WHY "THE LAW OF ATTRACTION" IS A SPIRITUAL POISON
This is an essay I decided to write after browsing the forum and scratching my head a few times.
I had to wonder, Why is there a subsection for "The Law of Attraction" on a website primarily
concerned with Eckhart Tolle, but also other non-dual inclined spirituality? I've done some reading
around the internet to get into the meat of "The Law of Attraction" (Which I'll abbreviate as LoA)
and I'm a little concerned about it. In this short essay I'll try to explain three things; 1) That
LoA does not work, 2) That LoA has absolutely nothing to do with nonduality and 3) That LoA
is harmful to genuine spiritual enquiry. One may wonder why I've decided to single out LoA
as a target for decapitation and the reason is simple; because it's so popular. The most recent
incarnation of this vacuous phenomenon arrived to us as "The Secret", the ironically titled
movie and book by Rhonda Byrne. The Secret topped best seller lists for a long time, and
also managed to maintain a strong position in the Amazon charts which is no easy feat. It
also comes as no surprise to me that Oprah Winfrey highly recommended it. Now, Oprah
Winfrey did boost Eckhart to spiritual stardom, and I'm quite sure I might never have heard
of him if it weren't for Oprah's endorsement of The Power of Now and A New Earth, but, I
think one can safely assume that Oprah is not aware of the much deeper implications
within Eckhart's books. I'm concerned by the popularity of the LoA because upon
closer inspection it is nothing more than a pyramid scheme in a spiritual outfit. It essentialy
goes like this; if you really want something and truly believe it's possible, you'll get it.
1) LoA simply does not work.
How many times have you really wanted something and desparately imagined having it, only for
it to simply not come into fruition? I'm sure that this happens to most people on a daily basis.
Sure, sometimes these things do come true, but one can put this down to mere chance or luck of
the draw. Let's examine this system in more detail;
Quoted from Wikipedia:
"Step 1 Ask Know what you want and ask the universe for it. This is where you need to get clear on
what it is you want to create and visualise
what you want as being as 'real' as possible."
How many people have asked the universe for their desires to be fulfilled? People are constantly
anticipating the future for their deepest desires to be fulfilled. They wait for things to happen for them,
or they put all of their mental and physical effort in to achieving their goals. I put it that this is not
spiritual at all, this is the daily struggle! This the grasping and rejecting, the clinging on to conditions
to achieve some desired outcome.
"Step 2 Believe Feel and behave as if the object of your desire is on its way. Focus your thoughts and your language on
what it is you want to attract. You want to
feel the feeling of really 'knowing' that what you
desire is on its way to you, even if you have to trick
yourself into believing it – do it."
How is this anything but desperation? How is this anything but belief in a belief, asserting an assumption
as true even before the outcome is known? How is this different from faith? I am reminded of Christian
Fundamentalists who desparately believe that Jesus is definitely coming SOON, despite the nearly
two thousand year period in which 'soon' has become 'very late'. How is the LoA any different from
a christian who prays and prays for Jesus' Second Coming (Step 1 and 2) and yet has not 'Received'?;
"Step 3 Receive Be open to receiving it. Pay attention to your intuitive messages,
synchronicities, signs from the Universe to help
you along the way as assurance you are on the
right' path. as you align yourself with the Universe
and open yourself up to receiving, the very thing you
are wanting to manifest will show up."
One must ask, if the LoA is true, why has Step 3 not come true for those countless christians who have
prayed and prayed for millennia for the coming of their King? I use the Christian example not as an attack
on Christianity, but because it is an excellent and enduring example of why the LoA is simply false
wishful thinking. Another, more morbid example I feel I should use is that of an impoverished nation, or
a starving child. It would appear that Rhonda Byrne overlooked the majority of the human population
when she wrote her book, because she failed to notice the billions who go without basic human
essentials day in and day out. Does a starving child not know it is starving, does it not ask for food
and beg everyday? (Step 1) Does the child not have some hope and faith that one day there will be a day
that it will not go hungry? (Step 2) Is the starving child not 'aligned with the Universe' enough, even though it has
to live in dirt and is susceptible to all of nature's most terrible diseases? Is the starving child not open to receiving
what it so desparately needs? (Step 3). I hope the barbaric nature of LoA has become clear at this point. When Rhonda
Byrne came up with this tripe she clearly intended only to extort money out of the wealthy middle classes who could
afford another self-help fix, and as a consequence forgot entirely about the countless people who LoA clearly could not 'help' and have since died since you have read this paragraph.
