The Intention to Willfully Manifest Isn’t Needed – It Happens Naturally When We Become Clear
As I peruse through the new age spiritual teachings, I am struck by the inclusion of so much language and so many practices designed to manifest something. The conscious intention to manifest, as an act of will or an act of seeking, died for me many years ago. And that’s about when a lot more really wonderful things manifested in my life. This manifestation of an abundant life just didn’t come from trying to make it happen. It came from getting clear on who I am and who I am not. I am not an unlovable self, a person who isn’t good enough or a victim. I am not a teacher, an author or a director of a treatment center. I am not a musician or an artist. I am not any of those things.
For years, I carried those labels around and they felt heavy, like luggage. Trying to manifest almost always comes from a sense that you are something in particular and that you must live out that role. This is restrictive and limiting. It presupposes what you are supposed to do in this life, who you are supposed to become, what you are supposed to have and not have. It’s like living within a box and trying to expand the box, so that the future creates a better version of the box.
I used to think that I was an artist and musician. Along the same lines of that story, I thought my purpose was to write music. Because I identified with those roles, I was not very prolific as a songwriter. Too much self-judgment and doubt. I was trying too HARD to be something. As soon as I saw that I was not an artist or songwriter, it was like this amazing burden had been lifted. I then became four times more prolific, writing music just out of the love of creating – rather than from an identity or some intention to become something.
The same is true for my presumed role as a teacher. I have never walked around thinking of myself as a teacher. The teacher label was placed on me after writing several books and creating websites. When one believes he or she is a teacher, it is automatically a confining box. The belief that one is a teacher can easily come with some pretty extreme views like, “I am a savior,” “I know the truth,” or “I am here to save the world.” I am not here to save the world. The books and other writings and tools you see from me came from the pure joy of creating in the moment. Gone is any baggage about being a teacher. Inflated self-importance almost always follows the belief that one is a teacher.
The same kind of thing happened when I opened the Kiloby Center. My intention was not to create an identity as an addiction specialist or a savior in the world of addicts. Sure, I went to addiction specialist school. I did all that was necessary to open the Center. But the entire venture was an act joyful creating in the moment, one step at a time. It was a labor of love. Had I begun to think that I was driving the ship, that would have brought about the luggage again – the box.
The reason the Center is doing well is not because of any willful intention to manifest some future thing. It came from the act of joyful creating in the moment. And like all good creations, the center was co-created through lots of folks who also love enjoying creating. It is never one self that does anything.
When you love what you do and carry no identity around it, you just do what you do. You create what you create. It is purely a free-flowing movement. If anything, whenever I contemplated the future and whether the Center would stay afloat, I merely looked at all hopes, commands and threats and saw them as empty. This placed me right back in the present moment, creating for the pure joy of it.
When I see these teachings talking about the need to consciously manifest something, I am dumbfounded. Why put so much burden in the minds of people? Why get them to try, try, try and then feel bad when they don’t manifest what they are trying to manifest.
Where does that come from? Does it not come from a present sense of lack or deficiency? Who would have such a notion? And isn’t fear at the root of that intention, the fear that we won’t get what we want?
If you really want to manifest some great things in your life, drop all desire for the future to be a certain way. Drop all perceived threats. Drop all your strict adherence to life turning out a certain way. See through the command that tells you that you MUST manifest something in particular. And then see what ACTUALLY happens when you are out of the way completely.
We don’t know the future, nor do we have any control over how it will actually unfold. But if we see that these identities of lack and deficiency are not who we are, we will manifest in the world exactly as we manifest. We will be surprised at every corner to see what happens, both the ups and the downs.
We will be truly living in the mystery instead of living our lives according to a program that says we are in control and we must direct the course of our lives. This programming is culturally given. Freedom includes going beyond what our cultures say is the right way to do things and the right attitude about making those things happen. The American Dream has been downloaded into our systems. And yet the Dream is really a dream of control, a dream of limitation. We haven’t seen this yet as a culture. But you don’t have to wait for your culture to see it. You can inquire or investigate now.
