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Immaterialism, Hinduism, and "Thoughts Create Reality"

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Immaterialism, Hinduism, and "Thoughts Create Reality"

Postby formosan » 01 Aug 2009, 15:46

I read the essay at:

with considerable interest. I believe it does an adequate job of debunking Dr. Wayne Dyer, but that is a rather soft target.

My chief disagreement is with the following:
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.

I think there are at least three classes of persons who would argue that "thoughts create reality" with more nuanced limitations.

1. Bishop Berkeley and his Immaterialists would argue that thoughts do indeed create objective reality, but only God's thoughts have ultimate strength. The rest of us are intimately linked to God, but we are flawed personalities and God is not. Thus God's thoughts are indeed omnipotent and ours have very small powers. God is Reality; that which goes against the nature of God cannot exist in Reality.

2. Plotinus, and the Neo-Platonists, would, I believe, say that "thoughts create reality." However, they would specify that one would have to first learn "to see with the eyes of the mind," and perhaps gain "non-dualistic insight," before one truly understood one's own thoughts. Further, after gaining enlightenment, the nature of things is not necessarily as arbitrary as the whims of the exterior personality. Thus even though one's true thoughts do create reality, one does not necessarily have the power to create any sort of imaginable reality.

3. I believe various Hindus, Advaita Vedantists, etc. could be found to argue that "thoughts create reality." Some of these philosophers perform great feats of asceticism - one of them was found to have subsisted without food or water for several days with no significant metabolic impairment. Many paths of Hindu asceticism, of course, are subject to many limitations in practice, such as chastity and restricted diet. All Hinduism of which I am aware imposes limits on the theoretical side. For example, if I recall correctly, Atman is Brahman, thus individual Atman-thoughts can indeed create objective reality. However, the personal ego is not Atman! The meditator must divest himself of flaws and weaknesses to commune with Atman.

(If I am painting Hinduism with a very broad brush, I apologize -- but it's a big subject and this is a short forum post.)
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Re: Immaterialism, Hinduism, and "Thoughts Create Reality"

Postby Scepcop » 02 Aug 2009, 16:48

Well I don't really see what you're challenging in my statements.

Yes there are varying theories and views about the "thoughts create reality" concept, no doubt.

But I was not critiquing any of the versions that you listed. I was critiquing the modern New Age best selling version where they chant it like an all powerful truth to the point where anything that goes wrong in your life is your fault and due to your negative thinking. That is not only fanaticism but a "victim blaming" mentality as well.

Have you seen the movie "The Secret"? I posted part of it and asked hard questions of it in the Videos section of the forum. It does exactly what I critique, it poses "thought creates reality" as an all powerful concept that is in your grasp.

Wayne Dyer is a wonderful person who does preach a lot of wisdom and inspiration. He also has an uplifting personality as well. I admire him and like him as a person. I am a fan of his too. I do not think he is stupid at all. So perhaps I misunderstood him when he talked about "thoughts creating reality" and maybe exaggerated his claims. But part of the fault lies with him too, since he posed this teaching as though it were all powerful as well, never defining any limitations of it.

Of course he sells books, tapes and seminars, so he has a vested interest in it. There is a saying that truth doesn't sell and you can't be very successful selling the truth. So perhaps that's what's at play here. Dyer probably started out with wholesome intentions, but when money, image, demand and market share came into play, truth no longer remained number one. Conflicting interests ensued.

When one becomes successful, one has to fight to keep that success and keep what one has. In life one is always struggling to attain or struggling to keep. Thus there is a vested interest, or even a conflict of interest involved. Gurus like Dyer probably struggle to find a balance between maintaining their integrity and in preaching what sells.

There is no perfect solution to everything.
“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
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