This is part 2 of a two part post on the law of attraction and The Secret. The 1st part summarized the law of attraction, my first experiences with it and revealed a sickness that is sweeping the world, called Secret Fever. This part will discuss the problems with The Secret and reveal the best way to utilize the law of attraction to manifest your soul's intention for you.
What’s wrong with The Secret?
The problems with The Secret and other teachings about the law of attraction are manifold:
Do We Know What Is Best For Us?
After we discover what the law of attraction is, The Secret encourages us to go after the things that we want. One of the teachers in the DVD actually encourages us to make lists of all the things we want and to see the universe as a catalogue from which we should shop - just pick the things and experiences we want and manifest them. It is human nature to respond this way to the power of the law of attraction - I myself did when I first understood it – but I believe that this an unwise and potentially destructive approach. In fact, the law of attraction was most likely withheld from the public at different points throughout history – not for selfish and elitist reasons as The Secret implies – but to protect people from what they would do with this power of manifestation.
The most striking problem with this “Let’s create whatever we want approach” is – What makes us think that we consciously know what is best for us? At the level of our conscious minds and egos – do we have any idea what is really best for us? All we have to do is take a look back at our own lives and the recorded history of humanity to determine that we rarely know what is best for us.
If we look back at our own lives, I am certain that most of us would say that the best things that have happened to us are not the things that we have consciously chosen for our lives. I, for example, would have never consciously decided to have the life-transforming spiritual awakening that I had in 1979. On the flipside, we can all point to lovers, spouses, jobs and career paths that we were certain were right for us that in retrospect, turned out disastrously. My relationship with Thea was not a disaster, but who knows how many wonderful women I ignored while I was obsessively chasing Thea? Who has a track record of making stellar personal choices? Now, with the law of attraction at our fingertips, perhaps we’ll all just magnify this pattern of questionable choices and find ourselves collectively identifying with the age-old warning, “Be careful what you wish for – you just might get it.”
I know that this may sound negative, but in this situation I think it is crucial that we take a moment to reflect and to avoid going down unproductive paths. If we look at our collective track record of choices or just take a look at the state of the world today, I think it is clear that humanity often makes horrible decisions. When a law of nature or of the universe is discovered, it appears that it is human nature for us to go crazy with our enthusiasm and pride and rush forward without thinking of the consequences. When we learned how to split the atom, we enthusiastically stockpiled enough nuclear weapons to blow ourselves up. As we learned how to harness the power of carbon-based fuels and to build engines, we launched into an industrial revolution that has damaged the environmental balance of the planet.
Humanity always rushes forward enthusiastically without thinking of the consequences. And this type of behavior is probably continuing today. Who knows how our decisions about stem cell research, the war on terror, cloning and other issues will affect our future?
If the law of attraction is real and is now understood by millions more people than knew about it prior to The Secret, then yes we can change the world for the better with our intentions – but we must at the same time be cognizant that our track record indicates that we might inadvertently make things worse. We are a species, which has accelerated the extinction of many animals; we have enslaved one another repeatedly throughout history; we are still engaged in deadly wars; genocide is occurring as we speak; sick people are going untreated; people are starving to death or are homeless in a world of plenty. Shouldn’t we take a moment to think about what we should manifest with our intentions before we start making shopping lists of the goodies we want from the catalogue of the universe?
Sure, we should use the law of attraction, but let’s slow down and break this childlike pattern of rushing forward without forethought. A powerful law has been revealed to many, let’s give it the respect it deserves by each thinking about it how it should best be used.
The law of attraction definitely works. It is indisputable that thoughts and emotions affect outcomes. Top medical schools have begun teaching about the mind-body connection and how thoughts and emotions impact the healing process. Coaches of all kinds have witnessed over and over again how positive thinking improves performance. From our personal lives, we each have numerous examples of the law of attraction in action. Have you ever suddenly noticed a particular model of a car one day and then for the next few weeks every time you’re on the road you can’t stop seeing that same model of car over on over again? How many times have you thought of a friend and then before you know it that friend is calling you on the phone? If you pay attention, things like this happen all of the time. Your focus and how you think and feel about things impact your experiences.
