I first published this article on Hub Pages in January 2014. I have reprinted it here as I feel it is an important area of study.
This in-depth article looks at the concept of The Law of Attraction and The Teachings of Abraham®, asking whether desire is good and if it is possible for everyone to have what they want. Topics covered include:
- Take only what you need
- How many selves do we have?
- Is there enough to go round?
- Can we all have what we want?
- Is desire a good thing?
- The Law of Attraction in action
- Is manifesting abundance in the culture?
- Is it possible to get something out of nothing and is this how the universe came into being?
The Teachings of Abraham®
I have recently been reading some of The Teachings of Abraham® written by Esther & Jerry Hicks – Money and the Law of Attraction and The Astonishing Power of Emotions – and I have found that both books make very interesting reading. One of the central messages of The Teachings of Abraham® is that we can have whatever we want so long as we consistently align our thoughts with the vibration of our Inner Being. We know when we are aligned if we feel positive emotion and we know when we are misaligned if we feel negative emotion. The teaching is, in essence, very simple yet potentially very powerful if we can manage to put it into action.
But there is one implication of the teaching that has been concerning me and that is the issue of consumption. If more and more people start to attract more and more of what they want, isn’t that going to lead to even greater consumption and consequently the further depletion of the Earth’s natural resources?
At this point I would like to say that it is not The Teachings of Abraham® that I take issue with, but a group of feelings and thoughts which arose within me as I read the Abraham-Hicks books and contemplated their messages. By the end of this article I hope to show that these thoughts and feelings have been resolved and that a deeper contemplation of The Teachings of Abraham® and the Law of Attraction in general helped me to arrive at such a point of resolution.
Take only what you need
What little I know of Native Americans, Australian Aborigines and other indigenous cultures, tells me that they all have or had one thing in common: the concept of taking only what you need and no more. Most indigenous cultures learned to manage the natural resources in a sustainable way by only taking what they needed and making sure they always left enough of the resource for it to regenerate, thus ensuring that the resource would continue to provide for their culture in future generations. This is a concept that resonates with me very strongly.
All of these cultures also feel or felt a very strong connection with the trees, plants, animals and with the planet as whole.
Conversely it seems that there have been a number of cultures in the past which have crumbled because they did not manage natural resources in a sustainable way and because they had a discordant or disconnected relationship with nature.
Our present culture is one of ever-growing populations and ever-increasing consumption. Most people who care to look at where the energy and raw materials come from to fuel our current abundant lifestyles will be aware that these resources are finite and are being used up at a rather alarming rate. Our way of life is quite clearly not sustainable.
Many of the most well-known spiritual figures of our time, including Sathya Sai Baba, have urged us to put a ceiling on desires and curb our appetites for luxury, but The Teachings of Abraham® appear to be encouraging us to desire more. Yet The Teachings of Abraham®, just like the concept of taking only what we need, also resonate with me, so something obviously requires further investigation.
Two selves make it easy
If we assume that each person basically has two ‘selves’ we can easily dismiss any concerns there might be about over consumption. If one ‘self’ is the ego and the other ‘self’ is the higher self things become quite straightforward. If the higher self is what connects us to Source / God / The Universe and the higher self always promotes behaviour which is for the good of all, then all we have to do is align our ego with our higher self and we will all naturally do what is for the greater good. Case closed.
To be fair, one of the messages of The Teachings of Abraham® is to encourage us to align our thoughts with Source energy (our higher self). However, another of the messages is that we can have whatever we want, whatever we desire. But is wanting or desire really compatible with being connected to Source energy? Many spiritual traditions suggest not.
In the preface to Money and the Law of Attraction Jerry Hicks describes how he and his wife, Esther, had just moved into their new Californian home. He goes on to describe the opulence and luxury of their new home and uses it as an example to back up the claim that The Teachings of Abraham® really work. They desired a house like this in California and that is what they got. The message is “if you want to get more of what you want, this book is for you.”
