In January, 2006, I had an experience that I sometimes think of as “the empty holodeck.” It was jolting and mildly disorienting, but I consider it one of the most important spiritual experiences of my life. This last January, I had another, very brief feeling of a something in that no-thing. And as I’ve written some of these later posts on love and the “law of attraction,” there’s been a metaphor in my mind that I haven’t shared yet: the swimming pool. The “holodeck” appears to be empty to the mind that seeks to know. Although every manner of experience is possible in the holodeck, investigation reveals it to be nothing more than an interactive program that changes patterns of light in mesmerizing ways.
But there remains a medium. So another analogy might be that of a swimming pool. In a swimming pool, the medium is very, very obvious: water. Experiencing water is the whole point. Water is fluid—it parts to accommodate whatever comes into it.
What people are calling the “law of attraction” seems to me to be the recognition of the responsiveness of the medium we are in. Receiving water, when you’re in water, is as simple as opening your hand. All you have to do is make a space. Space for receiving has to be created, and in this medium in which we “live, and move, and have our being,” everything we do has some effect… thoughts, feelings, and actions all are felt, all move the water.
Whatever motion you make is felt to some degree throughout the pool. Smooth, gentle motions create smooth, gentle waves. Harsh, choppy motions create harsh, choppy waves. And whatever waves you create will come back to you.
Also note that the water cannot be controlled. People want the water to assume this shape or that. Creating the manifestation of something particular requires energy and action. Having water is effortless—more than you have it, it has you. Even though you are mostly water, you’ve been given a shape of your own for a while, and cannot breathe it directly. You can’t support the water. You must let it support you.
Like all metaphors, this is terribly imperfect. But when you consciously love others, you feel the love you send, not as something leaving you, but as something coming to you. This is because it is just there. Love is there, as God is there, as the water in the swimming pool is there. The water itself hardly moves at all. Waves are energy moving through the water.
Note that “pushing-against” actions are very inefficient in the pool. Try to push the water away, and it does more than instantly refill the gap, it prevents a gap from ever being created. And when the wave you make hits the edge of the pool, it will bounce back to you.
As The Secret briefly mentioned to its credit, “anti-” activities are not very productive. Anti-war movements often have the effect of prolonging wars. Wars on poverty, drugs, and terrorism are “pushing-against” actions which ultimately have no effect on poverty, drugs, or terrorism except to give these forces even more energy. And wars in general usually have little effect except to plant the seeds of resentment that spring future wars.
Yes, you can push against another person in the pool, but the result will be that you move away from them more than you make them move in any intended direction. You can not change another person. You can only move yourself. Learning to move efficiently in the water is a skill that takes practice. Fortunately there are teachers who not only know the water intimately, but who also live in the awareness of what is beyond the pool.
The edge of the pool is the only thing that you can really push against. When you’re in contact with it, you can launch yourself and move rapidly through the water. Even though you live out this life in the pool, what’s beyond the pool remains important. As the pool holds you, there is That which holds the pool. It is the foundation of the universe.