If the center closes down, I lose all my precious musical instruments, I go off Facebook, shut my sites down, take my books off the shelf, I will be ok. Perfectly fine. These things are not who I am. New things will arise. And whatever arises will be perfectly wonderful.
If you can see that it doesn’t matter what happens, you are already free in the moment. You have not confined yourself to how you think life should unfold. Therefore, you are open. Completely, completely open. Manifestation happens. We can’t help it. We can’t stop it. And we don’t need to be in the business of directing it. Watch what happens…. Love you all.
– Scott Kiloby on FaceBook
I think the law of attraction has been misstated. You do not attract what you want. You attract what you are. That’s how the law of attraction works…If you say to the universe, “Gimme, gimme, gimme,” which is what a lot of the work around the law of attraction says because of a misinterpretation, then the universe gives you back what you offered out. You get more “gimme, gimme, gimme.” “Gimme” means you don’t have enough. You have a shortage. The universe just keeps giving you more shortage because of what you’re thinking and saying. If, on the other hand, you say to the universe again and again, “How may I serve? How may I serve? How may I serve?” and you live a life of constancy reflecting that principle, the universe will respond back, “How may I serve you?”
Which reminds me of the English master, Beesley: ” “This is the secret of evolution, plenty – abundance -and this again comes back to human thinking: to the consciousness of an abundance. Each time you allow yourself to think you are hard up, you are going to be more hard up. Each time you think you can’t spare anything to give away, then you will have less next time.
– Wayne Dyer
I don’t know about the LoA dynamics (I cannot know), but he does have a point about coming from a sense of deficiency vs fullness or completeness. And I also see that coming from an orientation of service – to others, myself, life – makes resources available that I otherwise may not be aware of.
I have probably written about this earlier, and thought it would be interesting to look at this again.
What are some of the differences and similarities between The Work and the Law of Attraction (LoA)?
Basic assumptions: Operating on them vs questioning them
The most clear difference is that the LoA may – at least for some – rest on some unquestioned assumptions, such as I need X to be happy where X may be anything – money, nice house, nice car, a good job, a good relationship. In contrast, The Work invites us to question any and all assumptions, including our most basic ones. What’s more true for me than my initial assumptions?
And while the diagnosis in the two approaches is similar, the remedy is quite different.
Both points to our beliefs as a cause of our suffering. In the case of LoA, limiting beliefs (as if not any belief is limiting) prevents us from having what would make us more happy. In the case of The Work, I also get to see how I limit my life through beliefs, and how beliefs in themselves create suffering. I get to see that when I take a thought as true, I see, feel and live as if it’s true. It may, to some extent, become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For instance, if I believe I am unlovable I am less open to see or receive love from myself or others.
Remedy: Visualization vs clarity
The remedy in the Law of Attraction is, as far as I understand, visualizations and perhaps affirmations. These may, to some extent, override my beliefs. And if the beliefs are still here, unquestioned and unexamined, they will still operate in my life.
In contrast, The Work helps me find clarity on my thoughts and live from that clarity. As I find more clarity around a thought I previously took as true, I see and live with more receptivity, and live with more kindness towards myself and others. When I find clarity on the thought I am unlovable, I notice and am receptive to my own and others love for me (and mine for others). And the same goes for thoughts around money, work and anything else in life.
So where I may use LoA from my basic assumptions about the world and what would make me happy, The Work invites me to question these assumptions and find what’s more true for me. And where both have a similar diagnosis, the remedy is quite different. For LoA, it’s visualizations overriding beliefs. In The Work, it’s finding clarity on these thoughts through investigation, and living from this clarity.
In my daily life, I am often reminded of the practical effects of visualization. In short, they help organize my mind and actions at many levels and align them with a certain outcome, making that outcome more likely.
I have written about the specifics of this in other posts, although I can repeat some of them: At the mind, emotional and behavioral levels, there is a reorganization and realignment with the content of the visualization, making it more likely to happen. Obstacles at the mind and emotional levels tend to be reduced or go away. I look for small steps in daily life to bring me in the direction of what is visualized. I find more easily in my self and my life the qualities I visualize. I look for opportunities, and are more likely to recognize and grasp them when they arise. I actively engage in behaviors which brings me closer to the outcome. And of course, the more vivid the visualization, the more it seem real here and now, the more all of this tends to happen.
