Why Doesn’t the “Law of Attraction” Always Work?
When a metaphysical “law” proves inconsistent
Is mind the ultimate reality?
Generations of mind-power mystics, from Ernest Holmes and Neville Goddard to Joseph Murphy and Florence Scovel Shinn certainly believed so. Murphy articulated that thesis to a global audience with his book The Power of Your Subconscious Mind. Since the book’s publication in 1963, however, new complexities have entered our lives.
For one thing, we live longer, and hence must contend with social and health questions, from eldercare and end-of-life issues to mental decline and chronic disease, which were less common to earlier generations. Also, we understand more today about the genetic, hereditary, and biological factors in wellness, health, and longevity.
Most positive-mind mystics did not close their eyes to science or discount its advances. Murphy himself was a trained chemist. But, again, the minister believed that all of our knowledge is superseded and governed by the ultimate law of mental creativity. Or what is sometimes called the “Law of Attraction.” (For my part, I prefer the term selection.) When faced with life’s complexities — and seeming contradictions — we may question this point.
What about natural disasters, wars, and famines? I believe that it is wholly insufficient to ascribe such things to some kind of national karma. On the spiritual path, we can measure things only through personal experience. If you haven’t been through such calamities, that is reason enough not to pass judgment. Judging the suffering of another person, or nation, is tantamount to throwing a stone rather than gleaning a truth. I do not believe that the law of karma is intended to flatten complexity.
I once saw a post on social media in which someone surmised that the events of 9/11, an earthquake, and a financial calamity (which never arrived) were part of America’s karmic debt. That same person later posted that his house was demolished in a hurricane. I would never attempt to extend his karmic logic to his own experience. To do so would be gruesome — and, I believe, false.
* * *
So is mind the ultimate reality? My personal belief is that Murphy was right — consciousness is the final arbiter of experience. But to that I must add a crucial caveat.
Within the physical or cosmic framework in which we find ourselves, I believe that we necessarily must experience multiple laws and forces. Some of these forces, such as time, mortality, and the feeling of mass, are overwhelmingly persuasive. Yet these apparent walls of limitation may be necessary to help us navigate life.
Consider that our day-to-day, five-sensory manner of viewing reality is coarse, limited, and even illusory. We require sensory devices to get through life. We organize our lives by the experience of linear time. Linear time feels real. It is overwhelmingly convincing. But linearity itself is an illusion, albeit a necessary one.
Consider: we know that time slows down at or near light speed. The aging process slows when a being is moving near light speed. We likewise know that time slows or bends in environments of extreme gravity, like black holes. These things are no longer theoretical, they’ve been measured, they’re real, they’re actual. Yet they make no sense to us. As we go through daily life and our morning commutes, it makes no impact on us that time can actually slow.
Even knowing this, being able to understand this, being able to talk about this, doesn’t impact your experience of linearity. Because linearity is probably a necessary illusion for five-sensory beings. Without an orderly sense of time, our thought apparatus could not navigate the infinitude of existence. Time is a device.
This is where the law of mental causation reenters. Among other things, the ability of mental selection loosens the bonds of materiality and perception. Our creative abilities may not erase fixed limits in our lives — a being would probably need to be remarkably advanced for such a thing to occur. Maybe in our sphere it never occurs. (I’ve never witnessed it). But the law of creation allows us to glimpse — and sometimes to act — beyond the boundaries that we’re taught are final.
I believe that the law of mental causation is ever operative. But because a law is ever operative (and, to be a law, it must be), does not mean that we experience its effects uniformly. Gravity would crush you on Jupiter, make you feel light on the moon, and in space it would seem absent. Yet it’s always present. Gravity is simply mass being attracted to itself. Without mass, gravity appears nonexistent, though it’s omnipresent.
The law of mind, too, is always present. As spiritual and scientific understandings advance, hand and hand, we realize more and more of the Hermetic truth, “As above, so below.” Or, as rendered in Scripture, “The individual is made in the image of the Creator.”
The great truth of life, known to our primeval ancestors and slowly being rediscovered today, is that world is subject to perspective. But that perspective is mitigated. Each time you exercise that creative truth, you expand your sense of life — and of what is possible to us all. Now, go and create.