But is it a good thing to want more? Is it a good thing to fuel desire which ultimately leads to greater consumption and greater depletion of natural resources?
My previous statement was, I admit, slightly loaded. It implies that more desire leads to greater consumption and that greater consumption means greater depletion of natural resources. Not all desire leads to greater consumption – some people may desire more time or more peace for example, but most of our desires do seem to involve consuming something or acquiring something which requires energy and raw materials to produce it. Also, in theory, we could make everything sustainably and not have to use up the Earth’s resources, but in actuality we have not arrived at that point.
Is there enough to go round?
In the Abraham-Hicks books questions are asked as to whether there really is enough to go round – enough for everyone to manifest abundance in their lives – and the usual message is that the Universe is abundant and that it is our thoughts which tell us otherwise. We believe in lack or scarcity and therefore that is what we experience. But nobody seems to have asked the question “so what happens when everyone on the planet desires a new car and we have used up all the Earth’s resources? If we no longer have the raw materials to build any new cars, where will they come from? Will the power of our desire attract them to Earth from outer space or will the power of our desire suffice to manifest them out of thin air in accordance with some Universal Law with which we are not yet acquainted?”
There are many ideas which get presented in our world which seem like great ideas until we notice that on closer inspection they will only work if only a limited number of people buy into them. Take the idea of living sustainably. If you have several hundred thousand pounds or dollars available you could afford to buy enough land and lead a self-sufficient lifestyle. You could keep a few animals, grow your own food, generate your own energy and so on. Many people do this under the banner of “sustainable living”. But it is only sustainable for those that can afford it. It most certainly isn’t sustainable for those who can’t. And if everyone on the planet wanted to live like that it would not be possible because there simply isn’t enough viable land on the planet for every living person to have several acres each. Also it is only “sustainable” to live like that if we take the wind turbine and solar panels out of the equation because they are made using non-renewable resources in the first place. Also it is technically not “self”-sufficiency because such a way of life depends on animals, plants, weather, water supply, tools, the planet and so on, but that’s another topic altogether.
Desiring more material wealth and using the Law of Attraction to draw it into your experience appears to be of the same ilk. It’s fine so long as not everybody does it.
Is desire a good thing?
When I was reading Money and the Law of Attraction I was also dipping into a book about Sathya Sai Baba called The Embodiment of Love by Peggy Mason & Ron Laing. It was interesting that when I started to have concerns about whether using the Law of Attraction to increase one’s personal wealth was a good thing, the phrase that I read in The Embodiment of Love was “The rich must sacrifice their wants so that the poor may secure their needs”. Other spiritual teachings that I have read also say that there is a great injustice in the way that we live today with millions of people still not having enough to eat and millions more suffering in poverty while those of us who live in the so-called developed world live in comparative luxury and consume the vast majority of the earth’s natural resources.
Obviously reading The Teachings of Abraham® has highlighted a conflict within me. I also want more but I don’t want more at the expense of others or at the expense of the planet. If we can manifest abundance and it does no harm then I’m all for it, but it seems like having more wealth does do harm somewhere along the line.
Before we can accurately discern whether it is a good thing to encourage people to use the Law of Attraction to draw more wealth to them, we need to consider the consequences of leaving people to live as they do. If we don’t align with our Inner Beings we create negativity and suffering, for ourselves and others, so that is obviously not a good thing. Looking at it like that suggests it would be far better to encourage people to connect with their Inner Being and consequently start to manifest their innermost desires.
