I used to think manifesting was bullshit. Here’s what I think now
This is probably going to piss some people off.
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“First figure out who you are and then figure out what you want to do.” -my spiritual teacher
This was the spiritual advice my teacher gave me a few years ago.
It wasn’t until about a year ago that I began to grasp greater depths of what she meant by this statement…we’ll come back to this.
This article is probably going to piss a lot of dedicated manifesters off. But it’s my truth, so be it 🤷♂️
If you’ve been doing a manifesting practice and it’s working for you with the consistency and effectiveness that you desire, by all means keep doing it! That’s amazing and I’m genuinely happy for you.
If not, you might find this perspective interesting.
My First Encounter With Manifesting
I first engaged in the concept of manifesting after discovering Joe Dispenza. I’m not sure how I found Joe, but I read his book Becoming Supernatural in the beginning of 2019.
This period of time was the first time I really had any openness to the idea manifesting. I had watched The Secret when I was in college, but immediately dismissed it as total bullshit and never really thought about much after.
I’m sure there are many interpretations of the term manifesting, but my perception after reading Joe’s book was that by setting a clear intention in the field of consciousness, the universe would conspire to bring you the thing you desire into your life in due time.
In 2019, I was very much living mainly in the “life by me” consciousness. So I never thought that this meant you could just sit on your ass and do nothing kind of like a lot of people thought with The Secret. It seemed like the idea was to take the right actions in life AND do the intention setting in stillness.
As I engaged in Joe’s content, I got excited because it seemed like this might be the missing piece to me having everything I’d ever wanted in my life. That’s certainly how they sold it. I was already working my ass off so all I needed to do was add this extra component of manifesting and voila!
I starting listening to Joe’s mediations daily and my meditation practice more or less evolved into a manifestation practice. I would listen to his conscious potential meditation for 40 minutes each morning, setting intentions for a whole bunch of things like professional success, the relationship I wanted, money, and physical health.
I probably did this everyday for over 6 months. Some things ended up materializing and some didn’t.
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Cutting The Manifesting Chord
I eventually stopped my manifesting practice due to the influence of my spiritual teacher. When we started working together, I hid from here that I was doing it. Mainly because it felt in opposition to a lot of the concepts that she was suggesting. I felt kind of like a teenager hiding that I was sneaking beers from my parents.
Eventually, I came clean to her that in addition to the Qigong practices she was advising me to do, I had also been secretly doing Joe Dispenza meditations for a big startup exit and perfect girlfriend.
She would ask me things like:
“Well what are you asking for….?”
“Who is it that wants those things?”
At one point I asked her what she thought of Joe Dispenza and she said, “he’s cute.” I thought this was hilarious, but also congruent with my growing realization that her evolution was on much more expansive planes than his or anyone else I had ever met.
This all happened around the same time I was moving into greater depths of witness consciousness and recognizing that many of the things I wanted were actually all just conditioned desires. Simultaneously, it became clear that accumulating things outside myself were not going to get me what I really wanted which was quite simply to feel good all the time. Unconditional joy, contentment and love baby!
So long story short, I stopped engaging with anything manifesting related. Like the prodigal son who had come home with his manifesting tail between his legs, I heeded the advice of my teacher and redirected all my energy towards identifying and transforming all the unhealthy patterns and emotions hidden in my consciousness.
This process is a core focus of the awakening process taught in my wisdom school RenXue and is also a central idea in many traditions. For example, I’ve learned that the Tibetan Buddhists advise the same thing and consider this purifying the chakras. Each one is an energy center which contain the energy of our conscious and unconscious thoughts, emotions, and experiences which then project out reality.
Same thing. Different language.
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A Few Years Later, Where I’m At Now
Over the past few years, I’ve had lots of revelation and direct experience that has shaped a new perspective on manifesting.
What has became abundantly clear is that my reality is basically a reflection of my entire consciousness. This includes my stable conscious mind, and the far more expansive unconscious mind that stores every imprinted belief, emotion, and experience from my entire life(s). With this recognition, I began to see that reality was like a giant projector screen of all of my stuff.
