AOH :: LAWTRACT.TXT|
New Thought - The Law of Attraction
Law of Attraction
The phrase Law of Attraction has been used by many esoteric writers,
although the actual definition varies greatly. Most authors associate
the Law of Attraction with a theory that "like attracts like", usually
as applied to the mental life of human beings: that individuals
experience physical and mental manifestations corresponding to their
predominant thoughts, feelings, words, and actions; and that they
thereby have the ability to control the reality of their lives through
thought alone. The principle is based on the concept that a person's
thoughts (conscious and unconscious), emotions, beliefs and actions
attract corresponding positive or negative experiences. This process has
been described as "harmonious vibrations of the law of attraction",
or "you get what you think about; your thoughts determine your
The phrase is closely associated with New Thought beliefs, and
practices, from which its most common definition arises, but it also has
a long standing (and more complex development) in other esoteric fields
such as Hermeticism and Theosophy. Recently, the New Thought version was
popularized (in slightly simplified form) by the 2006 film The Secret.
The more materialistic interpretations of The Law of Attraction have
been criticized in the media, the scientific community, and by some
proponents of the New Age Movement and spirituality in general.
The idea behind the Law of Attraction is not new. The concept can be
found in Hinduism  and, due to the influence of Hinduism on
Theosophy, it is mentioned in early Theosophical texts as well.  Some
proponents cite The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus as another
ancient example of the belief, but a close reading of that text
demonstrates that it deals with correspondences (As above, so below) and
does not allege a causal relationship between a thought and the
circumstances that befall the thinker.
The most influential modern book on the subject in the English language
is As a Man Thinketh by James Allen (1864 - 1912), which was published
in 1902. The title derives from the ancient Jewish Book of Proverbs,
chapter 23, verse 7: "As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is." Allen
took this ambiguous idea of a correspondence between "a man's heart" and
his existence to a logical extreme, stating that, "The soul attracts
that which it secretly harbors, that which it loves, and also that which
it fears. It reaches the height of its cherished aspirations. It falls
to the level of its unchastened desires -- and circumstances are the
means by which the soul receives its own." 
Although As a Man Thinketh does not contain the term "Law of Attraction"
in so many words, it explains the principle clearly and its popularity
demonstrably gave rise to a century of writings on the subject. It has
remained in print in book form for more than 100 years. Variant editions
of As a Man Thinketh in print during the 21st century include those
published by Dover Books , Barnes and Noble , Filiquarian , and
Tarcher ; there are also audiobook and ebook editions; and at least
three gender-switching spin-offs, each titled As a Woman Thinketh, which
are by Gwendolyn Haynes (Million Words Publishing, 1997) , Dorothy
J. Hulst, (Lushena Books, 2000), and Cindy Cashman (Action
Publishing, 2007) , respectively.
In America, Allen's assertion that "the soul attracts" both that which
it desires and that which it fears struck a resonant chord in the New
Thought Movement. Working from Allen's premise that one's thoughts
attract "circumstances" that affect one's mental and physical situation
in life, William Walker Atkinson (1862 - 1932) used the term 'Law of
Attraction' to describe the phenomenon in his 1906 book Thought
Vibration or the Law of Attraction in the Thought World . Atkinson
was the editor of New Thought magazine, a student of Hinduism, and the
author of more than 100 books on an assortment on religious, spiritual,
and occult topics.
In the wake of Atkinson's success, other New Thought authors very
quickly wrote their own books promulgating the principle. For example,
in 1907, just one year after Atkinson's breakthrough was published,
Elizabeth Towne, the editor of The Nautilus Magazine, a Journal of New
Thought, published Bruce MacLelland's book Prosperity Through Thought
Force, in which he declared that "dwelling on any quality of mind adds
that quality to you, whether it be helpful or injurious," and also
clearly set forth what was to become a classic New Thought epigram: "You
are what you think, not what you think you are."  Around this time,
the term "Law of Attraction" also appeared in the writings of the
Theosophical authors William Quan Judge, in 1915,  and Annie Besant,
in 1919. 
By the mid 20th century, writings on the subject had become common and
dozens of authors had addressed the topic under various names, such as
positive thinking, "mental science", "pragmatic Christianity," "New
Thought", "practical metaphysics", Science of Mind", and "Religious
Science". Among the mid 20th century authors who used the term
were Sri K. Parvathi Kumar (1942) and Alice Bailey (1942). 
