Law of Attraction or Law of Decay?

Back in the late 80’s I worked in a book store. At the time there was a deluge of new ’self help’ titles that were preaching the beginning of what has come to be known today as the “law of attraction“. The authors of these books swore emphatically and passionately that if you just followed your heart and did what you loved for a living, happiness would quickly follow and money would flood in afterwards like a tidal wave.
 
Now, I got my first job when I was twelve years old. I worked as a bar back in the bar where my father used to go and get drunk. To say that I had a Dickensian upbringing is a bit of an understatement. I grew up in a blue collar Chicago neighborhood where everyone hated their jobs and were miserable from 9-5 every day, and then came home at night and got drunk. By the time they were forty their bodies were shot, their mobility was limited: they were overweight and stuck and unhappy. So, when I read what these authors were saying about doing what you love, I desperately wanted to believe them. After all, I thought, they’d published books, so there had to be something to what they were saying…right?
 
I majored in creative writing and minored in dance as those were the things I loved most at the time. When I graduated I was ready for the happiness and wealth these self-help gurus had promised but ended up, instead, working in a factory that made dance clothing. I was the only one there with any kind of college degree and I was far from the highest paid individual in the joint.
 
Depressed at this outcome following five years of college, I decided what I needed was more education to make my dreams come true. So I went to graduate school and got an MFA in creative writing. During that time I sold some stories to national magazines, did some freelance writing for corporations, wrote a kids book for a New York publisher, tutored writing students and then, finally, ended up a writing teacher at three different Chicago Colleges/Universities. I thought my problems would be over but in all that time I never made more money than I did working in the factory, nor did I see any of the success that was promised by those new age gurus who told me that if I just followed my passion I would succeed and succeed big.
 
Once, when I was teaching at Loyola University, one of the top Universities in Chicago, I asked the English department chair if I had any future as a teacher at Loyola. His blunt response to me was: “What else do you know how to do?” I was devastated that I had spent ten years of my life educating myself to wind up at a dead end.
 
After eight years of teaching college, I finally decided I didn’t want to be poor, underappreciated or overworked any longer and I quit teaching to pursue other interests. It took me a few years to begin to get my life on track again because I was still clinging to the belief that if I just did what I was passionate about I would be successful.
 
In the middle of this I learned about sales, entrepreneurialism and about a Tibetan doctrine about kingdom building that the ancient BÖn used to build the silk road. Studying these things confirmed something that direct experience had taught me years before. The Law of Attraction is merely an advocation of self indulgence. The truth of the matter is: If you wish to be successful you must first conceive of a vision that is bigger than yourself and your own desires. It must be big enough to include other people. Big enough for them to find a place in it. Otherwise you will never find success no matter how passionate you are, no matter how badly you need to express yourself, or how much talent you have. Desire alone never brings success. In fact, the more desire you invest in a thing, the more likely that thing will elude you.
I always think of this LOA movement as a four hour long sex session that your partner skips out on before you orgasm. When it’s over you’re left chafed and frustrated and alone–wondering why you wasted all the energy to begin with when with a little effort you could have just taken care of yourself.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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3 Comments

  1. Love the new blog and latest post.

    🙂

  2. You might enjoy reading @AnAmericanMonk book “The 12 Sacred Principles of Karma” by Steven Hairfield. He lived a a monastery for awhile. There’s a sample of his book on his website. It helped me to truly understand LOA and how it fits in with the other principles.

  3. LOL! Now why would I accept someone else’s experiences over my own? And why is a random monk’s experience more valid than mine? You know how direct experience leads to wisdom? How you have to do a thing to have the experience of it? Reading someone else’s experience just leads to second hand information. As for karma–that’s something I don’t discuss with others because it’s something to be managed directly by the individual.


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