However, at many points in the Secret, the law of attraction is described as the most important and most powerful law of the universe and it is said to be responsible for everything in one's life. So if you twist your ankle while walking down the street, you have attracted that into your life. If you get stung by a bee, you have attracted that into your life. This is obviously both a silly simplification and an exaggeration. The truth of the matter is we don’t know how the law of attraction works and so making sweeping statements about it is ludicrous. Maybe positive thinking effects the healing process partially because feeling better about things is simply therapeutic. Maybe when you think of a distant friend and he/she suddenly calls, it is intuition and foresight and not the law of attraction in action. Thought does impact one’s life, but to say that “the universe rearranges itself in response to one’s thoughts” as The Secret says is an unsupported overstatement.
The Secret also exaggerates how easy it is to apply the law of attraction to make things happen in your life. True, I managed to see Thea 39 days straight as a result of doing a 5 minute exercise at night – when it works, it does seem amazingly simple. But it does not work all of the time for anyone. I imagine that the practitioners featured in The Secret didn’t want to discuss this because how can you call something a law if it doesn’t work all of the time? I actually do think that the law works all of the time, but our ability to perceive and receive the fruits of our intentions often falls short. Also, we are usually only aware of our conscious intentions and are oblivious to our soul's intentions for us. Correcting this is not easy for anyone. It is not easy to stay positive all the time, it is not always easy to recognize and/or accept what we’ve attracted into our lives. If it were easy, there would be no such thing as Secret Fever and everyone who’s heard of the law of attraction would be living in ecstasy with all of their dreams always fulfilled! But we’re not living in ecstasy - who is? Are the teachers featured in The Secret the only ones? This leads us to the next problem with The Secret.
Who are these people in The Secret? To hear them speak, one imagines that they all know how to walk on water! One guy imagines checks coming in the mail and they do! Cancer is cured! They are all rich and happy because they know The Secret! I understand that the DVD could have been edited in such a way that made each of them look like arrogant, perfect bores but please - give us a break.
The truth of the matter is that if you talked to these teachers, you would find that their lives are not perfect. For most of them, including Rhonda Byrne, The Secret is the best thing that has ever happened to them. If we interviewed them thoroughly, I’m sure we would find that they are not all happy. They haven’t all achieved their highest goals. (I know for a fact that some of them have not.) Are they all healthy? Are they all happily married?
I’m not trying to put any of them down, but collectively, they do come off as arrogant. More notably, they have done us a tremendous disservice by not discussing their ongoing struggles and challenges. This approach is the primary cause of Secret Fever. Because these teachers only discuss how simple and easy using the law of attraction is, it makes us all feel like there is something wrong with us when we realize that using the law of attraction well, just like developing any other skill, is hard work.
I think I am a pretty knowledgeable guy when it comes to spiritual matters and I would never give anyone the impression that spiritual growth and mastery is easy.
The Exaltation of The Positive
The Secret leads one to believe that it is paramount to feel good and to stay positive at all costs. I agree that staying positive is - for lack of a better word – positive. But is it truly desirable to keep one’s focus positive at all times? The hallmark of the space-time continuum that we live in is duality. So is it even possible to stay positive all of the time while on earth?
There is nothing wrong with feeling good, but trying to feel good all of the time – like trying to make yourself do anything all the time – leads to fanaticism. Buddha, the champion of the Middle Way, the path of moderation, would certainly disagree with this single-minded focus on staying positive and feeling good.
And what is so wrong about feeling bad. Speaking for myself, I have learned some of my most important lessons from my periods of sorrow and from my mistakes. The spiritual masters throughout history whom I revere, have all experienced negativity. Jesus was feeling pretty morose in the garden of Gesthemane the night before his arrest. Moses didn’t enjoy every second of his years of exile. Buddha’s seven year quest for Nirvana was not a walk in the park. The Secret’s focus on feeling good all of the time is absurd. Again the teachers in The Secret do us a disservice by fanatically emphasizing only one side of reality.
