There’s an idea commonly promoted in spiritual circles called “Law of Attraction” or sometimes the “Law of Gravity”. In it's essence, at least in the way I understand it, this law says that energy follows attention and intention. We each are a sort of conduit for life energy, and that energy is expressed in the direction that we focus our attention. Said another way, the mysterious force that inhabits the essence of all that we experience, call it “God” or “Life” or whatever you will, tends to support whatever we attend to on the level of being: we attract to ourselves manifestations in form that mirror how we are in any given moment. For example, someone who believes he is a failure will attract disasters and mishaps of various kinds; someone who believes she deserve good things in life will tend to attract those very same things.
We each experience in every moment who and how we are says the law, at least in it's purest sense. We always experience the consequences of the way in which we show up in our lives and who we choose to be. As such the law is wonderfully useful, as it provides clear guidelines as to how to be in ourselves and in the world. Knowing that I will inevitably experience who and how I am, that what I attend to will manifest in my experience, there’s a lot of motivation to make conscious choices about how I show up in my life.
If the Law of Attraction ended here then I would have no problem with it. It does not end here, however, at least in the way that it is often taught. There is a place where the law becomes corrupted and causes people to suffer. It’s this corruption that I want to focus on today.
Here's the confusion, at least from my point of view: if it is so that energy follows attention, some say, and that there tends to be manifestations in life of our states of being, then if we can control our state of being we can manage our circumstances in a spiritual sort of way. Said more plainly and directly, if I can be the right spiritual person within myself then I can manifest the things in my life that I want. If I adopt the right spiritual attitude I can have money, good-looking people to be in relationship with, a happy family, good health, or whatever else I believe that I am lacking.
To me there is a glaring and ugly flaw in this approach. The trouble is that it supports ego. The entire reason that we humans suffer so hideously as individuals and as a species is that we identify, each of us, with an ego that wants for itself. We spend our precious lives attempting to satisfy that wanting, and it can never be done. No matter how much we have, if we are identified with the separate self that we are taught to believe we are, we will want more, and will suffer from loss and deprivation. To employ the Law of Attraction as a means to fulfill the endless desires of ego is to do with one of the fundamental realities of human existence what we, as conditioned humans, tend to do with everything: we make it all about “me” and ruin the magic in it.
I recently met three people in one day who were all suffering over the corrupt version of the law. Two had long-term debilitating health issues, and one was in a financial crisis. They all believed in the Law of Attraction as it is commonly promulgated. They each were working hard to be the right spiritual person, to have their beliefs lined up the right way with the expectation that this would cure them from disease (in two cases) or would bring in money (in one). For each their efforts failed and all three had reached the same conclusion, that the reason was they had failed to be the person they should be. It broke my heart to hear their stories. I'm thinking of one fellow in particular who has suffered from extreme pain for twenty years. He has spent those twenty years trying to get his mind and heart in the right place so that the pain would go away, and it hasn't worked. On top of the pain, which is a heavy load to bear all by itself, this man has beat himself up every day for failing to cure himself. So sad, and so unnecessary!
The thing is, the Law in it’s uncorrupted state encourages us to head in exactly the opposite direction. The attraction is towards Life/God, not conditioned mind. To truly understand the Law is to feel a deep motivation to let go of ego and align with Life as it unfolds, because that is where we will experience true joy and actual fulfillment. According to the Law, if I am approaching life from ego then that’s what I will get—ego—and that’s worse than nothing, even if I have all the money, power, or whatever in the world. To approach life with openness of heart and mind, with a willingness to let go into the great mystery of being that surrounds us and inhabits our every experience, is to receive that openness, that willingness, and a true connection with Life/God. That beats fame, good looks, or any other outward thing any day of the week. What is the point of trying to accumulate things for "me" when there is no "me"? Why not use the mysterious power of the universe we live in to go beyond "me" instead?