But if we look at some of the people who appear to have been successful at using the Law of Attraction, things no longer seem so clear cut. There are a lot of very wealthy people on the planet who appear to have used the Law of Attraction (knowingly or unknowingly) to generate huge amounts of personal wealth for themselves and their families and it would appear that they do very little to contribute to the greater good, except perhaps encouraging a few other people to believe in themselves a bit more. This is not to say that all wealthy people are bad or self-serving – far from it – but most wealthy people we can think of will have several things in common. They will have large houses, usually more than one house, use a lot of natural resources and appear to have very little concern for the consequences of their consumption. Many people have grown rich by persuading people with very little money that they need to buy material things that they don’t actually need. Much of this persuading is done by advertising which is based around telling a lie, or at the very least, creating an illusion which people buy into. “Buy this product and you’ll feel better about yourself” is how the story goes.
People who design these products and create the marketing for them know it’s not really true, but they somehow manage to disregard that fact.
A “Three Selves” model is better
This is where we need to go back to our “two selves” model of the individual and replace it with a “three selves” model. If we are going to accept the idea of reincarnation into our philosophy (as many people on a spiritual path do) we need there to be some kind of “self” which is capable of storing our level of progress in each life. In short there needs to be a “self” which evolves through successive incarnations. If the ego is created afresh in each life and the higher self is basically transpersonal, we need a “middle self” which can sit in between the ego and the higher self.
With this “three selves” model in place we can see that, in each life, the first self we get in touch with as we learn to control the ego is our middle self, not the higher self. Now, as each person is basically a unique individual (or at least a unique expression of the Oneness), each person’s middle self will be at a slightly different stage of attainment. One person’s middle self may be more aligned with his ego whereas another person’s middle self may be more aligned with his higher self.
Now when Abraham-Hicks talk of the Inner Being, what they mean is not the same for everyone. When aligning with their Inner Being each person will align with either their middle self or their higher self, to whatever degree they can and this will be determined by their point of spiritual evolution.
The person whose middle self is more aligned with his ego will, when he aligns with his Inner Being, exhibit more personal desires than someone whose middle self is more aligned with his higher self.
If someone feels bad about himself, has no self-esteem, is busy creating negative vibrations which give rise to suffering, and if the next stage of development for that individual is to learn to believe in himself then that surely is a good thing for him to do. Of course some would say “yes but can’t we encourage people to believe in themselves and also do what is for the greater good at the same time?” To me that sounds like a very good idea. But of course people have free will to choose how their self-belief will manifest. If they choose to use their self-belief to accumulate personal riches then should we simply see that as a necessary part of their evolution?
In our present culture people are encouraged, through the media, advertising, product placement and technological innovations, to want more and to want it for themselves. They are sold the idea that having more stuff will make them feel better. If there were fewer of these messages and more messages telling people that they don’t need these things and, furthermore, that having more things will not make them feel better AND that they could actually choose to feel better anyway, without having more stuff, then maybe people would not have so many desires which appear to be self-serving.
Many spiritual teachings tell us that all desire implies attachment and when we have attachment to an outcome that means we are creating Karma. Many spiritual teachers have said that we should have only one desire, the desire to be closer to God. Desires are OK so long as those desires benefit everyone and are not exclusively self-serving. If the message from the adverts and the mainstream media was “get rich by being compassionate and then use that wealth to spread joy and reduce suffering” I’m sure many of us would feel differently about the concept of growing rich.
Once again, to be fair, The Teachings of Abraham® do actually say that the first step is to get into alignment which ultimately means feeling good. The books point out time and again that believing that “if I get this then I’ll be happy” is most definitely to be out of alignment.
So using our “three selves” model we could conclude that people are at the point of evolution that they are at, that it would be better all round for them to come into alignment, and that how much desire they have for personal gain rather than the greater good is largely due to the influences they receive mentally and visually. What we see around us has a great impact on our thinking. What arises from within us equally has great potential to influence our beliefs.
So the more that we broadcast thoughts which are for the greater good and the more we create physical forms of those ideas, the more we will encourage others to use their alignment and self-belief to work for the greater good.
As we align ourselves to the greater good and allow our light to shine, we encourage others, through the process of resonance or sympathetic vibration, to allow their own lights to shine and also work for the greater good.