So yes, when trying to manifest something, it is helpful to stay positive and to feel good. But there is nothing wrong with feeling bad – it happens from time to time and it is okay!
The arrogance and fanatical effort to stay positive coupled with the belief that the law of attraction is responsible for everything in one’s life and the world can lead devotees of The Secret into some pretty weird places. Like looking down on people who are suffering. The subtext in The Secret is, “if bad things are happening in your life, it’s your fault. You’re stupidly focusing on bad things. Stay there if you like, but I need to focus on good things which means I’ll be leaving you behind.”
For example, the author of the Secret says that if you want to lose weight you should avoid looking at fat people. The logic behind this is that since you attract and create what you focus on, focusing on fat people will attract more fatness into your life. So you if you want to get skinny, you should surround yourself with thin people. If we employ this logic exhaustively, if you want to stay healthy, you should avoid sick people and only hang out with rich people if you want to be rich. Not only is this ridiculous it is elitist and insulting to people who happen to be overweight, ill or poor. This is like a born again Christian warning his or her children to stay away from nonbelievers - or Republicans saying that Democrats are evil. Do we really need another justification to separate ourselves from one another?
This logic leads to even more sickening conclusions. According to The Secret, since the law of attraction is like a genie that responds to our thoughts and intentions, then if something has gone wrong in our lives we could have simply avoided it by changing our minds. So the people who died in 9/11 could have survived if they had been more positive and the same for the victims of Katrina and the like. And Jesus could have avoided that nasty little crucifixion if he had just focused on easier options. This type of thought is the antithesis of spiritual thinking and causes us to devalue and judge those who are suffering.
The Law of Attraction is Not the Only Law in the Universe
The law of attraction is not the only law in the universe. There are other laws, like the law of karma for instance. So maybe some of the people who died in 9/11 had decided before this life that for karmic reasons, they wanted to take part in a tragic event that demonstrated to all humanity the need for tolerance and a better approach to global politics. Who knows? But I do know that seeing everything through the lens of “the you should feel good all the time” law of attraction is ridiculous. I’m sure Jesus could have used the law of attraction to avoid the pain and suffering of his trial and crucifixion if he wanted. But clearly, there were other things more important to him. For all of us, there are numerous things such as mission and purpose that often transcend the use of the law of attraction to make our lives peachy. Perhaps it is simply not our soul’s intention for us to feel good all of the time.
The truth is that by trying to consciously manipulate the law of attraction to manifest our dreams, we are often barking up the wrong tree because so often what our conscious minds and egos tell us that we want is completely at odds with what our souls intend for us.
The Real Secret - How to Best Utilize the Law of Attraction to Manifest Your Soul’s Intention for You
As I discussed earlier, it is often human nature for us to try to impose our will and exert our control over laws of nature and the universe. I repeat, when we learned how to split the atom, we set about using this power to create lots and lots of bombs. Likewise, upon learning about the law of attraction, it is our nature to want to bend it to our will and start figuring out ways to make it deliver to us all the goodies we can imagine. Maybe by using it in this way, we will similarly manifest bombs in our lives that represent things that we thought we wanted but really didn’t.
I believe that this approach has proven, throughout history, to be phenomenally misguided and immature. Indeed, we have never stopped destroying the planet and each other because of this approach.
What do I recommend? Let me ask you this: When you became aware of the law of gravity, did you set about figuring out ways to use it to your advantage? Did you start doing affirmations and visualizations to make it work better for you? I doubt it. But it did imbue you with a subtle confidence that changed your understanding of the physical world and your relationship to it.
The law of attraction should imbue us with a life transforming confidence.
