Tuesday, July 31, 2012

An Assessment of the Law of Attraction from Oprah's Interview with Larry King

A friend just sent me this video clip of Oprah speaking about her experience with the Law of Attraction (LOA). These are my comments following her remarks: http://www.mindmovies.com/inspirationshow/index.php?episode=10002


Oprah is one of the few promoters of the Law of Attraction I have heard who seems to recognize that the so called "Secret" is just one psychological or spiritual law among many--not the only or even the primary law. As she said so well in the interview, "I think that the mistake that was made with The Secret was that they tried to let that be the answer to all questions."

I think some advocates of The Law of Attraction run the risk of cherry picking a particularly memorable event that happened to coincide with the fact that they had been thinking about it, and then taking complete credit for "creating it" or causing it solely by their own thoughts and intentions. The ancient Greeks called that hubris, which is defined as "an overestimation of one's own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power." For the ancient Greeks, hubris was the ultimate sin--ignoring the roles, powers and influences of the Gods. Do we really have that much to do with "attracting" the event or object?

Let's consider an alternative or more complete possibility that some Higher Power (or Powers) has a larger role to play, beyond my own thoughts. Perhaps this Higher Power, working in alignment with my soul's unique destiny, plants that particular idea and feeling in me because the idea holds soul-making power for my individuation. The "event" or manifestation may indeed be coming my way, but I am not at all convinced that I alone created or attracted that event without divine influence, or what William Blake called "divine influx". It appears to be more true that we humans are allowed to co-participate in a coming event because that particular event furthers our soul-making destiny. It is more like a prophetic image or idea that is given to me, or Oprah, than a thought I, or Oprah, alone decided to make come true. 

One ought to ask why that particular book, The Color Purple, seized Oprah's notice so deeply. Surely it wasn't her doing. She had likely read hundreds of books before that particular book, none of which seized her with such intensity. Do we think that we are the sole instigators of our obsessions with certain ideas or desires? Do we think that certain movies, people, places, and fantasies recur in our imaginations for no good reason? I doubt it. Contrary to popular science, the mind does not just out of the blue create thoughts and feelings from chemicals leaping across synaptic reception sites in the brain. And to say that my so called "ego" manufactures all of my thoughts is just as arrogant. "Something" more than neurons or tiny egos are at work in our thoughts and feelings. "Something" or "Someone" whispered to Oprah through the Color Purple, "Your soul-making is somehow tied up with this story. These impressions will not leave your mind until they are done with you." Getting the role in the movie was a very tiny part of the whole process. Taken in its entirety, Oprah's process caused her to face her food addiction and problems with self will. Those of us who fixate on the human role in manipulating the Universe by the Law of Attraction run the dangerous risk of taking credit for a small slice of a much larger spiritual enterprise. The Gods are at work in our souls--the external manifestations are a distant second to the work done on our internal psyches.

The key to Oprah's interview comments is in her song where she finally "surrendered all". The subsequent phone call from Stephen Spielberg didn't show up because Oprah was repeating her Color Purple affirmation during an ecstatic moment at a meditation retreat, but when she was depressed and miserable, surrendering her hopeless situation on a jogging track on a Fat Farm. She finally realized that she was powerless over her addiction to food and finally recognized her need for Help. Her mental obsession about the Color Purple movie role was nothing but an avenue to her surrender, facilitating the more important project of soul-making. If the Law of Attraction attracted anything to Oprah, it was her need to relinquish control, and to surrender to her destiny which is creating her. To believe that my puny little mind discovers and creates my reality based on my desires is extremely dangerous, in my opinion. The message that we are being created is much more significant than the message that we create our realities. Both are true, but the second is infinitely dwarfed by the first. But in this culture, hubris is the rule rather than the exception.

Those of us who think our thoughts alone create reality, without any inspiration from a Higher Authority, remind me of Bilbo Baggins comments at the end of Tolkien's book, The Hobbit. After his battles with Orcs, the slaying of the dragon and his gold gathering adventures, Biblo asks Gandalf how much he, Bilbo, had to do with bringing the whole affair to realization. Gandalf wisely replies: “Surely you don’t disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!”

The way the Law of Attraction is often presented runs the risk of making us, like Bilbo, over estimate our roles in the soul-making endeavor. We are very fine people, and people to be fond of, but we are quite little follows in a wide world after all. Before you start "attracting," find out which God is whispering to you, acknowledge that divine voice and move out of the way.

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