Thursday, October 11, 2007

Decoding the Secret - How to Best Use the Law of Attraction to Fulfill Your Soul's Intention Part 1 of 2

The primary purpose of this entry is to provide advice on how the law of attraction should best be used to improve one’s life and the world. It is written in response to the popular book and DVD called The Secret. Unlike many critiques of The Secret, this one comes from someone who believes that the law of attraction is real. I just think that The Secret has done a poor job of explaining what the law of attraction is and an even worse job of explaining how to use it.

Since I have so much to say about this topic, I have divded this entry into 2 parts. In today's post, part 1, I will explain the law of attraction and my experiences with it and introduce you to a sickness that is sweeping the world called Secret Fever. In my next post, part 2, I will discuss the many problems with The Secret and explain how to use the law of attraction to manifest an authentic life that reflects your soul’s intention for you.

Let me begin by saying that as a spiritual counselor and teacher, I am ecstatic that the DVD and book entitled The Secret, about the law of attraction have been such a smashing success. I am glad that masses of people have been introduced to this fundamental law of the universe, which, if used properly, has the power to positively change our lives and the world. As a New Age practitioner who is moving away from one on one counseling work towards writing books, leading workshops and creating television and film content with spiritual messages, the success of The Secret is phenomenally inspirational to me. It proves my long held conviction that we live in a very special time, which is ripe with the potential for individual and global transformation. Now is the time for those like myself, who have positive messages to share, to publish, speak, create and spread our messages because as demonstrated by the success of The Secret, the public's receptivity and need for spiritual tools and knowledge is at an all time high. Yes, I have watched the DVD of The Secret dozens of times and so one can correctly deduce that I am a fan.

All that being said, I am also a critic. I am glad that The Secret exists and I am happy about the fact that it has introduced so many people to the law of attraction, however I disagree with its views on what the law of attraction is and how it can and should be used. Sometimes, in order for ideas to be accessible to mainstream audiences, they are watered down and simplified. More to the point, sometimes, powerful ideas are so potent that they are not fully understood by those who endeavor to explain them and so what the public gets is a simplified explanation that misses the point. And when this happens, when the description of a powerful life-transforming concept like the law of attraction is watered down and simplified, it amounts to a tremendous missed opportunity to truly help humanity. So yes, The Secret does have a powerful message, but nothing compared to the message it could have had if those featured in it had done a better job of explaining the law of attraction, its benefits and how it should best be utilized to improve our lives and the world.

I know, I know - if you're a fan of The Secret, these are fighting words! But please, just bear with me and I will thoroughly explain my point of view. One thing that might clue you in to the truth of my statements is awareness of the sickness that is sweeping the world and infecting many people exposed to The Secret.. Let's call it, "Secret Fever". Do you have Secret Fever?

Secret Fever
The symptoms of Secret Fever are rarely discussed, because as you know, the chief tenants of The Secret are to feel good and stay positive – thus, according to the twisted logic of The Secret, merely talking about Secret Fever will only attract more of the illness. However, even though the symptoms are rarely discussed - because again that would be "negative" - these symptoms are unmistakable. The complaints of those suffering from this fever go something like this:
"How do I keep my thoughts positive 24 hours a day?"
"How can anyone stay positive all the time?"
"Why haven't I found my perfect mate yet? I've been visualizing him/her for years?"
""I was doing so good this week but today I'm in a bad mood - so today, I probably blew my chance to manifest that Gucci bag I've had my eye on!"
"I feel so bad that I've been feeling bad"
"Why is it taking so long for things to manifest?"
"Why don't my affirmations seem to work?"
And the most common complaint goes something like this, "I've asked, I believe and I still haven't received my new BMW, my new house, my new job and my new mate! - Why not?"
Again the most insidious thing about these symptoms is that their very existence makes one feel worse - because according to The Secret - these symptoms/doubts/complaints are simply evidence that one is falling short in applying the law of attraction.