At some in my journey, I had set the intention and aligned my behaviors to make my consciousness evolution the most important priority in my life. So the projector screen seemed to be sequencing scenes in the form of life’s events that served as clues for me to remove the impediments blocking greater realization. I call this phenomenon the responsive reality.
Life became my teacher. This was and still is the case.
I explain this phenomenon and a recent example that came up on a project I’ve been working on in the video below.
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Eventually some interesting things started to happen that made the whole manifesting thing come back into the fold.
The further I went down this road, I began to notice an increasing amount of synchronicity. Specifically, the events in the outer world seemed to magically match my inner world more frequently. A simple example is that someone would pop into my awareness that I should reconnect with and then later that day they would text me completely out of the blue.
This would happen sporadically, but over time, this started to happen with increased frequency. Maybe something like once a week, to every other day, to now multiple times a day.
It is hard to articulate the impossibility of some of the pleasant coincidences that have happened. It feels like a divine dance of experience that somehow is perfectly choreographed by an unseen force more intelligent than anything I could possibly conceive of.
Observing all these experiences began to coincide with greater feelings of oneness. I began to realize that synchronicity is the mechanism at which consciousness (you) begins to recognize itself as both the subject and object existing simultaneously. Put bluntly, this means you are creating reality in a much deeper way than you thought you were in the “life by me” state. There is no other way in which all these things could unfold so perfectly unless you were taking part in the authorship of it all.
Many people have big peak experiences where they feel oneness and connection with everything on a psychedelic journey or something. Then they come back down and wonder, how do I stabilize these feelings and new capacities?
In terms of oneness, the stabilizing component expresses through increasing synchronicity, heart opening, and identification shifts which all happen simultaneously as part of a paradigm shift. The outer world mapping to the inner world is almost like “proof” of the oneness, though no language can do this miracle justice. The simultaneous nature of the evolution of thoughts, feelings, emotions, and perspective about self, other, and reality, is why we can think of consciousness expansion shifts as complete paradigm transformations vs. something one dimensional like being happier.
The other argument I’ve heard to make sense of this rapid synchronicity phenomenon would be that our brains simply become better at pattern matching reality. This does not resonate with me. At this point in my journey, the way life unfolds is too miraculous and inexplicable for me to attribute anything other than recognition of the divine and my increasing unity with it.
I cannot claim to have stabilized this state of awareness at all times, but like my entire consciousness evolution, there are glimpses that continue to occur with greater duration and consistency. If it’s anything like the earlier shifts in awareness in my experience, eventually this inner paradigm will move from exposure to embodiment. At least that’s what I’m hoping for!
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Back to Manifesting
What became clear to me about manifesting is that your consciousness is always manifesting.
But the reason that people are wishing for things and not getting them is that reality is manifesting many things from their unconscious which they are not aware of. Therefore, they are not able to recognize that which they are creating. We can think of this dynamic as reality having unseen forces that are the true authors, yet we don’t know it.
A simple example of this might be someone spends lots of time manifesting that they want to find a loving partner. Then they keep meeting people that treat them like shit because there’s an unconscious belief that they’re unworthy. They’re attracting these situations in and don’t even know it.
This phenomenon is often the core driver for self sabotage. The thing is that you can’t see this whole thing until you reach a certain level of awareness. I have many examples of unconscious self sabotage in my own experience…and probably more that await.
So all of these teachers out there who are advocating for imagining futures without the purification process to remove all the impediments blocking greater levels of realization are missing the big picture. It’s kind of like teaching everyone how to bake a cake and giving them 1/3 of the ingredients and no oven.
I’m sure that some of these things you wish for can still come into your life if you still have lots of garbage in your unconscious. This seems to be the case when there is not an internal conflict between the conscious wish and unconscious mind.
I’m not really seeing a ton of teachers out there that talk about manifesting advocating this view. I guess it’s easier to monetize a more popular view like “think it and it will be yours” vs. become a dedicated student of Self-realization and the ability will emerge naturally.
