Debunking the Law of Attraction and "Thoughts Create Reality" Religion
By Winston Wu
name is Winston. Those who have read my writings know that I have
extensive and thorough critiques of Christian
Fundamentalism and PseudoSkepticism,
covering points on both sides
have yet to critique
anything in the New Age movement, partly because I consider myself
that movement of course. But now, I believe I have reason to critique
its core tenets that it touts as a universal principle.
First of all though, let me say that there are many wonderful teachings in the New Age movement that have given comfort and meaning to many (including myself), changed lives, inspired people, provided guidance in life decisions, and insights into the nature of reality. As a seeker of truth and the meaning of existence, I've always been interested in spiritual teachings. Popular respected New Age authors and gurus such as Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra have helped many by imparting their wisdom and spiritual teachings in their books and lectures to millions. They are among many who have a deep grasp of the world's spiritual teachings, esoteric wisdom, life lessons, and even discoveries in quantum physics that support the New Age model of reality. And they are adept at quoting from a plethora of sages and mystics throughout history. When they teach that everything happens for a reason and that there are no coincidences for example, it brings comfort to those who feel like their lives are in chaos or marred by unfortunate circumstances that "shouldn't" have happened.
I would say that most of their teachings have some degree of truth in them, though some of their claims are unprovable from a scientific standpoint and subject to personal experience (e.g. other dimensions and astral planes, life after death, reincarnation, ghosts, extra-terrestrials, all matter possessing consciousness, etc). Also, psychic phenomena has now been supported by a rising ride of scientists, researchers and physicists (Dean Radin, Charles Tart, Gary Schwartz, Rupert Sheldrake, etc.) on the cutting edge, who claim that the latest discoveries in quantum mechanics support many paranormal phenomena. However, "New Age" is a wide umbrella, and includes some concepts which people take too far, turning it into a religion set in stone. One of these concepts is "The Law of Attraction", popularized by the book and film The Secret, which states that:
“Your thoughts create your reality. Your attract whatever you think about, positive or negative, and manifest it into reality. You create your own reality”
This belief is very popular with New Agers, hippies, freespirits, and the "alternative crowd". Though it is true and obvious common sense that "like attracts like" in this world, some people take this way too far, believing that if you only think positive thoughts, then only positive things will happen to you, and that nothing bad can happen to you unless you think negative thoughts or have doubt. This may sound ridiculous, but many people actually believe this, especially among the young hippie/freespirit crowd. Not only is this false and easy to disprove with mere simple examples, but it also leads to a victim-blaming mentality false sense of confidence that can lead one to take dangerous and reckless risks (which we will get into later).
Now, this isn't just pep talk about the power of positive thinking, thinking healthy thoughts or reprogramming your subconscious mind to work for you. Nor is it merely about how your thoughts and attitudes can color your perception of the world. No. This goes way beyond that. The proponents of the LOA actually believe that thoughts create, control and manifest all external reality! In other words, thoughts don't just control or influence yourself. They also control events, matter, time and space, and even other people. What this implies is that nothing can happen to you unless you think it or attract it, thus no one is a victim! This leads to a "victim-blaming mentality" which we will get into later on. Many of the LOA believers even claim that all matter emanates from thoughts, implying that if we weren't here, then the universe wouldn't exist!
So, it is this concept turned religion which I will critique here, because unlike the other unprovable claims they make, this one is:
Yet many New Agers, ranging from best selling authors to hippies and laypeople, stick to this belief and utter it as if it were some universal law or Gospel truth. But how can it be a universal law when it defies reality so much?! Isn't that ironic? New Agers aren't the only ones that believe in this concept - it's also popular among the pop psychology/self-help crowd as well.
One of the most popular New Age teachers who constantly repeats and emphasizes this concept is Dr. Wayne Dyer. He and the intellectual spiritual teachers that espouse this tend to be highly intelligent and well read. Yet he NEVER defines any limits to this principle, and thus insinuates that it is an all-powerful concept. And surprisingly when he and the other gurus are interviewed in the media, this is never fully brought to their attention. So, I hope that this article, in some shape or form, helps put the obvious in plain view and get them to address the questions they haven't answered.
Now, I have nothing against the New Age movement, which I am a fan of. But this New Age teaching flies in the face of even the plainest examples from ordinary life, doesn't work when applied, and has also been used to unjustly persecute others as well. So I can't figure out for the life of me how so many New Age followers who are supposed to be "truth seekers", can blindly believe in this teaching and not question it. (Am I the only sane logical New Ager?) After all, if something defies the "truth" so much, then why would a "truth seeker" buy it?!
