2:3 Limitations to the Law of Attraction

Orna Ross unpacks the limitations of the “Law” of Attraction (LoA) and why it's only part of the conscious creation process. Discover the misconceptions and common pitfalls that many encounter when relying on LoA. It's not your fault, Orna explains, as there are seven stages in the creative process, and LoA covers only two of them. Tune in to learn why the Law of Attraction isn't a standalone solution and how creatives and creativists need a more holistic approach.

Read the Transcript to Go Creative! Podcast Season 2, Episode 3: Limitations to the Law of Attraction

Orna Ross: Hello, creatives and creativists and welcome to the podcast. Today I want to talk to you about the law of attraction. I'm sure you've come up against this. Anyone who's thinking or reading about conscious creation is going to encounter the law of attraction. It's really quite popular at the moment in our culture, and it's interesting, law of attraction comes in and out of consciousness and comes in and out of popularity depending on how progressive and open a society is.

Today, I think the current wave of popularity, it's fair to say was kicked off by Jerry and Esther Hicks, two Americans back in the 1990s. They have a kind of a stage show in which Esther channels an entity called Abraham, and Abraham gives various wisdoms around the law of attraction and how it works. They started on a bus and now they do cruises, and they were popularized by Oprah Winfrey and got their message out very widely.

So, when you're talking about the Law of Attraction, it's bringing you into the fringes of ” spiritual activities” and another person I think who's been very influential was Rhonda Byrne with her books and associated products, The Secret. That really spelled it out for a lot of people and brought it to a very wide audience.

Again, Oprah Winfrey being responsible for spreading the word there with her huge audience.

Byrne, her book is really interesting because, The Secret, the law of attraction has always been posed as this kind of secret doctrine. Like you've got normal life going on and there's this secret sort of power that some people are clued into, and others are not.

But what Byrne did very well was she boiled the message down, and her branding and everything. For me, as an author publisher, observing what she did in terms of how she got the book out there, and there was a lot of controversy that she had stolen Esther and Jerry Hicks way of thinking about things, which boils down to ask God or the universe, or whatever it is that you believe in or label the thing that is bigger than human beings. Ask for what you want, believe that you're going to get it, and then you receive it. If you don't receive it, it's because you didn't believe hard enough or well enough or good enough. That's essentially the law of attraction in a nutshell.

For me as a conscious creator and as somebody who has worked as a writer all my life, so as a writer, you have to be a conscious creator, you want to create an article, a book, a feature, whatever it might be, and you have to do the steps that I was talking about in the last podcast. You have to set your intention, bring your creative attention to the intention. That combination of intention and attention leads to action, and the action leads to the thing being produced.

So, in the case of a book, it's about sitting down every day and getting those words out or getting those words edited into such a condition that they can then be turned into a book.

It's obvious and in other ways it's not obvious at all. As a writer, you turn up every day, but you know that you're carried by something bigger than yourself, that it comes through you, you are not in charge. And bringing the very same way of thinking about life, that's what a creativist does with other things.

So, this idea that it is a secret doctrine is really interesting to me because I've been working for a long time,, some of you will know on a long book series about the Irish poet W. B. Yeats and his muse Maud Gonne, and one of the characters that turns up in the book is actually somebody who brought the law of attraction to Westerners back in the day.

So, around the end of the 1880s, Madame Blavatsky, a larger-than-life character who was very well known to the spiritual and creative communities of her time. She was a guru, very controversial. To her champions she was unbelievably enlightened and inspirational, and to her critics she was a charlatan, a fraud. She was brilliant at PR, that's for sure.

How she set up the idea around conscious creation and law of attraction is very much how it has carried on being presented to us ever since. She wrote a book called The Secret Doctrine, and she set up the theosophy, and the theosophy was her philosophy, the perennial philosophy, Aldous Huxley called it, and Madame Blavatsky added lots of mumbo jumbo and arcane language and outlandish claims and smoke and mirrors, basically.

But she was incredibly influential, the heart of what she was teaching, she said that it had been given to the West by masters in Tibet, and there was a whole load of controversy about that as well. But she's influenced thinkers like Yeats, like Krishnamurti, Aldous Huxley, so many, the bee poets, the Beatles themselves, all the counterculture and hippie movements of the 1960s, yoga, meditation in the West, all of these things, whether they know it or not, often tap into ideas that Madame Blavatsky and her followers, particularly William Quan Judge, he was the person who wrote about the law of attraction for the first time. He was the one who used that term.

