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Monday, June 11th, 2007

Time Event
10:32a
Well, here's the last of these ...
Yes, long-time readers of this space have no doubt been asking "What the heck has gotten into Brendan?" for the run of "newagey" books that I've been beating myself over the head with during the past couple of months. As previously noted, this has been a conscious attempt to both try to change my outlook (especially on the job search, which had been constantly threatening to turn into a downward spiral of anguish, frustration, and despair), and to give that whole "The Secret" thing of playing the attraction/intent game with the Universe a decent shot. If you want to see a run-down of these titles, just go over to my LibraryThing catalog.

Anyway, the current book, Esther & Jerry Hicks' The Law of Attraction: The Basics of the Teachings of Abraham, was a late addition to the list, largely due to one reader's insistence on how well the Hicks' teachings have helped her. Now, I'm not sure that this is the specific book she intended, but it seemed a logical starting point (being "The Basics") and it does present itself as an over-view of their "system".

As I have also frequently pointed out, I am not a great fan of "channeled" books, and this one really demands a certain degree of credulity for that sort of thing, as Esther Hicks suddenly (well, after reading the similarly generated "Seth" books) began to communicate for "Abraham" (no, not the Biblical patriarch, but some "group entity" from a disembodied plane of being) with husband Jerry playing the Larry King role with pre-scripted "interview questions". Interestingly, I've heard that the Hicks were in the initial editions of The Secret, but got edited out to make the book more "Oprah-friendly" (I guess "life coaches" play better to the daytime TV audience than "disincarnate entities").

While The Law of Attraction is better structured than most of these books (its "system" is in four parts: The Law of Attraction™, The Science of Deliberate Creation™, The Art of Allowing™, and Segment Intending™) it still depends heavily on a rather simplistic emotional spectrum, i.e., if you're "Happy" you're doing the right thing and will attract what you desire, but if you're not "Happy", you're messing up and are only going to be drawing in more stuff you don't want (this is their Emotional Guidance System, which somehow managed to not be trademarked). They even address this, in a section that reminded me of Robin William's Peter Pan in the movie Hook, where it recommends finding the "one happy thought" (or activity) to get you in a happy place (not necessarily to fly, of course).

Another book which frequently came to mind while reading this one was, remarkably, Ayn Rand's The Virtue of Selfishness, as what "Abraham" counsels is very much a "I create the Universe I live in." view, and the only person that you can do anything for or about is yourself. In fact, "Abraham" insists (the book uses plural verbs for the "group being", but it just looked stupid in this context) that there are no such thing as "victims" and that on some level the individual has attracted whatever bad stuff that has happened to them ... from traffic accidents to muggings, from critical illness to stock market crashes. Frankly, the whole "Abraham" system could be described as a new age philosophy of Solipsism (leaving aside the general solipsistic tendency of everything "newage"), although with just enough Objectivism to not deny the physical world exists!

Again, the Hicks' system is sufficiently well-structured that it is at least plausible as a template for personal action, which puts it a leg up on most of its fellow "attraction" plans. The book is in the format of an on-going "interview", with questions being framed by Jerry and being answered (in various lengths) by "Abraham" via Esther, and has every topic listed in the table of contents, making it easy to refer back to. The most "unique" part of the system, I found, was the admonition to not even think of negative things or outcomes, which puts it into that Scarlett O'Hara zone ("I can't think about that right now.") but begs the question of how exactly one can banish the normal "risk assessment" cognitions, let alone the extreme memetic intrusions (try not to think of a pink elephant). The Segment Intending™ part seems to be designed to address this (breaking one's timeline into segments which each have their own mental frame, from brushing one's teeth to driving to work, etc.), but it sounds remarkably complicated.

I usually can say that I got some particular useful tidbit from one of these books, but I'm not sure I can point to anything in particular that I'm taking away from The Law of Attraction except for a vague sense of "gee, maybe it's OK to be selfish/solipsistic!" ... as always, Your Mileage May Vary.

In a rare and brash fit of "intention", I actually paid cover price (plus tax) for this at a newagey brick-and-mortar store. You, however, might do better via Amazon, who have it at a 32% discount ... not much help from the new/used vendors, though, as their prices (plus shipping) are over Amazon's, so better to combine a couple of books and get the free shipping if this sounded like something that you might find useful.


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