What do I want?
On a personal level I have been experimenting with having a desire for a new car seeing as my car is getting quite old and rusty, but I know that in order to continue to fuel that desire I will need justify it in some way and I never feel comfortable with resorting to justification because it suggests misalignment. So for now I might try to replace that desire with one that says “I would like to be able to get to wherever I need to go and feel good about it. I would like to feel free and empowered even if I have an old car or no car at all.”
I suppose we could say that everything is desire. We could say that wanting a house to live in is a desire and that we could actually survive living outside as many people have to do. The difference is that we find it a lot easier to justify some desires and therefore call them needs.
When I write down, think or voice a desire I can tell by its vibration whether it has any element of misalignment in it. If I say “I want a new car” I feel a twinge of misalignment. If I say “I want to be in alignment and allow my light to shine in the full knowledge that allowing the light within me to shine is the best way of encouraging the light within others to shine also” then I feel a joyous sense of alignment.
Critics might say that this Law of Attraction stuff is all well and good until you want to attract something really outlandish. What if I desire to bring someone back from the dead who has been dead for 30 years? Would the Law of Attraction work for that? Presumably the answer would be that it won’t happen unless I believe it can happen and will only happen if I am in total alignment. Presumably the greater the thing we want, the more aligned we have to be and the more we need to desire it. Presumably one small fly in the ointment or one shred of doubt would be enough to prevent it from happening. Presumably the same would apply if I wanted to marry a famous movie actress. Thankfully I don’t want either of these outcomes to manifest.
But is the teaching rather too simplistic and, in concentrating solely on the Law of Attraction, does it fail to take account of the influences of other so-called Universal Laws or of the desires of others who may have desires which conflict with our own?
Absolute spiritual truth it seems is hard to come by. All we can do is ask ourselves the question “does this teaching resonate with me and does it make me feel good?” Who doesn’t want to feel better? I want to feel better and if something seems to work and does no harm then I’m happy to use it.
I think it’s a good thing to become more aware of the Law of Attraction and how it works. Most people do not realise how much they create their own experiences every day. Many people seem to live in a state of blame, anger and resentment. If they could see how the potential to create a happier existence is within their own grasp surely that would be a good thing?
The Teachings of Abraham® promote the message that thought creates and that if one wants to feel better one has to learn to look at life more positively, so overall the message is very positive.
The Law of Attraction in action
Over the years, whenever I have given focused attention to writing about a particular topic, a phenomenon has repeatedly occurred: within days (sometimes hours), books and articles that other people have written along similar lines have come to my attention.
Not only that, but if I pick up a book that I already own and open it at random it invariably has something to say which relates to the subject matter of why own writing.
In the past this has somewhat bothered me because I would think “Oh well if someone else has already written about it, what’s the point of me writing about it as well?” Sometimes I would even think that the universe was having a laugh at my expense – it didn’t matter what ideas I had, I would always find that someone else had thought about it first and done something with it.
Of course now I know that this was simply a reflection of my own negative self-image. Deep down I thought that I didn’t really have anything to say that hadn’t already been said and that nobody would be particularly interested in what I had to say. Now I see the wonder of it – by focusing on a subject through writing about it I am seeing the law of attraction in action and drawing into my experience other writings which help to give me deeper insights into the same subjects.
Part way through writing this article I went to make a cup of coffee and opened up The Intention Experiment by Lynne McTaggart which had just arrived in the post and it opened on a page which mentioned Sathya Sai Baba.
Something out of nothing
Another consequence of writing about subjects which interest me is that the very act of writing seems to trigger the arrival of new thoughts. It seems like, until I write down what I think I know, I don’t have space in my mind for any new information, but once I have written down the ideas that I was busy holding in my mental awareness, I create space for new ideas to emerge.
Several new thoughts arose after I finished part one of this article.