So the purpose of this post is to help heal the thousands who are suffering from Secret Fever. And since I truly am a fan of The Secret – it is a flawed introduction to the law of attraction, but it is inspiring nonetheless - I intend to add to it by providing a deeper understanding of the law of attraction and how it should best be employed for the betterment of all.

But first, to make sure we are all on the same page, let's summarize the law of attraction and how the Secret and other materials on the topic teach it should be used to help you manifest the things you want in your life.

Defining the Law of Attraction
To paraphrase The Secret, the law of attraction states that you attract into your life whatever you focus on. Everything that is coming into your life you are attracting into your life with your thoughts, your emotions and the images you hold in your mind. If you focus on positive things, you will attract positive things into your life. If you focus on negative things, you will attract negative things into your life. So if you focus on prosperity, happiness and health, you will become rich, happy and healthy. If you focus on poverty, sickness and despair – you will be poor, ill and sad. And since this is a law of the universe, like gravity and other natural laws, it is working all the time - 24 hours a day. And this law doesn’t discriminate between subconscious and conscious thoughts. So if you are consciously thinking about being happy for 1 hour a day and then spend the other 23 hours consciously and unconsciously thinking about and being sad, the law of attraction will bring into your life more sadness since that is what you’re primarily focusing on.

The law of attraction is not a new discovery and it certainly is not a secret! As a law of the universe, it’s been around for a long time - perhaps since the beginning of time - and it has been discussed and talked about for thousands of years.
Just about every religious leader has spoken about it in one way or another. For example:
Jesus: "Whatsoever things ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them and ye shall have them." Mark 11:24
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek; and you shall find" Matthew 7:7
Buddha: "All that we are is the result of what we have thought."
Authors throughout history have also talked about the law of attraction in different ways. Just from the 20th century alone, I can probably name a dozen or so successful books that are about the law of attraction or that at least feature it in one of their chapters:
Books by Napoleon Hill like his classic, Think and Grow Rich.
Books by Norman Vincent Peale like, The Power of Positive Thinking.
Books by Og Mandino like, The Greatest Salesman in the World.
Books by Catherine Ponder, Joseph Murphy, Wallace Wattles and dozens of other authors all teach the law of attraction.
More recently, Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer have written books (e.g. The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire by Chopra - The Power of Intention by Dyer) that cover roughly the same terrain covered by the Secret. And in my opinion the best books written on the topic lately, are the numerous ones written by Jerry and Esther Hicks that feature the teachings of Abraham. The latest title in their library is The Astonishing Power of Emotions.

Recently, there have been some advances in the way the law of attraction is taught. Many of the older books on the subject focus on the need to control one's thoughts - the need to think positively. This leads to 2 huge challenges in utilizing the law of attraction. First, it’s pretty hard if not impossible to control one’s thoughts – there are so many of them and they never stop. Second - exactly what is a good thought? Is "I’m not going to get sick ever again" a good thought? Well no, not really, because with that thought you are focusing on sickness instead of focusing on what you really want, which is health. So in response to these challenges related to controlling one's thoughts, the recent literature has put more emphasis on one’s emotions. Now we learn that though thought is magnetic and creative, the feeling attached to one’s thoughts is just as important in the manifestation process. So, if you’re thinking, "I want to be rich", it helps to also feel how happy you will feel if you are rich. The more you maintain the feeling state connected to the positive outcome you want to create, the more quickly that outcome will manifest. And it is so much easier to monitor and control one’s emotions than it is to control’s one’s thoughts. So the teachings suggest that when one is trying to utilize the law of attracting to manifest one's desires, one should stay positive and immersed in the positive emotions associated with the desire one is trying to manifest.

