Ayurveda, the Law of Attraction, and the Breakdown in Civil Political Discourse
I’m about to give you what may be one of the most bizarre analyses of our current political climate based on what some might call New Age nonsense. But I hope you’ll read it through and think about what I’m saying here, because I believe there may be a glimmer of hope at the end of it all.
So bear with me.
The New Age has a philosophy called the “Law of Attraction” that means, in its most simple level, “like attracts like.” It is the power of positive thinking on steroids, and true believers literally believe that you create your own reality through your thoughts and words.
I am not a true believer in the Law of Attraction. It seems overly simplistic to me at best, and not very logical in the least, since it implies that we can all control everything around us, including other people, with our minds. On a personal level, it seems unfair that a “loving universe” would suddenly start dishing out hell and poverty to people just for not thinking positively enough. This could easily become a vicious cycle, no, so why would things be set up that way? It just seems a bit unlikely.
With what’s going on in our politics now, however, I do see how it might be working, big time, on a collective scale.
I am noticing this insidious collective Law of Attraction corrupting the politics of the Western world right now, especially in the United States.
Both sides, left and right, are creating more of what they fear because they are driven by fear.
Both sides think the other side is filled with fascist Nazis who are going to destroy all freedoms. Both sides think the other side is more guilty of using hate-filled rhetoric. And, believe it or not, both sides, left and right, believe the other side is filled with racists.
Both sides truly believe that if the other side was given unfettered power, we would see mass American genocide in the form of concentration camps. (Or in the least, brainwashing via re-education camps.) This is why each presidential election is being painted as the “most important ever,” since if “our side” doesn’t win, we may be descending into a Nazi hell that America will never recover from.
I am dead serious when I say that both sides genuinely believe these things, and if you don’t believe me, go read the comments on both left and right-wing websites and see if you can’t find the obvious parallels. It’d be hilarious if it weren’t so scary.
If you are a partisan-minded person reading this, you may be inclined to argue with me in your head: “No, Stephanie, clearly the other side is worse.” Is it? Or are we simply creating this with our collective imagination and constant focus on the negative?
In the recent mass shootings of August 2019, the El Paso shooter was apparently more on the right-wing side of things, with concerns about mass immigration (as well as environmental destruction, oddly enough), while the Dayton shooter was apparently more of a left-wing socialist. We saw extremism on either side, and end in the same, sad, deadly result.
This fear on both sides is creating a ping-pong effect and causing a terrible vicious cycle that could lead to the ultimate worst outcome if we don’t stop it — that is, a United States government that has truly become an oppressive Nazi state.
I’ll try to illustrate this with a Dr. Seuss inspired example:
The Kersplunketysnufflers vs. the Splutteryknuffers
Once upon a time, in a magic land called Kerspluttery, two main political factions vied for power. On one side we have the Kersplunketysnufflers and on the other, the Splutteryknuffers. Let’s call them the Kers and Spluts for short.
The Kers feel that big blaring bugles are making too much noise. The Spluts are fans of big blaring bugles, and feel that the Kers are being overly paranoid about the big blaring bugles making too much noise. The Kers feel they have a right to more silence, and the Spluts feel they have a right to make more noise.
The Kers start enacting legislation to curb the usage of big blaring bugles, which makes the Spluts feel like their rights are being taken away. They become fearful and angry, and thus go and make a lot more racket with their big blaring bugles than they normally would. This frightens and angers the Kers, who now start to enact even heavier-handed anti-bugle legislation.
The media, seeing dollar signs, starts to inflame tensions even more, with some pundits saying that the Kers are bunch of Hateful Hornswagglers, while other pundits are angrily disagreeing and saying that, no, the Spluts are actually the Hateful Hornswagglers.
The division between Kers and Spluts becomes so pronounced, that people start unfriending their long-time friends and family on social media channels for being on the wrong side. People start saying that their loved ones must also be a Hateful Hornswagglers, even if no evidence has been given that they even believe in Hornswaggling. Distrust, anger, and dissension rule the day, and no-one can honestly speak to the other side about their differences without it devolving into shouting matches or full-on disowning of said former friend or family member.
Eventually, the Kersplunketysnufflers and the Splutteryknuffers launch a civil war, during which a popular, silver-tongued demagogue steps into the ruins and “unites” the country under an iron fist — only after first mass murdering at least 20% of the population, while imprisoning much of the other “dissenters.”
Sounds far-fetched? Not really.
