My lovely friend Elizabeth put a question on her blog for her readers to answer.
…instead of trying to outsmart the universe, I’m simply resting at its feet in devoted curiosity.
Later I read a fluff piece in Elle on manifesting. Gag me but the takeaway was essentially, we have to believe we’ve worthy in order to receive whatever we’re asking for. I’ve always wondered why these so-called champions of manifesting have yet to manifest world peace. Are optimal lifestyles, wardrobes, cars, partners and bodies more worthy of one’s belief than Love for all living beings? Answer me that Ms. Schovel Shinn.~
Do you believe in manifesting? What’s the difference between manifesting and prayer? Do you believe you’re worthy to have either requests fulfilled by whoever or whatever governs the universe?
Hope you’re staying well in the midst of all the madness. Recently discovered some delicious, gluten free bread. Toast and tea are always good medicine. xo
Well, I don’t believe in manifesting, and when I believed in God, I didn’t think God was a vending machine or a cosmic Santa either, I thought God was generally hands-off externally but willing to be relational – a friend and mentor who would be there with you on your road. I no longer believe in God because I now believe that my spiritual experiences were manufactured by my own brain in response to trauma, similarly to how you can manufacture them with psilocybin or how people with temporal lobe epilepsy or under oxygen deprivation can have profound experiences.
I wrote about that in detail a while back if anyone wants the link, it’s here. But even if only a product of the psyche, belief in a loving God helped my brain deal with and heal from trauma and was very helpful for navigating adolescence and early adulthood – while I think belief in a vengeful, narcissistic, manipulative God can be really destructive – and that’s the problem with a lot of fundamentalism, no matter the flavour: It’s probably a psychological projection of a subset of dysfunctional family dynamics, and it enshrines and perpetuates dysfunction.
As to the universe, I’m not anthropocentric enough, or New-Age enough, to see that as a personal vending machine either. And the idea of having some kind of believing in your own worthiness competition strikes me as being just as problematic as the old “I’m not worthy” – just in the opposite direction. The people who are excellent at believing in their own inherent worthiness, even against the external evidence, are the narcissists and sociopaths in this world, who believe the world and everyone in it owe them. Since these unhealthy personalities would be the supreme champions at manifesting, that would be an obscene universe were it true, but thankfully there’s no evidence that the narcissists get their ill-gotten gains from manifesting; tactics like plain old bullying and manipulation and being in the right social networks will do that for them, and obviously believing in their own rightness is of enormous help to them to justify anything. And then there’s Dunning-Kruger on top of it, for at least half these narcissists/sociopaths.
Here’s a good song that helped me come to terms when I stopped believing that there was an actual God looking out for us, and when I understood that lots of random things happen, that our pattern-recognition brains with their confirmation bias try to make into meaning.
Manifesting is a bit like the prosperity gospel for New Agers – if it ain’t happening, it’s all your own fault, you’re doing it wrong. So then, if randomly, a good thing happens, it encourages you to look at it as a reward for your excellent manifesting, like a prosperity gospel adherent sees their bank balance as a barometer of God’s being pleased with them (and none of that, of course, was in the actual gospels). And then, to look down your nose at the lesser manifesters / those whom God isn’t blessing financially, and tut-tut at them – kind of the way a lot of mainstream Americans tut-tut at the homeless.
So much more sane not to get into those kinds of psychological games. And if you think about it, in some ways it’s like children of dysfunctional families constantly trying to find out what it is that they can do, that can make their parents treat them better. If only I can be better at this or that, my Mommy or Daddy will love me and be nice to me and stop screaming at me and hitting me. The child thinks their parents’ behaviour is their fault, because that is less unbearable than thinking there is nothing they can do about it. They can’t change their parents, but if it’s their fault they can spend their childhoods trying to work out the magic formula for making things OK.
Another useful song, on the general topic:
I don’t think there’s that many useful songs on this difficult stuff, but these helped me come to terms with the shift in world view that was starting to happen for me from about my late 30s on. There’s peace in the acceptance that the world isn’t fair and that you can’t appease it by jumping through psychological hoops. And it cuts out toxic games of blame, of others or the self. Which is, of course, not to say that you can’t do anything to change your own life – or that other people can’t be very helpful in such a process. Yes, we’re responsible for our lives. Yes, we should work to overcome systemic injustices, and we should work towards emotional growth and intellectual development, and we should be kind, etc etc. Because it’s the right thing to do, regardless of anything else. And it’s great to think about what you want to achieve in your life, and to work towards those things, and give it a good shot – but also to remain flexible and open, because sometimes you do need a Plan B or C or D, and because you should be careful what you wish for, as well…
Complicated, but that’s OK.
And just in PS, because I had to write this twice because my computer crashed and I missed this bit the second time around: I dismounted the donkey, so to speak – but not at “the summit” – though definitely in a place from which there was a good view of the general lay of the land, which I didn’t have when I was lying at the bottom.
See Elizabeth’s post and the responses to it here.