What’s now known as ‘the secret’ or ‘the law of attraction’ is a way of dealing with life that I’ve been familiar with for years now. That’s because we get all sorts of spiritual people within the Theosophical Society and among some of them this ‘secret’ has been practice for decades at least.
The Law of Attraction simply states that what happens to each of us has been ‘attracted’ to us by our actions, thoughts and feelings. In that context I’ve known people who ‘attracted’ a space to park their car near to where they needed to be. I’ve heard of people who were so confident in their attraction powers that they did not call a cab to the International Theosophical Centre at Naarden but just took the first one to arrive. This would leave the person who had actually called for one to call for another (and having to wait an extra half hour at least).
I’ve tried this approach. I would visualize myself a cab waiting at the station as I arrived. I found the practice tiring and trivial. After all – there are busses there and who am I to ask for that cab? I can wait a half hour…
For real theosophists the law of attraction, when it works, works within the boundaries of the law of karma. The law of karma is actually pretty identical to the secret, except that it works across centuries and lives. That is: what I developed in previous lives has its effects even now. Positively for instance: the talents I have in this life are the results of ultimately work in this direction in previous lives. The genetics are just the way this works out: I was born to parents who were in the position to give me the genes necessary to express those talents. I’ve written about the law of karma before, so I’m not going to go into too much detail.
The law of Attraction is based on a much simpler idea: in order to achieve anything in life (whether it’s happiness, a husband, wealth or a parking spot) you have to really want it. You have to make sure you believe you deserve it. You have to do everything to show the universe you are serious about this. One example: in order to get yourself a life partner you have to make sure you have room in your life and your home for that partner. So the advice is to go to the trouble of keeping his side of the bed empty. Have room in your bathroom for his toothpaste etc.
This is actually good psychological advice. There are several issues though. First off: most people really don’t know just what they want all that well. Secondly: do you really want your own desires to rule your life?
Perhaps most importantly: do you really want to take responsibility for the disasters in your life? What if your partner comes down with cancer. Do you really want to blame him for that? Do you really want to blame yourself for deciding to get involved with someone who was going to have cancer? More practical and healthy is just to buckle up, deal with the cancer and the pain of all that and just do the best you can. Blaming people for their sorrows isn’t going to help either them or yourself be better people.
On the plus side: the law of attraction makes it very clear that in order to receive you have to give. Example from the Oprah show: someone was in a lot of debt and determined to get out of it. She started giving to charity more and lo and behold, a new job came along and everything turned out swell.
Similarly: the law says that one has to be grateful for what one has before one can get more. This is a bit weird though: gratitude as a tool for getting more than you have? Yet that’s the kind of affirmations people are making.
Still – I have no problem with people donating more to well chosen charities or being more grateful for what they’ve got. After all – the secret is mostly believed in by people in the US and even though there’s an economic crisis going on: people in the US often have more stuff and food than they actually use. So some gratitude is in order.
I think that’s enough ranting for today.
5 thoughts on “The Law of Attraction explained for newbies”
Katinka, you’ve expressed some very good points on why so many people have not been able to accomplish what The Secret promised them.
Giving isn’t for getting; it’s for showing compassion. When we give from our heart, not from our need, we are in a state of abundance. Basically, we’re telling the universe, “I have more than enough.” The universe responds with, “Yes, you do.” The result is receiving more to do good with, but it doesn’t always come in the form of money. Money is not the only form of energy that expresses abundance and it’s not the only form to give.
For example, supporting others simply because I believe in them and care about them has resulted in landslides of support from others. Some of it emotional, some of it material. Giving all that I am to work that I’ve done brought an abundance of awards and recognition, but that’s not why I did it. I did it to give my best.
Motive is a key factor in all we do and in the results that will come of our actions. Jesus talked about this. He and his disciples were watching people put money in the donation box of a temple. A rich Pharisee put in several gold coins, while an old woman put in what would be a few pennies. The woman actually gave more because she gave all she had. She gave from her consciousness of abundance, believing that all her needs were being supplied.
What many people miss about the Law of Attraction is that we attract to us from our energetic state, not from our egoic desires. You can state your intention or affirmation for abundance a hundred times a day, but it won’t materialize if you’re in a consciousness of lack. It’s what you really believe that attracts, not what you say you want.
The tough question, do we blame ourselves our others for our hardships, often goes unanswered in all the hoopla about the Law of Attraction. It’s not about blame, but of learning to see that there are gifts and opportunities in everything. I certainly did not see a gift or opportunity in being hit by a car when it happened! What could possible be good about having broken bones in my neck and back?
It has however brought me many opportunities for growth and development that I might otherwise have never seen. I certainly would never consciously create something like that, or the violent abuse I suffered from my exhusband, but I do know that unconsciously I did create them, and now I know why. They have made it possible for me to become more fully who I came here to be and to give in ways I could not before.
It’s interesting that you’re blogging about this, as I am currently teaching a class at Olcott on Thought Power, which is meant to bring a Theosophical viewpoint to bear upon the ideas espoused in The Secret.
