Last week, on my post, Why You Want What You Want: Moving Beyond All Desire, we had a great discussion in the comments. One of the big questions that was raised was what exactly is the purpose of the material world?
The issue is that there are two general views about the material world, both of which are on extreme ends of the spectrum.
On the one hand, those who pursue a spiritual path to enlightenment or Self-realization often believe that the material world is to be avoided. It is thought that all desires lead to suffering.
On the other hand, those who practice the law of attraction often believe that our desires are everything—that in fact the sole reason we are here is to fulfill our desires.
As is the case so often with these matters, the truth is somewhere in the middle. Buddha was on to something when he taught about the middle way. 🙂
But, what is this middle way? How can the spiritual and the material be reconciled? Could the material world actually aid us in our pursuit of greater freedom?
The Middle Way of Matter
I mentioned that there is a middle way.
The material world should not be seen as the enemy, but nor should it be seen as the totality of our purpose here.
Either view would result in an imbalance in the delicate dance of matter and spirit.
For truly, these two elements support and depend on one another.
Without spirit, we are void of life. We become totally separate beings in a totally random universe, which has no point. There is nothing the mind can reach which is beyond this physical vessel. The imagination has absolutely no power whatsoever.
Yet, if there is no matter, there is no drive to grow. Everything is here, already. There is dormancy.
Only when the two come together can real creation happen.
The Hindus have a beautiful illustration of this concept. They recognize two divine principles: Shiva and Shakti.
Shiva is the masculine principle. He is pure awareness. It is the emptiness, void, stillness which is often pointed to by enlightenment teachers.
But there is also Shakti. Shakti is the feminine principle. She is energy and movement. She is the principle of change. She is the force of creation.
The two must balance one another. Shiva, being equivalent to spirit, is dormant by himself. Shakti, being likened to the material principle, is directionless by herself.
Note: I'll be referring back to this illustration throughout this post. When I refer to Shiva and Shakti, I do not mean to say they are literal divine beings. These are simply useful names for divine principles of the Universe. You may use whatever terms suit you best. Every religion tends to have equivalent notions.
This is a perfect illustration of the law of attraction. In pure awareness (Shiva), an intention is held. Shakti responds to this intention, as that intention gives her direction. That is the Universal energy that responds and draws into your reality whatever matches your intention.
Imagine a projector. Shiva is the screen, while Shakti is the images that play upon the screen.
Now we see the error when people over-emphasize one without the other.
We are told, “You are pure awareness.” But that is only half the equation.
In mindfulness practice, we act as the observer of the thoughts. We are told that we are the observer, and we are not the thoughts.
But don't you see? That is still duality. For true non-duality, you must be both the screen and the image—the awareness and the thoughts which travel through awareness.
To bring it back to our topic, you must be both passive and active. You must balance between spirit and matter.
But if this is so, then why does the material world offer so much suffering? What's all this about desire leading to greater bondage? And, how can this possibly fit in with the worldview of the law of attraction?
Well, to clarify this point further, I must divide our relationship with matter into two stages.
Stage 1: Aggravating Your Sense of Separation
This is where the great majority of people find themselves.
In this first stage, you identify with the ego, the false self. This is the self that believes it is separate from the Universe.
The ego is blinded by the images that play upon the screen. It is fooled by Shakti into thinking this is all there is. The spiritual side is lost, because no connection is felt to it—at least no significant connection, as the connection can never truly be completely lost.
However, the ego, on some level, knows that there must be something greater. So, it projects the spiritual principle outward, into an external God figure. But, this God is only another threat, to whom the ego must prove itself worthy.
This seems like a bleak picture at first. And, truly, some experience it in this way.
But one single principle must be remembered. This principle is an absolute truth: Life always leads to greater freedom.
The person in stage 1 is not permitted to remain where they are. They are driven forward, closer and closer towards their own freedom.
Shakti (matter) is more than happy to play this role.
Let's say you worry about money.
You worry, because you hold on to a belief that says money is hard to earn.
So, the worry itself is Shakti's sign to you that you are holding on to something that is disallowing freedom. It is supposed to be a reminder to you to look within, and see where this blockage is allowed.
You see, our natural state is one of wholeness and freedom. When there is a blockage in the system, Shakti let's us know by firstly creating a negative emotion.
If that fails to get our attention, then she creates some unpleasant situation in your life, which magnifies the resistant belief stuck in your energy system.
The more you ignore her warnings, the bigger and bigger these warnings will get.
Most people stay in a comfort zone, where they heed the warnings just enough to keep them manageable, but not so much as to actually allow lasting happiness in. Unfortunately, they can become complacent in this comfort zone, of course until a bigger warning comes, as no comfort zone is allowed to remain forever.
So, in simpler terms, in this first stage, the material world is here to remind you that you're not living up to your potential. You're not opening to the freedom that you are.
And the way it does this is by hitting where it hurts: in the areas of life that you care about most. Why? Because, obviously, this is where your focus is most of the time.
Interpreting the Warnings
Unfortunately, many of us have forgotten how to interpret these messages from the Universe.
