Do we create our own reality?
Updated: Jul 25
The Law of Attraction
It’s quite a popular notion, the idea that we create our own reality through the quality of our thoughts and what we put our attention on. The idea has been around for at least several decades and may have gained traction through the writings of Jane Roberts a.k.a. the Seth Material, written between the 1960’s and 1980’s, and then gaining more momentum via The Law of Attraction material published by Esther and Jerry Hicks (later appearing in "the secret" documentary).
There’s something appealing about the concept; it opens the way for the individual to feel both empowered and responsible for their reality (which is a good thing), and to those who are less self-realised, it’s an idea that seems exciting because on the face of it, it implies that if we focus on what we want long enough, we can have it, and that means in essence we can have whatever we want!
Sounds wonderful doesn’t it? What an amazing world it could be if everyone was able to manifest exactly what they wanted - it would be a very happy world indeed, or would it?
As a contemporary shamanic healer, I have learned that there is indeed a great deal of power in thought and intention; I have participated in helping others change their reality in fundamental and radical ways, such that at times my own viewpoint on what is possible has been profoundly challenged and changed.
And yet the idea that “I create my own reality” in my view is only partially true and thus misleading. For many, the ‘I’ in that statement refers to the person we think we are on a day to day basis; our everyday waking consciousness that in Jungian terms we might call ego consciousness.
I am more or less sure that the ego does not have the power to create its own reality by itself. There is ample evidence for this; how many things do we want, but somehow never seem to make manifest, no matter how much focus and attention we give? There is something more to the process of manifestation, which must involve the unconscious aspect of our human existence.
Ego consciousness is like a lotus flower floating on a pond; it's a small part of a larger whole. An individual is both the lotus flower and the pond; the ego floating on the surface of the larger unconscious part of who we are. And in the personal unconscious there can be a whole load of contradictory thoughts that can scupper the boat.
On top of that, there is the principle of karma - the idea that for every cause there is an effect, and thus for every thought, feeling, and action/inaction, we send ripples out into the universe, which set up energy patterns that encourage or limit the flow of energy through our lives.
But there’s more to it than that, because scientific observation leads us to conclude that a great deal of our thoughts, feelings, natural inclinations, biases, foibles and desires are not born out of free-will but are influenced by factors such as genetics, biochemistry, diet, gender, family background, and other environmental conditions such as culture (I accept that all of this can be bundled together as a form of karma)
I think it’s more true to say that “we co-create our own reality”, which significantly changes things because it implies a need to be in cooperative relationship with something. And a relationship means dialogue and collaboration. So if this is more true, with who or what are we collaborating?
In my work as an evolutionary astrologer, we think in terms of an alignment, encoded within the archetypes of Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces - the water trinity. Cancer represents the development and growth of the ego, Scorpio represents the evolution of the soul, and Pisces represents ultimate meaning, associated with words such as spirit, source, god/goddess, universal intelligence etc.
The ego can be understood simply as a lens through which conscious awareness and a sense of identity is made possible, soul can be seen as everything about the depth of the human experience that dwells in the unseen, and spirit can be viewed as the totality of which we are but a small part.
We grow an ego for a purpose, because without it there is nothing to hold awareness with. And yet when we are largely un-realised, we can be for the most part isolated in ego consciousness without awareness of anything else. As we become more and more aware that we are more than what we are conscious of on a day to day, moment to moment basis, we begin to move into soul alignment. And it is this cooperative relationship with the soul aspect of our existence, which deepens and enriches the picture.
Relative to the ego, soul is feminine; it is for the most part unconscious, deeply mysterious and unknown to us. At the soul level a lot of information is held: our evolutionary intentions for this lifetime, as well as everything that is repressed by the ego through childhood and beyond. The soul holds the blue-prints for the life we are living, forming part of a living tapestry in the grand scheme of things.
As co-creators we have to bring ego consciousness into a lawful and harmonious alignment with the soul. In this way ego consciousness is informed by the crucial information held at the soul level. When the ego is too isolated, the majority of desires are false; they come from the outside and are driven by the ego’s need to survive. In this way the things we want, tend to be things that we think others will approve of, or envy, or admire so that we feel good about ourselves. If these desires are significantly out of harmony with the soul's intentions, then they won’t ever happen no matter how much we think we want them. Meditate long enough and we can eventually realise the false nature of such desires.
The story of King Midas comes to mind here; he prayed to the gods that everything he touched turned to gold, and as a result died of starvation. It’s clear underlying message is to be careful what you wish for, and when I reflect on some of the false desires I have had, I am glad that they didn’t manifest. In this sense rather than feeling frustrated that we are not getting what we think we want, there is an option to view failed manifestations as a form of grace and protection.
On its own the ego is isolated, and often swims against the current of life, because in its isolation it denies reality. In that denial there is no possibility of cooperation and little possibility to flow with natural law. Through the cultivation of a relationship with both soul and spirit, we can move into greater cooperation with natural forces, where the ego is a participant in the co-creative process; like a sailing boat on the sea, we cannot control the currents rooted in the unconscious, and we cannot control the universal winds that fill the boat’s sails, but by directing the ship’s rudder, we can positively or negatively influence how life unfolds, and that’s no insignificant thing.