I just finished watching The Secret. What is The Secret? It is feature length movie about The Law of Attraction. As inspiring as this movie was, there was this critical voice inside of me saying how incomplete it was. I truly want to believe in this principle and to a great extent I do. In certain phases of my life it has been a consistent and worthwhile practice. Unfortunately, it comes with that critical voice. So for my own benefit, I’ve decided to see how the law of attraction can fit into my current worldview.
The Law of Attraction states that you are a living magnet. You attract whatever is dominant in your thoughts and feelings. This makes total sense to a certain degree. If I’m feeling bad then I’m having a bad experience. And changing my feelings will create a different type of experience. It’s the same with thoughts I’m having. I’m attracting experiences that mirror my inner thoughts.
Pretty simple stuff. But it’s a reductionist principle. It collapses everything to the upper left quadrant, or the interior of the individual. And it collapses everything to the level of mind. Everything is determined by my thinking. Obviously this isn’t completely true.
So I’ll try to hack through the Law of Attraction according to the AQAL model. But to begin, I’ll stop calling it a law and instead view it as a general principle. If you’re new to integral theory and would like to know more, this pdf a good place to start: Integral Operating System. Also, wikipedia has some good information. Try these links: Integral Philosophy and Integral Thought.
I won’t fully explain the four quadrants here but I will make a couple of points. I already mentioned the reduction of everything to the UL (Upper Left: Individual Interior). Since I am a holon, reducing everything to a single part of my whole doesn’t support an integral principle of attraction. We can agree that there are internal, external, individual, and collective contributions to our existence. There are multiple perspectives to what we attract and what we want to attract.
How would lines of development relate to an integral law of attraction? I’m going to have a better chance of attracting the health and fitness that I want if I have a highly developed kinesthetic sense. I believe The Secret and proponents of the law of attraction have a good grasp of lines. Maybe not complete, but at least they ask you to think beyond money and things into relationships, health, and so on.
I believe linguistic intelligence is one of the most important lines to develop in an integral law of attraction. How we state what we want is just as important as figuring out what we want. Affirmations are an art. Subtle verb shifts can open our perspective and put things in their appropriate place on our time lines. Many self-help gurus will tell you to make everything present tense. “I weigh 50 pounds, am 8 feet tall, and a trillionaire.” Uh, I think not.
If your goal is to become a millionaire and you were to model a millionaire’s thinking on the path to completing this goal, you would find shifts in thinking and language patterns that occur over time. When I have a million dollars, I can affirm that I’m a millionaire. When I have $750,000 I can affirm that I’m close to being a millionaire. When I have $100 I can be creative and affirm, “I accept any idea that would be worth $1,000,000 or more.” These affirmations don’t create cognitive dissonance and are still extremely effective in focusing our thoughts.
Levels or Stages
For example, if you get hit by a bus and break a leg, that’s a physical illness with physical remedies: you set the leg and plaster it. That’s a “same-level” intervention. You don’t sit in the street and visualize your leg mending. That’s a mental-level technique that isn’t effective in this physical-level problem. Moreover, if you are told by those around you that your thoughts alone caused this accident, and that you should be able to mend the leg yourself with your thoughts, then all that is going to happen is that you will feel guilt, self-blame, and low self-esteem. It’s a complete mismatch of levels and treatments.
On the other hand, if you do happen to suffer frrom, say, low self-esteem, because of certain scripts that you have internalized about how rotten or incompentent you are, that is a mental-level problem that responds well to a mental-level intervention such as visualization or affirmations (script rewriting, which is exactly what cognitive therapy does). Using physical-level interventions–taking megavitamins, say, or changing your diet–is not going to have much effect (unless you actually have a vitamin imbalance contributing to the problem). And if you only try to use physical-level treaments, you are going to end up in some form of despair, because the treatments are from the wrong level and they just don’t work very well.
So the general approach to any disease, in my opinion, is to start at the bottom and work up. First, look for physical causes. Exhaust those to the best of your ability. Then move up to any possible emotional causes, and exhaust those. Then mental, then spiritual.
He makes a couple other important points:
What is not helpful is taking the fact that these psychological and spiritual aspects can be very useful, and then saying that the reason you broke your leg is that you lacked these psychologcal and spiritual facets in the first place. A person suffering any major illness may make significant and profound changes in the face of that illness; it does not follow that they got the illness because they lacked the changes. That would be like saying, if you have a fever and you take aspirin the fever goes down; therefore having a fever is due to an aspirin deficiency.
Now most diseases, of course, don’t originate from a single and isolated level. Whatever happens on one level or dimension of being affects all the other levels to a greater or lesser degree. One’s emotional, mental, and spiritual makeup can most definitely influence physical illness and physical healing, just as a physical illness can have strong repercussions on the higher levels. Break your leg, and it will probably have emotional and psychological effects. In systems theory this is called “upward causation”–a lower level is causing certain events in a higher level. And the reverse, “downward causation,” is when a higher level has a causal effect or influence on the lower.
The question, then, is just how much “downward causation” does the mind–do our thoughts and emotions–have on physical illness? And the answer seems to be: much more than was once thought, not nearly as much as new agers believe.
So the wisdom of downward causation comes into play during the exit of a completely reductionist rational worldview level into a higher-level integration of the mind and body. Using Spiral Dynamics terms, it’s a move from orange to green. But what usually happens when one enters this new stage is everything gets reduced again to a single perspective. It happened in The Secret and most attraction gurus tend to reduce everything to the level of mind. What The Bleep did something similar. I believe this movie could be important for someone at a purely rational level of development to widen their perspective but someone of an even higher more integrated level would see this as gross reductionism.
For me, this is where it gets fun. Who doesn’t love an altered state? Lucid dreaming, visualization, and subtle body exercises like Qigong, help us to expand and focus our energy. Every attraction guru will tell you to visualize your goals regularly and I believe it’s damn good advice.
It seems to me that the nondual state is where the two truths doctrine shows up, recognizing my relative and absolute self. A common attraction technique is to become grateful for what you have while at the same time striving to improve your life. This attraction hack is said to help you achieve your dreams faster. A deeper interpretation is to recognize your ever-present self that cannot be found because it was never lost while simultaneously improving your relative self.
Types are a useful tool when it comes to the principle of attraction. They can help us take different perspectives. We can use the Enneagram to predict the issues that may come up in our personalities and then design outcomes in accordance to our Enneagram type. Masculine/feminine and yin/yang typology can help to balance our relationship to attraction. I give and receive. I let go while acting.
In conclusion, while most of the AQAL model can be used to enrich our understanding of attraction, there are really only a couple of major changes that must occur. First, include all quadrants. No more gross reduction to the individual interior. Second, transcend and include all levels. No more gross reduction to the level of mind.
There. My critical voice has done its job. I can believe in attraction again. Did I miss anything?