And of course, it's not a law at all, it's a process. But the idea of it being a law was part of drawing on the kind of bogus science that they used, this combination of scientific thinking and allegedly Tibetan thinking, and brought these two together in a way that the late Victorians absolutely lapped it up and we've been lapping it up ever since.

I think so much that was in those books is true and is interesting, and is a way of thinking that is counter cultural and is very attractive to creatives and creativists.

It put into a philosophy the core idea that we don't see things as things are, there isn't this immutable reality outside of us that we're relating to, we see them as we are, we're bringing our mind mode, our mindset that we discussed last time, we're bringing that to it.

It's that whole lens of observation that allows us to change what is happening to us, because if it isn't out there set and fixed, which it absolutely isn't, and subsequent science has only gone on to underlie that more and more. Now, real science, not mumbo jumbo science actually shows that this is true. It is all about energy and information. It's all about observation. There is no solid, real world, and there is, but it's all done through our perception and through our senses, known and unknown.

All really interesting. I just find it all completely fascinating, and these core ideas that Blavatsky and Judge gave to us are being passed on all the time, like thoughts become things, or what you believe you conceive, and then of course, the law of attraction itself, like attracts like. If you get your vibration, your inner sort of being into the right place, you'll attract the things you want.

I don't think there's anything wrong with any of that. I completely and utterly agree with a lot of what's in there. Not always keen on the false claims, and there's no need to dress it up in my mind. It's obvious and it's there and we can feel it and we can experience it all the time.

Keeping it simple, I think, is what it's all about. Stripping all that stuff away in the same way that I feel, the more organized religion gets, the further it moves away from spirituality. It's the same here, the more didactic and heaped on with concepts and ways of doing and being that the law of attraction becomes, the further it moves away from the core concepts that are actually it's truth, and that the heart of it that people respond to because they recognize it as truth.

Honestly, law of attraction's given rise to so many charlatans selling things. At one time, I did an investigation on the people who were selling this stuff, and the amounts of money that were being asked for and charged for what is essentially a human condition and a human process that anybody can tap into, it's really horrendous. So, I think, for that reason, a lot of people step away from Law of Attraction and anything to do with it. It's, put in a box as being something that is completely undependable, completely subjective, got no basis, et cetera.

So, what I'd like to do here is just tease out the ways in which Law of Attraction is different from the process of conscious creation, and the way I think of it is that Law of Attraction is part of conscious creation. I don't use that term, law of attraction, because it isn't a law, it is something else, it's a process, which is a different thing entirely.

But it is embedded, the concepts that are embedded in law of attraction are the very same concepts that are embedded in part of the creative process, what it is to be a conscious creator.

One of the big differences is that Law of Attraction presents wanting as a lack. So, a lot of the people who teach it, they present the Law of Attraction as the answer to your problems. So, you want a million dollars, okay, you get a million dollars and then everything will be sorted.

It feeds what I think of as the “if only” syndrome; if only I had such and such, everything will be okay. That's not how life works, and therefore we're starting from the wrong place when we start from there in my opinion. If your desire is being presented back to you as a lack or a problem, it only accentuates that sense of incompleteness. That incompleteness, that gap, that wanting, that not being enough, that is actually your conventional mind in material mode.

There's no such thing as lack or incompleteness when you're in creative mode. It's not there, and it's wanting something, the gap between where you are and the thing that you want isn't a problem. Not unless you frame it that way. It's actually a universal and necessary process. It's part of being alive.

Wanting. We should enjoy the want. Wanting what we want and then fulfilling or indeed dropping that want and then wanting something new, that's just how life rolls. So, enjoying the fact that we know what we want is actually the place that you start from with conscious creation.

The second thing is that the law of attraction leaves out five stages of the process.

So, the creative process has seven stages in total and divided into different phases, and there's another whole podcast episode on that.

But the law of attraction centres only on the first stages, the intention and the incubation. So, that part of the puzzle, engaging with those two stages, engaging properly with creative intention and engaging properly with incubating your intention, is actually a very powerful and more creative way to be than many people otherwise experience in our very conventional and materialistic society.