Perhaps this idea sells, but I can't comprehend how something so obviously false, erroneous and delusion could "sell" to an intelligent truth seeking crowd. It's just bizarre, and I'd like any New Age guru to try to explain it to me.
So I hope to call this to their attention and challenge them to defend it in the light of the following examples, and answer the following questions, which they haven't addressed for some reason. First, I will make my case point by point, asking challenging and rhetorical questions that those who believe in this principle usually avoid for some reason. Then, in the Appendix I will list my questions for those who believe in this principle, in the hopes that they may answer it someday and enlighten those of us like me who are skeptical.
First, one obvious problem is that these New Age gurus NEVER define exactly the extent and degree to which "thoughts create reality". NO LIMITS are ever specified. They utter it as a blank statement without qualifying it. Limits are never defined, however I have noticed that New Age laypeople may clarify the concept's limitations, but those who have a vested interest in selling New Age books NEVER like to define any limitations to this belief, not surprisingly. And thus, one can easily imply that they are claiming that thoughts have an unlimited ability to create and manifest physical reality around us, which would be laughably false of course. For example, Dr. Wayne Dyer, a positive wonderful inspiring spiritual teacher whom I have a lot of respect and admiration for, teaches this principle as a universal law constantly in his lectures and books but NEVER EVER defines any LIMITS on it, nor does he clarify as to what extent that thoughts create reality. Likewise, those who say "You create your own reality" never seem to define or clarify what they mean exactly. Perhaps it's just some "feel good phrase" they like to utter, highly illogical of course.
The thing is, the Law of Attraction (LOA) has only been proven to affect performance related activities. For example, if I make a shot in billiards with a feeling of certainty, it will more likely go in than if I make it with doubts in my head. And if I'm playing sports or video games, a more confident positive attitude will enhance my performance so that I will play better. No one would dispute this.
many New Agers take it way beyond that into the creation of matter
itself, so that nothing can happen to you unless you think or attract
it. That's where the falsity and absurdity begins. Think about this. If
our thoughts instantly determined the physical reality
around us, then
no one would ever slip on a banana peel for instance, because
our assumption that the ground is safe to step on should have erased
peel from existence! But it doesn't! (
In fact, the Titanic wouldn't have sunk either, since the thoughts of everyone on it were that it was "unsinkable" and no one feared that it would sink! And the Y2K scare would have manifested, since many were afraid of it, so that should have made it HAPPEN, according to Wayne Dyer's claims. But it didn't! Dr. Dyer NEVER addresses or explains this.
When I was a child, my parents took me to this amusement park where there was this glass maze inside a building. As I tried to maneuver through the maze of glass, I kept hitting my head a number of times as I kept mistakenly thinking that there was empty space in front of me. The glass walls were so polished and translucent that it was hard to distinguish them from open space. Other kids there kept running into the glass walls as well (I wasn't the only idiot). It got annoying after a while, and soon became no fun! After I finally exited the glass maze, my head was sore from crashing into so many glass walls by accident. (this was back in the 80's, nowadays they'd probably be too scared of lawsuits to have such a thing in an amusement park for kids) After that, whenever I heard the teaching that "your thoughts create your reality" I've always wondered how that could be in light of my experience in the glass maze. After all, why weren't my thoughts "creating" empty space in the maze for me when I thought I was walking into empty space? Instead, reality kept giving me "hard knocks"(no pun intended) on the head! Every proponent of this belief so far has failed to explain this. Go figure.
Scratching my head, I’ve always wondered "How can an ordinary example like that so easily debunk a core cherished belief of so many great spiritual people?"
if one walks around a room in pitch black darkness, one will still bump
his head into the wall if they reach it, whether they know the wall is
there or not. Again, the New Age gurus never explain or address this.
Likewise, if one walks around a room in pitch black darkness, one will still bump his head into the wall if they reach it, whether they know the wall is there or not. Again, the New Age gurus never explain or address this.
Every time I ask a New Ager who believes in this teaching the following question,
"If thoughts create reality, then why can't we fly just by thinking about it, or walk through solid walls, or move mountains?"
they either become dumbfounded as if they don't know how to answer that (um buddy, if your belief is THAT EASY to debunk, then don't you think there's something wrong with it? HELLO!). Or, they argue something like
"Our thoughts are too preconditioned to believe that we can't do such things. But if we could increase the intensity of our belief by a thousand times, then we could probably fly or walk through walls or move mountains."