It is interesting to note that this is a process that happens anyway, all the time for most or all of us. We visualize something in the future, and it tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy for us. Often, we don’t realize that this is what is going on. And if we do, may take the specifics of the visualization as inevitable, or something outside of our control. When I consciously visualize, I am just using a process that is there all along, whether I notice it or not, and whether I consciously interact with it or not.
The process of visualization is a tool, and as any tool it can be used for many different purposes and in many different ways. Mainly, it can be used as part of a spiritual practice, as an aid for awakening, it can be used to change the conditions of my inner life, and it can be used to make something happen in my life in the world. Either of those are fine.
Tibetan Buddhism is probably most sophisticated, and at least most complex, in how they use it as an aid for changes in the inner life, and ultimately awakening. But even theistic traditions use visualizations, for instance through prayer. I visualize Christ in my prayers and contemplations, and it inevitably has an effect on me. I bring some of the qualities I see in Christ into my own life. The visualization becomes a reminder of what is possible here now.
And then there is of course those using it to either feel better, for instance visualizing themselves as happy, or to get something in their outer life, for instance a new job, a partner, or more money.
In either case, it is good to keep it all in perspective. Visualizations are about getting something that appears to not already be here, so it is easy to get into the trap of a sense of split here, to identify closely with seeking mind and not finding ourselves so often as non-seeking mind. So it can be good to ask ourselves a few questions. What happens when I believe I need this in my life? What will change if I have it in my life? Is it true that what I am seeking is not already here?
These questions may help us see and feel that nothing is really missing here and now. It is complete as it is. And yet, within that context, it is still fully possible to use visualizations for practical reasons. It remains one of many practical tools, although now not used to fill a hole in me or to get something I believe I really need.
Visualization is just one of many tools we use in daily life, and we tend to use it as we use all of the other tools.
If we believe we really need something that is not here, then any or all of the tools are used within that context. If we look for solutions that only benefit us or our small group, then the tools are used in that way. If we look for solutions that benefits ourselves and the larger whole, the big inclusive we, then they are requited for that purpose. If we notice that what we seem to need is already here, then they are used within that context.
To me, it seems pretty obvious that the law of attraction works… at least as defined by (a) visualizing something I want, and (b) it arriving some of the time, significantly more often than if I didn’t visualize. I may have misgivings of how it is sometimes used (to get more stuff our beliefs tell us will make us happy, or to blame the victim), and some of the reasons given for how it works, but that doesn’t change the fact that it (sometimes) works.
At the very least, it works for the reasons outlined in all the research on self-fulfilling prophesies… In my own experience, it seems to work for some of the following reasons:
- It clarifies my intentions at many levels. When I visualizing something, many levels of my being naturally align with it, including my views, emotions and behavior (at least to some extent, depending on how often and with how much details and felt-sense I visualize it).
- For this reason, I am more alert to opportunities when they arise, and I am ready to act on them. I look for these opportunities, and I am ready and prepared to act (much like a basketball player visualizing getting the ball through the hoop, and then being more likely to do so on the court).
- I also am more likely to place myself in situations where these opportunities are more likely to arise, and even to create them myself.
- In general, I am more optimistic about having what I visualize in my life, which allows, invites and enhances the effects listed above.
As with anything else we do to bring something about, it is an invitation. The guest may or may not come, if it arrives it does so on its own schedule, inherent in its arrival is its leaving, and the guest(s) that arrive may brings some surprises as well.
To me, it seems lame (to put it crudely, and with some shadow stuff included) to blanketly state that the law of attraction doesn’t work, is a scam, and so on. It is fine to say it doesn’t get people the lasting happiness they seek (because it doesn’t), and it is fine to say that the reasons given for why it works are bogus (which they often seem to be), but to say that the law of attraction itself doesn’t work is as bogus as anything they try to put down.
For one, it discounts a good deal of solid research on self-fulfilling prophecies. It also, maybe less importantly since it is anecdotal evidence, discounts the experiences of innumerable folks who find it a useful, practical and effective tool.
I am appreciating The Secret, and all the attention brought to The Law of Attraction, more and more.
