The view from down here

Secular Schmecular

June 22, 2008

The Secret and the Law Of Attraction asks us to allow the universe to fulfill our needs and to never worry about the how.

There are three levels to consider here. First, the simply secular; second, the natural but beyond our understanding; and third, the outright supernatural. Let me take these in reverse order.

When viewed as a mechanism of the supernatural, the Law Of Attraction becomes simply a modern definition of god, and it lends credibility to all that praying and fuss over the centuries. This is where it gets muddy. If we begin to consider some viability to quantum wish fulfillment, would this not be a reason to take off the skeptic hat and start going to church?

No, because Christianity is not interested in miracles being brought about by you and me. Christians believe that salvation is granted through the blood of Christ, and by his sacrifice are we saved. Prayer, if it works at all, comes from their god, and not from my own divinity. In fact, being my own god and fulfilling my own miracles is a near opposite to what Christianity tells us of our place in the spiritual realm.

If the Law Of Attraction is in fact real, then we can consider that its source is supernatural, and that even if they don't get it, or have twisted it, Christians have been saying it all along; or it is natural but possibly beyond our current ability to explain it scientifically, and hence magic by our current definition.

Let's presume that it is valid and is supernatural. At some point, down deep between the quarks, something is happening. That mysterious something is either in the realm of cause and effect, action and reaction, or it is an effect without a cause. This is where quantum theory meets spiritual speculation. But if we can classify something, even if only as a probability, then we are able to label it, classify it, and bring its definition into the world of science.

In other words, we can choose to define something once thought to be supernatural as now part of nature.

So if this works, then we can claim it as part of an emerging science, and if after that, the Christians or other groups want to claim it, as they claimed the Big Bang as their moment of creation, go ahead, it doesn't matter much at that point.

I love the mystical sense of hope and open-ended possibility fostered by The Secret. I like thinking that there are minions of the Universe with clipboards manifesting my thoughts as reality. I like the metaphor that divinity and consciousness are the same thing, and that I can dream my world into existence using the power of my mind.

It is magical and wonderful to, at one moment, want to see a beautiful deer on the path, and then turn the corner and feel that hope spring forth from the trees.

But even if we step back even further, into the realm of the seriously mundane and the clearly secular, there is still much use and benefit of the idea of the Law Of Attraction.

I don't want to discount the possibility of the magickal side of The Secret, but it is in the mundane where I think the idea really springs to life. It becomes so vibrant, specifically because we can believe in it utterly, without having to resort to Things We Don't Understand.

Now, it may be that my ability to think, to exist, to have creative thought is itself a miracle of complex quantum science, but let's not worry about that side of philosophy. We know that we can speak, have ideas, make plans, and such. It is in this purely secular mode that I think a neo-religious movement could take hold, because a thought is both obvious and profound.

It works like this. I want a bookshelf. Visualization. I drive to the store and I buy a bookshelf. Wow. Magick! Or maybe I drive to a lumber store, buy wood, and make it. Even more magick because I am creating its form. I want money, so I comb my hair, put on nice clothes, and go to the interview. Or I go to school. Or I decide to join a multi-level marketing company.

In any of these cases, visualization precedes reality. It gets interesting when we realize that the actions we take depend not only on one level of visualization - what we want - but also depend on several other beliefs and thoughts regarding who we are within society, within our family, what we are capable of, interested in, or allowed to do.

So much of who we are, what makes up the limits of our lives, are thought.

I'm a computer programmer, and I have a certain comfort zone about what I do and how I do it. I am comfortable going to work and typing all day at a computer to build software. The reason I do this, as opposed to, for example, spending my afternoons at banks securing loans to manage rental properties, is a construction of by beliefs about myself.

The magick is that I can change my beliefs about myself. I can choose to believe that I am capable of managing rental properties. I can believe that I am capable of doing the job of a senior vice president. I choose to limit myself and follow my comfort zone.

I think what sets Those Who Get It apart from others is that we understand that we are self-programming ourselves. We are not victims. We can imagine ourselves into any role, we just have to want it.

This is the basis of why visualization works. Our brains are programmable, and once programmed resist change. You can practice change. You can practice being good at being good at things. You can practice being confident and open to all sorts of possibilities.

So there is much fertile ground in a social/religious teaching related to understanding the programming of our mind, our self-image, and what we want to attract into our lives. But wishful thinking is only the first step. It only matters what you do, but what you do matters completely on what you think you can, or are supposed to, or allowed to do.

There are also very practical lessons to be taught about how to do this, and how to be ready to take advantage of opportunities or that million-dollar-idea when you have it.

It has been said that luck can be defined as the intersection of preparation and opportunity.

It is a miracle, but it is also mundane. The first step is to conquer the mundane, get control of the image of yourself and what you can do and know that it can change, and you can learn to do anything anyone else has ever done. First crawl, then walk, and then maybe you will be ready to take on the supernatural.

Copyright 2008 Daniel LaFavers