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Thursday, June 17, 2010

We Attract Not What We Want, But Who We Are

 Marcus T Anthony's new web site and blog can be found at

BTW, I wrote my most recent take on the law of attraction in an ebook called "A More Attractive Law of Attraction", which covers some of the ideas written here, but in much more detail. Marcus

The idea of the law of attraction is as popular today as ever. The most recent successful version is found in the phenomenally successful The Secret video and books. To generalize, it is assumed that the law of attraction permits one to ‘manifest’ in one’s life what one desires, through focused concentration, or simply believing it enough. Although the mechanism is never clearly explained, the idea is that “God” or “the universe” will give you whatever you want, as long as you get your shit together. I call this the naïve law of attraction, because quite simply, it is delusional.

One of the most successful law of attraction teachers is Dr Wayne Dyer. I read Dyer’s You’ll See It When You Believe It nearly two decades ago. Dyer may well be the most successful New Age writer/philosopher in history. Certainly he is right up there with Deepak Chopra, Louise Hay and a few others. For years Dyer has been teaching that one can manifest one 's intention.

However in recent years Wayne Dyer has suffered several rather large ego falls.
Ego falls are a common human experience. They occur when the ego builds a delusion about who or what it is, and then life offers a “correction”. People who write and teach about spirituality are very prone to such falls, and I include myself in that category.

On my old blog I wrote about the ego fall of James Arthur Ray, one of the key presenters in The Secret video. The incident occurred near Sedona, Arizona, where Ray’s spiritual retreat featuring an Indian sweat lodge, went horribly wrong. Three of the fifty or so people in the sweat lodge died.  All participants paid about US$10 000 for the weekend. 

There have been allegations of negligence, especially in the setting up of the sweat lodge. Extreme heat and lack of oxygen are apparently what caused the deaths of the participants. Ironically, Ray allegedly wrote on his blog, “One has to die before one is spiritually reborn”, the night before the tragedy. Ray has been charged with manslaughter, and now faces trial.

When the event occurred, I connected with the consciousness field of the event (which is not difficult to do), and saw that it had been subsumed by an energy of greed. During my meditation, as I looked down upon the grounds where the sweat lodge lay, all the building turned into piles of coins.

Ego falls are not necessarily the end of the world though. If the individual permits the consciousness contained in the fall to be fully received, the lesson is learned. The fall may actually presage a period of growth, or a deepening into Spirit. To the outside world, though, it may look like you have failed, been a hypocrite, or just made an idiot out of yourself. Indeed, if the ego dos not ‘get’ the lesson, then these judgments may be quite reasonable.

Wayne Dyer’s falls have been real tests. First, his wife, and the mother of his seven children announced that she was leaving him for another man. Then he suffered a heart attack, and ended up strapped into a hospital bed, his fate controlled by the impersonal mechanisms of hospital technology. This must have been difficult to endure for a man who had run four miles every day of his life for several decades. Then, as if it couldn’t get any worse, last year he was diagnosed with leukemia. According to Dyer, this is not a life-threatening form of the disease, yet it surely must be a test of his courage and belief structures.

I have read one or two interviews that Dyer has given recently, and I must say that my sense of respect for him has deepened. In recent years I felt that he went a bit soft and New Agey, and was catering too much for the popular market. Yet his courageous, honest and direct response to his setbacks shows him to be a man who walks the talk. He has openly discussed the way the ego creates illusions, and the way that the falls it experiences can assist us on our spiritual journies.

The key point is that Wayne Dyer has shifted his understanding of the law of attraction. He now says that we do not attract what we want, but what we are. This should be a wakeup call to many. My interpretation of this is that “Who we are” refers to the overall level of consciousness which we have developed in our lives.

Our consciousness field as individuals includes the shadow side of the psyche, which lies beyond conscious awareness, by definition. Simply imagining the manifestation of, say, a wonderful house by the sea, may contain little of spiritual value. In particular, the imaginative process requires no reflectivity or contemplation. However, the elevation of consciousness requires developing an increased awareness of the ego, and assuming the right relationship with it. New Age thinking has the potential of reinforcing the greed and narcissism of the ego, without the development wisdom or self-awareness. A belief in the naïve law of attraction is potentially regressive, sending us back into the mentality of a self-seeking three year old.

As with James Arthur Ray’s ego fall, Dyers setbacks are not just about him, but are lessons for his many followers, and everybody in the New Age and popular spirituality movements. In a sense, they are an ego fall for all who believe in the naïve law of attraction. In “getting it”, Wayne Dyer has offered us all an invaluable gift.


  1. It's a sobering thought; Dyer had an abusive alcoholic father, and perhaps on some level he's carried that energy with him all his life.

    I guess that we can never transcend who we are, just develop a different relationship with it (which of course he has done).

    And again, having said all this, isn't it somewhat simplistic to say, as some people might, that he "attracted" leukemia into his life? After all, the guy's 70 years old, and at a certain point the body's mechanisms simply start to malfunction quite naturally.

    Life's a mystery.

  2. Wherever we go, there we are. =)

    john stuart

  3. I'm not precisely sure what Wayne Dyer would say about his leukemia in terms of the law of attraction, but I think what he means by you "attract what you are, not what you want" is that some things just happen even though we don't want them to happen, and that at some level the disease 'resonates' with his spiritual journey.

    As for his heart attack, I know Dyer didn't sleep much, and was always working way too hard. Maybe he didn't listen to his body enough. He probably didn't listen to his previous wife enough, either! But who knows?

  4. Have you watched The Shift? Wayne Dyer was a completely different person in the movie than the person who was writing all of the law of attraction books. His message was one of connecting to Spirit - not trying to attract things. I wonder if it was after his "ego falls." I haven't read The Secret for all the reasons you mentioned - I didn't like the message of attracting money and things and not working on where we should be going within ourselves. But one thing is for sure - you attract to yourself who you are, not what you want.

  5. well done, great sharing of insights

    the good old question of 'who am i?" always applies

  6. Eric Lam from meetup.comJuly 8, 2010 at 8:15 AM

    When you think what you want, you become what you want. Then, as you attract what you are, you attract what you want. They all coincide.

  7. Very interesting insights.