We all have beliefs. It is not possible to not hold any beliefs, as even the Nihilistic statement of “I believe in nothing” is a belief – a belief in not holding beliefs (as paradoxical as that may sound). Some beliefs are unconscious. We are not consciously aware of them, but we can become aware of them by reflecting on our patterns of behaviour, or by ‘thought watching’ and paying attention to the thoughts that go through our mind. Our beliefs may or may not be “true” when it comes to consensus reality (the reality of our society and culture); however we live our lives from them. Our beliefs are like lenses that shape and colour our experiences in life and our interactions with other people.
We can develop a belief that beliefs can be changed. Years ago I thought of the concept of a belief as a temporary working hypothesis. Our beliefs do not need to be concrete and fixed, but rather we can breakdown (destroy) and create new beliefs when we need to. These things are beliefs too – and may or may not be true.
From a spiritual or magical point of view, the so-called law of attraction is a belief that we can attract into our lives whatever it is that we desire. It is my belief that this works, and works well, but with certain caveats. For instance, if we don’t truly believe in this law, then professing to ourselves or others about it will do little. Likewise, simply thinking about things is only half the picture. Thinking – or more importantly imagining – manifesting changes in reality is an important ingredient, however it can be easily demonstrated that mere thought does not usually generate or manifest a physical change (with some possible exceptions, such as in trance states such as hypnosis).
A simple thought exercise is to sit quietly and imagine raising your arm above your head (but not actually raising your arm). Think about how it feels to raise your arm, and imagine yourself raising your arm. Nothing happens, right? Now raise your arm. What was the difference? It was the willing your arm to raise by making the conscious decision or choice to raise your arm in that moment.
So, I suggest that for the law of attraction to work, you must engage both the imagination and the Will. Understanding and developing beliefs (or breaking down less helpful beliefs) about the imagination and Will may also be critical in manifesting to work.
The law of attraction can be like a double-edged sword. The problem with manifesting things from our more selfish desires is that we are tunnel-visioned and do not see the bigger picture around us. Maybe we choose to manifest money, and visualise seeing our bank balance sitting at $1,000,000. However, if we do not “control” all the steps and conditions to get to this target we may find that the fastest path to this goal leads us into situations we didn’t intend or desire. Perhaps through this goal we lose friends, partners, family, and end up rich, but no happier for it.
I believe that when we consciously (or unconsciously for that matter) manifest a change in reality that it takes a path like lightning. It is the path of least resistance, and the shortest path between two points. We do not necessarily know (consciously) how close those things are to us already, but when we desire (will) the change to happen we change reality, and the closest approximation to our ideal will become manifest in (attracted into) our lives. I won’t speculate on how this happens, only that from experiences and observations it appears to be correct, for me at least.
I often recall an old novel, The Monk, by Matthew Lewis. At the end of the story, Ambrosio (the protagonist) makes a deal with the Devil in order to be saved from prison and being burnt at the stake. The devil agrees and carries him out of prison, high above some mountains. Ambrosio asks to be released, to which the Devil concedes, and drops him onto the rocks below. This can be summed up in the cliché: “be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it.” And I believe this is relevant to the law of attraction.
Ultimately we are manifesting what we need to learn from. I believe everyone is doing this, unconsciously. That is why many people keep making mistakes, because they are just not learning from their experiences. By becoming conscious of what we are manifesting to learn from, we can consciously partake and choose from options within these learning experiences. This is where things start to come back to our beliefs. If we have a strong set of beliefs, such as a moral code, then we can plot our course through events with a strong sense of righteousness. Simple. But, and this is a big but, is it really best for us to choose our actions (or act automatically) from pre-programmed beliefs? Is it really a learning experience, or simply an excursion that we plot a course through as though painting by numbers.
Now, we can set sail into the turbulent experiences of learning with a few core beliefs – or core values. We can believe in, and attempt to manifest, experiences that are “best for all people involved.” However, we do not know what is best for others (a belief, but from a spiritual point of view, each person is sovereign and needs to learn their own lessons and grow in their own time and way). So, when the lessons are being played out by the various actors on the stage of life, moral judgements and ethics become very clouded and are not as simple as they seem. If we drop the morals and ethics, drop the righteous judgemental attitudes, and believe and accept that we need to learn and grow through experiences of various kinds, then the Universe (arguably God) will oblige and give us lessons to learn and grow from – spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Some people suggest that rational and logical thinking is actually a hindrance to our growth, and that the fastest and most efficient way to know the right thing to do is to follow our feelings. If something feels right, then it is right. If something feels wrong, then it is wrong. These rights and wrongs are not moral or ethical – they are relevant to us in the moment, the ever present ‘Now’. If something feels right in the ‘Now’ then it could be that next time we meet a similar situation, it may feel wrong. It certainly seems a good, sound belief for a spiritual life to live in the ‘Now’ and chose in an instinctive way, using an ‘inner knowing’.
