Whether you're new to the Law of Attraction history or have been working on manifestation for a while, you may have wondered about where the key ideas originally came from. Is it a relatively new phenomenon? Or, does it come from ancient teachings? Have people always described it in the same way?
Have we improved our ability to harness our potential for manifestation? These facts are often absent from Law of Attraction books and articles. However, learning them can do much to enhance your understanding.
In this guide to the real history of the Law of Attraction, we'll explore the roots of manifestation. Plus, we can trace how our grasp of the meaning and science behind the Law of Attraction has grown across time.
Throughout, we'll consider the contributions of major authors in the field. We will also make some informed predictions about where the future of the manifestation discipline may be headed.
If we look back far enough, we see that the roots of the Law of Attraction can be found in a range of ancient practices and Eastern teachings. While it wasn't called the Law of Attraction in ancient times, it was referred to in Buddhist writings as well as in Christianity.
For example, the Buddha famously said that our thoughts make us what we are. Plus, Jesus can be interpreted as telling us about our limitless power to create.
“All that we are is a result of what we have thought.”
It is widely believed that because the Law of Attraction has always determined the course of our lives, humanity has always carried some awareness of it (even if only subconsciously). However, the phrase “Law of Attraction” didn't come into use until the work of Madame Helena Blavatsky.
The 19th century arguably marked the beginning of the New Thought tradition. In turn, this led to concepts like manifestation entering the public consciousness. While a number of authors played key roles in this crucial developmental period, Helena Blavatsky and Thomas Troward were among two of the most significant.
Helena Blavatsky gave spiritual instruction and guidance across a huge range of different countries in the 19th century. By this time she had a reputation for being extremely spiritually gifted. She drew on ancient religious traditions to write a book called The Secret Doctrine. Much of what she believed overlapped with what we now call The Law of Attraction.
In particular, she contended that our thoughts about ourselves and our identity are what define who we are and what we're capable of. She emphasized our ability to shape reality, and our power to move past our own limitations.
Both of these messages are found in contemporary manifestation teachings.
“The Universe is worked and guided from within outwards.”
“What writes history is the power of ideas. And every moment offers the potential to write something new.”
“Do not be afraid of your difficulties. Do not wish you could be in other circumstances than you are. For when you have made the best of an adversity, it becomes the stepping stone to a splendid opportunity.”
“Neither success nor safety is to be found outside self-development.”
Similarly, Thomas Troward's work in the 19th century is widely believed to have influenced some of the most significant contemporary Law of Attraction monographs, including The Secret. He is described by some as “mystic Christian”. In addition, he shared Madame Blavatsky's believe that we will learn the most by combining teachings from a range of spiritual traditions.
Thomas Troward Quotes
“My minds a center of divine operations.”
“Belief in limitation is the one and only thing that causes limitation.”
“We cannot really think in one way and act in another.”
“The secret to enjoying life is to take an interest in it.”
After the trailblazing and inspiring publications by Helena Blavatsky and Thomas Troward, Law of Attraction work in the early 20th century quickly began to proliferate. A wide range of authors published their unique spin on the concept of manifestation. Many of them illustrate their accounts with examples of success in their own lives. As we explore the works of a few of the most prominent and exciting early 20th century practitioners, you will notice that many of them came up with language and concepts that we continue to employ when working with the Law of Attraction.
According to William Walker Atkinson, Law of Attraction practitioners should focus on strengthening their willpower, improving their focus and developing magnetism that attracts good things into their lives.
In his lifetime, he wrote more than 100 books. For a time he practiced law alongside his writing. He later returned to law in his later life. At one point, he was the co-editor of a prominent New Thought journal and a related magazine. His aim was to help spread the word about manifestation and encourage readers to expand on his ideas. His Law of Attraction work takes significant aspects from Hindi spiritual teachings, and some of his most praised collaborators were practicing Hindus. Today, we still use some of the language and conceptual frameworks that he presented in his teachings, including ideas about heightening vibration.
“The secret of success is to try always to improve yourself no matter where you are or what your position. Learn all you can. Don't see how little you can do, but how much you can do.”
“Permit each man to think according to his light.”
“All persons ought to practice their visualizing power. This will react upon perception and make it more definite. Visualizing will also form a brain habit of remembering things pictorially, and hence more exactly.”
“We generally see that for which we look.”
Famous for The Science of Getting Rich (published in 1910), Wallace Delois Wattles created a burst of new interest in the Law of Attraction. In fact, his works continue to be read by contemporary audiences. One of the key messages of The Science of Getting Rich is that we should develop our own manifestation potential rather than assuming that need to be taught by experts.
