“Manifesting”: spiritual practice or virtual positive thinking?

The practice of “manifestation,” based on the idea that one can will their ideal reality into existence, is making the rounds on the internet, specifically TikTok, but observers are divided on whether it is an alternative spiritual self-help strategy or just a technological version of positive thinking. In The Tablet magazine (January 25), Katherine Dee writes that “manifestation” often looks like a kind of “willful delusion…It’s not a form of manipulation exactly, because the point is not to change the other person’s mind but to overpower the effect of their actions. That’s closer to witchcraft than it is to persuasion.” Dee adds that, contrary to the view of its more moderate defenders, manifestation is not just about changing your mindset to be more confident but about trying to “reshape your reality.” Manifestation is not new, dating back to the 19th century, and it has “ebbed in and out of popularity in American culture since then,” Dee writes. It arrives in different guises. The popular book, Law of Attraction, which states that “positive thoughts bring positive results,” is more than a century old, but the concept got nationwide exposure in 2006 when Oprah Winfrey popularized Rhonda Byrne’s book, The Secret.

Source: Medium – Thrive Global.

Every time manifestation reappears in the national psyche it is greeted with the same criticisms—as “toxic positivity,” a New Age hustle, or “Ayn Randian libertarianism for the spiritual set,” Dee writes. But she argues that manifestation is not an alternative expression of religion: “watching the TikTokers preaching manifestation, it is clear that few who’ve newly discovered this dressed-up prosperity gospel have even a passing thought about a Higher Power. The most modest proponents of manifestation want answers; the more ambitious want to ‘rebrand their lives.’ It is as transactional as it comes.” It is less about self-help than about reaffirming that the “world is defined by you and you alone, that you speak reality into existence,” she writes. The internet is the medium where such rebranding and manifesting of one’s own reality can be best expressed. Dee does observe, however, that manifesters often conflate the “emotional truth” they find in their practice with some sense of spirituality, even if notions of truth and transcendence are often absent.

(The Tablet, https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/among-the-spiritual-psychotics)