What we're meant to do is to look within at the belief we're holding on to, and release it.
However, when the ego doesn't get its way, it often responds by throwing a bigger tantrum.
In other words, you try even harder to make things work the way you want them to.
If you practice the law of attraction, this will often look like doubling down on your LOA practices: visualizing longer, changing up your affirmations, adding more pictures to your vision board, etc.
When you meet up with resistance, you push against it all the harder, believing you can break through to the other side.
The proper response—the response which will move you towards greater freedom—is to allow.
Let's say again you have that worry about money.
Ideally, you acknowledge that worry, go within, and recognize you're holding on to something that's clogging up your energy system.
You realize you're pushing against what is, and release that pressure.
This is also an optimal time to use your release technique of choice: I suggest either EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) or The Sedona Method®, as they are the most direct and effective methods I know of.
But keep this in mind: healing is natural. If you simply allow whatever is present, healing will take place, and the resistance will be released.
There are just some useful shortcuts you can take if this process is not working as well for you due to ego interference.
Once you release that resistance, then the energy flows freely, and you open a bit more to the wholeness that you really are.
In this way, you can see the material world as a friend.
Shakti is constantly pointing the way to freedom. Really, she is more useful than any outer guru, as she always knows the most direct way to your freedom and happiness.
Here's where I differ from many law of attraction teachers:
I don't believe the Universe is here to give you all your desires.
Shock, I know.
They're just here, really, to stir up your resistance, so that it can be released, and you can move that much closer to complete wholeness.
They're a means, not an end.
The end is complete and total freedom, and every life experience is constantly pointing the way.
Stage 2: Awesome Creation
Now, something interesting happens as you begin to heed Shakti's warnings.
Every time you listen, you open up a bit more to Shiva (pure awareness).
- You begin to feel more peace.
- You aren't thrown so far off center when powerful emotions arise.
- Your intuition starts to develop, because the spiritual connection is stronger now.
- And, manifestations start to become more effortless, because you no longer need them.
Decent perks, right?
It's all because:
- You're letting go of your death grip on the physical, and
- You're allowing more of the spiritual in, which naturally balances your system
Now you're in stage 2.
In stage 2, you become the powerful creator you always tried to be before.
Things just come effortlessly. You think about them for a moment, and they arrive often within days or even hours.
Why is this happening?
Because you are not creating from ego anymore.
I mentioned in last week's post the difference between preferences and desires.
Basically, when you have a desire, it is coming from the ego. The ego says it needs this thing, experience, person, in order to be complete.
Often when people come to the law of attraction, it's through this lens. It's really their egos wanting to control their reality, in the mistaken belief that more money, a better job, or a romantic partner can make things better.
Eventually, you realize that this isn't true, and you move into stage 2.
Once in stage 2, well, the world is your canvas.
You can create, because you are already complete within yourself, and therefore your desires, or what I like to call preferences, arise out of a simple drive to create.
There is no why, besides perhaps, for fun.
It's like the play of a child, who has no reason to imagine the characters or scenes they are creating in their mind, besides for the sheer fun of it.
The mind cannot grasp this kind of drive. We think that to create for the fun of it means that if we don't create, then we are less happy.
But, happiness has nothing to do with it. Happiness is already complete.
It's more that a spontaneous playfulness arises, which seeks fulfillment. There's no question of lack. It is simply what is.
How This Applies to the Law of Attraction
These stages aren't necessarily linear. You might be in stage 2 with money, but stage 1 on relationships, or vice versa.
However, there will come a point when you reach stage 2 completely—where you are so intoxicated by the freedom that is your nature that the question of ego desire could never again arise.
However, if you are largely in stage 1, there's just no convincing the ego to let go of its desires.
People try guilt, telling others they are wrong for desiring, but that just inflames the ego even more, as it is really good at guilt, if you haven't noticed.
So, I propose a path to the spiritual through the material.
In other words, a path to Shiva, through Shakti.
Remember, even once you reach the end of the path, if truly there is an end, the material is still here. Shakti is one-half of Shiva. There is no spirit without matter, and there is no matter without spirit.
But, embrace your goals. Let them guide you towards freedom.
As you intend your goals, your resistance will make itself known.
And the more you release that resistance, the more you will connect with the freedom that you are.
The bigger the goal, the more resistance it will trigger.
So, have your desires.
But realize that as long as you are trying to make your desires happen, you will fail. You will only be pushing them away.
Only by completely allowing and embracing this present moment, can you hope to create that which you envision.
It's the path of radical acceptance. By accepting all that arises, while holding your intention, you move swiftly towards your goal.
I'm offering a live teleclass later this week called Taking Your Manifesting to the Next Level.
In this teleclass, I'll be sharing totally new material about the principles of the law of attraction, and how to successfully apply it to your own manifestations.
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How About You?
Now it's your turn. This was another deep post, but have you noticed yourself opening to the spiritual principle more as you released your resistance? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. I'm really enjoying the discussions that have been spawned lately, so keep them coming. 🙂
For more in-depth discussions, feel free to check out my brand new forums. There are lots of fascinating discussions going on now.