Fate or Freedom? The Law of Attraction Strikes Again with Another Inherent Contradiction
When it comes to logical flaws, contradictions, and downright hypocrisy, the Law of Attraction (LOA) is the gift that keeps on giving. My latest critique centres on the age-old battle between free will versus predestination.
I am not a believer in the LOA. But in its defence, I will say that this contradiction has plagued theologians since time immemorial, and so it is by no means unique to the LOA. However, given that my forte is spirituality and the world of ‘self-help’, my target (ahem, my focus) is the LOA. Indeed, this age-old battle will not be won any time soon, but the LOA is just one example of how the battle is perpetuated — not under the guise of religion, but under the guise of spirituality and its many discourses.
We often hear in spiritual discourses such platitudinous drivel as ‘the Universe has your back’ (sounds, modern, sounds trendy, and makes for a catchy meme but lacks in any real substance) or that we will always receive ‘what is meant for us’.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a fatalist at heart, but such statements echo the movie Field of Dreams and the notion that ‘if you build it, they will come’: blind faith, it seems, is all that is required for the Universe to deliver what we want, for what is ‘meant’ for us, will always transpire. This attitude smacks of predestination or the idea that our lives are already mapped out, and the Universe will deliver what is means for us regardless of our actions, intentions, or interventions into our own destiny.
I’m reminded of William Blake’s poem ‘Auguries of Innocence’ which goes something like this: ‘some are born to sweet delight; some are born to endless night.’ In other words, we get to play with the cards we are dealt with, and that’s all. If we’re unlucky enough to be destined for a life of ‘endless night’, then it’s tough shit, because our fate has already been decided. In such cases, it would seem the Universe doesn’t ‘have our back’ after all.
This attitude of predestination is common amongst peddlers of the LOA. But they also spout the belief that the Universe is somehow obedient to us in serving our every whim. Indeed, the LOA preaches that all we need to do is think about something, believe we are deserving of it, and it will magically appear before our very eyes whether it was ‘meant for us’ or not: the Universe, it seems, panders to our will; we are the ones in control of it, and not the other way round. So, a child born into poverty — who has zero chances of escaping that life of poverty — simply has to visualise themselves rich and voila, the Universe will send them riches in abundance. Sounds ludicrous, right? That’s because it is.
Unsurprisingly, this belief is at the heart of such nonsense as ‘The Secret’ (2006) which, jumping on the bandwagon of self-help and positive thinking (albeit with a woo slant), uses it to offer its readers a feeling of empowerment in an otherwise powerless existence: the epitome of powerlessness being the idea that our lives are already mapped out by the Universe. The self-help industry is built on selling ‘delusional positivity’ (to borrow a phrase from Mark Manson) and misguided self-empowerment to the gullible masses who seek more control and autonomy in their lives. And yet neither ‘The Secret’ or any other peddler of the LOA has devised a satisfactory reconciliation of the contradiction between fate and freedom.
So, which is it: is the Universe in control or are we in control? Is our fate decided, so that all we need to do is passively ‘allow’ the Universe to manifest what was always meant for us, or do we actively create our reality, bending the Universe to our every need and desire?
As usual, LOA proponents want it both ways and therefore invent all manner of illogical albeit cleverly worded ways to worm out of this contradiction. ‘It is both’, they would say, without adequately explaining how.
They want to have their proverbial cake and eat it. The point is, you can’t have it both ways. If reconciling such a contradiction (which has been pissing off theologians for millennia) were so easy, then it would have been reconciled already. But hey presto, ‘The Secret’ and its proponents have all the answers: circuitous wordplay, verbal gymnastics, and a semantic sleight of hand convinces us that ‘it is both’. And here’s the best part: if you don’t happen to agree that it is both, then their retort is that you ‘live in fear’, your ‘vibration is too low’, ‘you are not energetically aligned’ or some such crap. Sure, such statements sound clever and ‘spiritual’, but they have zero substance or veracity.
So, according to LOA gurus you can have your cake and eat it. But for the level-headed realists amongst us, such an attitude is not only logically and ontologically impossible, it is downright greedy.