With that being said, all these teachers are perfectly positioned to help people who are in the more “stuff” will make me happy phase of evolution which is something all humans go through. So they are serving as an entry point to consciousness work just at a less expansive level which is a service to humanity 🙏.
This is why there are no better or worse teachers, just different ones more fitting for different populations based on where they are in their own evolutionary journey. If teachers are the highest levels encountered the same people the topics they talked about wouldn’t even make sense to these people.
Point Taken, But I Still Want To Manifest
So if you’re looking to cultivate greater manifesting abilities, the issue is not whether it exists, but rather a sequencing misconception . My experience is that if you work on your consciousness by removing all the obstructions to realize the divine being you already are then the ability to manifest emerges naturally. It’s when you realize and embody greater levels “I AM” that you have the ability to create heaven on earth as many great sages have alluded to.
And at this point and realization, it’s not that you develop some crazy new ability. It’s more so that there you are able to recognize much greater levels of coherence between how reality shows up and what your heart desires.
It appears like a new ability, but it’s more so the recognition of this phenomenon which is now self-evident because of the congruence between the inner wishes in your consciousness and the outer world.
Visually, this is well reflected in David Hawkins Map of Consciousness by understanding the inner paradigm of enlightenment’s view of life, god, and process.
It turns out the way to have more of life go your way is to fundamentally redefine the self which is experiencing everything. In my experience this is done through setting a strong intention to expand your consciousness and then become a devoted student of your own evolution, more so than imagining stuff you don’t have.
Years after the first time she spoke it, I finally realized what my teacher meant when she said:
“First figure out who you are and then figure out what you want to do.”
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The Transformational Conflict
Through every stage of consciousness evolution there is what I call a transformational conflict. In order to advance to the next stage, you must step into a new paradigm that is inclusive of the last one, but also has new features which may seem at odds with what previously served you. The transformation conflict is part of a increasing separation from the old paradigm before you enter into a liminal period of exploration in your new reality.
For example, when moving from the Life By Me state of will to Life Through Me, one has to learn to give up the predominant feature of trying to control everything that seemed to serve you so well in the last Life By Me phase. This doesn’t mean you completely give up your willpower, but now the personal will must be balanced with the new feature of acceptance or surrender.
The same can be said to moving from Life Through Me to Life As Me. I am experiencing this now. There has been lots of programming from my Christian upbringing that there is a separation from God. This takes the form of a father-dutiful son relationship that I’ve needed to unwind.
There are also lots of concepts related to surrender and unconditionally accepting reality that can be perceived as at odds with stepping into your power to author reality. For a long time, there was some belief I held that power somehow opposes that of surrender. I read things like desire is the root of all suffering which made me think any level of desire was egoic and possessing it was going set me back in my spiritual evolution.
Even some of my favorite teachers like Michael Singer describe the idea of manifesting as a complete bastardization of the entire spiritual process. Naturally, this can be misconstrued to extend to other ideas like desiring anything is bad and being powerful is bad even if that was not the intent of the teaching.
All of these ideas created internal conflicts to the notion of moving into greater depths of “I AM” where one realizes greater reality authorship abilities.
What you realize is that these teachings and beliefs serve an important purpose on the evolutionary continuum. Mainly, to shift the predominant focus inward which is required for evolution so that you can reach more expansive states of being. Eventually, you are ready to re-emerge and unify the inner and outer world more harmoniously, but you had to go through the previous stage.
There comes a point when the heart is open and you increasingly see yourself in everything, that you realize it is okay to step into this power. There is no overlord that is going to punish you for “doing spirituality wrong” which again is an idea that emanated from my Christian programming in my own experience. You realize the vast difference in texture between wanting/craving vs. joyfully, creating from inspired action which implicitly comes from some level of unattached desire.
It’s my current belief that is your divine purpose to step fully into becoming a loving-powerful being. Like many junctures in the process, you are reminded that it is not an either/or situation but rather a both/and.