We have the seeds of this right now in America, as a big vicious cycle of anger and hatred has been set in motion, with neither side wanting to back down from their fear and hatred. More and more people on both sides end up believing that the only way to save the country is to “exterminate” the other side completely.
Law of Attraction, on a national scale.
Ayurveda’s Version of the Law of Attraction
Ayurveda, India’s indigenous medical system, has its own version of the Law of Attraction that informs its entire approach to healing. In this concept of “like attracts like,” you aren’t given the power of controlling the world with your mind. It’s used on a much more mundane level. It works like this:
Say you have something that is dry. If you add more dry quality to it, it will become even dryer. Conversely, if you want to reduce the quality of dry, you would add the opposite quality to it, that being “wet.”
This is really common sense, but it’s an easy concept to forget when you are dealing with real life.
This is especially true when it comes to emotions, especially the kinds of emotions that come up when we are dealing with sticky things like politics. It becomes far too easy to project out the very negative energies that are, in essence, throwing gasoline onto the fire.
Ayurveda has a basic list of 20 qualities (gunas) that is used for diagnosis and healing. While most are related to physical issues, some have some psychological or emotional correlations. These 20 qualities are assigned to the three main “doshas” or constitutions of Ayurveda, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Everyone is a mixture of these three constitutions and their qualities, with most people having one dominant dosha.
Vata is dry, rough, light, cold, subtle, and mobile.
When Vata is out of balance, the predominant negative emotions are worry, anxiety, and fear.
Pitta is oil, sharp, hot, light, mobile/spreading, and liquid.
When Pitta is out of balance, the predominant negative emotions are anger, judgment, and hatred.
Kapha is heavy, slow/dull, cool, oily, slimy/smooth, soft, dense, stable, and sticky/cloudy.
When Kapha is out of balance, the predominant negative emotions are depression, greed, and possessiveness.
Right now, we have serious problems in this country due to doshic aggravation and imbalance.
In the current breakdown of civil discourse in America (and the greater West), what we have is “Vata pushing Pitta” on a collective scale. Vata pushing Pitta means that excess Vata is aggravating Pitta.
How this works collectively: We have too much Vata energy, in the form of light (as in weight, not brightness), subtle, and mobile qualities, all caused by our electronic media and computers.
This makes us ungrounded and anxious.
We then have too much Pitta energy in the form of sharp and hot (and oily, as we shall see). This is caused in part by the excess Vata, but also the angry rhetoric that we swim in daily, as well as other influences such as violence in movies and video games.
We don’t just have an imbalance of Vata and Pitta going on. The negative Kapha energy shows up in greed and passiveness, and this is fueled by junk food and sweets, as well as our sedentary lifestyles.
The problem is that right now, if we have a high-Pitta event happen, such as a mass shooting, it sets off a lot of Vata (fear and anxiety). This pushes more Pitta, leading to some angry, hateful responses in the name of “love,” which just makes things worse in our collective Law of Attraction nightmare.
The Problem With Pitta
Pitta can be particularly be a problem, because violence is caused by excess Pitta. (Sorry, Pitta people.) Pitta in the positive is what makes our societies run. But when Pitta is out of whack, it can cause serious problems.
One of the main problems with Pitta-aggravated people is that they can become so completely self-righteous and convinced of their own moral superiority that they are completely incapable of understanding an alternative opinion. This can be especially true for those who also have a heavy Kapha influence.
(Vatas, in contrast, often change their minds constantly, or take both sides, and you can see a lot of Vata influence in my article here. At my best, I can express this positive Vata quality, but when my Pitta gets going, I, too, can become sharp and judgmental instead of truly open-minded.)
While Pitta’s moral superiority can be simply annoying when debating on Facebook, when it gets excessively out of hand on a large scale, it can lead to massive death and destruction. It is precisely this form of zealotry that is the main cause of many of our wars and genocides throughout history. (It’s not religion, atheists, but Pitta!)
Pitta rules ego, so it is often ego that makes Pitta-aggravated people feel justified in their hatred and anger. You simply cannot get through to a really out-of-balance Pitta-ruled person. Once they have decided you are the “enemy,” good luck in trying to convince them otherwise.
This sums up the Pitta problem nicely:
“There is a saying that imbalanced Pitta individuals don’t go to hell; they simply create it wherever they go!”
