There are two parts to an experience: what actually happens, and what you believe about what happens. The second part is by far the most important in determining just what that experience will become.
After Hurricane Katrina struck New Jersey, my wife and I were volunteering at the local high school working with those who were displaced by the storm. One elderly lady who had lost everything was a ray of light, cheering up all of those around her. Finally, someone asked her why she was so cheerful, and she replied, "When I turned eighty, i decided I wasn't going to worry about anything any more.'
I am fond of quoting a well-known story about a boy who had become shy and withdrawn because his face was disfigured by a birthmark -- until his grandmother told him that this was a special sign from God that he was destined for greatness. Although he did not become famous, he grew up to experience a much more successful life than he otherwise would have had were it not for his grandmother's prediction, which had become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Recently, I suggested to a hypnotized client who had come to me to improve her self-confidence,, "Because of the hypnotic training you have received here, you are beginning to enter a new phase of your existence. Regardless of the goal you have set for yourself, if you can believe in it, you can believe it, and it you can believe it, you can make it happen. Believe it will happen, expect it to happen, feel it happening, and savor in advance the fruits of your success!" As she left the office, I noticed that she was humming to herself, and i have no doubt that these suggestions, and the others she received in a similar vein, will be effective.
Cognitive-behavioral psychologists refer to this process as re-framing: looking at something in a more positive light than before. When this re-framing applies to a person's self, or to the selves of others, it has the potential to change one's entire life!
The central theme of the book, "The Secret," is that we create our own reality by "the law of attraction." If we send forth positive thoughts, then we attract positive events to us; and if we send forth negative thoughts, then we attract negative events. But if we really do create our own reality by sending forth positive or negative thoughts, then this effect should be apparent not only in individuals, but also in groups, in historical trends, and in society as a whole. Therefore, we should be able to examine the validity of "the law of attraction" by examining the degree to which it operates in these other areas of experience. I have listed below the comments which my friend Roy Hunter reports as having been made to individuals who are suffering from cancer and other maladies, and taken the liberty of constructing a reply to them.
- What did you do to attract cancer in the first place? What about all those people who get cancer because they are living in an area where there is a high level of carcinogens in the environment?
- You have a disease consciousness. The Black Death killed between 75 and 200 million people, between 1348 and 1350. What could all those people have been thinking that caused such a plague to so suddenly come upon them?
- You must have a karmic debt to pay off. If you read The Diary of Anne Frank, you will get a good idea of the kind of person she was. Now consider the fate of Ann and others like her as they covered with lice and dying of hypothermia in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. What did they do to deserve this?
- Why can’t you create enough faith to be healed? Age is a wasting disease. And the survival rate for this particular disease is zero.
- Don’t you know smoking will kill you? With 99% of the same genes as our closest simian cousins, the chimpanzees, and over a century of experimental research to back them up, most psychologists agree that short-term pleasure is often more important than long-term consequences in determining our behavior, particularly when it comes to matters of addiction.
- Fat people are out of control. An African journalist recently stated that her greatest surprise in coming to the United States was to discover that in America, thin people are rich and fat people are poor, since in her own country the reverse is true. If this is the case, how can weight be a function of one's personal discipline rather than one's culture?
- You have a poverty consciousness. The CIA World Factbook lists the United States as twelfth in per capita income, behind such nations as Norway and Hong Kong, yet most Americans are inclined to think of themselves as the richest nation in the world. If we create our own reality, why are we not in first place?
- "Get out of the victim trap!" Tell the survivors of Stalinist tyranny who were imprisoned in Siberia that they shouldn't have been thinking so negatively about their situation that it caused them to wind up there.
- Why did you create this problem? The CIA World Factbook lists the United States as fiftieth from the top in infant mortality compared with other nations. Explain to the parents of the babies who died because they were not given better medical care what they or their children did to create this problem.
- What is God punishing you for? If God is keeping quiet about His reasons, then what is the point of punishment?
- If “The Secret” is not working for you, then you must be doing something wrong. Maybe so! On a recent radio interview show featuring a leading theoretical physicist who was commenting upon the latest discoveries in his field, a questioner asked him about the "law of attraction." He forcefully criticized the promulgators of this belief for misleading people, and assured the caller that the universe simply does not work that way. Perhaps what people who subscribe to this false doctrine are doing wrong is believing in "The Secret" in the first place.
Of course there can be negative and self-destructive attitudes within the personality which interfere with the successful accomplishment of a goal, and which contribute to the development of psychosomatic conditions! But their operation and effects are well-documented in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
A more narrow, focused investigation of psychic abilities is the subject of ongoing research by the Parapsychological Association. "an international professional organization of scientists and scholars engaged in the study of psi (or 'psychic') experiences, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, psychic healing, and precognition. The primary objective of the PA is to achieve a scientific understanding of these experiences." It also appears possible that some of these phenomena may be focused and directed using hyperempiria, or suggestion-enhanced experience, or by a method described by Claude Bristol in his book, The Magic of Believing, which is available in audio format on this blog free of charge.