The Law of Attraction

This episode from the “Bell Chimes In” series addresses my take on the law of attraction. The episode was inspired by a video by Ania, titled “Rant: Law of Attraction vs. Capitalism.”

I think this episode will make more sense when accompanied by what I have to say in the subsequent episode, “How Magic Works.” A lot of what spiritualists attribute to the so-called law of attraction is in fact a combination of formulas and theorems. Thus, to me, there is no such thing as the law of attraction because every purported event attributed to the law of attraction is in fact a different and unique combination of other principles. I got into it a bit in this video, but I hope it gets rounded out after “How Magic Works.”

Most proponents of the law of attraction conflate “like attracts like” with “what you think is what you become.” First, I’d like to know exactly what theorem or principle “like attracts like” is based upon. Second, while I do believe that to an extent, thoughts can become reality, to say that what you think will definitely become your reality is to bypass the most critical principles at play. What we perceive to be the law of attraction is only an observation of what’s going on at the surface level, and is not a penetrating look at underlying causes and actions.

I also take issue with marketing tactics by spiritual entrepreneurs who say that the law of attraction is a concept that Buddha promoted. I don’t want to give exact citations or links here because I don’t want to shout anybody out. However, they’re easy to find if you care to look for them. To the best of my religious education, Buddha never promoted the law of attraction.

Claiming that the law of attraction can be explained by quantum physics without ever actually using quantum physics to explain the law of attraction also bothers me. If you want to claim that this law is scientific, then you need to develop that assertion with actual science. I’ve not yet seen a single proponent of the law of attraction manage to do that.

So, does “like attracts like”? Here’s how I see it. From my vantage point, the earth is flat. There is no way my personal observations of the world could enable me to understand that the earth is not flat. And also, the sun, moon, planets, and stars revolve around the earth. The earth is at the center of the universe. These are matter-of-fact laws based on my direct personal observations. It’s immutable. It’s scientific. It’s the truth. …. Right?

My point is, that way of thinking is the same as believing in “like attracts like.” Based on our limited human perception, it seems to hold true, but there are much larger, broader-scope forces at play that render our perception untrue. How magic works, how manifestation works is so much more complex than the narrowly-tailored and limited framework from which we observe the world.

Belief in the law of attraction is lazy thinking. It’s tantamount to saying the abundance in your life is because God is pleased with you; the suffering in your life is because God is displeased. That’s not science. That’s religion. The law of attraction is a byproduct of religion and faith. That’s fine, but then don’t say it’s science or even a modality of metaphysical craft. It’s your religion. Instead of saying God, you’re saying law of attraction.

When you’ve been tossed overboard into deep water, the more you let fear take over and the more you struggle in panic, the more likely you are to drown. Instead, if you stay calm, acknowledge then assess the situation, you’re more focused and are more likely to figure out the solution so you can survive and even thrive. Guys, that’s not the law of attraction. That’s mastering the mental game so that your physical actions can fall in line with a strategic plan that your mind has conceived of. Physical action is still required. And physical action is about movement toward the objective, not using your mental superpowers to draw that objective toward you.

Positive thinking is more conducive for arriving at a creative solution. Negative thinking is less conducive for arriving at a creative solution. Probability does the rest. Again, that’s not “like attracts like.”

Yes, much of life is a mental game. There are for sure methodologies for beating the mental game. Visualization techniques aren’t techniques for “like attracting like.” Visualization techniques are about training your brain to stay focused and to make a beeline toward your goal. Visualization isn’t about attracting what you want to come flying at you in some effortless, magical way; it’s the total opposite–it’s about getting yourself to move toward what it is you want.

As an occult practitioner, I take issue with equating the law of attraction to craft, as I noted briefly in the video. The law of attraction is not the equivalent to spell-crafting. Feng shui, herbalism, casting spells, sigil-crafting, petitioning spirits, even sympathetic magic–none of these modalities of craft operate under the law of attraction. To do so is to either blow the definition of the law of attraction out of proportion or to not fully understand the nuances of craft.

Finally, is it just me, or is every vocal proponent of the law of attraction also coincidentally someone who is trying to sell you something? No one wants to buy hard work. We want to buy a well-packaged solution that will make our lives easier. The law of attraction is the fantasy of that well-packaged solution promising to make our lives easier. The law of attraction lures you into believing that the only reason you suffer is because you are thinking the wrong way, and all you need is somebody to come into your life to teach you how to think the right way, and then all your suffering will vanish.

