Spiritual happiness and the law of attraction

The essence of law of attraction teachings is to feel good by choosing where to focus your attention, knowing that your reality will change to mirror your improved emotional state.

This is the same essential principle contained in various spiritual teachings: tune yourself to the divine source of all existence, and you will experience love and joy within you, and your life will be full of blessings.

Nothing else is required, but many of us find it difficult to be satisfied with spiritual happiness. We come to it with false beliefs that more is required of us. We think we have to work harder or acquire deeper understanding or overcome obstacles or faults in ourselves.

Nothing else is required but to feel good, or at least feel better than you do now. But it is the good feeling that comes from choosing where to focus our attention, what to think about, while knowing that whatever we do focus on, it will become bigger.

The idea is to find a satisfying feeling of ease and peace, one that I associate with contemplation, but others may find in meditation or prayer or even daydreaming about pleasant things. Practice this satisfying state, knowing that practice will make it easier to find and maintain; and eventually it will become the predominant note or tone of your life. Circumstances will shift in subtle and in glaring ways to reflect the ease and the pleasure of this state.

In this way law of attraction is simply a more contemporary account of an ancient truth about spiritual happiness and a better way to live our lives, in tune with the deepest roots of our own existence and the essence of our desires.

Choosing to appreciate myself

I think it’s time to stop being critical of my own accomplishments.

I’ve noticed that I don’t give myself any credit for what I have accomplished – only for what I am currently working towards.

Even when I achieve my goals, I’m too quick to shift the goalpost a little further away.

I thought this was serving me well, to keep me motivated, honest, and avoid resting on my laurels. But I think it actually undermines my enjoyment.

For example, a few months ago I began daily extensive reading practice in Mandarin. My Chinese practice has been eclectic and irregular for years, but I was so inspired by the theory of extensive reading that I bought a graded reader for my kindle and got reading right away.

In the space of a few weeks I went from level zero to level two, from a core vocabulary of 150 words to 450. I went from a story about a boy looking for a missing horse, to a two-book adaptation of Great Expectations.

Each step of the way I began wanting more. Not more of the same, but more challenging, more expanded, more realistic, more enjoyable.

Right now I’m doing intensive reading of a Chinese webtoon about Court drama and intrigue. But at no point along the way have I stopped to reflect on how far I’ve come. Instead I’m self critical: I hardly understand enough to follow the story. My tones are still crap. I can’t write.

How about appreciating that I can understand a lot of what is written? No, because I immediately expect to be challenged, tested, and criticised by others.

That’s an old expectation based on past experiences with people who were basically a***holes, who never mastered a foreign language themselves. It doesn’t serve me.

Perhaps I could instead remember my fascination with Chinese characters from many years ago, and how I imagined being able to read and understand them? And while I can’t understand them all, I can understand more than I could before.

Besides, if English literacy is my benchmark, perhaps I need to appreciate that the mark is extremely high? I’m literate to an extremely high degree, but I never take the time to appreciate that either.

Do I like being able to read any text in English? Do I like knowing that nothing is too difficult for me to decipher? Well, no, I feel almost nothing. Where is that pride supposed to resonate in me?

Perhaps I was told that pride in my own abilities was tantamount to putting others down. Or perhaps my abilities themselves were disparaged and ridiculed. Maybe both. Don’t look down on others, they haven’t had your advantages! Besides, what good has it done you in life?

If you are accustomed to looking down on yourself under the guise of objectivity, virtue, and being honest, it may be hard to recognise the absence of healthy self-esteem and pride in your abilities, satisfaction in your interests, and love of your accomplishments.

What’s the point in being effective at your endeavours if you don’t love and appreciate them? For that matter what’s the point of having any endeavours if you don’t love and appreciate yourself?

I think that’s ultimately why I keep creating these goals, while simultaneously undermining them and demanding more of myself. I’m so used to disparaging myself that I both yearn for, and cannot allow myself, a reason to feel good.

The answer is choosing to feel good right now, without looking for an excuse. Feel good about myself simply because it feels good, and should be natural and normal for anyone raised in a supportive environment.