Many of us often forget on a day-to-day basis that there is more to us than meets the eye. We associate ourselves with our egos, our bodies and our conscious minds. We forget that we are not physical beings but rather we are spiritual beings having a physical experience. Yes, we have souls – there are deeper parts of us than what we can see. Before this lifetime, our souls each had a plan for us, a mission, things that we wanted to experience and accomplish. Every now and then, we hear our soul’s call to greatness and it urging us to follow our path. But many of us ultimately ignore this call and turn our back on the possibility of fulfilling our soul’s intention for us. It often seem farfetched and unattainable and we settle and get sucked into mundane realities and possibilities.
But now our knowledge of the law of attraction can help us to eliminate that doubt. Now we know that there is a law of attraction that brings into our lives those things that we focus on. This is a law that makes the unattainable attainable. So, if we get to know ourselves – not just our conscious minds and our ego-based wants – if we focus on our deeper selves, our souls, then the law of attraction will help us to manifest our soul’s intention for us.
The Law of Attraction should give us the confidence that our soul's intention for us will manifest. Knowing this, instead of creating wish lists of everything that will satisfy our ego’s desire, instead of doing affirmations and staying positive around the clock – we only need to do one thing: Devote ourselves to getting to know and love ourselves at the soul level. If we do this, then the law of attraction will help us to manifest an authentic life that harmonizes with whom we really are and our soul’s intention for us.
This is how the great souls throughout history have used the law of attraction. Can you imagine Jesus micromanaging shopping lists of the things he wanted from the universe and motivating the disciples by saying, “Okay guys stay positive and focused, eliminate all negativity and there will be enough bread to feed everyone.” Did Gandhi have all the citizens of colonial India affirm every night “We will be a nation, we will be a nation” until it came true. No, such micromanaging of thoughts and emotions becomes unnecessary when you know and love who you are, why you are here and what your soul’s intention is for you. When you are focused on your mission, the law of attraction clears the road – it doesn’t need our positive thinking and willpower – just our deep understanding of who we are at the soul level. And usually, when the law of attraction doesn’t work, it’s because we are trying to manifest things that are at cross purposes with our soul’s intention for us.
I have spent many years figuring out who I am and why I am here and what my soul’s intention for me is. Finally, in April of 2006, I left my job in the corporate world to follow my path. I had done a lot of one on one counseling throughout the years, but I had finally realized and accepted that my calling is to share my knowledge of spiritual topics with the masses through public speaking, writing and other forms of communication and media.
Since my clear commitment to my path, my life has been a string of miracles. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been 100% positive by any stretch, but is has been filled with miracles and amazing demonstrations of the law of attraction in action.
I left my job on April 14, 2006. On April 15th, I had a day of errands and an evening engagement. On the 16th, I did my taxes. So Monday, April 17th was my first day of freedom and commitment to my new life. It was a beautiful spring day in Manhattan and I found myself walking down 42nd Street into the Coliseum Bookstore. It was about an hour before closing and I picked up a book called, The View From The Center of the Universe written by Joel R. Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams, a physicist and a science writer. It is hard to explain, but I was completely transfixed by this book. From a scientific perspective these authors argued to the same conclusion that I had reached through my years of spiritual study: that humanity and our planet precisely right now are at a crucial juncture in our history and that what we do in the coming decades will have a lasting impact on the future of the species and the planet. The book also underscores that we are indeed at the center of the universe and that our present predicament and how we respond to it will impact the entire universe. In a nutshell, on the first day of my new life, I stumbled upon a book that completely resonated with my soul.
Eight days later, I was with my beautiful friend and we were passing a bookstore in another Manhattan neighborhood. My friend needed to purchase a book and so we went inside. I decided to buy the book that had transfixed me the prior week and I searched for it and picked it up. As my friend and I were walking down an aisle, a stranger stopped me and said, “Hey, my friend wrote that book you’re carrying!” We had bumped into the friend and former student of one of the authors. We chatted for awhile and I used this conversation as a legitimate opportunity to connect with the authors. I have since corresponded with them and hope that they will write a recommendation for my forthcoming book.