First of all, it works. It opens my mind to certain possibilities, and when opportunities come along, I am more likely to recognize and take them. And it may work beyond that as well.
It may also bring some temporary happiness to people who use it, which is a great thing.
It helps people see that what they thought would make them happy didn’t, or at least brought no lasting happiness.
It helps people recognize the infinite cycles of wants. When we get what our beliefs tells us would make us happy, we may experience happiness for a while, but it soon fades and something else comes up as something that would make us happy, and so on. It never ends. It may be fun for a while, at least as long as we get some of the things we seek, but after a while, the whole process becomes less appealing.
It helps people recognize the role of beliefs in all of this. It is our beliefs which triggers happiness and unhappiness. I believe something will make me happy, I get it, and experience happiness. I believe something will make me happy, don’t get it, and experience unhappiness. I believe something will make me unhappy, get it, and experience unhappiness. I believe something will make me unhappy, don’t get it, and experience happiness (or at least relief).
Recognizing the role of beliefs in this, it invites people to examine their beliefs, which in turn opens for finding peace with what is, as it is. And beyond peace, even appreciation and gratitude for it.
And finally, it has invited a large number of people to clarify their own views on all of this, and explore the topic more in depth, which is a great gift. Just over the last few days, I have found (without seeking it out) both funny and very insightful comments on the topic, and there is a great deal more out there.
Not everyone arrives at all of these of course, but the invitation is there, and the process leading there is set in motion.
So exploring what is happening around The Secret, we find gifts all around.
In my own life, and of course… more easily… in other’s life, I sometimes see a tendency to transcend and exclude.
And it has a direct connection with the shadow.
I am identified with a particular identity, and what comes up does not fit within that identity. The box I have made for myself is not big enough, and leaves it outside.
One of the more recent examples is with the movie The Secret, where my initial reaction was of pushing it away, putting it down, seeing it as inferior, not really worth existing.
But then, as soon as that happens, I also notice all the signs of being caught up in a shadow projection: pushing it away, putting it down, seeing it as inferior, not really worth existing…!
So shifting into a transcend and include mode, I am more free to find the grain of truth in its message, and also appreciate how it… obviously… fills a real need for many people. I can explore its value, its gifts, and see how it fits in with the bigger picture… what role does it fill? What can it do for people, and where are its limits? I can explore it in a more receptive and nuanced way.
And working with my own shadow projections around it certainly helps me in this… for instance by using The Work.
I haven’t seen it yet, but I can still explore some things that come up for me around the general topic of the law of attraction. (Slightly one-sided.)
Drawback one: relative truth only
The first drawback is an obvious one: the law of attraction only serves as one of many tools to get what our personality wants, such as comfort, money, career, a partner, and so on. Instead of money to buy it, we use the law of attraction. It is at best good for our human self, yet does not give ultimate satisfaction, contentment or happiness.
So it is of course fine to use the law of attraction to get things, just as we use money, attractiveness, status, power and whatever else we have available to get our way. The only problem comes when we think this will actually give us anything more than temporary satisfaction.
Drawback two: something is wrong!
Underlying the interest in the law of attraction is the belief that something is wrong: something is wrong with me, you, the world and/or God.
So if we use the law of attraction to set something right, according to our personality, we act from and reinforce this sense of wrongness. We deepen the groove of wrongness, the sense that something is wrong – with me, you, the world, God.
And with it, we fuel a basic distrust in the world as it shows up, as it is.
As usual, there is no lack of supporting beliefs for the core one of something is wrong. (A good one is God needs me to tell him/her/it how things should be.)
Drawback three: preferences from limited view
Another drawback, for me, is that I wouldn’t know what to ask for or set out to attract.
Whatever I set out to attract is what my personality wants. It comes out of a very limited view and understanding. And, yes, out of a basic mistrust in the world as it shows up on its own.
(More precisely, what I want and desire all comes out of beliefs. These beliefs that makes up my limited – and ultimately false – identity and large portions of this personality. Beliefs that, as we discover pretty quickly by inquire into them, have no basis in reality. A set of random and conditioned beliefs are identified with and taken as I, and then used as a guide for how to operate in life.)