For me, the life as a “school for your growth” concept expanded to life as a school for your growth, love, and happiness. Now the texture feels increasingly balanced towards play and not so dominated by everything being about spiritual work…though life continues to show me that too.
So now I don’t think manifesting is bad or “less evolved” like I once did. I don’t even think it’s an ability. It’s more an expression of coherence that you recognize with more clarity as your consciousness expands. And with this recognition you learn to become comfortable skillfully wielding more intent and stepping into greater levels of reality authorship.
The concern about “using power for bad” is kind of a moot point because the state of increasing oneness you’re feeling expresses by increasingly wanting prosperity for everyone and everything.
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"The reason why consciousness exists, and why there is an urge to widen and deepen it, is very simple: without consciousness things go less well." - Carl Jung
There’s a lot more nuance in this transformation and understanding than what has been shared here.
I’m in the midst of my own process in kind of the liminal period described earlier and settling into a lot of these experiences.
The main point I wanted to communicate is that if you are interested in manifestation or consciousness/reality coherence, the most effective thing you can do is work on expanding your consciousness.
I’m sure you may achieve some one-off hits by sitting around setting strong intentions for things, but directing your energy to becoming a loving alchemist where desires unfold effortlessly seems a lot more compelling to me.
Well how the hell do you do this?
We all have our own unique path of working on our consciousness. It’s why it’s often called the pathless path! I know some people are probably curious about mine so I am including in the resources section links to the things that relate to my practices and journey.
I’m also sure this inspires all kinds of questions, like wait so if this is where you’re at, why aren’t you a billionaire? Why isn’t your life perfect?
The Eagles lost the super bowl so I can assure you that my life is far from perfect.
My answer to this is that I’m just here sharing my thoughts on my experience. I’m not claiming it as the ultimate truth or telling anyone how to live their life. And I’m sure my perspective will continue to shift as consciousness continues to expand.
I still have lots of work to do in my own process and am finding myself stepping into this seeming new level of experience in the same way that it’s been with all others. With time and practice, comes greater levels of confidence, understanding and skillful navigation.
It’s not like all of a sudden everything in my life is going perfectly. And when it doesn’t, it isn’t a big deal. It just feels like there’s a lot more magic and there’s a greater recognition that I’m playing a part in creating it.
I also don’t find myself wanting all this lavish stuff or other things society defines as the ultimate experience. So in a paradoxical way, with these newfound potentials there seems to be less of a compulsion to maximize everything like a previous self would have tried to.
The primary interest is just occupying states of spontaneous play in the here and now which is where all this creativity is coming from : )
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If you liked reading this, feel free to click the ❤️ button on this post so more people can discover it on Substack 🙏
Here are some recommended resources if you are curious about my own path of getting here:
I just wanted to say a big thank you to Scott for writing this eye-opening article on manifesting. It really struck a chord with me because it not only highlights the potential benefits of manifesting as a self-improvement tool, but also addresses the skepticism that some people, including myself, might have initially felt.
Reading this article was a refreshing reminder that despite the sometimes misleading marketing tactics that are associated with manifesting, it's still possible to approach the practice with a healthy dose of skepticism and discernment. This way, we can effectively use manifesting to genuinely transform our lives while keeping our feet firmly on the ground.
So, thank you, Scott, for providing such a balanced perspective on manifesting and for sharing your personal journey with us. Your honesty and openness are truly appreciated, and I look forward to applying the lessons I've learned from your article in my own self-improvement journey.
It makes so much sense. I do feel the same. There have been moments where I thought my intuition failed me but it revealed itself to be a gift. I now work on that cleansing process that is quite a process, but also follow mindfully and obediently the instructions. And yes they are my mapping system. In due time I know the release will enhance the expression to places I never thought were possible. And that is quite beautiful to uncover who we are and be amazed by the limitless state of what we are. Creativity is really the vehicle of that!
It makes sense and shines sense. Thank you!