Choose to feel good about yourself, and let go of the endless cycle of chasing accomplishments that seem to amount to nothing. We were taught completely the wrong way around: it’s feeling good about ourselves that inspires and energises us to do the things we love, regardless of the outcome. That’s how it’s meant to be, and that’s what I’m signing up for.

Do other people create your reality?

Taking Law of Attraction to its logical conclusion, the people in my reality are wholly dependent on the vibration or tone I set.

I’ve had the experience of feeling (and acting) like a different person depending on who I am with; but the corollary is that how I feel determines who I interact with, and how they “show up” in my experience.

When we worry too much about other people’s thoughts, feelings, and how we expect them to behave, we hem ourselves in.

If we could instead look at other people as part of the scenery, NPCs, or props in a play, then the only significant variable is the vibration or tone we set within ourselves.

We don’t need to worry about their inner world and perspective — or rather, worrying sets the tone for our experience in relation to those people and other proximate subjects.

As a practical example: sometimes I worry about how someone will receive a comment or message I’ve sent. My mind goes rapidly to my own inner model of the other person’s personality, my past experiences with them, and how they might interpret or react.

But all of that is fruitless, because the whole situation is actually governed by my own vibration or tone. Thinking about the other person as an agent with power to change my reality for better or worse only muddies the waters at best, and actively disempowers me at worst.

How do I want to feel about the message or comment? That is the only question that matters. It doesn’t mean the other person will behave how we expect, but it does mean we will continue to feel how we choose to feel, no matter how the other person responds.

If you practice your own vibration or tone deliberately, the other person will respond accordingly. If you are determined to be happy and genuinely feel better, no one can bring you down.

People don’t respond to your words or actions, they respond to the vibration or tone you are offering. They have no power to subvert or overpower your vibration…unless you have practiced yourself into subservience and compliance with others.

So clean up your act. View other people as props or extras or NPCs; whatever it takes to refresh your sense of power and responsibility for everything in your reality.

Law of Attraction: habitual feelings of lack

If you feel better your whole life will improve.

The flip side is that your whole life already reflects how you’ve been feeling.

If you can point to aspects of life that aren’t going the way you’d like, that’s not fate or accident or people conspiring against you. It’s an habitual state of thought and feeling that defies your desires.

There are so many people following Law of Attraction teachings who want more money (or love or health or anything else) and can’t seem to let it in. The answer has to be that they are accustomed to their feelings of scarcity and lack they don’t even notice how bad they habitually feel.

Prolonged periods of lack and scarcity become normalised and we no longer recognise how awful it feels to miss out on the vitality and love that we desire. It may not be severe lack, it might simply be mediocrity. But it sets our expectations for how good we can feel in daily life.

Challenge those expectations. You can feel vastly better than you are used to feeling, and on some level you know that, which is why you dream of being vastly wealthier than you have been.

The unfulfilled desire for wealth and other good things stands for the happiness you know ought to be normal for you.

Our strongest desires point to the way we want life to feel. What does wealth mean to us, but empowerment and freedom and possibility? That’s how we want to feel every day of our lives.

If we can tap into these wonderful feelings, we have a reference point for discerning the dull ache of scarcity and lack, the numbness and disappointment we’ve grown accustomed to.

The wonderful feelings are supposed to be normal; that’s why thoughts of scarcity and lack feel bad. Being told to limit your interest, your possibilities, your potential; being told to comply or conform to other people’s misery and moods; being shouted down for showing up someone else’s fears and inadequacies….there’s a whole lot of shitty reasons for having accepted it, but the good news is that we are free to change what we think and how we feel and to choose what we want our new normal to be like.

Causality and Law of Attraction

Aristotle posited four causes or explanations for the existence of a thing.

In our default contemporary metaphysics we typically focus on only two of these: material causes and efficient causes — what a thing is made of, and the physical forces that arrange it.

The stock example on Wikipedia is that wood (material cause) and a carpenter (efficient cause) are what create a table.

Law of Attraction brings a different level of causation into play. Instead of what a thing is made from and how it was made, we ask why does it exist in my experience or my reality.

The basic answer is that it exists in my experience because of my habitual thoughts relative to my desires.

For example: I’m looking for a table that will meet a number of quite specific requirements — preferences and desires. Whether I find a table that matches my preferences and desires, and how easily I find it, depends on my own habitual stance.

