I’ve always been sceptical of this whole ‘manifestation’ philosophy. In fact, it might even be disempowering and distract you from actually achieving what you want in the world.
I remember one time, after fleeing the ice planet Hoth with the Rebel Alliance, I took myself on a solo mission to Dagobah to study with the Jedi master Yoda. After several months of intense training, we developed a firm friendship.
And it was there he gave me one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever had.
“Do or do not. There is no try.”
The point my little green friend was making is that ‘trying’ is a mindset. If you are ‘trying’ to do something, you’re still holding on to the belief that you might not be able to do it.
To succeed at many things in life requires a total commitment to the task, and the belief that you can actually do it. Some tasks will be doomed to failure simply due to the fact that you’re still ‘trying’ and holding in your mind the possibility that you won’t succeed.
Like a lot of things Yoda said, I think this has a practical truth and a deeper spiritual truth.
At a practical level, we only have so many resources at our disposal – cash, skills, time, mental energy… If we’re entertaining the possibility of failing at something, then we start devoting some of our resources to that contingency. We start putting plans in place to deal with the failure.
But that means we’re running two games at the same time. And since we only have limited resources, we’re not giving our best to either game. We’re not doing our best to make ‘win’ happen because we’re too busy planning for ‘lose’.
I remember the story of a Chinese general who took his army across the sea to fight the enemy. Once he got there, he had his men burn all the boats. Retreat wasn’t an option. There was victory or death. Nothing else. His men became extremely incentivized.
As a result, they were able to defeat a much bigger and well-resourced army.
Commitment accounts for a lot.
The “no try” doctrine also has a bit of a spiritual dimension. Like a lot of things Yoda said, ‘no try’ seemed to be lifted straight out of Zen and the eastern mystical traditions.
The world seems to respond in a particular way when you make yourself as single-minded as a Samurai. It’s like it gets real clarity on what you want, and throws its weight behind your plans and ambitions.
When you’ve got too many plates in the air, when say, you’re pushing along 4 or 5 different business ideas at the same time to see which one gets the most traction, you’re not sending a clear signal on what you want. It might even be that the cosmos senses your lack of commitment, and interprets that as not really wanting it.
I’m not going to pretend I know how this works. Yoda didn’t teach me the finer details of the force. We just spent a lot of time fighting little robot balls. But it is something that’s never sat right with me with the whole “manifest your destiny” tradition here on earth – that idea that if you want it, think hard about it, and you can manifest it.
Apart from the fact that I’m suspicious about anything that comes out of Western culture… it’s hard to imagine that the same cultural climate that gave us the Miley Cyrus phenomenon somehow stumbled upon a great spiritual truth… a truth that’s somehow eluded generations of monks having a good hard think in the mountains of Tibet or Japan.
But apart from that, the mechanics of manifestation never sounded quite right to me.
Say for example, someone is trying to ‘manifest’ a pay rise. It seems like a key question is what’s the thought seed behind this manifestation. That is, if they want a pay rise because they’re worried about their material well-being, and are worried that they might not have enough to eat one day, that’s going to have a big influence on the kind of outcomes they end up creating.
Because if it’s true that the “law of attraction” –that energetic like attracts energetic like – is a universal principal and applies at all times, then it must also apply at the stage of choosing what it is you want to manifest. But if the foundational idea in your thought structure is that there is a lack and scarcity in the world, and the foundational feeling is a fear, then that must be what you’ll end up calling down.
More of the same.
All of the positive visualisation in the world’s not going to change that.
It’s the same story with more ‘status’ focused visualisations. I want to be famous because people don’t love me. I want a flash car because people don’t respect me. I want a best-selling book because people don’t listen to me.
Careful what you wish for.
It seems to me, if this is how it works, that if you want to manifest clearly, then you need to put yourself in an abundant and joyful headspace first. But that’s the rub. Once you’ve got the headspace, you don’t actual need the things that you thought were going to give you that head space anymore.
And you no longer care about that shiny red bike you were trying to manifest. You’re already happy.
In a way, the ‘manifestation doctrine’ is disempowering. It can reinforce the idea that things can make you happy – which takes away from your own power to author your own experience. It’s all a matter of perspective, and we have the power to choose our perspective. “Things” just don’t matter that much.
And that’s the built in redundancy in manifestation. For it to work, you need to be happy first. But if you’re happy already, it doesn’t matter if it works or not.
“Be” or “be not”. There is no manifest.