However, neither they nor anyone else have been able to prove that one can do such things by multiplying their power of belief. So sorry, but no cigar. All I see are words here. Yet these folks don't like to set limitations to this principle, thus implying that it is all-powerful.
Now, if all thoughts materialized into reality instantaneously, then we would all be like "Q" in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" where everything we willed into existence would materialize and everything we wanted to go away would dematerialize. I don't have to explain to you how preposterous that is of course. But if I'm overstating it, again the fault lies with the New Age gurus who refuse to clarify or define the exact magnitude and degree that thoughts can create reality.
Instead, they tout it as though it were the ultimate guiding principle of the universe! If that were the case, this teaching would be a holy grail that anyone could use to rule the universe. And theoretically, this teaching wouldn't even be a secret, since if every thought manifests into reality, then everyone would be using this power from birth. It'd be common knowledge, rather than some great hidden spiritual truth. Gimme a break!
Here's another obvious example. Suppose I was in a big auditorium of 100 people, and I brought in a simple wooden brown table and set it in the center of the auditorium for all to see. Now, without me saying anything, any one of those hundred people can independently testify that they see a brown table. I would NOT have to tell them that it was a brown table first. But even if I told them it was a blue table, they would STILL see a brown table! Thus, this demonstrates that the brown table has an OBJECTIVE existence, and not one that is created by thought alone. Otherwise, everyone would see something different.
Likewise, when it's raining, the rain is falling on EVERYONE outside, not just on those whose thoughts are "creating" the rain. Duh! There are countless such examples I could give, but you get the idea.
Yet New Age books about quantum physics never even bother to address this. For example, in the late Michael Talbot's book "The Holographic Universe", he presents in hundreds of pages a plethora of examples from science and the paranormal that point to a Holographic model of the universe and of reality. And a central core tenet of this model is of course that "thoughts create reality". Yet in hundreds of pages, he never addresses how this principle can be true in light of examples above such as the brown table seen by everyone.
Instead, he cites some outlandish stories which any sane person would question, such as the claim that when Columbus arrived in the Americas in 1492, the Native Indians couldn't see his ship, because, since they never saw such a ship before, its existence was vanished from their sight. (If that were true, then every object that's new to us would be invisible, not!) And in a similar strange example, he cites a case where a person who was hypnotized into believing that another human being in front of him didn't exist, was able to erase that other human being out of sight by the mere intensity of his belief, and was also able to see a secret object that the person invisible to his sight was holding behind his back! (Ummm okayyyy) Gee, I'm sure we can all relate to such experiences and easily test them out to be true. (sarcastic) Wouldn't you like to be the first to stand in front of an uncoming truck and try to vanish its existence with the power of your belief?!
In his public televised lectures, Dr. Wayne Dyer is fond of citing examples that support his "thoughts create reality" principle, which is central to his teachings. But of course, he never cites any examples that go contrary to it, such as the Titanic example above. Why would he, since it would defeat what he's preaching of course. But don't you think that a truth seeker should take into account such simple everyday examples that contradict what they teach, or at least take them into account? You'd think they would. "Dr. Dyer, Hello!?"
Dr. Wayne Dyer teaches some variants of this principle in his lectures, which I will paraphrase below:
"Since your thoughts create your reality, what you think will manifest. What you expect to happen, will happen. Therefore, if you expect bad things to happen, then bad things will happen. If you expect good things to happen, then you will manifest good things. You attract what you think about."
Is he serious? So according to him, there are no surprises in life, and all our expectations manifest exactly as we think they will?! In other words, he is literally saying that whatever you expect to happen, HAPPENS! So that means disappointments can NEVER happen since nothing ever goes wrong unless you think it will?! So all you have to do to make something happen is to think about it, and if you don’t think about it, then it won’t happen?! What kind of person in his right mind would say or buy that?! Anyone with any experience in life can cite many simple examples that contradict that. Even a child can! (I expected my parents to buy me that new toy and they didn't!) So who does he think he's fooling?!
Get real here. If this were actually true, then EVERYONE would think only positive thoughts or thoughts that work to their advantage and manifest everything they want! And NOTHING would ever go wrong, EVER! But that's not reality and it's not even true in fiction. So what the blazes kind of delusion is this?!