Mainstream society and maybe even many spiritual seekers will disagree with the above. It certainly appears as though we are choosing a Nihilistic approach based on our lower drives, and animalistic tendencies (our emotions and feelings). However, if our intent is only the ‘best’ for all people who are, or become, involved in our lives, then how can it possibly be wrong? We are not seeking to disempower others in order to empower ourselves. We are seeking that everyone has an opportunity to be empowered through shared experiences, and to me this actually seems like a very beautiful concept or belief.
The reality though? Consciously manifested learning experiences can be very powerful, and life changing for all involved. When I have these experiences I sometimes feel like I’m on the brink of madness, and sometimes wonder if I have actually gone mad (although usually there are enough grounding influences and people around me to assure me that what I’m saying isn’t quite as crazy as it sounds). I have heard people say that there is a fine line between mysticism and madness, and perhaps the only difference being that the world of the madman is filled with fear, and the world of the mystic is filled with awe and a certain knowing that what is happening is happening for a reason. A wise woman once told me that she believed there are only three outcomes for a magical working – madness, death, or success. So it is a fine line, and two of those three options aren’t very appealing!
I wonder if we can truly learn and grow through only joyful experiences, or whether we must all drink from the cup of suffering and bear our cross to be able to learn and grow spiritually. It certainly seems, at times, that Pathei mathos (“through suffering comes wisdom”) is the only way. However, I have also had peak experiences where I was filled with joy and ecstasy and viewed the world (even if only momentarily) from a very different perspective. It certainly seems that our journey of growth starts through trials and hardships, and that the peak experiences and plateaus of fulfilment are simply resting places; beautiful vistas we observe along the way, but our continued journey requires energy and hardship to allow us to grow, perhaps forging our souls upon an anvil of physical experiences.
Another problem I see is one of endless justification and rationalisation. Thoughts or statements surrounding the nature of the experiences and the reasons for action chosen become a meaningless collection of justification and rationalisation. Ultimately, we act, experience, and (hopefully) learn and grow. No morality or ethics are really involved in this. We need to trust (or nurture the belief) that the experience is actually the best for all concerned, even if certain outcomes are destructive rather than creative. Creation only comes from destroying something else – changing its form. Even if the Universe came into being from nothingness, then that nothingness is destroyed (replaced) by something. We can see the whole of life as an endless cycle of birth-death-rebirth. It seems that in life, paradoxically, the only constant is change.
Some people may suggest that we have to choose a right course of action, otherwise we violate laws of Karma, and will pay for our actions. However, my understanding of Karma is that it originates from a non-moral understanding of the laws of cause and effect. Karma derives from a word meaning action or deed. I believe it is more an acknowledgement of the simple fact that all actions cause reactions in the same manner that throwing a stone into a pool of water will send out ripples. In modern Chaos theory this has been described as the Butterfly effect. My caveat here is that it seems ‘best’ that our actions are done in the intention of growth and ‘best’ outcomes for all people – a seeming intention of creating win-win situations. However, we are not responsible for other people’s choices in deal with the ripples, or their lack of motivation to learn and grow. If the above postulates are correct, even in part, then no one is an innocent bystander. They are all here to learn and grow, and either they choose to examine their lives, thoughts, and actions, or not. Ever obstacle or blockage, every trial or hardship, provides a doorway for growth – at least if this is what we choose to believe.
Fate or Destiny
I have no firm or fixed beliefs on the ideas of fate and destiny, at least not consciously. Fitting with the law of attraction is a quote from Carl Jung: “When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate.” This would suggest that we manifest (attract) external situations as a mirror for our inner world. This fits with the magical idea that the entire world and all of life’s experiences are mirrors for our inner world and processes. Again, everything we experience is for us to learn from and grow. The old European concept of Wyrd was a kind of fate that shaped the lives of man, but it was not unchangeable, and in legends, fate was often changed by heroic acts. Recently I came across a quote that says “Fate changes no man unless he changes fate.” This also fits with the concepts of fate and conscious choosing/creating of destiny.
From experiences I have had, I know that when things start unfolding from a magical working (manifesting / attracting) it can feel like destiny unfolding. Experiences feel as though they right or good (even if a little unusual), and people entering into my life can seem like old friends I’ve known forever. It sometimes feels like I am no longer choosing, but being swept along at a very fast pace, merely trying to keep up with the changes and make the best decisions that I can under challenging and rapidly occurring circumstances.
Madness or magic? Reality or illusion? It all blurs into a deep pool of experience. What does not kill us makes us stronger, or at least provides us the potential for learning and growth. We must make choices in our life. We must hold beliefs. I suggest that it is helpful to foster beliefs that allow us to consciously choose, experience, and grow in the most beneficial ways for us – whether or not it brings us into conflict with consensus reality, or the cultural trance.