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“Bell Chimes In” is about discourse, or at least that is my hope and intentions for the video series. It’s about me chiming in on a topic oft talked about, with my own perspective, opinions, or hypothesis, and with that, continuing the conversation on that topic. So I hope you’ll join in.

What are your thoughts on the law of attraction? Did I get something wrong about the concept? Do you have a different take? Or maybe you agree and would like to add to what I’ve said? Now it’s your turn to chime in on the law of attraction, whether that’s as a comment, your own blog post, or a VR video response.

7 thoughts on “The Law of Attraction

  1. Benebell,

    I always appreciate a well thought out article =)

    Your points about the weaknesses in the explanations of the law of attraction are all valid.

    The only part of your article, that I’m a little fuzzy on, is the part where you mentioned that to an extent, you do believe that thoughts can become reality. Did you mean that thoughts can become reality through aligning your actions, as you talked about later on in the article? Or do you believe that thoughts can become reality by some other means, like magic, spell casting, petitioning spirits etc?

    Thanks in advance for clarifying this for me,

    Al

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  2. Hello! Long-time reader here. Incoming long comment.
    Oh, Benebell, where do I start? Yes, Law of Attraction is not that simple, but you were aware of that fact even as you were making this video! The issue is not that you oversimplified it, but that the basis is all wrong!
    First of all, I don’t think there would be any point for you in reading further ahead on this topic if you’re going to hold on to such a deterministic, left-brained way of seeing life. When you say things like “much bigger events were at play before your happy thoughts or wealthy thoughts”… Thanks for the insight, but to be honest that can hardly count as one. I’m not trying to be dismissive or rude; what I’m saying here is that we’re all already familiar with that way of perceiving life, and even that’s an understatement. We all grew up in the same physical world, and we all grew accustomed to “knowing” that our five senses “speak reality”… so yeah, that mode of perception is the one we have by default. We go through the hardships of life, never questioning our way of thinking, until some of us find texts on LoA, or Buddhism, or Gnosticism, or what-have-you, then something clicks, and we start wondering… “Mmh, maybe there is a way of seeing things differently after all.”
    Nothing about LoA is going to make sense if you keep seeing yourself as a physical being existing in a physical universe. We can say that all matter is actually energy, sure, but that still misses the mark. To really understand the essence of LoA you have to go full spiritual seeker, and realize that the world is an illusion, that you are in this world but not of it, and so on. Of course, normally this is asking a lot. It actually sounds ludicrous, right? So what do we do in order to share this realization with other people in this materialistic, post-darwinian world? We wrap it up in a nifty box and call it “Law of Attraction”, which is nothing more than a repackaging of beliefs previously shared in other frameworks (other religions and traditions), this time explained in a way that appeals (and doesn’t sound so threatening) to our modern ego-based worldview. And we can explain the subject as best as we can, but there’s no escaping the fact that many people will misunderstand, oversimplify, and downright dismiss most of what they read, partly due to the imperfections of LoA as a framework (no framework is perfect) and partly due to their unconscious default programming. Sadly, it is this “tainted” version of LoA that many times ends up getting the more views on the internet.
    So, if you want to really understand the topic, I’d suggest reading Abraham-Hicks, or listening to Bashar, or going to some forum like InwardQuest, which has regular people getting their feet wet but also experts who breathe LoA 24/7.
    Benebell, you wrote: “Belief in the law of attraction is lazy thinking. It’s tantamount to saying the abundance in your life is because God is pleased with you; the suffering in your life is because God is displeased. […] That’s religion. […] Instead of saying God, you’re saying law of attraction.” That’s just not what LoA says, but there’s a whole different point I’m trying to make here, so bear with me, please. In the video you say: “Maybe you’ve got the chronology of events all wrong; maybe due to circumstances much bigger than you can conceive or have knowledge of, something was coming head on for you and your intuition picked up on that inbounding energy, which materialized in your mind as a thought.” Well, isn’t all of this tantamount to saying that the abundance in our life is because God is pleased and the suffering is because God is displeased? Only that’s religion, but instead of saying God, you’re saying “circumstances much bigger than you can conceive or have knowledge of.” But then again, you don’t consider these circumstances to be of a divine nature (as in “God’s Will”) or a reflection of our inner world (as LoA dictates); you consider them to be part of the deterministic, well-established, irrefutable, five senses-based physical reality, an understanding that is shared by the vast majority of the population in this world, which means that you probably won’t consider it tantamount to saying anything other than “this is not religion, this is not just another disempowering worldview, this is just the way things are; we can add a few metaphysical components such as intuition to the mix but there’s no getting around this fact. Period.”
