A clarification on the “law of attraction”

This year, several people have asked for my thoughts on the “Law of Attraction,” as widely popularized in a number of self-help books, YouTube videos, and workshops. I’d like to share insights from my study and practice of Yoga and what I’ve learned from a series of mystical experiences.

One of the first things that people who begin to spiritually awaken realize is that all human beings are endowed with what is best described as divine consciousness, which gives us the ability to co-create using our minds and bodies. This means that every thought, feeling, and emotion we energize (by clinging to and identifying with them or by resisting and denying them) and every action we carry out sends out certain vibrations / energies into the world and through the mysterious mechanisms of karma, these energies somehow come back to us.

According to the ancient Indian sages who created the Yoga tradition, everything in nature is made of three qualities: sattvas (wisdom, truth, harmony/balance), rajas (passion, desire, craving) and tamas (ignorance and constriction). In the human brain, these qualities map to what I call Brain 3.0 (executive functioning and self-mastery system), Brain 2.0 (our dopamine/reward system) and Brain 1.0 (our self-preservation / fight-flight-freeze system), respectively.[1]

Every thought/feeling and action we send out in the world is fueled by and composed of these three qualities and in turn create more of these qualities in the world. Furthermore, anything we create and send out with the energies of rajas and tamas is karmically binding.

Thus, people on a genuine spiritual path must learn to be very cautious about the consequences of an undisciplined mind, because thoughts, desires and impulses can create karmic entanglement. To move towards further liberation and enlightenment, the teachings of Yoga help all of us train and discipline our minds and bodies to increase the element of sattvas, so the elements of rajas and tamas no longer drive or derail us.

The Bhagavad Gita explains that Yoga is a journey of the lower self aligning with the higher self and surrendering the fruits/rewards of all his/her actions and labors to the higher self. In it is written*: “the miserable and unhappy are those whose impulse to action is found in the reward” and “He who attendeth to the inclinations of the senses, in them hath a concern; from this concern is created passion, from passion anger, from anger is produced delusion, from delusion a loss of memory, from the loss of memory loss of discrimination/discernment, and from loss of discrimination/discernment loss of all!”

Therefore in the Gita, Krishna teaches: “Let, then, the motive for action be in the action itself, and not in the event. Do not be incited to actions by the hope of their reward, nor let the life be spent in inaction. Firmly persisting in Yoga, perform they duty and laying aside all desire for any benefit to thyself from action, make the event equal to thee, whether it be success or failure. Equal-mindedness is called Yoga.”

This doesn’t mean that one stops feeling desire, rather it means that one stops clinging to and identifying with the desire. Krishna explains: “The man whose desires enter his heart, as waters run into the unswelling passive ocean, which, though ever full, yet does not quit its bed, obtaineth happiness…”

When we use our capacity for co-creation in the service of our higher selves, we naturally move toward enlightenment and liberation. However, if we use our co-creative gifts with the energies of rajas and tamas, we can become further entangled.

Therefore, choose wisely what you attract to you. Please be aware that many commercialized “teachings” in the spiritual marketplace, such as “the Law of Attraction,” while infused with good intentions, are also very much infused with the energies of rajas. Following them may provide short-term rewards, but there are also long-term trade-offs if they lead to an increase in the energies of rajas. This is why yogis place such a strong emphasis on discernment, seeking guidance from inner wisdom, and using skillful means to be of benefit and service.


  • * All quotes of the Bhagavad Gita are cited from the translation by William Q. Judge (1851–1896).
  • [1] This is the core framework of the Calm Clarity Program which I created to integrate insights from neuroscience and spiritual practices. To learn more about the science behind it, please read this article, “What is Brain 3.0 and why do we need more of it.”

To learn more about my work and Calm Clarity, please visit our website at calmclarity.org

About the Author:

Due Quach (“Zway Kwok”), author of Calm Clarity: How to Use Science to Rewire Your Brain for Greater Wisdom, Fulfillment and Joy, is the founder and CEO of Calm Clarity, a social enterprise that uses science and mindfulness to help people across the socioeconomic spectrum break self-limiting patterns and become the highest expression of who they can be and the founding chair of the Collective Success Network, a nonprofit that collaborates with the wider business community to increase socioeconomic inclusion by mentoring, supporting, and empowering low-income, first-generation college students to navigate college and enter professional careers. A refugee from Vietnam and a graduate of Harvard College and the Wharton MBA program, Due overcame the long-term effects of poverty and trauma by turning to neuroscience and meditation. After building a successful international business career in management consulting and private equity investments, Due studied various contemplative traditions in India and other parts of Asia to create the Calm Clarity Program to make mindful leadership accessible to people of all backgrounds. She now leads Calm Clarity workshops in inner-city high schools, university lecture halls, and corporate executive board rooms alike. After living and traveling all around the world, she is once again a proud resident of Philadelphia, her hometown.

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