Other components associated with using the law of attraction are to feel gratitude for the positive things in one's life. Staying in a state of gratitude magnetizes you to receive more bounty from the universe. Visualizing the outcomes that you want to create is another powerful tool in the manifestation process. And the final component, which the Secret actually doesn't do a good job of explaining, is to take action. If your goal is to write a bestselling book, you can think and feel positively and visualize the outcome all day and night, but your goal will never manifest, of course, until you take action and actually write the book.

So that is a brief summary of the law of attraction and how it is described and taught in The Secret and other materials.

A Mind-blowing Revelation
Now on the one hand, the law of attraction is not very revolutionary – it is just common sense. Of course you attract into your life what you focus on! Can you accomplish any goal without first thinking about it and focusing on it? You will never be a doctor if you don’t first think about it. You will never win a gold medal if you don’t at some point set the intention in your mind to win a gold medal. You will never buy a BMW until at some point you focus on buying a BMW. Indeed, every object that we encounter in our daily lives was at first a thought in someone’s mind. Thought is truly an amazing creative force. We draw into our lives what we think about and focus on. In this world of action in which we live, the refreshing beauty of the law of attraction is that for once it puts our attention on the importance of our thoughts and emotions in the creative process. The law of attraction reminds us that thought is just as important as action and that intention is everything. Everything originates with thought and intention.

On the other hand, the law of attraction is a mind-blowing revelation. If we truly create our reality with our thoughts and emotions, then in order to live the lives of our dreams, all we have to do is control our thoughts and emotions. This concept is intoxicating because it puts our wildest dreams within our reach! So I guess it is understandable that The Secret and most of the other teachings respond to this insight, by encouraging one to go wild! Make lists of all the things that you want and go for it! Ask, believe and receive yourself into wealth, success and happiness! And often - it works! (It certainly has worked for Rhonda Byrne, the creator of The Secret!) And we all have stories that we can tell that demonstrate the law of attraction in action.

Let me tell you a couple of mine.

My First Experience with the Law of Attraction
My name is Kevin G. Blackwell and I am a spiritual renaissance man - I do a lot of different things. I am an intuitive counselor, an astrologer, a past life regression therapist, I do aura analysis, I communicate with angels, spirit guides and can help you connect with distant and deceased loved ones. These are just some of the things I do. And for most of the past 28 years, I’ve used these abilities to counsel people in one-on-one sessions and to help my clients learn more about themselves and the universe.

I was admitted to Columbia University when I was 15 years old as an engineering student. At the time, I was really into science and math and had never thought much about new age ideas or spiritual wisdom aside from reading a couple of astrology books. But in the spring semester of my freshman year, something amazing happened to me. Over a period of a couple of days, I had a full-blown psychic awakening. I started hearing voices, feeling energy in my hands, having premonitions and dreams etc. It was an overwhelming experience for which I had no frame of reference. If I had been a member of a tribal culture, this probably wouldn’t have been a big deal for me to understand - the resident shaman, medicine man or witch doctor would have just come to my door and explained to me that I was to be his/her new apprentice. But here in the west, they thought I was crazy. As a result of this awakening, my life had irrevocably changed and I had to figure out what had happened to me and why. In order to process what was going on with me, I started studying all religions, philosophies, psychology, metaphysics etc. I’ve been studying ever since - that’s 28 years

This is the story that I usually tell at the beginning of my one-on-one counseling sessions to give my clients an idea of my background. But what I often forget to mention is that on the very day my psychic awakening began, I had started reading a book by Joseph Murphy entitled, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind - a book that is all about the law of attraction. So at the precise time that my life was spinning out of control with inexplicable visions and events, I was dazzled by the idea that I could control my life and create a perfect future with my thoughts. And in the midst of the uncertainty and chaos in my life, the thought of being able to control my destiny was exactly what the doctor ordered.

I began to do the exercises prescribed in the book. Every night before I went to sleep, I would program my mind with what I wanted to happen the next day. I would visualize what I wanted to occur, feel the emotions that I would feel if it happened and then I would fall asleep and forget about the exercise.

