Vision Boards

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Out of curiosity, I went to my first vision board party last week. I’m constantly trying to meet new people and sometimes that entails me going to events like this. Another such example was when I had gone to a lucid dreaming and astral traveling meetup. I had locked the skeptic within me in his cage. He was rattling his tin cup on the bars, yelling at me, every time someone made a claim that he knew couldn’t be supported in any scientific way.

I thought the vision board party was some sort of MLM, multilevel marketing, recruitment. I personally hate those schemes. I’ve been involved in one. They’re a fucking cult. I don’t want to promote this particular organization, but the organizer had us meet with the cult leader. He stated that he had helped create thousands of vision boards. That he manifested things into his life using them. He told us to think outside of the box, so dream big. Want a big ass house? Put it on your board. Want those red pumps on your feet? Paste it on your board. Want that man with eight-pack abs? Put an inanimate picture of him up on that piece of inanimate cardboard. Vacation in Hawaii? Hell, yeah! Then put a picture of a beach, any beach, on that minced up tree and let that manifest into your life. Praise the cardboard!

The next important point that he expounded was that we must look at the completed board every day. Just look at it. Bask in it. Make love to it. OK. He hadn’t said those last two things. But he did say that we must look at it every day. And then bam! No further instructions were given past this. Do we speak to the board? Plead with it that the things on it would happen? Caress the pictures we’ve pasted on the board?

He kept talking about the law of attraction. The power of it. That we can all wield it. That as long as the universe knew what we wanted in our heart of hearts—my heart has more than one heart?—then we’ll attract it into our lives. Because the unimaginably vast universe cares what piddling sacs of water and goo—humans—want.

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I rolled my eyes. To be fair, if he had used the word prayer, faith, summon, cast a spell, concoct a potion, wave a wand, human sacrifice, I would have rolled my eyes regardless. Well, if he used that last one, I would have bolted out of the party, screaming like a little girl.

I used to be “spiritual”. I explored that realm a lot. I thought I could manifest things into my life, too. The issue is that people think they manifested it when they actually did something to bring that thing about. In plain words, the law of attraction is false. There is no scientific evidence to back that up. Unless we’re talking about magnetism or gravity. I’m not a physicist, so there might be other things that involve attraction. And that’s the thing! Spiritualists like this individual use scientific words with new age jargon to make them sound more authoritative. Law of Gravity. Law of Attraction. One is supported by mountains of scientific evidence. The other is supported by...nothing.

Here’s a video that explains better than I what I’m talking about:

Vision boards do very little to bring about our dreams. It may be a reminder for people to put forth the effort toward them. If I wanted to go on a Hawaiian vacation, then I’d save up for it and make the necessary logistical choices to make it happen. The vision board does nothing. It won’t save me the money. It won’t schedule the flight. It won’t call the hotel to make the reservations. If I wanted a pair of red pumps, then I’d save up for it and go to the store and buy it. Some people would call that process manifesting. I’d like to call it taking action. And no, I don’t actually want a pair of red pumps. Black is fine.

Now, can things happen with no effort on my own? Yeah. But I chalk that up to coincidence. Coincidences happen on the daily. To everyone. Everywhere. People have a hard time believing that because the chance of some coincidence happening can be rare. That doesn’t make it impossible. And it doesn’t mean that the universe made it happen. The lottery is a perfect example. There’s a reason why the lottery can grow to millions upon millions of dollars. Because it’s astronomically difficult to win it for an individual. But people do because millions upon millions of them partake in it.

Imagine a cardboard target with a pinhole slightly bigger than a grain of sand. Stand about six feet away. Take one grain of sand. Try throwing it through that pinhole. What’s the likelihood of accomplishing that? Pretty damn small. Now, take a fistful of sand and throw it at the target. The likelihood is now better.