The first thing I realised was that I am suspicious of getting something for nothing. The Lynne McTaggart book I mentioned came from Amazon. It was a second-hand book from an Amazon seller and the price of the book was £0.01 plus £2.80 postage. When the book arrived, after opening it up and reading about Sai Baba, I noticed that the book was an ex-library book. As I wondered how it could be that the seller could make any money by selling a book so cheaply the thought arose “I bet they stole it”. Of course I don’t actually think the book was stolen but this is the thought that came up and revealed to me my suspicion of anything that looks too good to be true.
When I was growing up I was taught that there was no such thing as a free lunch and nothing comes for free without there being some kind of catch.
When I looked more closely at this line of thinking I realised that I had an issue with the way that some people talk about the law of attraction: the claim that the resources of the universe are limitless. The idea that there are plenty of resources for everyone to live abundantly does not tally with conventional thought. Some proponents of the law of attraction say that the only limiting factor is our thinking. If we believe in scarcity then that is what we experience. But where is the proof that we can all live abundantly if only we desire it enough, when all the physical evidence around us implies that we are rapidly using up the finite resources of this planet?
As I pursued this line of enquiry I started to consider the idea of things coming out of thin air. When I did this I thought again of Sai Baba because he manifested a huge number of objects for his devotees seemingly from nowhere. Now I didn’t visit Sai Baba while he was still alive so I have not witnessed this first hand but I have seen it many times in videos and read countless accounts from witnesses testifying to the amazing number of miracle manifestations that Sai Baba produced. I am of course aware that some people believe that these manifestations were simply tricks but anyone who has studied the enormity of the work that Sai Baba did and the huge number of other miracles he produced will find it difficult to dismiss the manifestations of physical objects quite so easily.
The point that I wanted to make was that this behaviour of Sai Baba, of manifesting things from thin air using nothing but his will, has always fascinated me. Just like stories of wizards like Merlin fascinate me, I have always been drawn to the idea that we can focus our will and our mental energy to produce significant effects in the physical world.
So, on the one hand I seem to scoff at the idea that there is limitless abundance on the planet (which implies that new matter can be created “out of thin air”) yet at the same time I am fascinated by someone who appears to have been able to do just that.
As I continued to ponder this idea of something coming out of nothing I began to consider the concept of the Big Bang and the way that plants grow from seeds. The theory of the Big Bang tells us that everything in the universe once existed inside a single tiny point – but how is this possible? Now consider a seed – this tiny little object just needs a bit of water to get it started and then it can grow to a huge size by absorbing energy directly from the sun.
Both these events – a plant growing from a seed and the Big Bang – seem to me to be equally as wondrous as the idea of manifesting something out of thin air.
Are we spiritually mature enough for limitless abundance?
Another thought which often comes up when I consider “magical abilities” like manifesting things from thin air is this: as a species are we really spiritually mature enough to be given the ability to create limitless abundance through the power of thought?
When you look around the world and see how humans have created so much pollution and created so many machines, so much waste, so much noise and had such a harmful effect on the planet, can you imagine what we would do if we had an unlimited resource of free energy?
If there was nothing to curtail the rampant desires of humans for more gadgets and more machines, I dread to think what sort of world we would end up living in if there was an unlimited supply of free energy.
It’s the same line of thinking that leads people to say that we should not be looking to colonise another planet because we have not yet learned how to act responsibly on this one. The issue of consumption is one thing; the way that we treat the rest of our species and the other life forms on the planet is another. There already exists enough food on the planet to feed everyone but still some of us throw food into the rubbish bin whilst others starve. As far as many people who live in poverty are concerned there already exists a great deal of abundance on this planet – it’s just that they are not getting a share of it.
Just as some believers in the law of Karma say that the starving millions in Africa are starving because of their Karma accrued from past lives, no doubt proponents for the law of attraction would say that these same starving people starve because they are born into a culture of poverty consciousness. Everyone around them believes him- or herself to be poor so every newborn adopts the same way of thinking. And as our thoughts and feelings attract more of the same, they continue to be poor. If that is true I would like to see some people trying to help these people to transmute their poverty consciousness into wealth consciousness to see if it can help them to attract enough food for their families to survive.