If he were right, we could all raise the value of our stocks just by optimistically expecting them to rise, and no one would ever lose money in the stock market! Sheesh. And why does NASA need to do so much planning and preparation before launching manned missions into space? Can't NASA just use Dyer's principles and merely expect the missions to go well with the power of thought and expectation alone, without all the rocket science calculations and risk management?! NOT!
I can cite many instances where I was pessimistic and expected things to go wrong, and to my pleasant surprise, they turned out well. Likewise, I can recall many times when I've been full of optimism that something will go great, and it flopped or became a huge disappointment! Anyone in the world can cite such instances! But of course, Dr. Dyer never cites such cases, and instead pretends they don't exist. That's highly illogical in my opinion, especially for an intellectual truth seeker. Thus, I would conclude that Dr. Dyer may be brilliant at some things, but logic isn't one of them.
Another related variant of this is:
"Now this also means that what you fear or what you don't want to happen, will also happen and manifest in your reality."
Uh, gee, I hope Dr. Dyer and his followers don't watch horror movies and get scared at night, lest whatever monster they saw on the screen "manifest" in their reality! Thank goodness that he's not right, or else Jason from the Friday the 13th series and Freddy Krueger from Nightmare On Elm Street would have manifested in many people's homes long ago, killing everyone in their path! Plus, there would be Draculas, Werewolves, and Frankensteins appearing into reality as well, on a murderous rampage! And parents BEWARE! If your children are afraid of boogie monsters hiding under the bed or in the closet, then they just might get eaten alive, since according to Wayne Dyer, thoughts always manifest as reality, which means whatever your children fear will become real and materialize into the physical universe! Danger! Danger! This is a global crisis!
Also, if that were true, then everyone who gets on an airline and is afraid that the plane will crash, will cause the plane to crash! Thank goodness that such fears alone do not cause planes to crash! Gee whiz! And don't even dare tinker with the thought that a meteor might fall and crash where you're at, lest it happen and you be responsible for killing millions of people! Also, don't dare to fear Elvis coming back to life, lest he actually come back to life too! Goodness gracious.
Honestly though, there are many instances in life where we've feared something that fortunately didn't come to pass. This is so self-explanatory that I don't even need to give any examples. A national example of this was the Y2K scare back in 2000, which turned out to be nothing. If Dyer was right, Y2K global catastrophes would have happened, but it didn't. He was wrong. Think about this though. When someone has an overactive imagination and is always fearing the worst, even against other people’s reassurances, do they tend to be proven right or wrong? Usually the latter of course. We've all known such people I'm sure, as they are quite common nowadays.
In some of his lectures, Dr. Dyer cites a woman who moved to a new location and told him about how unfriendly and rude the people were back where she came from. In response, he told the woman that if that's how she felt, then she would also find the people here in this new location to be unfriendly and rude too, to which his audience clapped. He seemed to be saying that if you believe that everyone around is friendly, then people will be friendly to you universally, and vice versa. Say what?! Excuse me Dr. Dyer, but you can't cause everyone to be friendly to you just by thinking that they are friendly! If you could, then you could rule the world and declare yourself dictator just by using the power of your thoughts! But paradoxically, if everyone had this power, then which "thought-created reality" would win in such a battle of control? Besides, if someone "chooses" to be unfriendly to you, how can your thoughts be causing that? Aren't their thoughts causing their unfriendliness, and not mine? This doesn't add up.
Nothing could be more naive or further from the truth. Anyone who has spent time in different continents and is a keen observer who isn't confined to political correctness will tell you that people are friendly to varying degrees depending on the location and circumstance as well as many other factors, not just in accordance with your thoughts alone! (lest you have a God complex). In my life, for example, I have discovered that my dating and social life, and how I am treated by others, largely depends on LOCATION, not attitude or thoughts. I can go somewhere with the exact same attitude but get completely different results from people in how they treat me. In fact, I've created an entire huge website about this that contains a mountain of evidence and testimonials from me and real people, at www.debunkingskeptics.com. None of it agrees with this New Age tenet of course, but that doesn't lessen their reality one bit.
(Likewise, they say too in real estate that it's all about location, location, location, which also again refutes this principle)
Among those who believe in the LOA is the belief is that whatever you think and believe about yourself is what others will think and believe about you too! Yeah right. Uh huh. So if I think I'm Superman or Batman, then so will everyone else? And if I believe 100 percent that I'm the President of the United States and walk into the Pentagon, then everyone will think I'm the President too? Gimme a break.