In 2006, a film titled The Secret presented the "Law of Attraction" to a
new generation and was soon after developed into a book by the same
name. The movie and book sold at a tremendous pace and gained widespread
attention across the media from Saturday Night Live to The Oprah Winfrey
Show in the United States. In September of the same year, Hay House
published a book by Esther Hicks titled the The Law Of Attraction, which
reached the New York Times best-seller list.  21st century Christian
bestsellers such as The 4:8 Principle, Bruce Wilkinson's The Prayer of
Jabez, and Joel Osteen's recent work present a similar message, although
given an explicitly Christian terminology with tacit biblical support
(such as Philippians 4:8 and the Prayer of Jabez in 1 Chronicles
4:9-10). As a direct result of the release of The Secret in 2006
full-time Law of Attraction practitioners and lecturers Beth and Lee
McCain, who taught the concepts of the Law of Attraction at the
university level at UCLA and Oxford, crossed over from academia to the
more commercial world of talk radio and publishing when their book, A
Grateful Life: Living the Law of Attraction became a bestseller and
speaking engagements followed. Appearing on the August 18, 2007
broadcast of the Oprah and Friends XM radio show, Beth and Lee McCain
credited their positive career path change to the Law of Attraction. On
the same program professional skeptic James Randi rejected the McCains'
belief and instead said their recent career good fortune was nothing
more than "being in the right place at the right time."
Many people who accept the Law of Attraction as a guide for right living
do so on the basis of their faith in the Universe and The Universe's
'Laws'; thus, to them, the nature of the 'Law' is not one to be settled
scientifically, and the word 'Law' carries the same belief-based weight
as non-scientific 'Laws' from other religions, such as the 'Law of
Karma' and the Ten Commandments. This is especially true among those who
are adherents of various New Thought denominations or who employ New
Thought principles in a secular context. One common way that New Thought
adherents utilize the Law of Attraction is through the practice of
Some proponents of a more modern version of the Law of Attraction claim
that it has roots in Quantum Physics. According to them, thoughts have
an energy that attracts like energy. In order to control this energy,
proponents state that people must practice four things: 
* Know what one desires and ask the universe for it. (The
"universe" is mentioned broadly, stating that it can be anything
the individual envisions it to be, from God to an unknown source
* Focus one's thought upon the thing desired with great feeling
such as enthusiasm or gratitude.
* Feel and behave as if the object of one's desire is already
* Be open to receiving it.
Thinking of what one does not have, they say, manifests itself in the
perpetuation of not having, while if one abides by these principles, and
avoids "negative" thoughts, the Universe will manifest a person's
This list of four steps, couched in quasi-scientific terms, is quite
similar to, and was influenced by, the panentheistic "Seven Steps in
Demonstration" first outlined in the famous non-denominational New
Thought book Become What You Believe by Mildred Mann (1904 - 1971):
* Desire. Get a strong enthusiasm for that which you want in
your life, a real longing for something which is not there now.
* Decision. Know definitely what it is that you want, what it is
that you want to do or have, and be willing to pay in spiritual
* Ask. [When sure and enthusiastic] ask for it in simple,
concise language. . .
* Believe. Believe in the accomplishment with strong faith,
consciously and subconsciously.
* Work. Work at it. . . a few minutes daily, seeing yourself in
the finished picture. Never outline details, but rather see
yourself enjoying the particular thing . . . Eventually, you
will see a time where it will just appear, as a gift or such, or
you may see an opportunity to get what you we're asking for.
* Feel gratitude. Always remember to say, "Thank you, God [or
the universe]," and begin to feel the gratitude in your heart.
The most powerful prayer we can ever make is those three words,
provided we really feel it. Feel as though you already have what
* Feel expectancy. Train yourself to live in a state of happy
expectancy... Find a way it will appear in your life, and keep
believing in that. May it be that someone gives it to you, or
you find an initiation to get it.
Note that Mann's "Demonstrations" do not make use of physical science
either as proof or as metaphor, but arise from a basis of faith.