Is it all in the culture?
I recently read The Torn Veil by Gulshan Esther. In the book she describes her travels to Mecca and also mentions the culture of generosity in Saudi Arabia in relation to visitors – apparently it is customary to be very generous to people who come to stay with you in that country. It occurred to me that in recent years Saudi Arabia has become a very rich country. Of course most people would say that is due to the presence of vast amount of oil. But Africa has also had huge amounts of natural resources, yet by and large, Africans have not grown rich from these resources. In the past it was mainly the Europeans who colonised Africa and mined its natural resources who enjoyed the wealth that these resources brought and not the indigenous people.
It occurred to me that African culture is much different from European and even Arab culture. African culture is very much rooted in subsistence, hunter-gatherer type thinking. This kind of culture has “take only what you need” at its core as well as the concept that resources are scarce. If food was easy to come by then you would not need to hunt for it.
So is it the African culture that keeps Africans poor? Is it because the predominant way of thinking is that resources are scarce that Africans generally do not create lives of abundance? Are many Saudi Arabians enjoying comparative riches because their culture contains the concept of freely giving?
I don’t know the answers to these questions but I think they are worthy of consideration.
Whatever the reasons are for people being poor or being rich, if someone is starving I believe that we who have plenty have a responsibility to help them – not out of obligation but out of love. Why would anyone want a new car for himself instead of wanting everyone on the planet to be fed?
It’s all about essence
My own conclusion about the Law of Attraction – which also seems to be the conclusion of some others who have studied it and use it in their own lives – is that the highest expression of the Law of Attraction is to align with our essence and allow our inner vibration to do the attracting – not to use the ego to create personal desires and use the Law of Attraction to “fulfil” those desires.
The Teachings of Abraham® state that conscious thoughts alone will not bring us what we want because those conscious thoughts have to be aligned with what could be termed our unconscious thoughts, in other words our innermost vibration. It is our Inner Being which holds the power to attract and the best way we can use our conscious thinking is to get it out of the way and allow our Inner Being to broadcast to the Universe.
Looking at the Law of Attraction from this perspective allows us to have just one desire – the desire to be aligned with our Inner Being. So now what do I want? Do I still want a new car?
I want to be aligned with my Inner Being. I want to feel good and to help others feel good. I want that feeling good to be for the benefit of all. I want to live in a world where people live in peace and with joy in their hearts. I want people to enjoy abundance on this planet and I also want everyone to be able to share in that abundance. I want that abundance to cause no harm to the planet or any sentient being on the planet. I want everyone to understand the interconnectedness of all life and to love all life on the planet including all the animals, trees, plants and rocks. I want people to see that performing actions with love makes the world a better place, that cooking with love makes food healthier and taste better. I want everyone to know that if they feel unappreciated that they can practise appreciating others and that they will soon start to feel appreciated themselves. I want people to live in harmony with one another, with nature and with Mother Earth.
These are the kind of desires I like. If these desires create Karma then I want that Karma to be good Karma which benefits all. These desires seem to come from a much deeper place than the desires for more personal wealth.
In fact I’m not even sure that desire is the right word for them. It’s more like a vision which presents itself and which resonates with me. Do we need desire? Some people say that even wanting to be alive is a desire. I think we need something to drive us onwards and upwards towards a better way of life; something that has the power to drive us forwards. But that something does not need to be desire. It does not need to be ego-based. That something can be called spirit or perhaps spiritedness.
There are many myths around these days, like “more choice equals better quality” or “more competition equals higher standards” which are all too often shown to be untrue. What does bring higher standards and better quality is when people do things with love. If we want a better quality of life or a higher standard of living do we need to know any more than to do whatever we do with love?