Also, what if a fat ugly woman acted like she was skinny, sexy and hot? Would everyone start desiring her and thinking that she was hot? In your dreams butthead! And what about the people in the insane asylum who believe that they are Napoleon or Jesus Christ? Do their delusions become reality? Does society accept their claims? Get real. I don't understand why you folks believe in such a delusion so much.
who believe such a silly notion also use it to blame anyone who's
mistreated by others, that others are treating them badly because they
think badly of themselves! This mistreats such victims
and perpetuates a "victim-blaming" mentality, which we will get into
time I crossed paths with some young pot-smoking hippies from
These are same folks who, if you complain in front of them that people in LA or SF people are stuck up, noninclusive and unfriendly, will tell you that your attitude and expectations and attitudes are causing it. They don't bother to see the obvious fact that it's part of LA's culture to be stuck up, and that I do NOT have control over their attitudes. Instead, they use this concept to falsely imply that I have full control over other people's behavior and that they will act according to my expectations, and that it is thus my fault. Total bullshit. They also presume that people are the same everywhere and if I experience snobby stuck up unfriendly or anti-social people in one place, then I will experience the same everywhere. When they are confronted by the fact that I do not experience unfriendliness in other places that are more friendly, they again use circular reasoning and argue that my expectations in other places are different, and so that creates different attitudes toward me. Um sorry, they are wrong again. I can go everywhere with the exact same attitude and expectation, yet get 100 percent totally different results from people. Location matters a lot and in my experience, makes the biggest difference. But of course, they won't listen to evidence and reason, and instead rationalize my proof and experience away so they can keep believing their deluded notions.
In Dr. Wayne Dyer’s universe, thoughts are all powerful, nothing ever goes wrong and accidents never happen. Those are mighty statements to attempt to prove. Yet surprisingly no one has really challenged him on it, partly because he's such a wonderful loving charismatic person so full of positive energy. But even that shouldn't shield him from so many illogical fallacies and outlandish claims.
Here's an idea. Suppose I put Wayne Dyer in the cockpit of a large commercial airliner with 300 passengers from his fan audience and asked him to fly the plane safely. Would he do it? If not, what would his excuse be? If he said he couldn't fly an airliner, could I then use his teachings against him, saying,
Of course, he could never logically get out of that one. He would be NAILED and forced to admit that something he taught he was wrong, shaming him in front of his fans one way or another. I would love to televise such an event, but since it's unfeasible, so maybe I can use the power of my thoughts to make it happen? (hehehe)
Anyhow, enough of comedy time. Let's move on.
Now, besides being clearly erroneous, the LOA belief also leads to a "victim-blaming" mentality which assumes that EVERYTHING that happens to us must be our fault because our thoughts, intentions and choices created them. Thus, all victims are to blame, even if their suffering is the result of the unfair or cruel actions of others. According to this warped train of thought, since “you create your reality” then whatever happens to you, good or bad, MUST be the product of YOUR creation, so you CREATED your circumstances and you chose it! In other words, no one is a victim, and you only get what you ask for. This is utterly naive and ridiculous of course, but there are many out there who actually believe this, using this concept (which is mostly false to begin with) as the justification.
This belief isn't just technically wrong, but MORALLY wrong as well. It is a form of unjust persecution that affects the truly innocent and it doubles the unfairness that victims suffer through no fault of their own. Adherents of this idea are prone to blame everything bad that happens on the victim. In their view, everyone that's been raped, bullied, abused, mistreated, etc. MUST be to blame, according to this paradigm, because "your thoughts create your reality" and therefore YOU must have CREATED it all, including your misfortune and bad experiences. In short, the innocent are automatically made guilty by this belief. Thus, it's a form of "Salem Witch Hunt" so to speak. But the reality is that bad things do happen to good people, and innocent victims do exist. Anyone who denies that is a real fruitcake in my book, sorry to be rude.
If you find it hard to believe that some would think like this, then think again. I'm sorry to say that I have met MANY among the New Age and hippie crowd that literally believe this and are infested with such a "victim-blaming" mentality. I've debated and refuted them too, point by point, but as you know people are very stubborn about giving up their cherished beliefs and will use circular reasoning to defend their beliefs. Not all New Agers ascribe to this concept of course, since "New Age" is an umbrella term that covers a wide assortment of alternative spiritual and metaphysical practices and theories from the simple to the bizarre, which can involve many different types of people. But a large percentage of New Agers do, including some of the best selling authors such as Dr. Dyer and Deepak Chopra.