According to the Abraham-Hicks teachings, my desires automatically attract matching conditions. The moment I formed my desire for a specific kind of table, the answer or solution came into being.

But am I someone who believes and allows answers and solutions to come to me easily? Or am I someone who struggles in life like a victim, frequently complaining about conditions, thinking that it’s impossible to find exactly what I want in life?

Maybe I believe perfect solutions are bound to cost too much. Or maybe I think it is virtuous to always “make do” with unwanted conditions.

Our profoundly personal reality is shaped by our thoughts and beliefs relative to our desires. The table I desire is not the table you desire. But the universe knows my desires and my reality is ordered accordingly.

At first law of attraction teachings seem to be saying “if you focus on feeling good, the table you want will come more easily.” Over time you discover the real significance of the teachings is that you can feel good right now, whether you’ve found the table yet or not. Finally, it becomes clear that preferences and desires like the table will easily and happily appear because you have learned to find a non-resistant perspective and enjoy the feeling of non-resistant thought.

And in that context, traditional causality is a resistant thought. Excessive focus on material and efficient causes denies the greater import and efficacy of law of attraction. Trying to imagine how your preferences and desires can be fulfilled ignores the profound subjectivity of our independent realities and the creative power of our own thoughts.

When you feel good and life works out for you, it works out according to your own personal desires and preferences, not arbitrary or “objective” values. Those moments in life when things mysteriously come together for you are always deeply personalised.

It really doesn’t matter that much who makes the table or what the table is made from or how I find out about it or who delivers it or how much it costs. These are all trivial, and giving them weight and consideration simply closes us off to our desires and keeps us apart from the happiness within us.

What matters is…any thought that feels better, any thought that releases resistance. Focusing instead on how satisfying the right table will be. How fun it will be to eat at with friends and family. How ecstatic I’ve been at the many other perfect answers and solutions that have come to me without effort, in the joyful ease of non-resistance.

The essence of what I desire in this table already exists and I can feel when I am focusing on alignment with it, and I can feel when I focus in resistance to it. Alignment feels good. Resistance feels…like friction or irritation or discomfort. It’s up to me how much of either alignment or resistance I create in my life.

When the search ends

I’ve spent all my adult life searching for answers. But what happens when the search comes to an end?

I thought my search would lead me into rich, esoteric disciplines and fields of deep wisdom, and so it did. But I didn’t find the answers there.

Instead the answers proved to be so personal, particular to me; and everything else I learned along the way sits in a kind of limbo: it has some intrinsic value, but none of it is the shining light I thought it would be.

Everything I studied, researched and pursued had the common underlying theme of resolving the nebulous sense of “something wrong” within me or within life itself. I had an insatiable thirst for deeper understanding of reality and myself.

Now that I’ve identified and begun to remedy the “something wrong”, what do I do with myself, amidst all the paraphernalia and legacy of decades’ search?

I know more than most about eclectic subjects like philosophy, theology, Eastern religion and all its accompanying disciplines like Yoga, martial arts, divination, meditation, New Age thought, psychology, and aspects of history, politics, physiology and so on. But I know it because I rifled through it in search of something else.

I’m not searching anymore. My search is at an end. Now what? Most people my age would have an identity formed from their interests and passions, but mine has been so closely tied to a deeply personal search that I’m not even sure how to begin to talk to others about these subjects, or if these are even the subjects I care about going forward.

My questions were not universal questions, and neither are my answers universal. I may have found “the meaning of life” but it turns out that’s not what I was looking for.

Maybe there’s nothing that can replace the search. The drive behind it was so primal and intense, like a fight for survival it overshadowed ordinary interests and motivations, drawing off time and energy and passion.

What is life supposed to look like going forward? I’m not as clueless as I might think. The answers here are much simpler than those I used to search for: feel good. Do things that feel good. Think thoughts that feel good. Relax, don’t worry about anything.

Abraham-Hicks says that we will never run out of questions to ask, the search will never end, because the whole point of the universe is expansion, freedom, and joy.

My great search may be over, but there are new questions forming for me. Questions like this one, that spurred me to write this post. And with everything I’ve learned, I know that the answers are not supposed to be difficult, and that the process is supposed to feel good.

