Although I'm convinced that the practice of dwelling on positive thoughts and intentions increases the likelihood of beneficial events occurring in one's life, I'm equally convinced that this is not the entire story. Our timing may be out of sync with that of the universe, or perhaps the desired occurrence will not manifest itself until sometime in the future, after enough good-hearted people have repeated enough aspirations enough times to build up the energy needed to make a real change in world of phenomena.
I must admit, however, that sometimes I feel like the "Law of Attraction" as it is commonly taught is actually quite bourgeois, at least in the U.S. and in other wealthy, materialistic nations. In this connection, I often think of the Ghost Dance as it was practiced by many different tribal nations, but especially by the Lakota in 1890 and thereafter. If any people was filled with positive thoughts and intentions, it was the Lakota practicing the Ghost Dance during that period. In accordance with a vision received by Paiute spiritual leader Wovoka, consistent practice of the dance would bring peace, clean-living, love and unity among Native peoples. All evil in the world would be swept away, leaving a renewed Earth filled with adequate food, love, dignity and faith.
In the Lakota variation, it was believed that the dance would cause white settlers to leave Native lands and would also bring back the bison. In addition, a "Ghost Shirt" - when worn in battle - would protect the wearer from cavalry bullets. However, history tells us that the shirt often did not repel the bullets as hoped, and massacres - like that at Wounded Knee - were the sad result. Whenever I read about the optimism and hope engendered by the dance, I find myself wishing that the Ghost Dance and Ghost Shirt really HAD worked.
This is just one example, but my point is that other factors besides faith, positive thoughts and hope-filled intentions are apparently involved whenever we are seeking to effect a positive change in the world. The best we can do, therefore, is to continue our spiritual practices, maintain an attitude of faith, hope and love, and then offer ourselves up to the Divine will, praying that we will be able to accept whatever outcome emerges. If we continue to suffer even after practicing in this way, we can learn to connect our suffering to the Divine Suffering, and then trust that it will thereby become transformed into joy through the mysterious spiritual alchemy present within the inner life of God. For it is faith in THIS, I believe, that is the highest form of positive thought and intention.
Photo: Broken ice on Horsetooth Reservoir, Larimer County, CO, January 24, 2016
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.