Not only is this unjust persecution cruel and unrealistic, but it does nothing to help people either. After all, what good is false blame? And in my opinion, this victim-blaming mentality is very UNspiritual, UNkind, UNwise, and UNintelligent as well, so it's ironic that great spiritual teachers are preaching it. Yet they seem to be blind to their own folly. I hope they see this article and see the light, but fat chance. You know how people are, they believe what they want to believe, often using circular reasoning. That's human nature. However, if they are really "truth seekers" then they'd be open to "truth" wouldn't you think?
is a revealing article by Julia Ingram called "New Age Bullies" which
gives some examples of how the Law of Attraction can turn into victim
Here is a revealing article by Julia Ingram called "New Age Bullies" which gives some examples of how the Law of Attraction can turn into victim blaming.
article explains that the logical explanation for the motivation of
people who believe that there are no victims, is that it gives people a
sense of control and feeling that the universe is just, and that if
they don't do anything wrong, then bad things won't happen to them.
Many are frightened of the reality that anyone can become a victim
through no fault of their own. Such a world in which "bad things happen
to good people" is chaotic and too terrible for many, so they
rationalize it away by convincing themselves that the victims MUST have
done something wrong to deserve their misfortune. In doing so, these
victim-blamers UNJUSTLY persecute many real
victims who have done nothing wrong, thus giving New Agers a
bad name. I would say that this hypothesis is very likely to be true.
The article explains that the logical explanation for the motivation of people who believe that there are no victims, is that it gives people a sense of control and feeling that the universe is just, and that if they don't do anything wrong, then bad things won't happen to them. Many are frightened of the reality that anyone can become a victim through no fault of their own. Such a world in which "bad things happen to good people" is chaotic and too terrible for many, so they rationalize it away by convincing themselves that the victims MUST have done something wrong to deserve their misfortune. In doing so, these victim-blamers UNJUSTLY persecute many real victims who have done nothing wrong, thus giving New Agers a bad name. I would say that this hypothesis is very likely to be true.
it or not, some people actually believe that bad things won't happen to
them as long as they have no negative thoughts. They take the LOA as a
religion, which goes too far and fosters a false sense of confidence
which leads to dangerous risk-taking
that can result in injury or even death. One woman I knew is an example
of this. She was a famous hitchhiker named Kinga
Choszcz (aka "Kinga Freespirit)
who traveled the world for years by
hitchhiking with her partner, and wrote a fantastic travelogue book
called Let By Destiny.
I met her
and even stayed with her a few days at her home in Poland. She was a
freespirit type who was nonconformist and believed that positive
thoughs led to positive outcomes. She even had "positive affirmations"
taped on walls all over her home to remind her to stay in a positive
freespirited zone. After we met, she and her partner went on a
backpacking tour to Africa. Since she was anti-conventional medicine,
she did not get the malaria shots she was supposed to take. Sadly, she
caught a lethal form of cerebral malaria and passed away. Here is a
to her: http://www.digihitch.com/tribute/kinga
a tragic example of how taking the LOA too far can lead to detrimental
outcomes. In reality, bad things can happen to the most positive people
who never think of them. It is very unwise to ignore that and assume
that nothing bad will happen to you if you don't allow negative
thoughts into your mind. That is a dangerous delusion, which can
endanger others as well if there are others with you, or if you are
driving recklessly. But unfortunately, a lot of LOA believers have that
kind of mentality. Here is a
study that says that
happy-go-lucky and positive attitude junkie types - the type that the
LOA is usually popular with - often die younger, because they take
careless risks with their life and health.
Moreover, the LOA types also do not tend to make "true friends" because
if you have a problem or are down and depressed, they will not be there
for you as a "friend" to listen to your problems. To them, negative
thoughts and emotions has the potential to bring them down and attract
unwanted results, so they won't want to hear about anything negative in
your life. All they want to hear is how "great and wonderful"
everything is, even if it's not true. They delude themselves by
shutting out the half of reality that they don't like, essentially
denying the "ups and downs" cycle of life and the universe inherent in
all creation. Thus, the New Age types that take the LOA as a religion
are being very "unspiritual", ironically, by denying the "union of
opposites" principle of the oriental Ying-Yang circle symbol used in
martial arts, Chinese philosophy and herbal medicine.
