Boxing and The Law of Attraction

The Secret, a new personal development guide by Rhonda Byrne, is taking the nation by storm. In the last three months, the book has sold almost two million copies, and the DVD has sold one million more. Einstein, Beethoven and Plato knew and used it. Oprah loves it.

What is this “secret to unlimited joy, health, money, relationships, love, youth, and everything you have ever wanted”? According to Ms. Byrne, it is the Law of Attraction. As surely as the Law of Gravity causes apples to fall from trees, the Law of Attraction guarantees you can receive anything you desire: you need only think about it.

Byrne offers this as the solution to every personal and social problem, from weight loss to povertyeven genocide. Action is not required; positive thinking is. In her own words:

Whether people have been told they have a slow thyroid, a slow metabolism, or their body size is hereditary, these are all disguises for thinking “fat thoughts.” If you accept any of those conditions as applicable to you, and you believe it, it must become your experience, and you will continue to attract being overweight.

The most common thought that people hold, and I held it too, is that food was responsible for my weight gain. That is a belief that does not serve you, and in my mind now it is complete balderdash! Food is not responsible for putting on weight. It is your thought that food is responsible for putting on weight that actually has food put on weight. Remember, thoughts are primary cause of everything, and the rest is effects from those thoughts. Think perfect thoughts and the result must be perfect weight.

Let go of all those limiting thoughts. Food cannot cause you to put on weight, unless you think it can.

Expertise in the martial arts requires a functional understanding of natural physical laws. If the Law of Attraction is more than a bourgeois fantasy, then it must be applicable to practical self-defense. But who would dare to stake their life on the premise that thoughts can conquer all?

Actually, such an experiment was conducted 100 years ago. And the outcome was predictably tragic.

A Brief History of the Boxer Rebellion

In the early 20th century, foreign governments occupied portions of China. These countries used their leverage to exploit the Chinese people, and to secure special privileges for their own nationals, such as immunity from local laws. Empress Dowager Cixi responded to these indignities by encouraging an anti-foreign rebellion among the people, led by the Righteous and Harmonious Boxing Society.

Boxer Rebellion
Chinese Boxers

These boxers combined physical and spiritual exercises in an attempt to become blade- and bullet-proof, and thus impervious to the attacks of foreign troops. They probably used many of same the tools embraced by the today’s New Age movement: mantra, spirit channeling, meditation, charms, and so on.

Despite their discipline, their magic and their superior numbers, the boxers were defeated by the opposing armies. It seems that their gongfu alone was no match for powerful rifles. The Chinese government was forced to pay war reparations to its occupiers for the next forty years.

So, how can the Law of Attraction explain the boxers’ loss? Rhonda Byrne might say that these fighters attracted death with their negative intentions. Perhaps they should have focused on becoming rich and thin instead?


  1. “Reality is that which ,when you stop believing in it, does not go away.”

    Phillip K. Dick

  2. P.S. If you want to learn more about The Secret, you can watch the first 20 minutes of video here.

  3. I think though that most people (including people featured in the film) recognize that positive thinking is only one part of creating a healthy and happy life. A person needs to also take action and work to achieve their goals.

  4. That is good advice, but it is plainly not the secret they are selling. Please read the quote above. An honest and compassionate person could have written instead:

    Food cannot cause you to put on weight, unless you eat it!

  5. At least the film didn’t have inanities of that degree. The book must be in another world altogether… certainly not in the real one!

  6. You have some great points. “The Secret” is however simply one of the most popularist versions of The Law of Attraction that is out there. It’s pretty much an intro to the entire discussion. Consider it “white belt”.

    One of the most important underpinnings of the LoA is that it has physical real world causes and effects. It’s a natural law like gravity. That being said it certainly does not overwrite all the other natural laws. You shouldn’t try blocking bullets with a the palm of your hand and happy thoughts. There are no super powers to be gained.

    That being said, if you ever get in the ring with someone and think “I’m going to get my ass kicked”…. I’d place money on the other guy.

    And said more positively, don’t you think you are safer when you’ve gained the ablitity to defend yourself? Aren’t you less likely to be mugged etc when you walk down the street with an aura of confidence? That’s the LoA at work.

    All in all, it’s an influence, just one among many.

  7. Intention must be amplified by coherent action, to rise above the noise. This is not a subtle nuance, it is the most important point! Thank God I wasn’t relying on The Secret to learn this, or I’d have been left high and dry.

    Following your example: is a person who feels confident, but doesn’t act confidently, any less likely to be mugged?

  8. My Great Grand Father fought in the Boxer Rebellion as Part of the Liberating Party that rescued the Diplomatic Quarter and blew the emperess’ powder stores . His initials are inscribed in a bell in the forbidden city(like any good Irishman would do) To answer the question posed in your article , which is a good argument , I would tell you that it has to do with being in alignment with your goals and recognizing that there are basic fundamental principals that we are all subject to . You may Have a Deep spiritual experience but you still must breath air and walk everyday on this earth. Now where the Boxers in Alignment with their goal or purpose. No of course not. But Does that mean that there are things out side of are basic understanding on how the universe works .Sure ,Your life is what you choose to make it and It’s just like reading the bible you can see anything in it that you want to see for yourself based upon your own unique experience. There are billions of unique perspectives in this world end every one of them has value and offers something in which you can broaden your experience with.

    All the Best,

  9. Now where the Boxers in Alignment with their goal or purpose. No of course not.

    How do you figure that?

  10. From a military perspective they did not take appropriate action on the field. They where not organized to fight an opposing force. They where a mob. Politically They where not infact protecting china it was a power grab by the emperess’s son to seize control of the thrown . He therefore could not openly finance or organize it into a cohesive unit. So despite the training they where not in alignment with they action that they where taking.

  11. Michael, I think you are right. Despite their intention to win, the boxers were undone by a failure to take appropriate action.

    Maybe someone told the boxers that “Bullets cannot cause you to die, unless you think they can,” and they got all confused on the battlefield.

  12. No I think that there indoctrination was designed to make them fearless on the battle field and that way the real underlying motivation in their training; the real “intention” if your will. But back to the main point of the article there is nothing in the Law of Attraction philosophy( which is based upon the turn of the century writer Wallace Wattles) that should be construed as being able to bend or break physical laws.

  13. That’s very true…..
    It is your focus that is important , that is to say what you are concentrating your energy on . It’s has nothing to do with whether or not you perceive that to be positive or negative. It has more to do with the intensity of feeling and whether or not you are in alignment with that which you want and is subject to your subjective view or the world .

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