Once ego has convinced a group of people that they are on the side of goodness and light, they can feel justified in supporting all sorts of atrocities, as the ends justify the means. This is precisely why Communism killed more than 100 million people in the 20th century alone, and it’s the main psychology behind the Spanish Inquisition as well as the bloody French Revolution.
I’m not trying to take political sides here, but the following is a recent, and classic, real world example:
That Controversial “Eradicated” Tweet
“After today there is no longer any room for nuance. The President is a white nationalist terror leader. His supporters — ALL OF THEM — are by definition white nationalist terror supporters. The MAGA hat is a KKK hood. And this evil, racist scourge must be eradicated from society.”
Whoa!!! Well, if that wasn’t just a whole big amount of oil thrown onto the massive flaming Pitta grease fire that is currently America, I don’t know what is.
Reza Aslan needs to stop eating spicy food or whatever it is that is aggravating his Pitta, because it’s manifesting all over his Twitter feed. Bless him, he’s just trying to help…he’s just doing it oh so wrong.
I didn’t know much about Aslan prior to hearing about this, so I made a point of watching a clip of him on video after reading this tweet to get a better sense of the guy. He seems very intelligent, nice, rational, and not the type of person to subtly or overly condone genocide.
In his heart, I’m sure he’s not actually wanting people to be eradicated. But in his current state of Ayurvedic imbalance, he’s not responding from his better self.
What he expressed in that tweet is a prime example of Vata pushing Pitta. Aslan is probably afraid, and angry. He lashes out on social media due to the high Vata and especially Pitta driving him. His excess Pitta makes him righteously angry, which is a classic Pitta trait.
You can bet your bottom dollar that the people running the Salem witch trials also had that same righteous anger of Pitta fire — and it’s not a coincidence that their preferred method of extermination was burning women at the stake.
(Let’s guess who else might also have a lot of high Pitta going on…could it be a certain inflammatory right-wing political leader who just so happens to have a rather florid skin complexion? He’s also got a lot of Kapha going on too, with his love of McDonald’s.)
At any rate, Aslan may well be right about the threat, but by expressing it in this Pitta-inflamed manner, he just made things a whole lot worse. He now added the qualities of hot, sharp, and oily to the Pitta-aggravated national debate. So what did this do? It inflamed the opposition, bringing up more Pitta in response.
We know this, because he later tweeted:
“Every time I call Trump a racist white nationalist terror leader I get flooded with death threats from racist white nationalists defending him. Weird huh?”
Not weird at all! In fact, quite predictable. What did you expect them to tweet you after your inflammatory post, Reza? Recipes for vegan cookies? Clearly, Aslan’s Vata and Pitta provoked more Vata and Pitta in his intended targets. And those “white nationalists” who responded in kind are also making things worse, because they make Aslan even more righteously angry and fearful, causing him to double down, which makes the targets of his tweets (Trump supporters) more angry and fearful, causing more division and problems ultimately.
This is a classic example of what Ayurveda means by “like increases like.”
I’m sorry to pick on Aslan, since I don’t think he’s a bad guy at heart, despite his cringe-y tweets, but this is a prime example of what I mean of our collective “Law of Attraction” caused by doshic aggravation.
Stopping the Cycle of Hate
How can this cycle of Vata and Pitta be stopped? For one thing, we need some of the positive Kapha energies to come forth — some cool, cold water to be thrown onto the collective Pitta fire.
I can’t quite tell you exactly how this might show up collectively. But consider this: Let’s say you were face to face with an angry young man who was threatening to shoot people. You had no guns, no way out, and nothing to defend yourself with. What do you think would be the more productive approach:
A) You yell at him telling him what a nasty, horrible monster he is and how he is going to go to hell.
B) You talk to him in a soothing, kind voice, telling him that he is a valuable, loveable human being and that you want to help him.
You have a much stronger chance of not getting shot if you choose option B. Granted, he might still shoot you, but your chances are higher that he’ll put that gun down and agree to therapy instead.
Now, I’m not saying that we should never use sharp words with people. Sometimes they are appropriate and right to use. But if angry, accusatory words are our go-to, our default, for dealing with disagreements and divisions in society, we will never get anywhere.
In order to step off this vicious cycle we have started on both sides, we all need to learn to express more love, kindness, and forgiveness. You can start the healing process today by not defriending the people who irritate you politically, but by responding in love and kindness. Yes, that is going to be hard to do, but the more you also work on getting your Ayurvedic imbalances in check, the easier this will be to do naturally.
I’ll be sharing more about how to do this in future articles.