Jun 14, 2011

Does James Ray Disprove the Law of Attraction?

Meryl Davids Landau asks if the James Ray sweat lodge trial means there is no law of attraction. In an article that is really a study in cognitive dissonance, Landau extols the virtues of the law of attraction philosophy and how it's worked in her own life. She concludes:

Ultimately, then, the James Ray trial doesn't say anything about the truth of the law of attraction. It only says something about Ray: That if he does sincerely believe in the power of this universal principle, he somehow didn't put it into practice as well as he might have.

But if the law of attraction is a universal principle as basic as gravity, everything that occurs should say something about the truth of it. We don't put universal principles into practice and we don't have to believe in them. If we fail to practice the law of gravity well, we don't go floating off into space.

One can certainly understand Landau's desire for a kinder, gentler law of attraction; one where our great results are testament but our disasters don't prove anything at all. She's surely a more compassionate person than her philosophical forebear Napoleon Hill who wrote in his famous tome Think and Grow Rich, "SUCCESS REQUIRES NO APOLOGIES, FAILURE PERMITS NO ALIBIS." (That's an exact quote, complete with the obnoxious, all caps format and bad grammar. I take no responsibility for either.)

James Ray also tried to dodge the harsh judgment implied by his own belief system. Shortly after being indicted and with his financial fortune apparently evaporating, he took to his Twitter account and started soundbite philosophizing about why the simple cause and effect formula he'd been propounding for years wasn't simple at all. And then he told us that we'd always been at war with Eastasia.

Abraham channeler Esther Hicks whom Landau references in her article has not been so generous in her assessment of Ray. According to Abraham/Hicks, the law of attraction worked perfectly in Ray's case and that's why he's where he is. (The video from which this transcript is taken follows.)

So, here is a teacher who was part of The Secret movie, who understands law of attraction not even in the slightest, who held seminars for the purpose of seeing how much discomfort you can endure without dying. Deprivation in the desert, deprivation without food, deprivation without air, high temperatures in the sweat lodge; in other words, see how much you can endure. Now law of attraction brings the leader of this group right now to jail where he is being deprived of all of the things, all of the things that are important to feeling good. In other words law of attraction is this powerful, powerful, powerful, powerful law that says you get what you think about and what you think about is evidenced by the way you are feeling in the moment. And when you've decided that you’re going to struggle your way to joy, the joy never comes. So, that's what we say. You can't have it both ways. You cannot suffer your way to joy. And you cannot joy your way to suffering.

There is a certain seductiveness to this logic. It's viscerally satisfying, in the way a guilty verdict would be. It sounds just and we all want to think that everything that happens here is ultimately just. But it isn't really as simple as she/he presents it to be. Universal principles aren't about good and bad. They operate in wholeness. That's why they're called universal. (universe = one turn) At least that's how I, as a mystical thinker, must view it.

In the Abraham/Hicks scenario, joy and suffering are simply incompatible. We have to choose one or the other. But life is really kind of a mixed bag. And it's going to be a mixed bag no matter how we feel about it; how "positive" or "negative" we are about the whole thing.

The other day I wrote about how law of attraction proponents always want to put the things they don't like "over there." They're all about creating distance rather than honoring everything we encounter as our reflection. Landau, in the quote above, does that. What's happened to Ray doesn't say anything about her beloved law of attraction, or, by extension, about Landau. It only says something about James Ray.

Mystical thought says, if I'm aware of who James Ray is, he does say something about me. He is my reflection. And the work for me is to figure out what I need to learn from this series of events that has  captured my attention.

The Hicks material, likewise, is all about distancing yourself from uncomfortable reflections. From the same video comes this rather disturbing lesson for "healers." The healer, it says, is supposed to be in a "vortex" of wellness thinking that the sick people live outside of... because of all their "deprivation" thoughts.

But the thing that's tricky about someone that's inside the vortex convincing someone outside the vortex is that if they're very far outside the vortex, they can't hear you. So most healers do traipse outside the vortex to try to help them but then they can't help them because they're outside the vortex. So this has been the conundrum that healers have been experiencing for a very long time. Most healers eventually are trained by the sick people into their vibration rather than training the sick people into their vibration… And we say, in order for you to be of any value to anyone you have to separate yourself from the discordant beliefs that they hold about sickness... So what happens, people in need, they'll drag you out every time. 