Questions and answers can come and go with ease. It doesn’t have to be a great search anymore and I don’t have to justify it with struggle or with lengthy periods of searching. Life will cause me to keep asking, and all I need to do is be in the right mode to receive the answers.

Finding true happiness

Every spiritual text I’ve ever read points to the source of happiness as something other than worldly conditions.

Call it God or Deus, Brahman or Sunyata, or the Dao; whatever it is called and however it is described, the essence of these teachings is that happiness lies in letting go of worldly conditions and focusing on this mysterious spiritual truth or being instead.

Abraham-Hicks calls it Source, avoiding the baggage associated with the word “God”. But otherwise the teachings are basically the same: happiness is not attained by arranging our worldly conditions in pleasing ways; happiness is how we feel when we are tuned in to Source, to God, to the essence of all being.

This being is who we really are. When we tune into it, we tune into our own essence, our own true being. That’s why it feels good. It is the authentic expression of who we really are.

But we don’t have to meditate in a cave to be authentic. Many people find their happiness in life, doing many varied activities. The authentic expression of their own essential being doesn’t have to be overtly spiritual.

And yet for some of us it is overtly spiritual. My own path led me to research different spiritual teachings in depth, scouring them for clues as to the nature of happiness. I don’t have a career or a purpose or a passion separate from my spiritual practice. This is the subject matter where I most authentically express my own being, where I can tune in most easily to the being within me.

At times I thought about becoming a monk or a hermit, but being a monk or a hermit doesn’t make you holy. It just makes it easier to explain to others what you’re about.

And explain to oneself too.

Abraham says that we can have ten subjects of importance to us, and nine of them feel bad when we think about them. Not having enough money, not having the relationships we want or the job we want or the car we want. But if we focus on the one subject that feels good to us, and stay on that subject, that’s enough to keep us aligned with Source, and all those other subjects have to align with us.

I’m coming around to realising that my spiritual search isn’t just a search, it’s the subject where I most easily align. It’s my one subject where I feel so good, without resistance, and all I need do is stay here to enjoy deep and lasting happiness that overflows into all other aspects of my life.

God and Law of attraction

Years ago I got into some of the theological tradition of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. It was a lot of fun!

I found something so intensely satisfying in contemplating the meaning of the divine, while getting past all the superficial and misleading ideas floating around.

So when law of attraction teachers like Abraham-Hicks prefer to use words like “Source” instead of God, I get where they are coming from.

It’s like the old Zen Buddhist adage about the finger pointing at the moon. We are meant to find the Being that the words “God” and “Source” merely point to.

What does all of this have to do with law of attraction? Well for me personally, thinking about the nature of the divine being, how it supports and sustains the existence of all things, how it loves all things, how its very nature is love — pondering these things feels very good. It’s one subject guaranteed to take me to a profoundly joyful feeling.

So why not spend more time there? One of the Abraham-Hicks teachings is to focus on a subject that easily feels good. Why would you stop focusing on what feels good? Why do we ever willingly turn to focus on things that feel bad?

I hardly ever spoke to others about this subject because I knew my take on it was unique. I knew that other people didn’t find it as satisfying as I did. But at the same time I ended up focusing on things that others insisted were important.

It’s one thing to have hobbies and interests that others don’t share; but to not even spend time enjoying them and instead focus on what others deem important or interesting? That’s a shame!

I don’t need anyone else to appreciate these things with me or for me. I don’t need moral support. This is my satisfaction and my own satisfaction is what matters.

Abraham teaches that if we just focus on one subject that feels really good, everything else in life will be drawn into that same wonderful feeling. All other subjects will come around.

So if there’s something in your life that feels good to think about, go think about it. You don’t have to share it, explain it or justify it. Just focus on it and let it lift you to new heights of happiness and joy.

Daoism and Law of Attraction

Daoism is essentially about following the intrinsic order of the universe, an order that is instilled and directed by the mysterious Dao.

Things naturally follow the Dao, and their power or virtue (De) grows.

But humans become distracted and misled, overlooking the impulses and quiet guidance of the Dao, and thereby depleting their power.

So the obvious goal of Daoism is to let go of whatever inhibits our relationship with the Dao, returning to a state of simplicity and quiet where we feel the impulses of our nature in accordance with the Dao.