I entered college pretty young and most of my classmates were 2 years older than me and I was lonely. During freshman orientation, I had fallen in love at first sight with a girl I’ll call Thea. She was age 18 at the time and I was 16 and to my dismay, she was not interested in me at all. But I didn't care - I was in love. So every night, as I did the exercises listed in the book, I would imagine myself seeing Thea the next day.

This was 28 years ago and I have forgotten the final tally, but by the time it was over, I had seen Thea around 39 days straight! And I'm not talking about seeing her in class everyday (we had no classes together) or stalking her - I am talking about randomly seeing her every single day until I grew tired of doing the exercise. When I was going to the library, she would be coming out. If I went to a museum in Brooklyn, she would be there. If I would wake up from a dead sleep at 2AM and go out to grab a bite to eat in preparation for a night of studying, Thea would be walking home to her dorm. It was spooky! I am certain that if I had taken a bus to Cleveland and swam across Lake Erie to Detroit and took a left onto Smith Street, that Thea would have been there! This was my first introduction to the law of attraction. It worked!

In 1985, while attending graduate film school at Columbia, I decided to take time off and travel to Europe to complete a script, visit a woman in Switzerland and continue my quest for enlightenment. After a couple of months - and after being robbed in Greece - I was penniless and ready to return home to New York. Prior to traveling to Europe, I had given up my room at Columbia. In fact, I had withdrawn from Columbia’s film program and I had no job and no place to stay when I returned to New York. On the flight home over the Atlantic, I was at a loss about what I should do. Would I be homeless – how would I survive? I decided to use the law of attraction to manifest a solution to my problem. As I focused on what I wanted to happen, it flashed into my mind that there were only 2 people in the world who would be willing to help and I started focusing on them and visualizing myself meeting them. I landed at Newark Airport and took a bus into Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan. As I was headed to a pay phone to call these 2 people, in this city of millions, one of the 2 people I had been visualizing was standing directly in front of me! And not only did she help me - she put me up in a beautiful apartment for weeks for free! It turned out that she was living at home with her Mom and house sitting a nearby apartment, which belonged to a friend of hers who was out of town. So she let me stay in the empty apartment for free. Yes, the law of attraction works - sometimes instantly!

I could tell you many, many more stories about times in which I consciously set intentions and achieved the precise outcome that I intended to manifest. From minor manifestations like parking spaces to major manifestations like thousands of dollars to pay rent or to provide something for my kids. (I’m a divorced father of two.)

Catching the Fever
When I first realized that the law of attraction worked, it was hard for me to contain my enthusiasm. "If I can see Thea, this girl that doesn’t even like me, whenever I want, if I can attract people to me at the precise moment that I need them, then why can’t I have anything and everything I want? I just need to ask, believe and receive – just think of what I want, stay positive and focused, believe that I will get it and it happens." And so I did what The Secret and most teachings recommend that you do - I set about trying to manifest all of my heart's desires.

I bet you assume that I'm a billionaire now, living in the mansions of my dreams, driving fancy cars and in the ideal marriage or at least living the life of my dreams whatever that means to me. Well - surprise - this is not the case. In fact, for as many times as my conscious intention to manifest a desire has worked, there have been many more times that it has not worked.

The Secret leads you to believe that if the manifestation process is not working, the reason is that you must not believe enough or somehow you are doing something wrong. And of course if you think that you are at fault when your dreams don't manifest, with so much at stake, you try even harder to get it right by turning yourself into a fanatic who tries to relentlessly stay positively focused on your goals. Once this happens, you find yourself a victim of Secret Fever – engaged in a frustrating and often outlandish struggle to always stay positive and to control your thoughts and emotions all of the time until you force the universe into giving you what you want.

What’s wrong with The Secret?
The problems with The Secret and other teachings about the law of attraction are manifold. In my next post, I will detail these problems and explain how I believe the law of attraction should best be used to improve our lives and the world.

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