The Law of Attraction: A Critique

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It’s the start of a new year.  Most of us will reflect on the events of the past year, and set new goals for 2014.  Some may decide to take action and make substantial changes in their lives such as choosing a different career, moving to another city or ending an unhealthy relationship.

In North America, this period of the year tends to be very profitable for the self-help industry because it can capitalize on people’s desire to overcome their perceived limitations.

The Secret Pict 1A classic example of such a trend is the movie and the book The Secret (2006) by Rhonda Byrne. The Secret became an almost instantaneous New York Times bestseller, was featured on Oprah, and by 2009, had grossed $300 million in sales.

The Secret exposed many people to the concept of the Law of Attraction.  It appealed to a large audience, but also generated negative critiques from well-respected self-help gurus such as Anthony Robbins and David R. Hawkins.

Let’s critically review some of the ideas put forth in The Secret, and understand why this film has generated such controversy.

Throughout history, the Law of Attraction was known only to the rich and powerful.

All the great religions of the world are based on timeless spiritual principles such as truthfulness, love and altruism.  The concept that we draw to ourselves the consequences of our habitual thoughts and actions are found in Holy books such as the Bible and the Koran.

For example, you reap what you sow is a clear reference to the Law of Attraction. This concept was also popularized in business in the early part of the 20th century, with classic books such as Think and Grow Rich (1937) by Napoleon Hill.

Therefore, it’s not true that the Law of Attraction was purposely kept from the masses in order to control them.  It’s more accurate to say that The Secret was never hidden, but in plain sight.

Furthermore, one of the implications of blaming the rich and powerful is that the masses don’t need to take responsibility for their lives.  The average person may assume that if they were told years ago about the Law of Attraction, their lives would be totally different. However, even the late motivational speaker Jim Rohn underlines the fact that only about 10% of people consistently act based on what they know.

Anyone can easily use the Law of Attraction.

The Universe is designed so that we are all the consequence of our habitual thoughts and actions, whether positive or negative.  This Law is therefore automatic, but to use it in a positive way requires daily self-discipline that many lack.

The phenomenal success of The Secret can be largely attributed to the seductive idea that the Universe is like one’s own ATM machine.  In other words, without any effort, anybody can have whatever they want just by thinking about it.

Furthermore, the examples used in the movie emphasized material goods like cars, houses and jewelry.  The wishes were mostly about satisfying one’s personal desires. Less tangible, yet truly loving goals, such as the well being of others or world peace were not mentioned.

The Secret Pict 2Late psychiatrist and spiritual teacher David R. Hawkins explains that even the term Law of Attraction is not accurate.  Instead, it should be called the Law of Intention because in the unmanifest world where pure subjectivity rules, intention is the main driving force to bring the unmanifest into the 3-D world.

According to Hawkins, from a scale of 1 to 1000 of levels of human consciousness, the Law of Attraction calibrates at 250. He also states that unless someone has reached the level of basic integrity at level 200, they most likely will manifest what they don’t want.  Unfortunately, about 80% of the world population calibrate below 200.  Therefore only about 20% can effectively use the Law of Attraction.

Hawkins further reveals that the “language” of the Universe is unconditional love.  Therefore, a highly integrous goal requested by a highly integrous person will have an almost 100% success rate.  Also, a fearful thought (level 100) only generates log 10-800 millionto log 10-700 million microwatts. In comparison, a loving thought (level 500) is much more powerful since it measures approximately log 10-35 million microwatts.

Consequently, people who have reached the level of Love (about 4% of the world population) are very good at manifesting their desires.  When someone reaches the Unconditional Love level or Enlightenment (about 0.4% of the world population), they have become masters of manifestation. Ironically, these individuals are rarely interested in material goods, and usually live very simple lives.

You can be and do anything you want.

The Law of Attraction is not the only law in the Universe.  In the manifest world, there is for example, the Law of Gravity and the Law of Opposites.  In the unmanifest world, there is the Law of Karma and the Law of Free Will.

Furthermore, there are almost 7 billion people in the world today who have their own free will, desires and goals.  The Law of Attraction does not supersede the basic right of others to determine their own destiny.

According to the classic spiritual book Bhagavad Gita, the goal of life on Earth is to undo negative karma and gain a positive one. We are “One” and every person has a specific role to play on this great journey.

The Secret Pict 3Moreover, we can raise our level of consciousness as high as we want, but we cannot do anything that we want. Interestingly, the unconscious goal of everyone is to be happy, and true happiness only occurs when one reaches the level of Love.

The Universe is similar to an infinite Internet database, and every intention, thought, emotion and action is recorded for eternity.

We each build a spiritual back account, and before granting a wish, the Universe automatically evaluates if the person has “earned” the wish.  That’s why loving people tend to have their integrous dreams come true because of all the good they have done in their lives.

However, even if one lives according to physical and spiritual laws, some “negative” events may still occur. Anthony Robbins points out that life is about growth, and the difficult situations are an opportunity for us to grow beyond our comfort zone and become more.  Also, these “negative” events may be a saving grace because they might have prevented an even more painful situation down the road.

Another year has gone by, and a new one has begun.  For many, it is a time to take a step back and decide to make wiser choices for the future.

The North American self-help industry will eagerly produce all kinds of material to “guide” people on their journey to self-improvement.

The Secret  (2006) was a phenomenal business success mainly because it promised the average consumer a wonderful life without having to invest a great amount of time or energy.

However, there is more to the Law of Attraction than meets the eye. For example, one has to have basic integrity to use it, and this Law has to work in conjunction with other physical and spiritual laws.

Hopefully, this critique of The Secret  may help many of us understand the subtle mechanisms of this world, and make the required changes that can make 2014 a productive and exciting year!

Literary Truths

According to the ideas put forth by Napoleon Hill, David R. Hawkins and Anthony Robbins, here is a more effective way of using the Law of Attraction:

  • Live an integrous life: It’s very important that your emotions, thoughts and actions be aligned. You also need to treat others the way you want to be treated. Be grateful for what you already have; therefore you will already feel successful and blessed. This integrous way of living increases self-esteem, self-love, and overall energy.  You will then truly feel deserving of the very best in life.
  • Have a healthy lifestyle: Eat healthful food, exercise and get enough sleep. Avoid tobacco, alcohol, gossip and negative news on television.  On a daily basis, read uplifting books, listen to upbeat music and motivational CDs. Surround yourself with positive, intelligent, talented, and driven people who will inspire you to reach your full potential.
  • Choose a believable yet exciting goal: Choose a goal that is exciting, but also that you honestly believe you can achieve.  Make the goal specific enough to focus on, but broad enough so that the Universe has a variety of options to deliver what you essentially want. When you are successful with a minor goal, move on to a bigger and more difficult one. Your earlier success will build your self-confidence and increase the likelihood of reaching your other goals.
  • Work on your goal daily: Every day, take inspired action towards your goal. Often imagine the final result while feeling very positive emotions. Produce the best quality work that you are capable of, and give much more than you receive.  Become an expert in your field and you will be protected from economic downturns.
  • Be tenacious, yet flexible: If you have a goal that requires many years of hard work, you may need to change your approach a few times to make your dream come true.  Listen to constructive criticism and accept the help of skilled people who can help you speed up the process.

Truth in Motion


Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, A.C., Bhagavad Gita As It Is – Second Edition. Los Angeles: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1983.

Jim Rohn – Best Life Ever (Full length)

Napoleaon Hill – Think and Grow Rich – Original Full Length

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The Secret – The movie

The Secret – Wikipedia

Tony Robbins on Being Ready for a Relationship & Law of Attraction