Typically it’s our fears and cravings, based on flawed beliefs and extrinsic social or familial values, that get in the way of our guidance.

In terms of the Law of Attraction, this guidance is based primarily on how we feel. We can feel how aligned or misaligned we are with our inner-being perspective at any moment.

Daoism and Law of Attraction teachings can work well together, because Daoism encourages us to let go of our superficial and contrived approach to life, while Law of Attraction keeps the esoteric aspects of the Chinese religion grounded in feeling good.

The sage does nothing, but nothing is left undone. What could be more in keeping with the Law of Attraction?

Just feel good, be easy, and appreciate the impulses and the signs that come effortlessly as you realise the universe really is looking after you.

Gaslighting: a philosophical take

What is gaslighting?

We know the definition and we know examples – both private and, throughout the Trump presidency/roadshow, spectacularly public – but what is it really, in its essence?

Let’s start with the so-called narcissist’s prayer:

That didn’t happen. 

And if it did, it wasn’t that bad.

And if it was, that’s not a big deal.

And if it is, that’s not my fault.

And if it was, I didn’t mean it. 

And if I did…

You deserved it.

What makes these words so discomforting to those with lived experience of narcissism? Why does this “prayer” feel so spot-on in capturing the awfulness of gaslighting?

Taken individually the statements are lies. Lying is knowingly asserting an untruth with the intention to deceive. “That didn’t happen” is a lie.

But the intention behind gaslighting is more insidious than immediate deception. While a liar wants people to accept his lies as truth, gaslighting isn’t really about specific truths or falsehoods. What the “prayer” demonstrates is a pattern of deflections, denials, and misdirection designed to disorient others and cause them to doubt their own sense of reality.

From the very beginning, as the narcissist vehemently denies that an event happened, he is at the same time already prepared to argue that you deserved it. But rather than admit this from the start, he forces you to fight a war of attrition through each layer of his arguments.

By the time you arrive at the final layer, most people will be mentally and emotionally exhausted. But even the final layer, the “you deserved it”, is no victory or revelation. It’s just another position that the narcissist will work with to continue gaslighting you.

Each element of gaslighting is a form of posturing: the narcissist presents a series of façades with the express intention of maintaining an unequal relationship with their victim.

In the moment their target accepts a façade as genuine, they become the victim of the gaslighter; the basis of gaslighting is indeed accepting a false person as a real one, and thereby placating the narcissist’s profound insecurity and need for control.

Because the lie of the gaslighter is not individual statements like “that didn’t happen”, it is the lie of presenting a false self as authentic or genuine, with the purpose of undermining and destabilising others, pushing the narcissist’s insecurity onto those around them.

For classic narcissists, gaslighting gives them the freedom and power to achieve their grandiose fantasies. For vulnerable narcissists, gaslighting allows them to hide and protect their terrifying secret sense of shame.

The narcissist feels most secure when those around them are dependent on the narcissist’s words and actions for their sense of reality. The narcissist wants to get hold of the levers of power over other people’s realities, giving themselves the freedom to pursue their self-interest without being held accountable to any other person or authority.

Each stage of the narcissist’s “prayer” contradicts the others. A reasonable person couldn’t hold six contradictory positions successively, and most people’s credibility would be shot to bits by such admissions. That’s why it is so important to the narcissist that they work steadily at undermining the reality of those around them. They instinctively undermine and corrode the confidence, independence and clarity of others, both directly and indirectly. Like a cult leader or despotic regime, they sense to the core of their being the threat posed by others’ security and confidence. Gaslighting undermines others’ security and confidence by offering no real or tangible basis for authentic interaction.

Gaslighting is therefore ultimately about trying to be in a position of control or persuasion over others, using bluster and posturing and lies to dominate, beguile, seduce, or subdue. It encapsulates all forms of communication and interaction that allow the narcissist to overtly or covertly maintain their dominant position.

That’s why the only way to deal with gaslighting is to disengage and remove yourself from the narcissistic relationship. Gaslighters can’t be reasoned with or called to account because they are already entirely committed to dominance via manipulation and deception. Entering into dialogue or debate with the hope of pinning the narcissist down is futile.