Fond of working with other New Thought practitioners, Wattles often presented lectures alongside publishing his books. In this way, he traveled prolifically to spread his teachings. Wattles offers plainly worded, clear techniques that anyone can use. He emphasized that we can adapt these to more than just our desire for abundance. He also explained and encouraged creative visualization, which remains a cornerstone of the current Law of Attraction practice.
“No man is born incapable of growth.”
“Go on in the certain way, and if you do not receive that thing, you will receive something so much better that you will see that the seeming failure was really a great success.”
“Do all the work you can do, every day, and do each piece of work in a perfectly successful manner; put the power of success, and the purpose to get rich, into everything that you do.”
“By thought, the thing you want is brought to you; by action you receive it.”
Napoleon Hill began his career as a journalist. However, he became famous after outlining his Law of Attraction techniques in the 1937 book Think and Grow Rich. Drawing on his own experiences of personal difficulties, he aimed to show how we can overcome our challenges and use manifestation tools to create a happy, fulfilling life.
Unlike earlier Law of Attraction writers, he was not influenced by religious teachers so much as writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson. Napoleon Hill was crucial for our understanding of how negative thinking beliefs attract more negativity into our lives. Most current Law of Attraction practitioners agree with his claim that believing in our own potential makes that potential abundant. In addition, he encouraged readers to find a life purpose and to work toward that.
“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
“You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be.”
“If you can't do great things, do small things in a great way.”
“A quitter never wins and a winner never quits.”
The Law of Attraction only became more popular and influential in the mid to late 20th century. For example, Jerry and Esther Hicks rose to prominence in the 1980s, purporting to channel messages from non-physical beings. Esther Hicks' nine books (collectively called The Teachings Of Abraham) provide highly readable explanations of how the Law of Attraction works. Plus, it contains wisdom about how you can use The Law Of Attraction to manifest the things you desire.
Meanwhile, New Thought writer Louise Hay has been instrumental in popularizing the idea of using affirmations to support your Law of Attraction goals. A proponent of self-love and self-compassion, she has helped Law of Attraction practitioners see the power that a positive self-concept has to boost your vibration and increase your ability to manifest.
Other significant Law of Attraction authors in the mid to late 20th century include Richard Weiss and W. Clement Stone. Clement Stone co-authored work on attracting success with Napoleon Hill.
Meanwhile, Weiss is known for connecting the Law of Attraction with what he calls the principle of non-resistance. According to this principle, we attract things when we actively put energy into trying to resist them.
“If you want it and expect it, it will be yours very soon.”
– Esther Hicks
“You have the power to heal your life, and you need to know that. We think so often that we are helpless, but we're not. We always have the power of our minds…Claim and consciously use your power.”
– Louise L. Hay
“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
– W. Clement Stone
“In order for things to change, you have to see them as you want them to be rather than continuing to observe them as they are.”
– Esther Hicks
In the 21st century, Rhonda Bryne's book The Secret (and her associated film) has turned the Law of Attraction from a niche interest into a concept with worldwide fame and general applicability. The Secret presents the views and teachings of a wide range of prominent and emerging Law of Attraction practitioners. The film contained wisdom from Marie Diamond, Joe Vitale, and Jack Canfield. The film is known for its straightforward, empowering approach to manifestation. For example, it stresses that setting goals, reflecting on negativity and learning new ways of thinking are all key to getting what you really want. Readers and viewers come away from his material believing that anyone can use the Law of Attraction to their advantage; that it is not the purview of experts, or of the spiritually evolved.
Both the film and book were an enormous success. The Secret spread the word that we all have the power to create our reality and (as Bryne often puts it) “thoughts can become things”. The book has sold over 20 million copies and is highly influential among celebrities.
For example, the actor Will Smith credits his use of the Law of Attraction for many of his positive experiences. In addition, Oprah Winfrey has promoted The Secret to her viewers. Meanwhile, boxer Conor McGregor has said that he “dreamed his win into reality”.
As for the future, we can expect interest to grow exponentially. With increasing celebrity endorsements, new books constantly being released, and free Law of Attraction guides being made available, anyone and everyone can learn how to use manifestation techniques. And as new people come to understand the Law of Attraction, some of them will inevitably go on to publish their own work. Consequently, they may introduce vital new concepts and techniques that will move our success even further forward.
I have spent the last few years now researching everything to do with The Law Of Attraction. This journey has brought me to learn about Chakras, Reiki, Visualization, Yoga and many more spiritual practices. In fact, I maybe have seen more than anyone else in the world what works and what doesn't work when it comes to manifesting your intentions. Discovering The Law Of Attraction changed my life entirely. And now I want to pass on this knowledge and inspire experiences just like mine!
If you want to hear my full story and discovery, you can watch my video presentation on it all (for free of course).
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