A lot of these spiritualists tout anecdotal evidence. A long time ago, I was listening to a spiritual program. The host asked his listeners to try to manifest something: Imagine an amount of money and see if you can manifest it into your life. Why not, I told myself. What could it hurt? So I thought of $20,000 dollars. And then I waited. Bam! I got a check for around $15,000 green backs. I’m not sure how long I had waited, but months had gone by before I got the check. I was stunned!

Shazam! I said to myself, let me try this shit again. I thought of another $20,000 bucks. Months passed. And bam! No large checks came to me.

What had actually happened was that I worked for a company that skirted the California labors laws. Unbeknownst to me, a coworker of mine had filed a law suit. He won. A year or so later I got a letter stating that I was owed a settlement.

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Let’s look at the Law of Gravity. It’s called a law because we can use it to predictably calculate what happens when we drop something, for example. But to determine why or how a law happens, a theory is given.

The law of attraction is false because it isn’t constant. It’s nowhere near constant. Spiritualists and snake oil salesmen call it a law to make it sound legit. But it ain’t. That’s why anecdotal evidence can’t be used. These cult leaders cherry pick stories that support their position, and ignore those that falsify it.

It’s sort of like this: Ever think of a person, and then all of the sudden that person calls you? It’s a miracle, right? No. We find this significant because we’ve ignored all of the other instances that we thought of that person and nothing happened. Most of the time we can’t recall those moments. So when this miraculous thing happens, our minds assign significance to it, and then try to make sense of it: I manifested this person to call me.

If we as human beings want to create something or make something happen, then we have to take the steps toward that goal. Luck is probably involved in every step of the way. I want to become a best selling author. Sitting around wishing for it won’t do a thing for me. I do have to write the book, get an agent, and then that agent has to sell the book to a publisher. All of that takes a lot of effort and luck. Once my book is on the bookshelves, more effort in marketing and luck is required to get readers to buy my book. I often tell people that publishing is a crapshoot. I have little control over my book’s success. All I can do is take the steps necessary and hope for a lot of luck. Maybe I should just buy a lottery ticket.

More and More About Nothing

Cult

/kəlt/

noun

  • a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.
  • a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister.
  • a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing.

All three of us had just finished our martial arts workout. So we decided to go to dinner at a local Chinese restaurant and refuel. I had attended K-12 with Mary. She was the one who introduced me to the martial arts school. Standing just short of my height, she was attractive and assertive. Her deep brown eyes conveyed a depth that most women her age had yet to reach. Dustin was God's gift to martial arts with a body that rivaled the Greek Gods. I'd always found myself competing against him in everything, and consistently shown up short. Which was great for drilling my ego into the ground. Mary had a huge crush on Dustin. Again, the Greek God gift thing. Again, my ego.

"We're like a cult," Mary said.

"With all the bowing?" Dustin asked.

She nodded, then chuckled, then quickly checked the restaurant to make sure none of the black belts were around.

I chuckled. "Imagine if they were here, listening to us talk like this."

"They'd be pissed," Dustin interjected.

I kind of liked all the bowing. We were instructors at the school. Students walking in and out had to bow to us to show respect for the teachers. In turn, we had to bow to the black belts when leaving or entering the school. After each workout, we would all sit on the mat, like little school children, and the grandmaster would lay some wisdom on us. To question him, however, would be like throwing a shoe at him, and his subordinates would shout, "You've offended me. You've offended my family," and proceed to kick us out.

"You know," Dustin said, "they preach about honor and being humble, but they almost got away with stealing our fundraising money."

With twinkles in her eyes, Mary stared at him and covered her mouth in shock. "For the London trip?"

"Yeah," I said, "but Penn protested and the grand ol'master allowed us to have the money we worked hard for."

Penn was Dustin's and my teacher. Penn was one of the few that Dustin and I had termed thinkers. Everyone seemed to drink the grandmster's koolaid. We knew this because they spoke in his words instead of using their own. Sorta like a fifth grader repeating facts instead of internalizing the lessons.

Mary asked, "Wasn't the fundraising done to pay for the London trip?"