The preferences of my personality is a poor guide for what to attract, which is clear even from the perspective of these preferences themselves.
My life is full of examples of things happening that my personality initially didn’t like at all. Yet these situations later appeared as exactly what I needed, as a great gift. And there are as many examples of getting what this personality wanted, which later appeared – to the same personality, as a misfortune.
It is difficult to know in advance what is fortune and misfortune. The same situation can appear either way, at any time, and it can change over time. It really just depends on the view.
Drawback four: my will be done
Reality, or God, is what serves up this human life. Who am I, as identified with the preferences of this personality, to think I know better?
Put another way, the law of attraction is another form of my will be done. But can I know more than God?
It is of course fine to live from my will be done. It is what we do when there are beliefs and an identification with our personality. It is just more of the same.
Drawback five: fear and the shadow
Another thing that can happen is that we become paranoid about what thoughts arise and which ones we put energy into.
As we discover quickly through meditation, if not much sooner, thoughts happen. They live their own life. They come out of the blue and vanish back into open space. They are a surprise guest or visitor, entering and then equally surprising leaving again. There is no way to hold thoughts back. They come on their own accord, and trying to filter them is a futile, and quite stressful and energy consuming, endeavor.
There may be the appearance of choosing which thoughts to fuel and which not, but that too really happens on its own.
So depending on how we are put together, if there is an attachment to the idea of the law of attraction, there may be a good deal of frustration and fear coming up as well. Oh, I thought about a car accident: that means I will get in one! I can’t think about anything dark, because it means it is more likely to happen, but these thoughts still seem to come in even if I fight them! Those people always talk about negative things, so those thoughts enter my mind as well, and will attract it to my life!
Sounds stressful to me. As soon as we go into these dynamics, what we feared has already happened…! I got into the law of attraction to find happiness and avoid unpleasantness, but it only gives me the unpleasantness that I tried to avoid, even before anything has been manifested.
If anything, what happens is that our shadow only fills up with more and more stuff, and become denser as well, less explored and invited into awareness.
The grain of truth: seeking those and that which agrees with me
What seems accurate about the law of attraction is that I have a set of beliefs, and then seek out people that agree with me and situations that confirms what I already know (that align with these beliefs).
So, as I did during some years in childhood, I believe I am unlikeable, and seek out people who agree – and don’t like me! They may not like me, but they at least agree with me – they don’t upset my worldview, and that is more important.
I believe I don’t deserve money, so act accordingly to make sure I don’t get too much of it. I believe I deserve abundance, so act in ways that brings money into my life.
I believe people are mean, treat them from suspicion, and then respond by withdrawing and acting in ways I interpret as mean. I believe people are friendly, act in a friendly way towards them, and receive friendly responses.
Our belief system permeates our whole life: it forms our outlook and worldview, it informs what we notice and don’t notice, it fuels emotions and behaviors. We act as if our beliefs are true, which makes them appear true to us. We look for and collect evidence for these beliefs. We interpret what happens according to these beliefs. And we act in ways that makes them appear to come true, including in the ways listed above.
So in that sense, there is a “law of attraction”, but there is nothing mysterious about it. It is commonplace, what we notice and live from daily. This form of law of attraction is simply that we live as if our beliefs are true and we live to make them appear true, so it tends to be a self-fulfilling prophesy. This is also widely known from mainstream psychology.
This garden variety form of self-fulfilling prophesy already permeates our lives, so there is no need to make it into anything more weird. At the same time, it seems that weird explanations for simple things helps people bring attention to it, so in that way it may be helpful for them.
If people become aware of and start question their beliefs, even if they do so from an unusual starting point, then why not?
Integration: intention and surrender
There is also a possibility for an integration here, which is what I tend to do in my own life.
I may set an intention, and even visualize for something to occur, yet within a context of Thy will be done, a context of surrendering to what happens as the will of God, of reality.
Also, as beliefs are questioned there is a natural shift from my will be done to Thy will be done.
The preferences of this personality becomes less important. Thoughts are revealed as just thoughts, questions more than statements about the world. Whatever happens is OK, and then more than OK.