To me, the Law of Correspondence (“As above, so below”) has always seemed more relevant than the Law of Attraction. When each level of our being is in harmony, the kinds of concerns that typically motivate one to seek out solutions such as those offered by The Secret become moot. When that state is achieved, Attraction works almost by itself; we are integrated, sure of what we want and where we are going, and the pathways for the circumstances we truly desire are wide and clear. Another way of looking at it is, “As inside, so outside.” When we are cluttered and disjointed inside, our entire life will reflect that.
I like that Dan. That also implies that as we become more integrated and balanced we know better WHAT TO WANT. Which is a way of saying: just because you’re rich, doesn’t mean you’re spiritual – it just means you are balanced in the direction of physical comfort.
was interested to see how a philosopher/spiritualist would view the law of attraction. I have noticed people blending the law of attraction, the secret and visualisation together. The result is a very skewed and screwy understanding. I have to say, phrases like:
“in order to acchieve anything in life (whether it’s happiness, a husband, wealth or a parking spot) you have to really want it. You have to make sure you believe you deserve it. You have to do everything to show the universe you are serious about this.”
are way off the mark, but a natural conclusion from watching movies like the secret and consequently most people have this type of interpretation about it. But it’s a very poor description of the law of attraction.
The law of attraction is not visualisation. It’s not the process of trying to attract certain outcomes by efforted desire. It’s just a law that states that one is always a match to the surroundings, events and experiences you experience. In other words, the inner and outer world are always an energetic match. Makes sense doesn’t it?
And yes it’s very much like the Law of Correspondence Dan mentioned. All the major spiritual traditions say it in one way or another: as it is below, so it is above. The take-away from the law of attraction is that you have creative control over your experience by merit of being 1) a vibrational being in a vibrational universe that is immortal and has wellbeing as it’s natural state, 2) a conscious being, which has the ability to direct attention, intention and emotion as it chooses. Most people don’t really jive with the first statement because of their beliefs, but it is the very basis upon which the law of attraction operates.
If you have free will and conscious control over how you feel, what you put your attention on and what your intentions are, you can’t help but find that your outer world, the reality you are living has to be a match to your inner world. It is law.
Where things get screwy is when people try to make an effort to get external conditions to be in a certain way by performing visualizations or ‘LOA shortcuts’ etc. And then people go on to say they are using the ‘secret’. What often is happening is that people have a vested interest in having an external condition happen, which they think will make them happy. In most cases it becomes conditional happiness. People stress over getting a lifepartner. Not having it makes them unhappy, and they think that once the lifepartner is there, they will be happy.
On the flip side people judge, label and ascribe meaning to what external conditions, experiences and events say about oneself. If you’re in a carcrash some say, oh its LOA, you manifested it. If you get dumped by your life partner, you manifested or you’re a bad person, you have no worth etc.
It’s skips over the core of what makes the law of attraction work, it’s doing and thinking about things exactly the other way around. If you have a lot of money, if you have a loving partner, if you have a nice house, it’s not the money, your partner’s affection or the house that makes you happy. It’s the way you’re perceiving that creates the happiness associated with those external conditions. It’s what you are doing with your attention, your intention and your emotion that makes life good or bad.
That is why the wiser teachers keep saying over and over, be happy now, be deliberate about your intention, attention and emotion and all the other things will fall in to place. What you have control of is your own energetic countenance and how you perceive reality, how good you feel. That is all you need to control and all you can control.
Because it has to, it is law. There is no such thing as dis-congruity on an energetic level, the states, moment to moment, are always a perfect match.
What some teachers also try to help people experience is that all these things people strive for, happiness, worth, value, respect, joy, are internal conditions already accessible to you. It’s at your very being. You don’t have to sweat or visualize or create or work to get it. Yet this is what 99% procent of us do and believe in.
The thing about the secret and all the people that had a little or big success using the information provided is that most people don’t have a clue about who they are and it offers tangible experience when you have a ‘manifestation’ happen. Experience is the ultimate learning and for many, ‘manifesting’ some kind of event at least makes them conscious of what they are doing energetically in terms of their attention, intention and emotion.
Since most people just have trouble thinking of themselves as a form of immortal consciousness having an experience in a vibrational body, this is a big thing. I know I had no clue about this 6 years ago. It just thought of myself as a clump of cells with a moderately intelligent brain. When I had a little manifestation happen by playfully trying a meditation technique, I started to understand from a knowing level there is something about the dynamics of intention, attention and emotion that defines the experience of life in a very profound way. And all the experiences after that work to deepen both the knowledge and wonder about how it works.
One more thing about your example you state:
“just because you’re rich, doesn’t mean you’re spiritual – it just means you are balanced in the direction of physical comfort.”
I think a more accurate reflection would be that if one is rich in terms of finances, then obviously money flows easily for that person. My interpretation of spirituality is that everything is spiritual. Everything is an expression of consciousness. And since consciousness can’t be created or destroyed, everything single thing on this planet, in this universe, is spiritual. I don’t think you can lack consciousness. But you can block the flow of wellbeing, by merit of having the capacity of attention, intention and emotion. A financially rich person may still be blocking the flow of many other areas of their life. You can’t not be spiritual. What would being spiritual entail? What is balance anyway?
Nurture self enquiry in silence-be persistent-truth will be realized, words will no longer be needed, thougnts will be passing fancies to be enjoyed or disregarded at the disgression of being. Relax and enjoy the ride!
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