This is how the law of attraction works. When you are following your path, without any effort, doors simply open.
I went into a Dunkin Donuts not too long ago and was studying an astrology chart for a client in preparation for our session together. A man walked in and asked me what I was looking at – I told him and tried to brush him off as I was pressed for time and had to prepare. But the guy would not go away! After a couple of minutes of annoying questions, he launched into a mind-blowing analysis of the chart. The man was a world-class astrologer! It was as if my son, who loves basketball, had stumbled into a conversation with Michael Jordan!
One Sunday in March 2007, I was handing out flyers to promote some of my one on one counseling services. I went into a popular yoga studio, Jivamukti Yoga School, with a friend and posted my flyer. My friend told me that the founder of the studio was taking part in a yoga demonstration in another part of Manhattan later that afternoon that I should check out. So I continued putting up flyers and made my way to the location of the demonstration. The demonstration was actually part of an afternoon long celebration of India. I stayed and enjoyed the yoga demonstration and networked for a bit. Finally, I decided to leave in order to hand out more flyers elsewhere and I walked down the stairs and standing in front of me was Deepak Chopra and his wife! I had actually been telling people whom I was giving my flyers to that I wanted to be the African American Deepak Chopra, and there he was standing in front of me! Needless to say, I didn’t leave and returned to the festival and Deepak Chopra sat next to me. I talked to him about what I wanted to do and gave him a flyer!
A couple of months later, I began to wonder if I should continue to live in New York City or move somewhere else. It is a wonderful but expensive city and it might be easier for me to do the entrepreneurial thing in a cheaper city. I truly was conflicted and asked for signs from the universe. The very next day as I was heading home, I bumped into Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker on the subway. Two days later, I was walking in the West Village and a woman pushing a stroller waved at me. I had no idea whom it was but as we passed each other, I realized it was Sarah Jessica Parker again! Later on in the week, I was headed back to my sister’s house in NJ when I decided to take a detour and go to an out of the way bookstore. I arrived at the bookstore and standing in the lobby, as if they were waiting for me, were Reverend Al Sharpton and Spike Lee! Also during this same 2-week period, I attended a book signing for Russell Simmons. In the two-week period after my query about whether I should stay in New York, I saw a string of celebrities that are all quintessential New Yorkers and who all were working in fields in which I aspire to work. I think the universe answered my question pretty emphatically! I’m staying in New York for now.
I had been living with my sister in New Jersey and wanted to return to living in Manhattan. The first apartment I looked at was being rented out by two women who were moving to Los Angeles. I started to talk about my interest in spirituality and before I knew it we were deep in conversation. All of the books in their apartment related to spirituality. The conversation ended with them explaining that they were moving to LA to work on a game show but what they really wanted to do was create spiritual programming and maybe they should do a show about me! The apartment deal didn’t work out, but we will definitely stay in touch!
In July, after moving into my new apartment, I attended a presentation about documentary filmmaking. The lights were dim and a latecomer stumbled over me as he made his way to his seat. After the presentation was over, I got up to leave and a woman came up to the guy who was sitting next to me and introduced herself to him and he responded by giving his name. The guy who had stumbled over me was my college acting teacher from over 20 years ago. After being my teacher, he went on to direct episodes of The Cosby Show and A Different World and to create a couple of documentary films. I want to make film and TV programs about spiritual topics! I think the law of attraction has helped me find a mentor.
I could go on and on. The law of attraction just works - without our willpower, without our control. It after all is a law. It will help you to manifest the life that your soul intended you to live. All you have to do is devote yourself to discovering what your soul’s intention is.
The greatest things in our lives are the things that just happen as a result of following our true path.
Conclusion – KNOW THYSELF
So there you have it. The real secret to an authentic life of happiness is to know thyself. If you do this, the law of attraction will help you manifest the life you are intended to live.
In my next posts, I will discuss tools one can use to know oneself and one's intention.