What Rhonda Byrne is doing here is nothing new. Her version of LoA is actually nothing more than wishful - every day
desiring, but sexed up. This is in it's own way marketing genius but also incredibly fraudulent. LoA is nothing but
the old paradigm. The old paradigm is the constant grasping and rejecting of conditions which leads to the cycle
of suffering, she is selling Samsara as "The Secret". She paints it with a new coat, but scratch the surface and one
can see what it really is. One does not need to pay money to know "The Secret" because one already knows it as
their everyday experience, infact she offers nothing but your own experience back to you- but for a price. The way
in which this is done is twofold;
a) The bastardization of Scientific concepts.
The first way in which the LoA seeks to extort money out of the innocent and the gullible is to resell wishful thinking
as some sort of scientifically proven 'method'. This is done very easily by associating it's wishful thinking
with scientific or psychological jargon. It emphasises that 'our thoughts create our reality' (that is, that thoughts
have an impact not only on the body physically and emotionally but also on the material world in which the body
inhabits.) According to proponents of this law, thoughts have an energy which attracts whatever it is the person is thinking of. A current trend amongst LoA and other New Age circuits is the attempt to combine their wishful thinking with
Quantum Mechanics. Proponents of this rubbish attempt to ape the 'Observer Principle' and the Heisenburg Uncertainty
as evidence that Reality is determined by what we think or wish to create. This is also very often sold as Spirituality,
which not only is deeply dishonest and disrespectful to Science, but also genuine spiritual enquiry.
b) The bastardization of Spiritual concepts.
The second way in which LoA fools people is it's alarming use of and raping of spiritual or philosophical
terminology. Much like their theft of scientific principles in order to appear ground breaking, LoA constantly
uses spiritual concepts in order to appear profound. The proponents of LoA throw such words as 'Universe'
'Energy' 'Source' 'Being' 'Love' 'Wholeness' 'Oneness' to such a degree that they appear at the very least
mysterious or enigmatic, and at the very worst as completely empty of all substance and meaning, divorced
from the original context in which such terms are understood correctly. Such words, even if not understood
clearly, speak to the very core of our nature, and this is why they are carelessly plucked from their proper
place and peppered all over the pages of drivel such as LoA and many other New Age nonsenses
in order to make a lot of profit.
2) LoA has absolutely nothing to do with nonduality.
This is what initally puzzled me and brought me to writing the essay. Let us pretend for a moment that
the LoA is actually a genuine spiritual philosophy/belief system. What does it teach? It teaches that
our minds have a profound effect on the universe, and that somehow what we wish for can be created,
or manifested, by the joint power of the universe and our minds, if we so badly desire it. So what
does this have to do with nonduality? Nothing! Even if all this were true it still in no ways can be
compared with or even considered amongst the philosophy, practice and enquiry of nonduality.
I am reminded of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. In this epic poem, there are many gods, there
are many demons, there are many castes, there are many spiritual practices, there are many
traditions all at work within the same society. But at the very core of this society, and this epic, lies the
teachings of Krishna, who imparts his wisdom to Arjuna on the battlefield before the war
between the Kuru cousins commences. Now Krishna is an incarnation of the Supreme
Being, and his teaching is nonduality. His teaching throws away all of the old paradigms, it
throws away all of the gods, all of the demons, all of the traditions, even many of the spiritual
practices are thrown away into the abyss of irrelevancy. These things which have seemed
so important, so vital to the society he throws away, because compared to the ultimate truth
which is to be realized if one follows his teaching, compared to that none of those other
things matter, they are not even worth considering. He teaches Arjuna spiritual practice
and Self enquiry, genuine spirituality. This is all he needs to realize Reality. All of the
other things are ultimately not useful or are a hindrance. Nonduality is about
understanding Reality, and understanding oneself, not through belief systems, not through
pseudoscience or intellectual pursuits. Not through wishful thinking. Through practice, through
enquiry and through experience, this is how nonduality works. This is why it has
nothing to do with LoA, which requires none of those things, and should not even be considered
alongside LoA. The two simply cannot be reconciled, even if LoA were genuine, because nonduality
works at the very deepest levels of experience, and asks the very deepest questions one can
ever ask, (Who am I?). To mix the two, or follow the two can only lead to confusion.
