terms.  Though still far removed from the reductionist-rationalist-robotism of the Behaviorists (which claimed all behavior was created by robotic conditioning), Abraham Maslow was a psychologist–you most likely know him for his famous “Pyramid”.  A cross-disciplinary concept, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs structured what needs were to be realized before the others could even be considered.  So, of course, basic needs of shelter and clothing needed to be met before worries of love could be considered.

At the top of the pyramid stands “Self-Actualization”, a concept both I and the psychology class glanced over (until, that is, life would lead me to consider the Eastern Religious concept of Self-Realization).  Maslow was fascinated by the self-actualized person, and often tried to analyze what made them tick.  Through his research, he came up with the following general characteristics of self-actualized people:

Self-Acceptance and Democratic World View

  • They accept others, and don’t demand that everyone confirm to their beliefs, concepts, and perceptions–remember the ‘Law of Least Effort’?

Realistic

  • They see things as they really are, and are thus able to engage more effectively with ‘real life’

Problem-Centered

  • Perhaps it’s more useful to say that self-actualized people our solution-centered: that is, they enjoy tackling obstacles, overcoming problems through creative, realistic solutions.

 Autonomy

  • They don’t conform to other people’s ideas.–remember the ’Law of Least Effort?

 Solitude and Privacy

  • They also enjoy the company of others, but for them reflection-time and retreat from the world is an absolute necessity.

 Enjoy the Journey

  • They are process-oriented, enjoying the process for its sake rather than being attached to the outcome–remember the ‘Law if Least Effort’?

The first time I read Maslow’s description, it reminded me of those in recovery, those that have had, as the 12 steps say, a ‘spiritual awakening’ as the result of them.  But there is one other attribute I’ve intentionally left for the end, another seemingly ‘strange’ spiritual idea akin to the 1st of Deepak Chopra’s 7 spiritual laws:

The first time I read Maslow’s description, it reminded me of those in recovery, those that have had, as the 12 steps say, a ‘spiritual awakening’ as the result of them.  But there is one other attribute I’ve intentionally left for the end, another seemingly ‘strange’ spiritual idea akin to the 1st of Deepak Chopra’s 7 spiritual laws:

Peak Experiences

            According to Maslow, peak experiences are “Feelings of limitless horizons opening up to the vision, the feeling of being simultaneously more powerful and also more helpless than one ever was before, the feeling of ecstasy and wonder and awe, the loss of placement in time and space with, finally, the conviction that something extremely important and valuable had happened, so that the subject was to some extent transformed and strengthened even in his daily life by such experiences.

Ok, so Maslow’s definition clearly confirms to the “spiritual awakening” of those confessed by once hopeless alcoholics and addicts, once they took a ‘realistic’ look at their previous denial, admitted they had a problem, and began to accept, take responsibility, and consciously become aware of how powerful every decision and action is towards maintaining that sobriety.

You may also notice (after I point it out) how similar Maslow’s definition is to Deepak Chopra’s 1st Spiritual Law, this interesting conception of our true nature as ‘pure consciousness’–a feeling often described as a ‘loss of placement in time and space’.

Another ‘law of attraction’/’power of intention’ guru that was popular in the late 90s and the millennium’s turn is Dr. Wayne Dyer–an actual student of Abraham Maslow.  Dr. Dyer often lectured on how others might achieve all that they desire and want, and called it ‘escaping the tribal mind’.  Not surprisingly, his recipe for success called for:

  1. Not caring about the opinion of others
  2. Not caring about the results

What Dr. Dyer emphasized that the others we’ve looked at didn’t however, was the flip-side of the equation: that our thoughts are so powerful, that they so greatly inform the material manifestations in our lives, that the negative ones–if they are the one predominately fixated on–will manifest as well.  To Dr. Dyer, it was such a given that our habitual thought-patterns molded the exterior shapes and things in our lives, that whatever we think–be it good or bad–will naturally flow and manifest.

Which was precisely the concept that made me consider ‘the law of attraction’s’ potential truth once more, beyond even my knee-jerk skepticism.  I couldn’t deny how I ended up losing the girlfriend I once thought my future wife–precisely because I was always so worried she’d leave.  When I considered the other side of the coin–that our negative thoughts also created our realities–experience held the assumption to be true.

But what of my ‘friends’?   Did their child-like posting of ocean-side houses create that reality in their lives?  Did they think hard enough whilst letting-go of the outcome?

It didn’t even occur to me until I started the intro (which showcased them), but 2 or 3 years after that scene, they did, in fact, construct a new house according to their desires and move into it.

Who knows?  Maybe they didn’t care all that much about the scowl on my face–or any of my other self-important opinions at that time–than my arrogance insisted they did.  Maybe they didn’t care much about anyone else’s opinion.

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3 comments on “Law of Attraction: a hoax? Part 2

  1. messenger786
    August 12, 2012

    Enjoyed reading both of the postings. Keep up the insightful work.

  2. harleythor
    August 14, 2012

    Mike,

    You don’t know me and I’ve never met you. I just want to say thank you for sharing your thoughts and your gift in conveying your thoughts and learning in writing. I find myself thinking deeply and considering carefully what you write and think about. The result is that I am more aware of myself.

    For that I thank you humbly and send you light and hope for good things to come to you.

    • mikedorman33
      August 14, 2012

      Thanks for your kind comments and encouragement. This is exactly why I started this blog! It’s great to hear that people are responding and benefiting from it. Greater awareness always seems to lead to more peace and happiness. May good things also find their way to you. Thank you.

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