So, just tapping into those two stages is powerful in and of itself, and it's also the part that doesn't ask a lot of you beyond a mental and emotional process, and so it feels good. Most people find that when they tap into intention and incubation, it feels good. It also, sometimes can yield, so you can see some creative success just by doing that, and so it's enough to break the grip, I think, of conceptual thought, and that's always a liberating experience and an enjoyable experience mentally and emotionally.

So, when that kind of sense of freedom and relief and engagement with the self kicks in, then stages three to seven of the creative process can kick in seemingly of their own accord, with so little effort that you mightn't even know that you've been through them.

That's why some people, when they're starting with Law of Attraction in particular, and if they're looking at something that they're close to achieving anyway, it can happen. But then they're disappointed when they come to do something else, or maybe something that matters more to them, or maybe something that is bigger.

You can write a poem in that way, just wanting to write the poem, incubating it a bit, out it comes. But you can't write a seven book novel series, that I'm working on at the moment, in that way. You need all seven stages of the creative process. You need to know what stage you're in as you're doing a particular piece of work. You need an understanding of the whole thing the whole way through. So, not just intention and incubation, but also information gathering, research, and then drafting, and then deepening, and then correcting, and then you get the final product.

That is the process when you are consciously creating. You need to kick in conscious action, and you need to understand the process and connect with it.

You can create breakfast from intention and incubation, but you couldn't organize a banquet for 100 people from that. Then you need to understand what you're doing, either consciously or perhaps there's already a process that's been laid out for you that you're falling into; that's what happens in work situations very often, the creative process has been mapped already. Even if people don't understand it in that way, they have tapped into the information gathering, the drafting, the deepening, the correcting, and then the putting it out there. They know how to do that for their particular product or experience, or whatever it is that they are trying to create. So, you slot into that as a cog in a big creative wheel, but if we're trying to organize something ourselves that we want, that is a big thing for us, whatever it might be, then just the first two stages of the process won't get you there.

You won't know what to do when resistance rises. You won't know how to take yourself from the intention and the attention that the incubation phase brings. You won't to know how to get yourself into the actions that arise from that, and how to direct them, and how to support them with creative practice.

That's number two. The law of attraction leaves out five stages of the process. Number one was that it presents your desire, your wish, your intention as a lack, something that will be easily solved.

Just imagine for a second, a world that did actually run on ask, believe, receive. How boring that would be, how non-human that would be. That's just mechanical machinery stuff. That's not how life works.

Number three is that law of attraction, I touched off this briefly a moment ago, but law of attraction tries to think its way out of thought.

Einstein has that quote, but Audre Lorde, the American writer, has just come to my mind as well, as I'm speaking. She had a great saying, ‘the master's tools can't dismantle the master's house', and she was speaking, Audre Lorde, a black woman writer, incredible grasp of enslavement in its widest sense, with her black American history. She brought that to the women's liberation struggle of the 1980s and earlier, and she was fantastic, an insightful writer. If you haven't read her, I commend her to you.

But the Master's tools cannot dismantle the master's house, and what this means in relation to conscious creation is, we can't think our way out of a problem that's created by thought, and that's what Law of Attraction is trying to do, particularly in its more materialistic presentations.

So, affirmations and bold statements without any support of creative practices are useless. If you're just saying over and over again, I don't have enough money, love, friends, whatever it is, whatever the want is that you're trying to realize, and then you catch yourself saying that and you go, oh no, I can't think that, if I think like that, I'm actually creating that situation. I do have enough. I am full. I am enough.

The affirmations kind of thing, money, love, friends, whatever it is, they're already mine, but then the other part of your mind, it's not true, you don't have enough, and so it goes on. The struggle, I have, I have not, compulsively repeating affirmations while ignoring the response that's bubbling up, it's terrible. It's super painful. It's a creative cul-de-sac. It is, I think, the addictive compulsive struggle, and we're caught in it in so many ways, from our eating, our exercise, our minds and how they are trying to resist what's “bad” for us. All of that is amplified when we bring in that understanding of the law of attraction.

So, we can't think our ways out of thoughts. Adding more thought, no matter how “positive”, it doesn't solve the problem that's generated by a thought in and of itself. We need a much deeper understanding of the process, and people are understanding that now, I think. There's a whole understanding of what's called toxic positivity. Essentially, we need to go deeper than that. It's not that simple. Ask, receive, believe. It is more complex.

