The New Age “love and light” philosophies get plenty of criticism for being ignorant of the darker side of reality, for being steeped in denial and wishful thinking, and for turning its adherents into weak doormats. The “You Create Your Own Reality” concept (YCYOR) is central to the paradigm, based on the assumption that everything that happens outside of you is a reflection of what goes on inside you. Proof of this is offered via the observation that positive thinking attracts positive experience and negative thinking attracts negative experiences – which is accurate, as far as I can tell.
But YCYOR makes a fatal mistake in reasoning that dark influences can therefore be kept out of one’s reality by denying their existence. The problem is that ignorance and denial of something that has its own independent existence gives it room to maneuver in ways you refuse to perceive. The darkness within, your shadow side, has its own agenda and desires that continue to operate no matter how much you try to pretend it’s not there, and they will manipulate your thoughts and behavior without you knowing it. Likewise, the darkness outside of you, namely the plethora of predatory forces in human and nonhuman forms as well as the external consequences of poor choices made over the years, will inevitably give you a rude awakening from denial. In other words, when wishful thinking and denial is chosen over awareness and responsibility, things catch up with you sooner or later. For further discussion on YCYOR, please see my article True Reality Creation
Needless to say, getting severely burned by wishful positive thinking or seeing the ignorance and hypocrisy it induces in others can make you want to run the other way. But you can run away so reactively that you slide right into the opposite trap, which is extreme negativity and combative dualism. For instance, if YCYOR does not work out for you, it is easy to get bitter and throw the baby out with the bathwater, rejecting “positive thinking” as a form of weakness and denial when, in truth, the problem was that the positive attitude was not accompanied by balanced awareness. So instead of positivity combined with awareness, you might choose awareness at the expense of positivity. This is bad because while awareness prepares you to deal with negative phenomena, a negative attitude actually increases the occurrence and severity of such phenomena. It’s like becoming aware that a pipe has burst and fighting to patch it without first turning off the water valve.
To clarify, dualism is the belief in two things irreconcilably divided, such as “good vs evil” or “spirit vs matter”, while what I call combative dualism is acknowledging there is darkness but getting psychotically zealous about destroying it to the point of becoming increasingly like it. This extreme dualism is rooted in ego seeking retribution for perceived injustices but using ego-based means of achieving that retribution. Those steeped in this mindset boast about being realists while justifying their stance by scoffing at more subjective alternatives like the New Age paradigm. Of course, they are thinking in binary terms because they are not aware, or unwilling to acknowledge, a third and more holistic perspective. They see only what is false in one half-truth, true in another half-truth, and push the latter as vastly superior to the first when both are equally defective.
An interesting thing happens to those who have a fear-based preoccupation with dark influences in their lives. They start shadow-boxing a variety of phenomena that they themselves are responsible for creating or drawing in. What kind of phenomena? Depends on their belief system, but here I mean something like a massive increase in suspicious characters following them in public, black helicopter harassment, signs of tampering and monitoring, constant tormenting by dark astral and etheric entities, ongoing violent alien abductions, and so on. These things may have their own independent existence, but they are drawn in and enabled by skewed awareness and negative attitude, especially – and this is important – when one mistakes these “attacks” as necessary confirmation that one is on the right track, that one has irritated the dark forces by throwing a wrench in their works. This mistaken belief only serves to further reinforce what has already become a turbulent path in life.
Negative attitudes come with a lowered soul frequency, and a lowered frequency induces more frequent misperceptions and greater tangibility of interactions with negative entities. So the fear and combativeness actually attract more things to fear and fight than necessary. Contrary to YCYOR, losing the negative attitude is not enough to solve the problem since even if you don’t attract something, that something can still volitionally attract itself to you, so that is where awareness comes in to mentally block or physically nip such problems in the bud.
When confronted by the fact that dark forces exist and are operative in your life and the world, something innocent within you dies. But that innocence is just naivete that had to go sooner or later, so good riddance. Still, something like the five-stages of grief can take place: denial (“Nope, not real.”), fear (“Oh my god!”), anger (“Sons of bitches!”), acceptance (“Nothing I can do about it…”), understanding (“Aha, now I see the bigger picture”). New Age wishful thinking is located in the first stage. Combative dualism is stuck at the fear and anger stages, where awareness of the problem is unaccompanied by higher understanding, a more balanced attitude, or awareness of the positive side of reality. Its center of gravity is the ego, and the ego’s idea of positive is whatever strokes, soothes, and feeds it.
Only through comprehensive awareness combined with a balanced attitude of positivity does the center of balance shift towards the heart of the soul, and only then through responsibility in your actions does the circuit finally complete and life turns around for the better. There is a difference between combative dualism and balanced dualism. I’m all for dualism, since the very existence of freewill must allow for the choice to respect or reject Creation and that necessarily establishes the positive and negative halves of the spiritual evolutionary ladder. The key is to be aware of both halves of the duality and how each fits into the greater whole. There is unity in the essence of duality, and duality in the expression of unity. Understanding this greater context gives you the needed perspicacity and wisdom to effectively deal with problems without loosing your spiritual footing.
With increased awareness, attitude adjustment, and some introspection those caught in the trap of negative and combative dualism can pull themselves out of it. Here are some suggestions for attaining this.
In An Outline of Esoteric Science Rudolf Steiner wrote:
An additional way of training our thinking and feeling is by acquiring a quality we can call “positivity.” There is a beautiful legend that tells of Christ Jesus and several other people walking past a dead dog. The others all turned away from the ugly sight, but Christ Jesus spoke admiringly of the animal’s beautiful teeth. We can practice maintaining the soul-attitude toward the world that this legend exemplifies. The erroneous, the bad, and the ugly must not prevent the soul from finding the true, the good, and the beautiful wherever they are present. We must not confuse positivity with being artificially uncritical or arbitrarily closing our eyes [YCYOR] to things that are bad, false, or inferior. It is possible to admire a dead animal’s “beautiful teeth” and still see the decaying corpse; the corpse does not prevent us from seeing the beautiful teeth. We cannot consider bad things good and false things true, but we can reach the point where the bad does not prevent us from seeing the good and errors do not keep us from seeing the truth.