The Law of Attraction, especially in its less religious contexts, has
been criticized for
* Implying the law has a scientific foundation when no such basis
* Not defining its methodology correctly according to denominational
New Thought practitioners,
Criticism of the Law of Attraction comes from other directions as well.
In the mainstream media, talk show hosts such as Larry King have pointed
at the sufferings in the world and asked, "If the Universe manifests
abundance at a mere thought why is there so much poverty, starvation and
It has also been pointed out that most of the people discussed in recent
books on the subject live in a culture that has paths to allow people to
overcome adversity and that the same is not true for much of the
world. The same cannot be said of earlier proponents of the Law of
Attraction, however, especially those who, like Wallace Wattles
(1860-1911), claimed in his book The Science of Getting Rich (1910) to
have used the principle to rise from a life of grinding poverty to one
of merely comfortable industry.
Scientists are critical of the lack of falsifiability and testability of
the claims. All of the evidence is both anecdotal and, because of the
self-selecting nature of positive reports as well as the subjective
nature of any results, highly susceptible to misinterpretations like
confirmation bias and selection bias.
The few claims by proponents that seem to reference modern scientific
theory remain under question. While brainwaves do have an electrical
signal, it is unclear what principles of quantum physics behave the way
proponents of the Law of Attraction claim. Opponents claim that the
use of the term "Law" and the vague references to quantum physics to
bridge any unexplained or seemingly implausible effects are hallmark
traits of modern pseudoscience ideas.
Within spiritual circles, the Law of Attraction has been criticized for
conflating ego with the higher self, and promoting narcissism.[citation
needed] The concept is also criticized by members of various
predestinarian and fundamentalist Christian denominations, due to its
deviance from their teachings.
1. ^ a b c d e f g h Whittaker, S. Secret attraction, The Montreal
Gazette, May 12th 2007.
2. ^ Redden, Guy, Magic Happens: A New Age Metaphysical Mystery Tour,
Journal of Australian Studies: 101
3. ^ Watkin, T. 'The Secret': Ask. Believe. Receive. That's the
mantra.The Courier Journal, April 22nd 2007
4. ^ Tatya, Tukaram (1887). A Guide to Theosophy: Containing Select
Articles for the Instructions of Aspirants to the Knowledge of
Theosophy. Bombay Theosophical Publication Fund, p265.
5. ^ Project Gutenberg - James Allen. As a Man Thinketh 1902] e-text
at Project Gutenberg.
6. ^ ISBN 0486452832
7. ^ ISBN 9788352693
8. ^ ISBN 1599869837
9. ^ ISBN 1585425648
10. ^ ISBN 1891282018
11. ^ ISBN 193009714X
12. ^ ISBN 0972223541
13. ^ William Walker Atkinson. Thought Vibration or the Law of
Attraction. Advanced Thought Publishing. 1906. Out of Copyright
14. ^ MacLelland, Bruce, Prosperity Through Thought Force, Elizabeth
15. ^ Judge, William Quan (1915). The Ocean of Theosophy. United Lodge
of Theosophists, p103.
16. ^ Besant, Annie Wood (1919). Popular Lectures on Theosophy.
Theosophical Publishing House, p79.
17. ^ Griffiths, L. `Law of attraction' has long history in
inspirational writing East Valley Tribune, April 21st 2007.
18. ^ Kumar, Sri K. Parvathi (1942). Occult Meditations. Srikanth
Kaligotla, p230. ISBN 8189467042.
19. ^ Bailey, Alice A. (1942). Letters on Occult Meditation. Lucis
Trust, p53, p265.
20. ^ Bailey, Alice A. (1942). Esoteric Psychology II. Lucis Trust, pp
111-113. ISBN 0853301190.
21. ^ Bailey, Alice A. (1973). A Treatise on Cosmic Fire. Lucis Trust,
pp 1166-1229. ISBN 0853301174. "Section Two - Division F - The Law of
22. ^ NY Times Bestseller information
23. ^ McCain, Beth and Lee (2006). A Grateful Life: Living the Law of
Attraction, 236pp. ISBN 1434814777.
24. ^ a b Whittaker, S. Three steps to the 'Law'. The Montreal
Gazette, May 12th 2007.
25. ^ della Cava, Marco R.. "Secret history of 'The Secret' ", USA
Today, 2006-03-29. Retrieved on 2007-05-04. (English)
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