Now, I am not saying that thoughts have no effect on reality, just that the degree that New Agers claim it to is way out of proportion, turning it into a religion. It can be rightly argued that thoughts INFLUENCE and AFFECT reality. And by that I mean that thoughts themselves can have an effect on external objects that are not connected to our physical body. There is some scientific basis for this. And some scientific experiments support this in fact. For example, in mind-over-matter experimental trials known as the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR), which have been conducted for many years, experimenters have been able to isolate a consistent microscopic effect that thoughts and intentions have upon the outcome of random generator machines - evidence of psychokinesis so to speak. Furthermore, honest independent researchers and skeptics such as Darryl Sloan have done controlled experiments using a psi wheel made of paper or tin foil that prove that telekinesis exists.
However, the effects produced are MICROSCOPIC, and nowhere near the all powerful status that New Agers claim that the power of thought has. In addition, some quantum physicists have discovered that the mere act of observing subatomic particles affects their behavior, a finding that is still controversial. But again, this is at the subatomic level, which is so small that even the most powerful microscope will not allow us to see it with the naked eye.
Thus, science has only detected a microscopic effect that thoughts have on reality, not an all powerful effect that controls all of reality, but even that finding is controversial and not universally accepted by all scientists. Therefore, I might agree that thoughts “influence” or “affect” reality, but to say that it “creates” reality is perhaps the wrong and misleading term, for it assigns an all-powerful status that is inaccurate and can lead to a victim-blaming mentality as well. What this means, sorry New Age folks, is that at best, thoughts can influence reality to a very microscopic degree, but there are still LIMITATIONS to that. I know they don't want to believe in any limitations, but that's the truth.
Now let’s suppose that I’m blowing this concept way out of proportion here, and that what these New Agers are really saying is that thoughts AFFECT reality in a slow and gradual process, which the more reasonable New Agers might espouse. Even then, my argument would still stand. The ordinary examples I've given in this article still hold true, and the fact still remains that there are things out there that we can't control and that not everything that happens to us manifests according to our thoughts. There would still be real LIMITATIONS. And Dr. Dyer would still be wrong in saying things like "whatever you think about comes true" and "whatever you expect to happen will happen" and "if you think everyone is friendly then everyone will be friendly to you" etc. which implies that there are no limitations, for the reasons I’ve already explained.
Now, even if we take the concept of a “self-fulfilling prophecy”, a psychological effect well documented in psychology where a person’s behaviors act out to fulfill his/her own expectations, that would still only be limited to a reasonable framework within a person and his/her physical actions. It has nothing to do with a metaphysical power that thoughts have to control external objects and events. And in no way proves that everything that occurs happens as the result of our thoughts, intentions, or expectations, as I’ve elaborated on in this article.
Thank you for reading my critique and challenge. I hope I've made my case clear to you.
Understand that I'm not an ignorant person who doesn't research what he writes about. In fact, I'm very well read in New Age metaphysics and spirituality, and have read a ton of books, listened to many lectures of New Age gurus, and watched many of their documentaries. And that's why I can nail down the core discrepancies and unanswered questions in their teachings, such as this one.
I project that the New Agers who believe in this principle would argue that I either misunderstand this teaching and blowing it out of proportion, that I am taking it too literally, or that I am creating straw man arguments here that are easy to knock down. But what do you expect? The New Age gurus and authors out there are the ones that teach this concept as though it were some universal truth and divine principle that controls the cosmos! And they are the ones implying that there are NO LIMITATIONS to this principle! So you see, THEY are the ones blowing it out of proportion, not me! And their followers are doing likewise, albeit illogically. I'm merely responding to what they say. If I've misunderstood anything, it's not my fault they aren't more specific about this blanket statement they make that "your thoughts create your reality." I'm not the one who is dodgy with questions and issues such as the ones I've raised. I'm not the one who's vague here, and I'm not the one with the victim-blaming mentality either. So isn't the ball in their court? And that's why I'm writing this, to ask these gurus to clarify what they mean exactly and to either justify their position and prove their claims, or else be a man and admit that they are wrong or misleading.
But if they can't even answer simple questions such as the ones I've raised, then isn't that a red flag that something's not right?
So perhaps the key question to ask is: Why would something that doesn't work when applied, and that went against common sense, common experience, logic, and ordinary examples be taught as a universal principle by wise spiritual New Age teachers and be blindly accepted by so many seemingly intelligent New Age spiritual truth seekers? It boggles my mind and does not compute. Am I the only sane person among my fellow New Agers, or am I missing something?
