These days, there is a lot of local buzz around a movie called The Secret, apparently about the law of attraction…
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.