    With all due respect, belief in a deterministic, physical universe, to the point where even our thoughts are the result of an external chain of events, is lazy thinking at its finest: it is the one worldview we receive by default, and it’s the one worldview we would never call into question. It’s settling for what our five senses rule as reality *every single moment in time*, so it cannot get lazier than that. Believing in an external, invisible God (no matter what word we use to refer to it) which is sometimes pleased and sometimes angry, is not lazier or different in any meaningful way: it’s exactly THE SAME. It’s still understanding life through our physical senses, perceiving ourselves as physical beings in a physical world, separated from other beings and from the environment as a whole, with external, stronger wills that sometimes collide with ours, and we’re supposed to control/negotiate/fight with every part of this external, separated reality when things don’t go our way, which is most of the time anyway. Adding “God” to our materialistic view of life barely changes the equation. It’s just adding one more will to the list of perceived external wills that may or may not collide with ours, and maybe a few more strings we can pull to get what we want, but that’s all.
    Belief in Law of Attraction is literally the opposite of the belief that all or most of the power resides in external forces, sometimes visible, sometimes unknown, forces that do whatever they feel like doing to us poor, powerless human victims. The core set of beliefs of LoA establish that WE have the power to shape our experience in life, but in order to do that, we have to stop trying to control what we perceive as an “external” world, and start doing what we humans fear the most: knowing ourselves. This means facing the ideas in our mind, our opinions, our beliefs, tastes and distastes, hopes and fears, and questioning it all. Even what we consider to be “irrefutable facts of life” have to be examined very carefully.
    The more we know ourselves, the more we realize that our inner world is where we’re suppose to apply our will. There’s nothing in the “external” world that we need to control.
    Belief in LoA means believing that whatever happens at any point in time does so in accord with your inner world: life is not a reflection of your conscious, superficial thoughts (as we all know, we can think and sing “I’M A MILLIONAIRE LALALA” and yet no abundance of money is gonna come our way any time soon), but one of your deeply held beliefs: life reflects your perceptions about yourself, about the world, and about everything else really: if deep down inside we see ourselves as UTTERLY POOR, and we see NO WAY of getting better opportunities, oh and by the way we kind of ENVY people that have the means to do well in life, and we feel it’s quite UNFAIR that we never get whatever benefits they are getting, not to mention that, at the same time, we completely DESPISE rich people and firmly believe that money is the root of all evil… well, an utter lack of money is exactly what we’re going to experience, no matter what song we sing and how much we sing it.
    So, this is the ground we’re supposed to reach, and change if we consider it necessary. There’s nothing lazy about it. On the contrary, it compells us to question everything we believe, to re-understand reality as a whole, to make peace with everything (our ego is in love with suffering, so this is not an easy task), and to let our experience (including our actions —what we do in this physical world) transform in a fluid way. The goal of whatever “A-B-C-D” steps you might read about on books or online, is to help you get in touch with your inner world, to bring all unconscious beliefs into the light of consciousness, and then truly let go of the negative ones so that they can be replaced with perceptions that reflect our spiritual, expansive, and divine nature. “External reality” unfolds as it always does. As above, so below; as within, so without.
    Well, that’s about it, I guess… Super long comment is super long, I know. Hopefully I got my point across, or at least part of it? I’m not trying to criticize or judge the way people perceive the world —that would be an awkward mistake, shall we say, on my part! I could have gone a whole different route with this, choosing some middle ground between our usual way of perceiving things and the other, spiritual way, but even if that proves to be helpful in a lot of cases (as that is the way LoA is generally explained), sometimes it just muddies the waters and going all the way through is the best way. You’re a metaphysician after all. Why should I hold back with you? 😀
    Much love, Benebell!

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  3. Didn’t the Buddha say: “All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts and made up of our thoughts. If a man speak or act with an evil thought, suffering follows him as the wheel follows the hoof of the beast that draws the wagon…. If a man speak or act with a good thought, happiness follows him like a shadow that never leaves him.”
    I mean I’m no expert but that was the basis of our meditation practice and doing selfless service in the world. I admit that The Law of Attraction sounds a bit airy-fairy (oops! Not intending to offend anyone!!) but don’t the Buddhist monks pray and chant endlessly for a better world? Or maybe I missed the point here. And BTW I may have to recind this opinion — having my house and all it’s contents burned down made me think twice about my capacity to pray with intention and to infuse talismans with positive spirit. I feel like a failure.

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  4. Yes, all of this. The “Law” of Attraction is basically a scam. It makes you paranoid of your thoughts and encourages victim blaming. The only people effectively using it either don’t understand cognitive bias or are con artists trying to shill it.

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