They'll say, "I need you. Be here with me. You've gotta be there for me."

There are people complaining or hurting, whether it's emotionally or physically, if you're not giving them sympathy, which means if you're not giving your undivided attention to their discomfort, then they don't believe that you're there for them. And you've gotta understand, whether you can make them understand or not, that you can't be there for their for their problem and there for their solution at the same time. You've gotta make a choice. You can't be there for their sickness and there for their wellness at the same time. A healer must be there for the wellness. [all emphases mine]

So you can't just be there for the person; the whole person. You have to be there for one half of this very polarized construction that almost animates wellness and illness into conscious entities. You can't possibly accept people for who they are and where they are in their process.

You must know it so unequivocally that no matter what the tests show, that no matter what the x-rays show, that no matter what the attitude is, that no matter what the manifestation is, you have to know the potential for wellness is greater than the potential for illness. And as you hold fast to that knowledge and you practice it every day of your life relative to you and to everything that you see, eventually that vibration will be so powerful within you, that with anyone stands before you with their problem or their illness, you will have risen so far above it.

And many of them will say, "Hey man, you're not there for me."

And your answer must be to them, whether they hear it or not, "I'm there for you. I'm there where your recovery is. I'm there where your value is. I'm there where who you really are is. I'm there where your strength and vitality are. I practice my thoughts of your resiliency. I practice my thoughts of your well-being. I practice them incessantly. In fact I have trained myself so that I never allow myself to focus upon your plight or your illness even for a moment."

And they will say, "Well, it's not really helping very much."

And you must say and mean, "I don't do it for you. I do it for me." [all emphases mine]

Well, that last sentence is at least honest... if narcissistic. Note that the entire lecture is about the healer imposing their will, their vision, their ego, onto the ailing person. Acknowledging and honoring where that other person is in the moment is out of the question.

What if that illness is perfectly appropriate for them? What if it's teaching them something they need to learn? There is nothing in this channeling about the transformational opportunities in illness.

What if it's simply their time to die; the one that they have chosen? They should die without your fully attentive presence and compassion?

This is the kind lunacy that ensues when we construct a formulation as simple as: health good, illness bad. We start putting all these judgments, not only around the illness, but around the people who deign to get sick. We treat them like by being sick they're doing something wrong. Illness, according to Abraham/Hicks, is an "attitude problem." It's "about mood."

So if people who are exposed to radioactive iodine (think: Fukushima) start getting thyroid cancer, they wouldn't actually be getting sick because of all that radiation. It would be because they're just so negative. So if they cheer up, presumably, all will be well.

And nowhere in this is any attention to what lessons the healer is supposed to be learning from the experience of the person before us, who, like it or not, is our reflection.

As I've said many times, the "law of attraction" is a very dumbed down version of mystical awareness. As I wrote here:

Underlying this attractive idea is what mystics have been teaching for millennia. It is that all things reflect all other things. That it cannot be otherwise because we are, in fact, one with everything around us. This means that the people you meet are not "like" you ("like attracts like"). They are you.

What that means is that James Ray is me and I am James Ray. It profits me not at all to wag my finger and pass judgment on how his thoughts manifested his circumstances. As a mystical thinker, the question I must ponder is what James Ray and the tragedy he materially created, reflects in me. That doesn't make me, as an individual, a reckless, wannabe shaman who cooked people to death. I know for a fact that I am not. But it does mean that somewhere in me is some tiny piece that reflects that somehow. It could be a snippet of a past life. It could be some piece of childhood memory. But somewhere, in me, is something that I haven't completed and that I need to forgive and release.

What strikes me as so odd in Landau's article is the implication that Ray's being on trial is something that "happened" to him. Somehow this mysterious turn of events might call into question her entire philosophical framework because someone who's made a career out of the law of attraction should maybe have better disciplined thoughts and feelings than that. But Ray didn't just "law of attract" a catastrophe. This wasn't a tornado or an earthquake. This is something he created through his own actions (and omissions). Whether our very earthly, human concept of justice is to be satisfied when the James Ray trial goes to verdict will be up to a jury of his peers.

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