A Historical Digest
The phrase law of attraction has virtually exploded in the post Y2K world! With the movie the secret and more recently Oprah Winfrey’s mention of the law attraction has made this phrase almost common knowledge.
The history of the actual “Law” as we have come to call it, dates back centuries, the first reference to this idea can be found on the emerald tablet. The tablet is believed to be the first record of man’s conscious awareness to the power of positive thoughts. “As above, so below, as within, so without. ”
It is difficult to define the law in one phrase, but in layman’s terms the most basic explanation is that our thoughts manifest our reality. While the law of attraction connection can also be found in any religion, the most obvious ties are revealed in both Hinduism and Buddhism.
The Eastern Connection:
This precept can be correlated with the Hindu and Buddhist belief in karma. The word karma comes from the Sanskrit language, which is the ceremonial language of the Hindu religion. By definition the word karma means actions. The Buddha himself used the concept of karma to define the inequality in the lives of human beings. Buddha believed that the inequality was the result of actions, both past and present. Actions are the final result of applying the law of attraction, whether it is consciously or unconsciously, our actions are the result of our thoughts and our feelings.
The law of attraction also draws parallels from the Buddhist law of vibration. The Buddhists believe that everything in existence, all matter, transmit vibrations. Thoughts are no exception to this rule; Buddhists believe the contents of the mind are also vibrations. Positive thoughts are believed to vibrate at a higher frequency than negative thoughts. The frequency of each thought it transmitted back at exactly the same frequency. This ideology coincides with the Buddhist belief in Dharma. Dharma in the Buddhist world is the natural state of nature. Buddha believed that the law of Dharma always prevails, if you generate hateful or angry feelings they can only be returned to you and you will be miserable. Buddha also believed the law of dharma was a way to explain human suffering at all levels.
The philosophy that man becomes what he thinks about most has been curated by different cultures and religions in different ways, but the basic principle has always been there through the ages. If you look deep enough you will find different references that can be related to the law of attraction in practically every culture known to man.
The Dawn of New Thought:
The New Thought philosophy in the western world began to emerge in the nineteenth century. One of the founding authors of the movement was Prentice Mulford. The most important and influential book written by Mulford as it relates to today’s understanding of the “law”, was entitled Thoughts are Things. The book was published in 1889. The title itself has become the mantra for many of today’s LOA teachers and gurus.
Robert Collier is another author that needs to be noted as contributing to present law of attraction theory. In fact, Collier wrote two books, The Secret of the Ages (1926) and The Secret Power. The connection to two of today’s most popular and influential books is obvious. “The first principle of success is desire- knowing what you want, desire is the planting of your seed” this Collier quotes is the first step in using the law of attraction.
The phrase law of attraction does not appear until the early twentieth century. William Walker Atkinson, a new thought author with a keen interest in the Hindu religion, is believed to be the first published author to “coin” the term. Walker published two books in 1906, one was entitled, Dynamic Thought or the Law of Vibrant Energy. The other book published that same year was called, Thought Vibration or Law of Attraction in the Thought World.
Another immensely influential book published in the twentieth century, was The Science of Getting Rich, by Wallace d Wattles. Published in 1910 the book expands on the concept that our thoughts manifest themselves in our daily lives. Again it is believed that the basis for this belief is rooted in Hindu teachings, Wattles is one of the most quoted figures.
The next hugely successful book to note is The Master Key system written by Charles Haanel in 1912. The master key system is built on the foundation that concentration, positive thinking and positive action will result in attainment and success in any endeavour. Haanel believed that this was the creative power of thought. The Master key system had a huge impact on the “new thought” movement; it had such a profound impact that influenced the author of the next important iconic influential author.
Napoleon Hill wrote the book, Think and Grow Rich actually wrote a letter to Charles Haanel thanking him for his success, explaining that it was attained based on the principle teaching in the Master Key System. Think and Grow Rich was published in 1928 and is influential to this day. The premise of the book is that if one l has true intent and conscious belief, eliminating all negative thought, the individual can achieve any goal.
The study of the Buddhist and Hindu religions and their importance in the present concept of the “law” has led to the publication of these four great works in the early twentieth century. Atkinson, Wattles, Haanel and Hill are the fathers of the modern law of attraction explosion; we still have much to learn from these great texts. The term new age seems like a misnomer but there is no denying anyone who uses the law of attraction to its full potential will forever be grateful for these literary gifts.