Now maybe they say this because it "sells" (books). But again, by golly me I can't see why something that flies in the face of common sense, common experience, doesn't even add up, doesn't even work, and creates unjust persecution of the innocent, would sell, but that's just me.
Perhaps this belief is appealing because it gives people a sense of being Creators with God-like powers in a universe where their thoughts can manifest whatever they want, and also it supports the belief in a just and fair universe in which no one is a victim unless they deserve it. Ok but what about the fact that it doesn't work when applied to real life, in the examples I've already given? Wouldn't these "truth seekers" then abandon such a false teaching? Many don't, and you have to wonder why. Perhaps they aren't really seeking the truth, but a utopia that they imagine where they can create their own reality. Well good luck to them then, but they aren't truth seekers in my book, just people who are living in denial who believe in something that doesn't work and that they can't demonstrate.
Here is what one respondent on Yahoo Answers had to say about why this idea sells:
"The belief in all powerful thoughts is a charm that seduces many because it plays to the ego. In this age of mass democratic man nothing separates us from each other that is considered legitimate except for merit. And what's the one bench mark of merit that is visible to other people? Money! How do you get more money? By working harder, which if you publish a book saying that you will sell absolutely nothing. The solution is to make success about the power of will over reality. So take a truism: that your thoughts about reality shape your attitude and change it to your thoughts shape reality. It comforts the successful since they now can believe it's all because of their own selves and gives an easy message to those you want to be successful. And if you fail at it, well than its not the message but you who are the problem. A fail proof way for the authors to make a ton of money."
Well he has a point. But why would something that tells you to blame yourself, and often falsely, for not controlling your "all powerful thoughts" be appealing? Who wants to be blamed falsely? And again why believe something that makes no sense?
Now let me just state for the record that I am not claiming that thoughts have no value. On the contrary, thoughts are important – they influence our mind, and affect our health, our actions and behaviors, attitudes, our successes and failures, and even how we treat others. And generally, positive healthy thoughts that are sincere are better for you than negative ones. And over time, your thoughts become part of your subconscious programming that forms your habits and instinctive behaviors. So they do matter. But they need to be put in their proper place, not overblown to an all-powerful status where you are in full control of all external reality and nothing can happen to you unless you let it. That is way grandiose and ridiculous, and on the level of a sort of God-complex, yet many New Agers want to believe exactly that. Controlling your thoughts are important, but limitations have to be acknowledged as well, lest we delude ourselves.
Perhaps this respondent in Yahoo Answers, a researcher in neuroscience, best described the relationship between thoughts and reality:
your subjective reality, your
impression of what's out there. But they don't create objective reality
what's out there.
Reality is really out there. If you bump into it, it will hurt. But your brain has it's own way of creating perceptions from the information provided by your senses. For one thing, you don't perceive everything around you...selective attention. Perceptions are combined with your feelings, thoughts, fanatasies, values, attitudes, needs, desires, analysis...all completely unique to you. What you experience as reality is subjective, and different with every human being.
The philosophers can debate this if they want, but this is the way it is."
So I again, I appeal to the New Age truth teachers and their truth seekers out there to face the "truth" here and explain their teachings and principles regarding the "thought creates reality" doctrine in light of my questions and examples above. And to answer the questions in the Appendix below. Otherwise, to be a "truth seeker" and not face such simple truths would be an oxymoron. And besides, isn't one of the objectives of a truth seeker to free oneself of delusion?
And I would like to ask of Wayne Dyer and other New Age leaders those who teach this doctrine, "To what degree are you claiming that thoughts create reality? Can you define the limitations? So far, you haven't. So aren't you falsely misleading people into thinking that thoughts are all powerful and can fully control objective external reality? And isn't that wrong? If you are in fact claiming that thoughts are all powerful, then why can't you fly, walk through walls, move mountains, or materialize and dematerialize matter with your thoughts? You've got to come to terms and do one or the other."
I rest my case.
Thank you for reading.
Here is my list of questions for those who believe that “thoughts create reality”, which they seem to avoid for some reason. When I ask them, they tend to either avoid the question or go off into some irrelevant rant and then re-confirming that “thought creates reality” principle without even addressing any of my points directly. How strange. I would have expected better from so called "truth seekers". Nevertheless, here is the list.