If we simply focus on what we want, will we get it? The popular Law of Attraction—which comes from the New Thought movement—indicates that “like attracts like” and that our thought patterns can have real-life impact.
Eighteenth-century scientist and spiritual teacher Emanuel Swedenborg – one of the key predecessors of the New Thought movement – reported exactly how this principle works in the spiritual world.
Off to a Good Start
Does what goes around come around? Verses in the Bible might appear to call for retributive justice (for example, “an eye for an eye” in Exodus 21:23–25), but there is a higher spiritual principle at play:
Such is the law of the spiritual world. People who do heartfelt good to another in that world receive the same good in return. So people who do heartfelt evil to another receive the same evil in return.
Heartfelt good carries its own reward, and heartfelt evil carries its own punishment. That is the source of heaven for the good and of hell for the evil.Secrets of Heaven §9049
Simply put, the Law of Attraction works— in the spiritual world. In heaven, people with positive thoughts who do good for others draw in love from the Lord, while in hell, people with negative thoughts who do harm to others draw pain and suffering to themselves.
There’s an irony to this: Evil spirits try to influence people to be miserable and hurt others. The people they influence in this way become evil spirits themselves—and, as evil spirits, they enter hell and cause pain and torment for the very spirits who created them.
This dynamic exists to protect good people:
Everything in the other world is balanced in such a way that evil punishes itself. . . . Otherwise [evil spirits] would infest communities of good people and inflict violence on the system of order established by the Lord, which ensures the welfare of the universe.Secrets of Heaven §967
Just because this universal law is true in the spiritual world doesn’t mean it carries over to the physical world—at least not in a way we’d be able to see and clearly understand. And of course, that brings up an important question: is it good for us (spiritually speaking) to always get what we want?
The Complexity of Love(s)
The idea that our thoughts can shape reality is an attractive one, but there are problems with it, too. Do bad things happen because people think the wrong thoughts? If you don’t achieve success and financial abundance, is it only because you didn’t have a vision board full of positive energy?
Part of where the popular concept of the Law of Attraction missed the mark was when it was turned toward material thinking. This isn’t a new phenomenon; it actually started after the First World War, when there was a whole spate of books about how to use the power of thought to get what you want.
But really, the Law of Attraction in your life is all about love, which falls into four categories:
- God—love and wisdom itself
- Neighbor—other people
- World—material goods
When the Law of Attraction is turned toward the lower loves of the world and the self, it can actually block higher purposes. Remember the evil spirits from the previous section—by indulging their selfishness, they ultimately end up hurting themselves. In the same way, by putting self-serving thoughts and intentions into the universe, we can attract self-serving spiritual forces and block the flow of love from heaven without even realizing it.
“Like attracting like” is the way the world is meant to work. But in order for it to work well, we have to let go a little bit and leave room for divine providence to lead us down the right path.
It’s important to pay attention to ourselves and constantly consider whether we’re bringing others energy or blocking their light. Whatever your will is, your true intent is what really matters.
So, What Good Is It?
Okay, so if the Law of Attraction only applies to the spiritual world, what good does this law do us today?
The more an angel gives to another in a spirit of neighborly love, the more the giver receives as an influence from heaven as a whole, or in other words, from the Lord. In giving to one who asks, then, an angel is not deprived of possessions but is enriched with them. The same is true for us as well, when we do good to another in a spirit of neighborly love.Secrets of Heaven §9174
Love attracts other loving people and makes the world a better place.
[callout quote:] Within peace, you see, lies trust in the Lord: trust that he is in complete charge, takes care of everything, and leads it to a good ending. When we believe this, we are at peace, because we then fear nothing and have no worries about the future to disturb us.Secrets of Heaven §8455
Good can even come from hardship – if we trust that the process will lead to a joyful end, then that trust can bring more peace than material wealth.
When the Lord is with someone, he leads that person and provides that every event, whether sad or happy, turns to that person’s benefit. That is what divine providence is.Secrets of Heaven §6303
Love and kindness always bring the greatest rewards. But they aren’t short-term benefits. We’re talking about the long-game of eternity.