"Yup," Dustin answered.

I huffed. "It'll help offset the costs of flying there, paying for the rooms, the tournament, the food, the new matching uniforms we had to buy, all to make this guy look good."

Dustin shook his head. "In other words, we're paying for it all."

"You know they did this to another team who competed in China," Mary said.

"Yup. We heard."

"Didn't they raise a lot more money though?" I asked. 

Mary nodded. Eyes wide open. Meaning it was a lot of money.

"Crystal couldn't go because of what they did," I said. "She has two kids. There was no way she could pay for the whole thing on her own."

"Or even a part of it," Dustin said. He was close to her. The Greek God thing again.

Mary tapped her lip. "Grandmaster said it was to pay for his coaching services. But that's not how the fundraiser was marketed."

"It was to help pay for the plane ticket to China," she finished.

"Expensive," Dustin commented.

"For a mother of two," Mary said. "Very."

"I think we got our money because it wasn't as much as the China trip."

"I was worried the school would try and steal our money," I said. "But Penn assured us that it wouldn't be. And he followed up on that promise."

"Yup," Dustin said. "We're like a cult."

It wasn't long after that evening that several of us had decided to leave the school. The head instructors hadn't practiced what they preached. They fundraised through carwashes and other activities to help pay for material wealth under the guise of helping the school. They forced students to compete in tournaments to help fund martial arts organizations through tournament fees. They even tried to coax a brown belt to go easy in a full contact fight because his opponent was from a sister school. That brown belt didn't listen and won the fight handily. So the grandmaster threatened the brown belt that if he ever disobeyed him again, he would beat him.

It was a full contact fight. You can't enter a tournament where you're supposed to tear each other apart and hold back. That's a good way of getting seriously hurt in a game where you're suppose to seriously hurt your opponent. And for anyone to ask you to hold back in this situation is an idiot. 

The straw that broke the horse's back was when Penn had proposed several changes that would have improved the school, but he was rejected. A few weeks later, those same changes were being implemented without giving credit to Penn. He wasn't asking for money. So why had the school stolen his ideas?

Now, one of my spies told me they had formed an organization in order to certify their students' ranks. Sort of like a registry. What do they ask for in return? Cheddah. Moolah. A grip. Of course.

This makes no sense. If you've ever watched any cheesy Kung-fu movie, one of the pillars of martial arts is having a strong mind, the belief in yourself.

In other words, I can give someone a black belt, but that doesn't turn them into a lethal weapon. Or vice versa, you can have all the tools in the world to fight. But if you're not mentally ready for it, then those tools are useless. It's sorta like having a garage full of tools, a lift, air pump, and manuals. But if you don't know how to work on a automobile, then your garage and everything in it is useless.

And why would someone need to have their names registered to an organization as a black belt? Are they not one anymore if their names aren't recorded as such?

Think of it this way. If you're a skilled mechanic, and someone asks you to register your name as a mechanic, otherwise you won't be recognized by our organization as a mechanic, are you then not a skilled mechanic? That would be a hell to the no.

The funny thing is they always talk about putting your ego away. That ego can get in the way of personal growth. Isn't the need to have your name recorded as a black belt ego driven? That would be a hell to the yes.

This is interesting to me because I've been writing about insecurity in my posts lately. Here, we have a cult-like organization who has a number of followers willing to pay a fee to be a part of something that really has no meaning. They profess a strong mindset, but when they found my post about them in my teeny tiny corner of this massive thing we call the Internet, they had made the effort to comment against it. How insecure can they be? And it would be one thing if I mentioned the school, the instructors, the location, the system they teach, anything to point in their specific direction. But I didn't. And still they needed to comment on my little post, outing themselves.

So am I insecure that I left that school? No. I loved my time there. I made some lifelong friends. So why am I talking about them? I just needed cannon fodder to write about.

Cannon fodder

noun

  • soldiers regarded or treated as expendable in battle
  • an expendable or exploitable person, group, or thing