Then the other thing, I think the fourth problem I have with law of attraction and how it is most widely taught in the mainstream is, if you imagine things fully enough, they will arrive.

I definitely am a 100% proponent of imagining and visualization. Creative visualization is a core technique for a conscious creator. Absolutely, 100%, and the imagination is immensely powerful, so much more powerful than we give it credit for being. So, no argument from me there, but this idea that everything that's in your mind was imagined into being.

First of all, I have a real problem with that because, did the kids who are being bombed in Gaza at the moment, or the Jewish people who were bombed a few months ago, do they attract that to themselves by “thinking bad thoughts”.

It's this complete lack of understanding of the difference between conscious thought and the other functions of the mind, the other ways in which our brains and bodies work. It blames people, and people feel that, if I haven't got what I want or I have things that I don't want, I've attracted them by thinking bad thoughts and I'm to blame.

Again, there's that heaping of blame and shame on top of yourself, which is completely counter creative.

But it also fosters another kind of complex, the Cinderella complex, the Prince Charming thing. The new partner, the new job, the new house, it will arrive, my dream will be fulfilled, and all the bad stuff will be kissed away, and it's not like that. Even if it were true, as I said earlier, what would you do with your life if that were true?

What would then, what would life be for you? The very point of life is to be creating, to experience the growth and evolution and expansion of the creative process and the actions it induces in you. That's why leaving it at imagination and raising your vibe is misleading to my mind. The whole point of life is to be actually working, acting, also resting, playing, in a conscious way, and that consciousness, that awareness of ourselves in action or in consciously chosen inaction, that generates a presence in us, an awareness of life, of the levels of life that we need to engage with. So, the practices that are prompted by conscious creation, the presence that is generated by conscious creation, the actions that are induced by conscious creation, they all work together. They connect us into ourselves, which has the effect of connecting us to the outer world, and that is the beauty of the whole thing, and that is the beauty that to my mind is missed very often.

Not always. There are some teachers and practitioners of law of attraction who have that full understanding and maybe use different language for it, but are not in the business of leading people astray, but unfortunately, so many of the people who are teaching law of attraction are unconsciously leading people astray because they haven't got themselves the depth of awareness, being, and presence to understand what it is they're actually passing on.

I think that is a danger that anybody who engages with conscious creation encounters. If we don't stay aware of the fact that we are very imperfect human beings, deeply flawed, always facing suffering and challenges in some shape or form with. If we don't keep that awareness, if we don't hold that, first of all, we're never actually fully happy because we're in the land of delusion. But secondly, we're setting ourselves up in this sort of guru mode. We're not just a person who's trying to consciously create something, connecting with other people who are trying to consciously create something, and recognizing and laughing and ruefully acknowledging all the ways in which that doesn't go according to plan. That's lovely. That's how it is. That's human. That's great.

But the other way, the way of, here is the law of attraction, do as I say, and you will receive, and if you don't, then you've done it wrong, do it again, do it better, be better at this. It's very problematic, I feel.

So, I suppose I'd like to finish really by just saying that what we want to create is always going to be with us. It's always going to be changing as our lives unfold, but the creative process itself, that's timeless; it doesn't change. It is what it is, and it's hugely enriching and rewarding. It is the richest and most rewarding way to live a life and it's always available to us in this moment, and it is its own reward.

So, we have that double thing going on that, yes, we want something and, yes, we are working and resting and playing in order to achieve that something. There's nothing wrong with that, that is the creative process. But at the same time, we're fully acknowledging that being in the process is actually what it's all about.

It's not the destination, but how we travel; that's what conscious creation is all about.

I'd love to hear your thoughts, as ever. Please do drop into our membership on Patreon, the Creativist Club, we are now calling ourselves. I'd love to see you there each Monday. It's a free membership. Each Monday, we set our intentions for the week, and at the end of the week on a Friday or Saturday, we go back and look and see how those intentions have unfolded in the week under the headings of maker, manager and marketeer. So, if that's of interest to you, would love to see you at patreon.com/OrnaRoss.

Until next time, have a great week. Don't forget to go creative. Bye, bye.