“The widespread impact of spiritual egoism has given rise to odious and harmful ideas such as the ‘law of attraction’, ‘The Secret’, and the concept of ‘manifesting’. These concepts are distortions of the ‘You create your own reality’ teaching, and they are harmful for anyone who holds them because they partake of delusional magical thinking which inevitably brings suffering.” – Hareesh
Finding fault with oneself to manifest something can be akin to a “blame the victim.” This is when an individual is unable to turn around an unhappy situation or blames themselves for the inability to manifest something they are aiming for. The first time I played with the power of manifestation was when I had cancer. It was a year after Louise Hay had released her book, You Can Heal Your Life. In the back of the book Louise created a chart of illnesses, associated thought patterns and suggested affirmations to assist in shifting the mental energy of the situation. I dedicated many hours each day to reciting these affirmations. Every time my brain went back to the initial prognosis of a 50% chance of survival; or when I felt physically overwhelmed by the side effects of the “hardcore” chemotherapy (how my oncologist described it) I turned to these words: I lovingly forgive and release all of the past. I choose to fill my life with joy. I love and approve of myself.
Back then my twenty-year-old self was hanging onto anything to help me through. Was it part of why I am still alive? I don’t know. Did it help me with the wonderings of my mind, absolutely. There was very little about the connections of mind and body at the time, so it was all a grand experiment for me. It is also when I began to seriously to sit and breath, aka meditate. All of these combined helped me over the hours I sat with a needle in my arm as chemical coursed through my veins, or when the darkness of the night wrapped me into its silence allowing my thoughts to take over and whirl around and around in my head. The affirmations gave me somewhere else to fixate when my brain became fixated on the pain and potential of dying at the young age of 20.
It was the 80’s and the beginning of self-help, though I am not sure this was the term than, movement. It was many years before the internet. My world was pretty scary and I felt VERY alone. The affirmations were a good distraction at times, though I ultimately believe it was the commitment to the meditative process bringing forth an understanding and healing in my life.
“Perhaps the ultimate fruit of the spiritual life is the ability to determine your own inner state. But this ability is the result of much spiritual work (or rather, time investment), and no-one can think their way into this ability.” – Hareesh
When put this way, as Hareesh does, it makes sense to me how my dedicated daily time to sit in meditative practices, now moving into its fourth decade of engagement, continues to unveil insights and ground me all at the same time. The more I inquiry the more I realize there is to learn about being a human being in our world. And the more confident I am of this journey.
In the early 1990s I saw two possible paths ahead of me. One would take me out of the day-to-day and immerse me into a world quiet and solitude. The other would leave me in the world, as I knew it. It would still have me do the same reflective work amongst the hustle of the day. I would need to reflect and be active in the world at the same time. So instead of becoming a Buddhist nun (like my roommate did) I went on to get my degree in Integrative Health Education. I choose to stay in daily engagement with the modern world, while still dedicated to continue on the inner-explorer route. I wonder sometimes if a setting of quiet and solitude would have brought me further along my path of understanding than remaining a “householder” (the Indian term for those who do not leave all their possessions behind to become a sadhu/spiritual seeker). Please know I do not regret where I am for it has allowed me to be of service to the communities in which I live, which I would not have done if the other path were chosen. I feel aligned with where I’ve come to and am grateful for it.
* title and post inspired by blog post by Hareesh