3) LoA is harmful to genuine spiritual enquiry.
Some might argue that although LoA is quite a transparent attempt to make a shedload of cash, it
does serve some spiritual insight or benefits. Whilst I won't argue with the material benefits that
some will claim to have received (although this could be put down to the Placebo effect or just blind
luck) I do contend the claims that LoA, and other similar 'spiritual' schemes can genuinely lead
one down the path to enlightenment. LoA can never be of complete use or purpose and the main
reason is this;
LoA rests on the assumption of materialism, and therefore encourages it.
Now by this I do not simply mean that it encourages you to horde objects and riches, and be generally
concerned primarily of ownership of things (although I would not be surprised if it did!) but rather that
it equates the Self with things not Self (such as body, such as thinking). The LoA rests on the most
basic assumption, and the most basic error, that the Self is the body, the individual. The most
basic materialism is seeing the Self as the body, and so assuming ownership over it. This is the cause
of all woes, the cause of all spiritual ignorance, and the LoA (among many other beliefs) falls right into
the trap of this assumption, and then it takes it's base therein, and makes it's assertions from there.
This is why it cannot be considered as genuine spirituality, and belief in LoA can be dangerous and
counterproductive to all seekers of genuine spiritual enquiry. LoA does not and cannot inspire
or require spiritual practice because it only works on the level of materialism. It is only concerned with
the false identity of the Self as the body, as the Self as the thinker. And yet even as a materialistic
philosophy it still does not inspire or require action. This is why it fails as both a spiritual philosophy and a
material self-help system. Even in materialism one is required to perform action in order to obtain desired
consequences. Like Newton said "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." LoA does not
ask that one does anything at all except concentrate one's thought into a belief and have faith in that belief.
There is no action in LoA so how could there possibly be a reaction? Generally, when one does nothing but
expects results, you don't get the result you expected! LoA merely asks one to assert and reassert a mental
position in the hope that it will be 'manifested' by the universe, as if without effort. It is lazy and inspires laziness,
both materialistically and spiritualy. It can neither be spiritualy gratifying (because there is no spiritual practice)
or materialy gratifying (because there is no impetus for action driven by the desire to be emotionally or physically
None of these quick fix pseudoscience/spiritual/philosophical systems inspire genuine spirituality, genuine
spiritual exploration (which is Self exploration). Aside from all of the previous things I have mentioned (1 and 2)
it is simply the fact that LoA asserts it's position based on the assumption that the Self is the body that it cannot
be valued in any way. This is the ignorance (avidya) which all genuine spirituality seeks to remove. You will see
it in Advaita, you will see it in gnosticism, you will see it in Buddhism, you will see it in Sufism, you will see it
in Taoism. This ignorance is Tolle's Ego. This is the rope's snake. This is the tiger in the dream. And this
ignorance is where all of these New Age belief systems work from. LoA and others like it are not at all spiritual
in any meaningful way and can be of no lasting beneficial use to anybody who is sincerely working towards
liberation. It is a poisonous doctrine. It can hamper one's ernest efforts to be free from ignorance about one's
nature and so one's suffering. Without those tried and tested spiritual practices such as meditation, selfless
service, devotion, mindfulness etc or direct Self enquiry (Jnana) then one can never be free from that superimposed
ignorance which is so limiting. The LoA and all of the others which don't ask of or require these two vital things must
be discarded because they simply cannot bring you to nondual realization. It is much wiser to go and swim down
into the deeps of the ocean, where nobody has been, than in the shallows, in order to find that pearl of great price.
The pearl of Self awareness.
I would personally suggest removing the subsection for "Law of Attraction" from the forum, not only because it does not receive as many visitors as other sections, but because, as I have hopefully explained, it may not work as a system, it has
nothing to do with nonduality or Eckhart Tolle and is not a helpful step on the path to enlightenment.
Thank you for reading.
ps: Sorry for the messy layout!